How To Claim Your Super Power

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If You Could Have Any Super Power, What Would It Be?

I love to ask people this question.

It allows me to understand their creative and philosophical perspective while getting to know a little bit more about them as an individual.

I used to do a lot if interviewing for a sales and marketing firm, and this was a question I would ask every candidate I interviewed. It was a fun way to dig into the psyche of the applicant while disarming them and making the conversation instantly interesting.

It was always interesting to watch them react because it is not a question anyone expects to get asked during a job interview.

It is not something you prepare for, and definitely not a question you expect to answer at an interview for a sales job.

That’s What Makes It A Great Question

If asking someone where they want to be in 5 years is a regular interview question, then asking them about an imaginary super power is a super question.

It allows me to immediately gauge how they react to the unknown.

It allows me to understand how quickly they can run through their creative decision making process as well as letting me see how creative they can actually be.

Letting them pick a a super power is never enough though. I always follow up by asking why they want that particular superpower.

The Beauty Of This Question Is Always In The Why…

I am not interviewing you for a job, but I am challenging you with the same question. If you could pick a superpower, what would it be? What would you do with it?

Why would you pick that superpower?

Would you use your power for good or evil? Do you want to fly so that you can see the world, or do you want to be invisible so you can sneak into the girls locker room undetected?

I know you aren’t all out there thinking about saving the world with your super powers so be honest with yourself. You know you have those dark thoughts inside of you. The ones that make you do all the shit you hate about yourself. The ones that you cannot control at times, even though you mostly do.

No sense in lying here. It is not like your job depends on it. And we are just thinking in our own heads, so why lie?

Me? I think about stopping time so I can rob a bank.

I think about it all the time.

I probably think about robbing banks more than anyone should. I have imagined detailed get-away plans, high-speed chases, and complicated cons for how to maximize the score and diminish the potential of failure.

That doesn’t mean it will ever happen. It doesn’t mean I am going to ever execute the plan but there is something that comes with understanding that part of yourself that is vital to claiming your real world super power.

Understanding and embracing this side of your brain has allowed me to understand my thought process It has allowed me to understand myself. My true self. Not the pretend me that I so often project to the world.

Is This Dude Really Talking About Superpowers?

I meet people with real life super powers every day. I even see people who think they are average when the real truth is that they have not yet discovered what the extent of their true power. Unable to understand that we all have a super power hidden inside us.

Yup! Let Me Explain

Have you ever met anyone with real life superpowers? Someone who seemed to be bullet-proof, always on the right side of fortune and amazingly efficient in their daily tasks. Never sad, hurt, angry or annoyed. Just calm, alert, prepared, and able to adapt to anything that comes their way.

The guy that always has the right answer, always knows what to do next. Ready at a moment’s notice, to run off and fight the villains of life.

The guy that gets all the girls. The girl who owns the sales floor, the quarterback who makes all the throws…

You look at these people and wonder how they do it, how they get it all done. How do they outperform you at work, on the court, in the gym and at life in general?

For some reason, no matter how nice you are and how good you live you just can’t seem to crawl out from under your rock.

You feel like no matter how hard you try or how good you become at whatever you do there will always be someone better than you so you do not push. You do not strive for excellence.

You think the world is always one step ahead and always out of reach.

You think that the system is holding you down so “why bother?”.

Well… I say “fuck that”! I say “forget about those people and quit comparing yourself to them”.

Quit thinking that anything in life is fair, or supposed to be easy. Quit thinking that you will be successful, simply because you are a good person or because you deserve it.

Quit thinking anyone owes you anything, should buy you a present, do something for you or even care about how you feel.

It is up to you to decide when, where, why, and how you take off the tie, rip open your shirt and strip down down to your tights, because until you can look at yourself in the mirror and love what you see you will never have a chance at being happy. No one can ever truly love you because if you do not love yourself, they will never have a chance to love you. They will have fallen in love with your facade and when it vanishes, so will they.

Shame On You…

For holding other people up as more than human.

For thinking that you are not capable of doing everything you dream you can do. Everything you know you can do. From unleashing the monster inside you. The monster that the world might hate but you might love.

The monster you feel it inside of you. Stirring. Waiting for you to set it free. Begging you to give in and let it help you become the person you always wanted to be.

For thinking that because someone has a little more money than you or a little more opportunity handed to them here and there that they are somehow better than you. For giving up hope in the fact that you can go and create value in this world and change your circumstance.

For forgetting that this is still America.

For forgetting that this is still a place where risk, hard work and determination are still rewarded. That this is a place where the underdog always has a chance and where the little guy is always the crowd favorite.

I don’t care what color you are or where you come from, if you wake up each day and bust your ass for something you believe in then no one can stand in your way.

You can still go out and make a difference in your own life and the lives of the people around you.

You can go be anyone, or anything, you want to be; so quit acting like a little bitch and grab your damn cape!

The Mutations

I can’t tell you where to find your super power or what specifically it is but I can guide you with examples of super powers I have encountered in this game called life.

When you finally discover your super power you will wonder what the heck took you so long and how you ever got along without it.

Control Time

No one is punctual anymore. Seriously… whats up with that?

It used to be a social taboo to show up late and now it seems that being late is the norm.

Some of my friends call it BPT which stands for Black People Time but we used to joke about Puerto Ricans always being late long before I found out what that was. My dad (born Puerto Rican) was adamant about us being on time. He used to tell me how much he hated people being late, especially other Latin people. It was a matter of pride. It was a matter of him honoring his word. That always struck a chord with me and has stayed with me to this date.

No matter what your race or what your excuse, being late is something you CAN control. Don’t give me the “I just can’t help it” excuse, because you and I both know it’s full of shit.

I get it. You slept in, forgot, or whatever but just fess up. We all do it. Don’t make a habit of it and make an effort to maximize the time you do spend working on your dream as well as for others.

And for gods sake, when you are with someone, make them feel like you are with them. Not in another galaxy, on your computer or on your phone. I know we can all say amen to that!


So many people restrict their ability to succeed in life by throwing hurdles in front of themselves.

We all know someone like this; I am sure of it. That person who has all the potential in the world but never seems to be doing anything with it.

The person who always has an excuse for why things are not going their way. Maybe they need to “go back to school” or they “need an investor to fund their idea”.

These people will never fly because they are always looking at things from a negative light. They are always looking for reasons why something will not work as opposed to looking for the things that will work.

If you want to fly, you have to look for opportunities. You have to look for opportunities to try as opposed to focusing on the reasons why you will fail. Just go do something. Google it. YouTube it. Learn a new skill. Pick up a new hobby. Create something from scratch.

You will be amazed at what you can learn for free these days and if you really want to fly, then set yourself free. Don’t listen to the people around you who are weighed down with the same self imposed constraints that you are trying to leave behind.

Become A Shape Shifter:

The easiest things to break in life are rigid. Think glass vs Plexiglas. Why do you think they put rebar in concrete? So that the structure can flex and not crumble. It adds flexibility to reinforce the concrete.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” Bruce Lee

Being flexible in life allows you to change and adapt. As an individual, you have something that the large organizations can never have; the ability to change strategies and turn on a dime. With this skill you can learn, adapt, perform and grow on the fly. Always one step ahead of everyone else.

Become Bullet-proof:

Walk free in the world, by becoming comfortable with your flaws.

Quit hiding them from yourself and your friends.

Quit pretending you are perfect and then you can finally quit expecting the world to see you that way.

We give the people around us so much power over our lives by letting their opinions influence our decision, buying behaviors, sexual experiences and personal relationships. Learn to stand up for yourself. Learn to think for yourself.

Learn to love yourself because without that no one can ever love you. Sure you can try and it will feel good for a while but it always comes out. We always crack.

You know what I am talking about. Maybe you are there right now. Maybe you feel like a house of cards, waiting for the whole thing to come crumbling down. Waiting for the straw that breaks the camels back.

Maybe you cant see it. Maybe you are clueless to the possibility of collapse, which is the worst of all possibilities, but be warned, the world is trying to break you.

The world will put you in the corner and beat on you until you tap out or come out swinging.

There is no referee. There is no bell; no buzzer to save you from this beat down.

But you can fight back. You don’t have to just sit there and take it.

You can protect yourself. You can grab a shield and defend against the constant attack of your self worth.

You can claim your super power.

You can say to yourself that you will no longer stand on the sideline and watch as our culture is destroyed.

Come On Man, Get Real!

I know people don’t really have super powers (I love me some X-men though).

I know that humans will probably never (not in my lifetime at least) be able to shape-shift, fly independently, travel through, or control time.

I just want you to see that more often than not, success comes through hard work and dedication. Not luck. Not government, not Jesus, not Allah and not your mamma!

It is up to you!

Why wouldn’t you want to achieve something with your life. Why shouldn’t you have dreams and goals? Why shouldn’t you learn how to live with nothing in order to understand the value of having it all.

Being given nice things might feel good and living in wealth is definitely appealing but I have to imagine that creating wealth is much more fulfilling. I have to believe that building something for yourself, something that you can call your own has to be exponentially more rewarding.

It’s Never The Idea; It’s The Execution

Going out and setting your mind to something and then getting it done is definitely something to get excited about. It is something you should be rewarded for. Who are we to set a cap on that reward?

Who are we to judge anyone else for what they have; to pretend like we know what it took for them to get it.

Who are we to covet their possessions; to force upon them your perception of what a fair share should be when you are unwilling to contribute any share at all.

Why not use their success as inspiration towards the next level of success in whatever it is that defines the boundaries of your life.

To conquer one thing in life and then pick something else. And then something else. And on and on, until you are a transformer of talent. A candidate so unemployable that you have to start your own company.

Because you will always feel undervalued when you finally discover what you’re actually worth.

What Are You Waiting For?

You never know what you might inspire someone to do if you just did a little more yourself.

If you stopped worrying about the rest of the world and just worried about you.

You might just use one of your super powers to save someones life. One day at a time.

You might just be the very reason why someone else is living their life, so how dare you give up on yours?

I’ll Ask You Again…

If you could have any super power… What would it be?

Career Hack: Re-Designing the CV to Get Your Dream Job

A step-by-step plan and some creative ideas…

Today I read a brilliant article about what a Product Manager actually does, as opposed to what the aspiring product manager thinks he will do.

I instantly remembered working with this girl Anna to help with her venture called What People Do, where she interviewed professionals about what their jobs involved. Her understanding was that when the young graduate read about the day-to-day tasks, the requirements and responsibilities, they’d have a better understanding about how to apply and what to expect.

At the time I thought it was clever. Now I think it’s brilliant.

As I was reading Sibha’s article about what Product Management is and isn’t, I thought, this is very helpful to anyone who wants to apply for the job.

It was this part that inspired the career hack I’ll share with you:

I was offered a position as a product management rotational associate at Intuit, a technologically and culturally amazing company. To my surprise because I didn’t really know what a product manager does. “Wow,” I thought as I read and reread my offer letter. “All I did in those interviews is talk about my passions. I wonder how that was enough.” To my surprisebecause my thesis was in psycholinguistics. Last I checked, the psychology of language has little to do with financial software.

When I was “designing” my CV back in the day CVs weren’t outdated, I thought stating the obvious and showing passion would be enough to land me the job. Career advisors taught me to look at the offer, do the research, and tailor my CV to that. However, what I did was focus on the words and the advice without really understanding the core of the problem:

People don’t always say what they’re looking for in job descriptions.

What they do is write up a generic description that could hardly inspire you to apply or get excited about the job, so you’re forced to apply blindly, listing qualities that are not necessarily what the employers secretly want.

That’s what happened in Sibha’s case.

Nothing in the job description said anything about psycholinguistics: only the employers knew that this would be beneficial to their business.

Now let me tell you about my Psychology degree.

It encompassed everything from Social to Evolutionary Psychology to Methodology and Critical Thinking. And while this formal education gave me a set of excellent transferable skills, it also gave me a headache when I sat down to update my CV. You see, there was an obvious lack of focus present, which is hardly a selling point, so I knew I’d have to get creative to land the job I wanted. (At this point, it was still an amorphous idea.)

To achieve that, I had to look beyond “the whole picture”, find some good selling points where there were none, and pretend that I wasn’t luxuriating and partying 24/7. Remember what the monkey in the Lion King said?

Here’s the plan I designed to apply for awesome jobs:

  1. Read about the job from the perspective of someone doing it,
  2. note the skills and personality traits you will need, and —
  3. dig deep into your past to find those skills, and —
  4. show them the benefits of hiring you.

Let’s make an example.

Even though I have no technical skills, I’d like to work with tech startups. I know a lot about the industry, I understand the psychology of users, and the whole process of creating a product fascinates me. While I don’t want to be a product manager necessarily, I would love to be a Happiness Officer.

This job title is a reflection of what I do for free, and wouldn’t it be something if I got paid for it!

As I understand it, it means providing excellent customer service that is above and beyond the call of duty. Simply put, it is keeping customers happy. But making people happy is not as easy as you’d think.

They are often grumpy and picky and generally unsatisfied when things don’t go the way they expect. You have to be sensitive, be able to walk some miles in their shoes, and choose the right thing to do under pressure.

If I was applying for this job I would give three reasons to hire me:

  1. I always apply “the customer is always right” even if they’re completely unreasonable and mean. Please read how I replied to this tweet.
  2. I did academic research on how positive exercises affect students’ well-being through time, and my extensive reading on the subject has taught me how to induce and achieve happiness in myself and others when need be.
  3. I am currently working on a client-centered project, which aims to acquire, engage, and retain customers. I believe that a fanbase is the most important foundation of a business and the part that leads to success.

Point 1 is a simple thing that people sometimes forget.

Point 2 is the obvious thing to put in your CV, but by offering a specific example you learned on the way, you’re giving them a tentative promise of a takeaway that will benefit their company if you worked for them.

Point 3 is something that hasn’t paid off yet, but the fact that I’m working on it demonstrates that I have enough passion to do it for free.

You can’t really say “I’m passionate” and not show it.

By providing three simple examples, I described myself, my experience, and my vision. However, the most important thing is to be able to back up your words. In my case, it would help if my online presence reflected my bubbly personality and included more superlatives and fewer complaints.

Finally, I always encourage people to be creative in everything they do.

This is why I was impressed with Miruna Macri’s job-hunting strategy. Being a designer, she made herself a creative portfolio in the form of a passport and conveniently “forgot it” in every creative studio she visited.

There are a million ways to be creative even if you don’t have any artistic skills. Some online portfolio services promise to “turn your portfolio into a marketing machine”. But I’m more interested in startups that revolutionize things instead of putting bells on old ideas.

One such startup is Somewhere. They change the way people think about work by expanding its definition. Usually, it’s what you get paid for, but what about all the projects you do for passion and no money? They’re still work.

In fact, that’s the work you’d kill to be paid for, which you’re afraid you can’t have but secretly know you deserve. By displaying these passion projects on a site, you increase your chances of getting the dream job because you show your creative side. And you express yourself, no limits.

Apart from building a creative portfolio, you can also write a creative cover letter. For example, you can list “10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Hire Me”, just make sure that while the reasons might be seen as “bad” by society, they will be seen as “good” by innovative people who think outside the box.

That way, you’ll know if the company is a good fit for you when the fall in love with your crazy application. Speaking of which, I have this collection called The Crazy Pitch, where you can contribute your crazy stories.

Seriously, this is exactly the kind of thing I like to read with my coffee.

P.S. If you like hacks, you’d love the One Month Growth startup course.

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Is Tech Money Good For San Francisco’s Middle Class? An Economist’s Perspective

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The liberal wonderland of the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the highest concentration of wealth in the country. Twitter’s IPO, alone, created an estimated 1,600 millionaires. But, are local residents catching any of the dollar bills being shaken from post-IPO money trees?

It’s been hard to decipher the broader impacts of technology on the average San Franciscan because heart string-tugging anecdotes have clouded the narrative. Critics of tech companies make headlines by protesting Google’s private buses and indirectly linking their existence with the surge in housing evictions. ”There’s a war brewing in the streets of San Francisco,” wrote former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

On the other hand, tech champions like to trot out small business owners who have benefited from re-locating tech HQ’s to blighted areas of the city’s historic Market district. So, to cut through the cherry-picked anecdotes, I asked San Francisco’s local economists what their take is and, as you’d imagine, they fall somewhere between the techno-utopian dreamspeak that you sometimes hear in the industry and the dire descriptions of the activists.

One thing is clear: they believe that the money flowing into SF is a good thing and is bolstering the local economy.

There is a “but” in the economic optimism, and its big enough to need two plane seats: skyrocketing rents are pricing many locals out of the city. Some have managed to fasten themselves to rent-controlled properties, but many have been forcibly evicted from their homes. On balance, tech money has built one of the sturdiest economic shelters from the ravages of recession, but those who get hit, well, they get hit hard.

Local Multipliers Makin’ It Rain

“Our analysis suggests the tech sector is responsible for the vast majority of the economic growth in San Francisco since 2010,” said San Francisco’s Chief Economist, Ted Eagen. “In 2010-2012, the latest year we have complete data, local inflation has been 2.6%, while wages for all workers have increased by 4.5%.” About 2/3rds of those approximately 40,000 new jobs do not require a computer science degree or a closet full of expensive sneakers.

Partly thanks to the tech sector, the San Francisco Bay Area enjoys the 3rd lowest unemployment rate (4.8%) of California’s 58 counties. What accounts for this? Berkeley Economist Enrico Moretti argues that technologists have a special bond with the local economy.

“Anytime there is a job opening for a software engineer at Google In San Francisco, there’s an increase in the demand for local service workers,” he said. On average, Moretti says that every tech job creates five in other industries, as compared to just two from a manufacturing job. In part, because tech jobs just pay more there’s more disposable income to spend on maids, lawyers, and clothing.

“There must be someone who brings in the wealth,” said Moretti. Additionally, unlike the specialized needs of a manufacture, all the hair dresses, car washers, and tax pros that Google brings in for its workers are local. As a result, San Franciscans have seen their paychecks swell about 2x faster than inflation can eat it, (4.6% increase in wages vs. 2.6% inflation). From census data (below), San Francisco has fared slightly better than their surrounding California neighbors during the recession recovery. Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 1.50.30 PM “So outside of the tech industry, workers have benefitted from increased employment opportunities and rising real wages,” Eagan concludes.

However, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. I spoke to one local clothing store owner whose story is a microcosm of all the city’s changes. The owner, who preferred to stay anonymous, resides on San Francisco’s Valencia St., the super-hip drag that has become the dividing line between the poverty-stricken Mission St. just a half-a-block East.

As chic restaurants with +$20 entrees began to swarm his business, it likewise brought with it new customers willing to shell out their ample recreational budgets on new forms of expensive Bay Area entertainment. “Burning Man, it’s like Christmas for me,” he jokes, referring to the drug-friendly arts festival held in the Nevada desert every Fall, especially popular among Googlers.

But, his long-time regular clients were forced to move into cheaper parts of the Bay. “Most of my customer, they drove away,” he notes with a hint of melancholy. Sky-high rents have eroded both his additional income, as well as the regulars that used to grace his store.

And, this is where the otherwise happy tale of tech money gets dark: housing prices.

Home Ownership As Housesitting For Rich People Not Yet Moved In

Technologists are fans of a non-zero sum world, but they have yet to discover an app that can physically expand San Francisco, seasteading notwithstanding. Scarcity in housing has led to a rent-hiking arms race.

San Francisco is burdened with the least affordable housing in the country. Just 14% of homes are affordable to the middle-class and two bedroom apartments are above $3,200 for families. According to real estate website, Redfin, San Francisco housing is more than 3x as pricey as it’s windy city peer to the East, Chicago ($177K vs. $599,000). chart_2 With sky-high purchasing prices and rents, housing costs are outstripping the pace of salary for some in San Francisco. “In 2012 average rents paid (as measured by the Census) grew over 7%, which is faster than the wage increases for most non-tech industries,” said Eagan.

However, “The vast majority of rental units in San Francisco are covered by rent control, so workers who did not move out of such units since 2010 will have seen wages growing much faster than their rents.”

Unfortunately, some landlords has found a way to evict long-time residents, and the resulting fight has made the tech industry the target. One local bookstore owner in the Mission District told me the rent hikes have challenged some of the good that the tech industry has brought.

“There’s less crime, which is good; rents are insane, which is very very very bad,” he said. Without rent control, he says, he wouldn’t be able to live in his current neighborhood.

Do We Need Affordable Housing Units? 

The mayor is calling for more cheaper units reserved for struggling middle-class families making less than the $72,947 median income (yes, that’s the median income in San Francisco, FML). But, it’s unclear how many are needed, if at all, since government assistance begets bureaucracy, and city bureaucracy tends to slow things to a grinding halt.

Berkeley Economist Enrico Moretti tells me that increased housing supply does relieve rents in “every spectrum” of income. He observed that after Seattle significantly increased construction, rent hikes slowed even during a jobs boon that outpaced San Francisco’s.

Most importantly, the impact is linear, meaning that every single new house affects the price of every other house. The faster we build, the faster rent gets cheaper, and faster techies stop battling locals for coveted rent-controlled units. Unfortunately, there is no plausible economic model under which prices go down, and homes are already beyond the reach of 86% of middle-income families.

Hong Kong, California

We love economists, but sometimes they discount the innumerable parts of life. San Francisco has a long history restricting housing to maintain the quaint Victorian look of the Bay.  ”Do we want San Francisco to look like Hong Kong?” asks San Francisco State University Professor and former city planner, Jasper Rubin. He says that the city has never really tried to quantify the demand, but describes it as “tantamount to infinite.”

With enough housing to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of tech workers and wanna be entrepreneurs, San Francisco would be reshaped into a wall of sky-scrappers. Indeed, the good folks at simulated what the South Bay’s sky-line would look like if it housed all of the major tech company’s workers. It’s Hong Kong-ish:

Googleplex Housing Aerial from East

Thank A Techie, But Help The Needy

For most San Franciscans, tech’s presence has brought reprieve from a recession that ravaged the rest of the country. But, economists deal in averages; those who fall to the left of the distribution curve are subject to a game of capitalism Russian roulette, where their house and community are left to the whims of wealthier buyers.

The defenseless ought not be discounted in our praise of the tech sector, but we should also not forget that without their presence, San Francisco would likely be much worse off.

Illustration: Bryce Durbin

Fixing the Broken Gender Binary Means Accepting Nuance



Transgender people are confronted with societies dysphoria as they transgress ideas about the way things should be.

A child playing dress up plays with many ideas—what it is to be an adult, a mommy, a daddy, a boy or a girl. Dress-up play, even cross dressing, is not at all unusual. It allows for experimentation and role play. When I was a little girl, I wanted to play with “boy Lego” because mine was pastel colored and did not come with any of the flat pieces that make a great foundation for a mile-high Lego house. I wanted to play with remote control cars. I was also girly and dressed up pretending to be princesses and queens (or sailor scouts). I never thought very much about my body; it was a vehicle to move me from place to place until about ten years-old, once the beginnings of puberty began to happen. For Bella, a Toronto-based transwoman, being trans meant realising her body wasn’t demonstrative of who she knew she was. When she played dress up in particular, it was less about pretending to be someone else and more about discovering who she really was. She says, “as I got older it [dress up] was done in secret and was about getting to spend some time as myself and just feel like a normal girl”. She shares more about her story on her blog. Often, being transgender doesn’t have an ‘ah ha’ moment where a person realises that they should have been born a boy or a girl; it is instead an ongoing awareness that your sex does not match your gender expression.

Photos from “Crinoline Flowers” by Sophia Banks

The feelings around one’s body as a transgender person varies. Not everyone experiences dysmorphia and not everyone desires to ‘pass’ as a cisgendered person. Nadia, another transwoman I spoke with, describes the emergence of her trans identity as experiencing body dysmorphia:

“My early conscious ideas about gender transition were essentially attempts at genital self-mutilation. Later, I was exposed to transsexual pornography, whose focus on the uncorrected anatomy deceived me about what transsexuals were. Given what my impulses were in relation to what the pornography focused on, there is an obvious reason why I didn’t latch onto the idea of transsexuality as it was presented to me in pornography. After I was institutionalized following the self-mutilation and suicide attempts, it’s unclear to me what the psychiatrists thought of me, but within the institutions in which I spent most of my adolescence, it was not interpreted as transsexuality. In the summer between leaving my parents’ care and entering college, I actually met two transwomen who informed me of what SRS [sex-reassignment surgery] was, though not about the entirety of transition. The idea of converting the male anatomy to a functioning, non-protruding organ instead of a scarred stump with urinary incontinence appealed to me so greatly I was determined to get SRS afterward.”

Again and again in researching stories about transgender you come across those where the person always felt that their body wasn’t indicative of their gender. In the Atlantic, Hanna Rosin shares the story of Brandon—an eight-year old who has insisted on performing gender as a female. In her piece, Rosin highlights the debate within the medical field on gender especially the conversation around treating transgender children with puberty blockers that would allow for a new generation on trans children to live inconspicuously.

Photos from “Crinoline Flowers” by Sophia Banks

The hormones prevent boys from growing facial and body hair and an Adam’s apple, or developing a deep voice or any of the other physical characteristics that a male-to-female transsexual would later spend tens of thousands of dollars to reverse. They allow girls to grow taller, and prevent them from getting breasts or a period.

In thinking about the human body, certain technologies are essential for the medical procedures known as a “sex change”. Without knowledge of endocrinology and plastic surgery there would be no hormone treatments or genital surgery. A transgender person is, according to the International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy someone whose gender identity or expression differs from the socially constructed expectations of maleness and femaleness. These medical advances both assist and exacerbate the context of the artificial division of the world into things that are masculine or feminine, otherwise known as the gender binary.

Feeling one particular gender over another is puzzling to cisgender or “cis” people (the gender identity where a person’s self-perception of gender identity matches the sex they were born). In an article at Time Magazine, the author cites a survey of Americans by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), 3 in 10 Americans still can’t define transgender and often conflate it with sexual orientation. Says Jeannette a Aberystwyth based transwoman, “whenever I get asked about my trans status, it’s always followed up by “does that mean you like guys/girls?” A large part of the confusion may be due to the stringent gender roles in society. Since before we are able to speak, gender roles are vigorously enforced less the androgyny of childhood cause you to be misgendered. From the start, boys and girls are treated differently by people in their own environment (parents, siblings and caregivers), and thus very early do we learn the difference between boys and girls, women and men. For example, a meta-analysis of research regarding gender roles found that physical punishment is more commonly applied to boys. The same study found that though there are differences in socialization in regards to play and housework it is difficult to ascertain whether parents are creating preferences or reinforcing them (a point in the study I found dubious in regards to housework which anecdotally I would say it seems to not be enjoyed by either boys or girls).

Photos from “Crinoline Flowers” by Sophia Banks

There are issues that come up when a trangender person desires to transition.

Being a cisgender woman means you do not have to wear heels or makeup and your gender or, dedication to your gender, is never questioned. You may be insulted for appearing manly, but you will not be denied the right to exist as you are. From an academic or medical perspective, there are almost immediate assumptions about transsexualism including the desire to undergo gender confirmation surgery which not all trans people desire, especially as sterilization is a consequence.

Medicalizing transsexualism confines a person to the composition of their genitals. Indeed, medical journals detailing transsexualism display photographs and anatomical drawings of the sex organs and rarely the person as a whole giving the impression of a somewhat fetishized field of inquiry. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) no longer uses “gender identity disorder” to describe trans people. The shift is not unlike the removal of homosexuality as a disorder. In a piece by Kelly Craig about the changes to the DSM Jack Drescher, a New York psychiatrist and member of the APA subcommittee said. “All psychiatric diagnoses occur within a cultural context. We know there is a whole community of people out there who are not seeking medical attention and live between the two binary categories. We wanted to send the message that the therapist’s job isn’t to pathologize”.

Photos from “Crinoline Flowers” by Sophia Banks

This is the peculiar place that those who are non-gender conforming find themselves in.

There is progress in accepting that gender is more fluid than sex, and yet there remains adamant opposition to rights and protections being properly afforded to transgender people. Gender differences are not decided by biology or sociology alone. It is a complex alchemy that is yet to be fully understood in a society that tries to view things as black-and-white. The drive to have people express the gender identity expected since birth has caused discrimination and violence to be heaped upon the trans community. Though both academia and popular culture have evolved in the way transgender people are discussed, there remains a lack of humanization in the critiques and medical conversations. It’s important to remember you aren’t dealing with an abstract concept, but a human being. As children play dress up and costume themselves as a part of the process of discovering who they are, boys or girls express gender identity in different ways. Society needs to remember to live with nuance. We stand to gain more in our own humanity by acknowledging it in others.

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Pinterest For iPad Adds Place Pins, iOS And Android Apps Get Animated GIFs

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Pinterest isn’t just for elaborate napkin crafts for your book club soiree, or for bragging about inhuman feats of supernatural cupcakery; it also makes a pretty stellar travelogue. A new update for Pinterest for iPad adds Place Pins to the tablet title, as well as animated GIF support for both iOS applications and the Android app.

Places originally launched in November on Pinterest on the web, and account for over 1.5 million pins per day (there are around 5 million total article pins per day according to stats from December). To date, over 750 million Place Pins have been shared by Pinterest’s network of users, and there are 2 million unique place boards in total on the network.

As for the GIFs, support for animated ones on the iOS and Android apps was built overnight at an internal hackathon at Pinterest. They officially dub these “Make-a-thons,” and they’ll be familiar in concept to anyone who works at a startup: all-nighters where coders crank out improvements that otherwise may not make the daily to-do list.

On the official Pinterest engineering blog, the animated GIF integration was built by a team of two engineers, a design and a localization manager working on it in one day. They launched the feature on the web immediately back in January, and built out mobile support at the same time. You can read more about how it came together behind the scenes over at the Pinterest tech blog where Ludo Antonov describes how they tested the feature before implementation despite the tight deadline.

2014 is set to be a big year for Pinterest, as it plans to generate its first revenue via paid promoted pins from advertisers. CEO Ben Silbermann recently detailed his company’s advertising plans to the Wall Street Journal, though he only discussed a general goal to launch a product by the end of this year, and didn’t outline specific revenue goals or dates.