Robina Asti Wins an Important Legal Battle for Transgender Couples

Robina Asti Wins an Important Legal Battle for Transgender Couples

The Naval lieutenant (who still pilots aircraft) says she never set out to be a pioneer. But that’s how she’s been hailed by the legal team that helped Asti launch the challenge to win her husband Norwood Patton’s survivor benefits that she believed were rightfully hers following his death in 2012. 

“She was a war veteran, and she’s been living her life and has been recognized as a woman for over 38 years. For the federal government to say, ‘You are not legally female’ was just so insulting at a time when she was already grieving the loss of her husband,” says Dru Levasseur, national director of the Transgender Rights Project for Lambda Legal, which took up Asti’s case in June 2013. 

Adding to Asti’s argument: Her legal documents – from her Social Security card, to her passport, to her federal taxes, to her pilot’s license – had long reflected her legal status as female. 

Your amazing human being of the day. ❤

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This Is What Sex-Positive Parenting Really Looks Like

This Is What Sex-Positive Parenting Really Looks Like

“I’m what some people call ‘sex-positive.’ That doesn’t mean I talk with my 4-year-olds about how great sex is and how good it feels. It means I don’t pretend it’s something other than it is.

As parents, we lie all the time. About the Easter Bunny or Santa or the Tooth Fairy, about how long 10 minutes is, about whether or not we remembered they wanted to have grilled cheese for dinner again… We lie a lot. But one thing I never lie about is sex.

I don’t want them to grow up ashamed of their bodies or confused about what they do. I don’t tell them about cabbage patches or storks; I make an effort, always, to be honest about human reproduction. Every aspect of it.”

Another fantastic essay about being honest with your children about sex. (If you missed it, be sure to also check out “What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure?”) I hope one day we can live in a world where shame about our bodies isn’t a dominant aspect of our culture, and ladies like this are leading the way.

Building a Better College Ranking System. Wait, Babson Beats Harvard?

Building a Better College Ranking System. Wait, Babson Beats Harvard?

“On Monday, Money magazine took its shot, releasing a new best colleges list focused on, unsurprisingly, money. While some elements of the rankings are familiar, the list is distinguished by the depth of its attention to a pair of questions on the minds of many students and parents. First, how much money will I actually have to pay — and, probably, borrow — to earn a diploma? Second, how much money will my diploma be worth in the job market when the time comes to pay my loans back?

The mark of a good new college rankings system — or, at least, an interesting one — is a deft combination of familiarity and surprise. Publish a list of nothing but unknown colleges and you lose credibility. Simply replicate the U.S. News hierarchy and you haven’t done anything worthy of attention. By this measure, the Money rankings are successful.

M.I.T., Stanford and the California Institute of Technology are all in the top 10. But so are Brigham Young, Harvey Mudd College and Babson College. Babson is a business-focused institution in Massachusetts that most people have probably never heard of. According to Money, it’s the No. 1 college in America.”

Anything to shake up the broken college rankings system is a good thing. In my heart of hearts, it hurts me that a classic liberal arts education is held in such a low regard in our society. Realistically, I want less people in debt, and a practical degree will help students pay off their horribly inflated loans.

Liminal Mother: On Nannying and Love

Liminal Mother: On Nannying and Love

“With Emma, I toed the line between best friend and disciplinarian. I had predicted this when I took the job: as a 22-year-old, I was closer to her age than her late-thirties parents were, which I had a more recent memory of what it was to be a five-year-old girl, of the trials and tribulations of being forced to eat something you thought was gross, of being made to go home and do homework just when the schoolyard game of tag was getting good, of having to get your knotty hair brushed and pulled into pigtails. But, as a young adult, I could also appreciate Emma’s parents’ point-of-view: she needed to eat vegetables, learn the alphabet, and not look like a ragamuffin. 

What I didn’t expect was that I would come to feel a motherly love towards Emma so intense that I began to hear my biological clock ticking a decade early. Caring for her made me feel whole in a way that scared me—I was too young to feel that all I needed to be happy was a child. Looking back, I realize that I felt whole when I was with Emma because I straddled a bizarre line: I saw myself as a child in Emma, and my mother in me. My exhaustion after my afternoons with Emma wasn’t just the result of the physical and mental work of taking care of a little girl. It was also from the emotional work of simultaneously reliving my childhood and seeing into my parenting future, of feeling as if I was carrying my mother with me when I was with Emma.”

It’s hard to explain why this essay touched me so deeply. There’s honesty and emotion here, and even when her story gets more intense, it doesn’t feel melodramatic or overwrought. It just feels real.

The Day We Set the Colorado River Free

The Day We Set the Colorado River Free

“It’s been more than 50 years since the Colorado River regularly reached the sea. But this spring, the U.S. and Mexico let the water storm through its natural delta for a grand experiment in ecological restoration. As the dam gates opened, a small band of river rats caught a once-in-a-lifetime ride.”

The story of the Colorado River is about as American as it gets; history, adventure, and politics all play a role. This is a tale of rebirth, but the ending isn’t exactly happily ever after. It’s happily for a little while, at least.

How Much Time Do You Spend On Your Smartphone? Let’s See

How Much Time Do You Spend On Your Smartphone? Let’s See

“The app is called Moment, and it is designed to help you monitor (and hopefully, lessen) the time you spend staring glassy-eyed at your phone. You set the ‘start’ and ‘end’ times for tracking your phone use, as well as your maximum daily limit. The app gives you ‘nudge’ updates every so often so you know how much time you’ve used.

[Kevin] Holesh says that because there’s no way to tell if a phone is unlocked — and thus, in use — Moment uses every piece of information it can to determine whether a phone is being used. This includes location, the position a phone is in, whether you’re connected to the Internet and the battery level.”

Brilliant idea. I don’t actually have a smart phone, but I still spend an unnecessary amount of time playing on the internet instead of living my life or even sleeping. My compulsion to refresh facebook 6,000 times a day is one of the reasons I’ve held off from getting a smart phone for so long. I’ve come to accept that eventually my current “dumb phone” will die & I’ll finally have to get a smart phone, but I have mixed feelings about it. I used to say it was about cost, but now it’s more about quality of life. Also, quite frankly, I’m terrified of carrying around a fragile, expensive piece of technology.

Viola Davis Gets Groundbreaking Role As ABC Bets On Diversity

Viola Davis Gets Groundbreaking Role As ABC Bets On Diversity

“A lot of the questions I get about race are really annoying,” [Shonda] Rhimes said. “I get a lot of ‘Why is it so hard to cast people of color?’ questions. My answer is always ‘Why are you asking me that question? Why don’t you ask someone who is not casting people of color? … I would rather you just look at the work. Because the world of television should look like the world outside.”

The fact is, Hollywood has found it extremely difficult to cast people of color as stars in TV shows. Forget about Seinfeld or HBO’s Girls presenting a New York that seems mostly devoid of nonwhite people; even ABC’s fall comedy Manhattan Love Story has few nonwhite supporting characters, despite its setting in one of the most diverse cities in the nation.

Looming in the background is a question you would think TV had settled years ago: Will mostly white network television audiences watch shows with mostly nonwhite casts and subject matter?

I am tired of this question. If it’s a well-written show, especially if it’s starring Viola Davis, I will, as a white person, watch it. In fact, I will go out of my way to watch this show. So there, Network Television Execs. Take that.