Music Crosses Boundaries

Religious boundaries, physiological boundaries, emotional boundaries… music reaches deep. “For a split second, we became one person.”

Watch Naomi Feil sing her way into the heart of a woman with Alzheimer’s. You’ll need tissues.


In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Lee McIntyre argues that the West is at an intellectual crossroads, where unprecedented numbers of people and opinion leaders reject empirical truth when deciding on matters of policy and law. McIntyre largely indicts the academy itself, specifically postmodern culture and literary scholars, for unintentionally providing the armaments in a war against truth in the natural sciences, which keeps climate change a debate and puts intelligent design into textbooks.

Speaking on the difference between simple and willful ignorance, McIntyre says, “…when we choose to insulate ourselves from new ideas or evidence because we think that we already know what is true, that is when we are most likely to believe a falsehood. It is not mere disbelief that explains why truth is so often disrespected. It is one’s attitude.”

Do the hordes on the Internet add more ignorant noise to the discourse which was once responsbily cultivated by scholars and journalists, or are we on balance outgrowing our own gatekeepers to truth?

Read more here.

Power Girls

“Powerful girls grow up feeling secure in themselves. They learn to take action, making positive choices about their own lives and doing positive things for others. They think critically about the world around them. They express their feelings and acknowledge the feelings and thoughts of others in caring ways. Powerful girls feel good about themselves and grow up with a “can-do” attitude. Of course, strong girls may (like all of us) have times of insecurity and self-doubt, but these feelings aren’t paralyzing because the girls have learned to work through their problems. Powerful girls will grow up to lead full, valuable lives.

Here are some of our experts’ ideas to help you raise powerful daughters.”

Read the article here.

7 Talks on the Trans Experience

Hailey Reissman has gathered seven different TED/TEDx talks to highlight the difference in every Trans person’s individual, lived experience.

“Alice Miller was born in a body that didn’t feel like hers. Every day, Yee Won Chong has to debate whether to use the men’s restroom or the women’s. Geena Rocero found success as a fashion model — but kept her birth gender a secret for nearly a decade, fearing what others would think.

All these people have transitioned into their true gender. And all of them made the decision to share their stories in a TED or TEDx talk. What these seven stories show: There is no one “right” way to live a life. And no one should have to spend a life hiding who they are.

Below, seven talks on living life expressing your true gender:”

Watch all 7 talks here.

Talking Trans

Writing in the context of how mass media failed to show basic respect for trans lives, Thu-Huong Ha gives a brief guide on appropriate ways for people to discuss these topics, which deserves revisiting after the high profile introduction of Caitlyn Jenner to the public.

Read more here.

Image by Ray Lee

Affirming Others

It takes a lot to go onstage. Standing under bright lights while a group of people sit and stare at you is, to put it mildly, an incredibly vulnerable position, and it can be doubly so for those who have experienced marginalization and oppression throughout their lives. Last night I watched fifteen performers pour their hearts out at the Glitterbomb Queer Variety Show, and I watched a packed audience respond with so much love and support and overwhelming positivity, it blew my mind.

So today I’m reflecting on what it means to affirm someone.  More than just tolerating or accepting a person – truly lifting them up and celebrating who they are.

I think that’s my favorite thing about DFW’s queer performance art scene – the ways in which the audience’s cheers and hugs and dollar bills speak so loudly of affirmation.  All those things mean the audience is saying more than just “I see you.” When they give such enormous affirmation, they’re saying “I see you, and I celebrate you!

And isn’t that what we all need, to be seen and celebrated?  Not put on a pedestal, not idealized, not depersonalized, but actually seen, and actually celebrated.

It’s a skill I wish I could see more of in my communities. Because I move among lots of people who belong to marginalized groups, I am around a LOT of folks who are rendered invisible on a systemic level. I’m talking about Queer and Trans folks, those with chronic pain and other physical differences, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC), and many, many more. It’s my hope that I can make myself a better friend and ally by being deliberate about my own affirmations of others’ identities.

I’m inspired (as always) by the performers and the audience from last night’s show, and I am thinking hard on ways to be more actively affirming for those around me.  Here are some of my thoughts, feel free to add your own!

Ways to Affirm Others

  • make eye contact
  • smile often
  • offer a genuine compliment
  • ask about preferred pronouns, and use them
  • make sure I’m knowledgeable about cultures other than my own
  • mirror language (using the same words the person used to describe themselves)
  • a quick Facebook message when I see someone having a hard day
  • in-the-moment self-correcting things I say wrong
  • give offer a hug, pat on the back, or hand squeeze
  • offer a quick check-in when I sense something might be wrong
  • stand up for others in the moment
  • challenge oppressive language
  • tell people when they do a good job
  • own my personal privilege and set it down whenever possible
  • know when to be quiet
  • be willing to hear feedback
  • encourage self care
  • check/ask for gender-neutral bathrooms
  • share my belongings, time, knowledge, and energy

Death and Compassion

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Personality and Social Psychology Review looks at the ways our ideas around death impact our relationships.

“Authors of a new study reviewed earlier research that had set out to determine how the awareness of death might influence people’s positive behaviors towards others and themselves. Lead author Kenneth Vail and his team discussed some of the noteworthy findings. One study, for example, found that people are actually more likely to help out others when they are in the immediate vicinity of a cemetery.”

Read the whole article here.