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What’s the Cultural Impact of Transgender Characters on TV? – Newsweek

Posted: August 12, 2017 at 10:45 pm

This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

In 2014, Time magazine declared American culture had reached a transgender tipping point, with transgender people achieving unprecedented media visibility.

However, in light of recent policy shifts such as the White Housesrollback of federal guidelines that supported transgender studentsand Trumps July 26Twitter pronouncementthat the U.S. military will no longer allow transgender service members some have questioned whether this visibility has actually meant greater acceptance of trans people.

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The cast of ‘Transparent,’ the acclaimed Amazon original series. Transparent/Amazon Prime

Studies have shown thatentertainment has the powerto shape attitudes on health and social issues, fromorgan donationto thedeath penalty. But little research has explored the impact of portrayals of transgender people.

For this reason, we wanted to see how transgender TV characters might influence the attitudes of viewers. Specifically,we testedwhether political ideology plays a role in how audiences respond to these potentially polarizing depictions.

Transgender Media Visibility

Times transgender tipping point from a few years ago was attributed to fictional trans characters in shows like Transparentand Orange Is the New Blackandnews coverageof controversial policy issues, such asdiscrimination lawsuitsabout school bathrooms. In April 2015,nearly 17 million peoplewatched Caitlyn Jenner come out as transgender on 20/20.

It was in this context that the USA Network drama Royal Painsincluded a storyline about a fictional transgender teen named Anna who experiences complications while transitioning from male to female. Although Annas subplot lasted only 11 minutes, it grappled with numerous issues: the medical professions historical treatment of transgender individuals as mentally ill, parental rights regarding adolescent transitions and the risks of hormone replacement therapy.

Actress Laverne Cox, left, and writer Janet Mock embrace each other at the 23rd annual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in New York March 24, 2012. Andrew Kelly/Reuters

We first learned of the upcoming Royal Painsstoryline in early 2015, when the shows writers contacted Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S), a USC Annenberg-affiliated program that gives entertainment industry professionals accurate and timely information for storylines on health, safety and national security. (Erica is a researcher at HH&S.)

HH&S facilitated conversations between the writers and an expert in the medical treatment of transgender youth. The resulting June 23, 2015 episode, “The Prince of Nucleotides, receiveda 2016 GLAAD Media Award, with transgender activistNicole Mainesmaking her acting debut as Anna.

Media Bubbles

Before we could study the impact of Annas storyline, we wanted to make sure that the audience was mixed in its views on transgender rights in other words, that the show wouldnt simply be preaching to the choir.

Since the 2016 U.S. election,countlessstorieshave explored the media bubbles in which Americans live. This trend toward fragmentation permeates news, social media andentertainment. TV shows with broad audience appeal tend to address hot-button social issues relatively infrequently andsuperficially. Regular viewers of boundary-pushing series, on the other hand, may alreadybe left-leaning.

Research by GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) indicates that transgender characters have appeared primarily on streaming platforms and premium cable channels, while broadcast network showswhich have larger audiencestend to feature transgender characters only in brief storylines, if at all.

This means viewers disinclined to watch a show like Transparent,which features several trans characters, might still encounter such characters in minor storylines in mainstream programs.

Royal Pains(2009-2016) was about as mainstream as TV gets today. The show had no real history of addressing LGBTQ issues, so Annas episode was unlikely to attract a particularly trans-supportive audience. For us, this made it the ideal show to study transgender portrayals and how they might influence viewers across the ideological spectrum.

Do Minor Subplots Make a Difference?

Because HH&S had consulted on the storyline, the members of USA Networks social media team were open to helping us with our study. They posted links to our survey on the shows official Facebook and Twitter accounts following the episode. We supplemented this sample by recruiting Royal Painsviewers from market research panels. Only those who had seen the episode or one of the two prior episodes were eligible. Of the 488 viewers in our study, 391 had seen Annas episode.

Because there were several different shows at the time featuring transgender characters, we asked viewers which of these they had seen. We also measured their exposure to transgender issues in the news, including the unfolding Caitlyn Jenner story.

Finally, we examined several important variables that are known to impact viewers. These includeidentificationwith main characters, a sense of being drawn into the world of the story (what media scholars call transportation) and theemotions evokedby the storyline.

We foundthat Royal Painsviewers who saw Annas story had more supportive attitudes toward transgender people and policies, and we found a cumulative effect of exposure to transgender entertainment narratives. The more portrayals viewers saw, the more supportive their attitudes. Neither exposure to such issues in the news nor Caitlyn Jenners story had any effect on attitudes. In other words, the fictional stories we examined were more influential than events in the news.

Consistent withprevious research, in our data, political conservatism strongly predicted negative attitudes toward transgender people and lower support for policies that benefit transgender people. However, exposure to two or more transgender storylines cut the strength of this link in half. That is, politically conservative viewers who saw multiple shows featuring transgender characters had more positive attitudes toward trans people than those who saw just one.

Political ideology also shaped viewers responses to the Royal Painsnarrative. Those who were politically liberal were more likely to feel hope or identify with Anna, whereas those who were politically conservative were more likely to react with disgust.

Beyond the Bubble

Hollywood is not a panacea for healing our nations deep partisan and ideological divisions. To influence attitudes on a broad scale, entertainment storylines must first reach audiences outside cloistered media bubbles.

However, our research suggests nuanced portrayals of transgender individualsparticularly in mainstream forms of entertainmentcan break down ideological barriers in a way that news stories may not. Cumulative exposure across multiple shows had the greatest impact on attitudes, but even a relatively brief storyline had a powerful effect too. While politically conservative viewers were more likely to react with disgust, such reactions were tempered by seeing trans characters on a variety of shows.

At a recent GLAAD-sponsored panel,trans actress and activist Laverne Cox noted:

Weve got to tell these stories better because lives are on the line. Trans people are being murdered, are being denied health care, access to bathrooms and employment and housing because of all of thesemisconceptions that people have about who we really are.

As the future ofthousands of active duty service membershangs in the balance, its more imperative than ever to understand how the public responds to media representations of transgender people.

Erica L. Rosenthal is a Senior Research Associate, Hollywood, Health & Society, University of Southern California.

Traci Gillig is a PhD Candidate in Communication, University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

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What’s the Cultural Impact of Transgender Characters on TV? – Newsweek

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Niwot author pioneers interventions for Autoimmune Disease – Left Hand Valley Courier

Posted: at 10:45 pm

Along with the growing stressors of modern life, theres been a corresponding dependence on fatigue fighters such as energy drinks, triple-shot lattes and Mountain Dew. We take supplements to re-charge our metabolic systems, often reaching for quick-fix solutions when what we really need is to rest and recharge. But then, whos got the time?

But without time spent each day in an anabolic state, or what Niwot author and pharmacist Dr. Izabella Wentz calls a state of rest and digest, were basically telling our bodies that were unsafea situation that, over a sustained period, triggers biologic responses that can lead to autoimmune conditions.

At 27, Wentz was diagnosed with Hashimotos disease, also known as hypothyroidism, an autoimmune condition that results in an underactive thyroid gland. Wentz often felt cold, with other symptoms including hair loss, acid reflux, fatigue and depression. Like many autoimmune sufferers, she was told by doctors that her symptoms were just in her head.

One doctor told her she was experiencing the normal signs of aging, she said. That was her wake-up call. From then on Wentz took a more active role in figuring out her own road back to health.

That plan led to remission, and her recovery eventually led to the publication of her latest New York Times bestseller, Hashimotos Protocol: a 90-day plan for reversing thyroid symptoms and getting your life back, which released on March 28, 2017.

The condition runs in Wentzs family, and she attributes her mother as the force behind the book, urging her to write so that my cousins in Poland would start feeling better too, she said.

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that produces hormones such as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which stimulate vital processes throughout the body. Not coincidentally, thyroid hormones impact the proper functioning of the bodys heat production, its ability to make use of vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats, along with fertility and growth. In hypothyroidism, the bodys immune system attacks its own cells, and if not caught in its early stages, the gland can become permanently damaged.

Hormone replacement therapy is the first step on the road to recovery, but because Hashimotos is so complex, Wentz recommends several dietary and lifestyle changes as well.

Gluten seems to be a major trigger for producing an autoimmune response. Cardiologist and author, Dr. William Davis, argues in his 2011 book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, that genetically altered Frankenwheat has been imposed on the public by agricultural geneticists and agribusinesses to disastrous results for the collective gut.

But whatever the cause of the populations prevalent wheat sensitivities, Wentzs protocol encourages a 90-day abstinence from flare-up triggers such as wheat, alcohol and caffeine, and recommends that anyone diagnosed with Hashimotos to remain gluten-free indefinitely.

An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid disease, according to the American Thyroid Association. And though theres a disproportionate number of women hit with thyroid conditions, theres no known reason why. But Wentz offers some theories, which include exposure to toxins in personal care products, along with pregnancy, genetics and culture.

Women often put themselves last, she said. Theres a stigma attached to women who demand attention or have too many needstheyre considered high maintenance.

In addition, [Women] jump from one activity to the next, from school to work, to childrens sports, to homework to dinner. Were rushed in the mornings, we eat in the carour time is overly scheduled.

For every one man, she said, five to eight women are diagnosed with a thyroid condition.

Hashimotos triggers also include nutrient depletions, food sensitivities and intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut), among others. So it makes sense that treatment includes changes in eating and other lifestyle behaviors.

Taking probiotics helps to balance gut flora, and the removal of triggering foods from the diet can make huge changes in an autoimmune sufferers sense of well-being. But the biggest impact, for Wentz, happened when she started taking a thiamine supplementsimple vitamin B1.

Youll know in five days if its going to help, she said. It helped resolve her fatigue issues. Another easy solution with a huge payoff came over-the-counter as well: digestive enzymes. Other recommendations include gut-healing nutrients, such as Omega-3s, zinc, L-glutamine and bone broth.

Stress causes the adrenal glands to pump out extra hormones, shifting the body from a relaxing, digesting and healing state, to a fight-or-flight response state. To promote the rest-and-digest state, Wentz suggests introducing more self-care activities. Sipping hot lemon water in the mornings for its liver-supporting properties while enjoying a warm water foot soak will give the metabolism a boost.

You can add lavender or other essential oils to the water, [and] set your intentions for the day, she said.

She also recommends spending an hour every day reading inspirational or spiritual books, Whatever you find uplifting, she said. Journaling can also be helpful. You can make a list of your health goals and journal about it. Then check in with yourself.

She also suggests celebrating small successes. Maybe your hair has stopped falling out (though maybe it hasnt grown back yet), but stillits progress, she said. Listen to your body, she continued. If youre tired, take a nap. If youre taking a lot of Maalox, eat less acid-forming foods, such as fresh vegetables, and avoid sugar, caffeine and alcohol. You can do anything for 90 days. The results may just be worth it.

Wentz has a Facebook community where people with Hashimotos write in with questions ranging from how to combat a vitamin B12 deficiency (she recommends sublingual tablets), to whether or not sufferers should stop dyeing their hair (yes). Visit her at Hashimotos Protocol, and Wentzs first book, Hashimotos Thyroiditis, are available at most major book retailers.

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Transitioning: Controversy, corrections and new-found peace, Misty Lane is finally finding happiness with herself – Douglas Budget

Posted: at 10:45 pm

The camper was never meant to be anyones home, but the 120-acre spread it sits on is the closest thing to a home the tenant has ever known. More importantly, it marks the place where one way of life ends, andanother begins. In most cases, a name doesnt matter.

For this story, its critical.

Start with Mark.

For the first 20 years of his life, he was a tattooed, muscled roughneck who worked oil rigs, collected muscle cars and raced mud bog trucks; a real self-described Wyoming redneck. When Mark was 21, he legally changed his name to Misty. And for the first time in his life, Mark felt he was who he is supposed to be a woman. Mark, now Misty, puts on eye shadow, wears frilly shirts and dons tennis shoes with pink laces when she climbs under the car to change the oil.

Misty is very much a mans man. In this regard, her gender identity is still at odds with her sex in that shes still very much a guy when it comes to her interests, including her preference for dating women. Ironically, the more comfortable she feels in her female body with breast implants and hormone therapy, the more ostracized she becomes in the community.

Life would be easier if Misty left Wyoming.

But just as her personal interests havent changed, she loves everything shes always loved about living out West. She doesnt expect people to understand, nor does she blame anyone for their reaction, particularly given where they live. Wyoming isnt exactly open-minded when it comes to homosexuals and transgenders. The Code of the West is pretty straightforward when it comes to gender: guys are guys.

Despite all masculine traits to the contrary, she identifies female, which she realizes is hard to explain to someone who was born with the correct body.

I dont think its an issue of want. You have to, she says, biting a corner of her blunt thumbnail. Essentially, you have the base knowledge that somethings not right. Eventually, it eats away at you like a cancer. But its not eating away at your body, its eating away at your soul.

The reverberation in her Pops garage is squint-worthy. A lit Marlboro dangling from one corner of her mouth and mirror Raybans pushed back on the top of her head, Misty smiles through the windshield of her vintage Camero and gives it another rev.

Its an original SS, she screams over the roar, rattling off a list of bits and pieces that apparently make it faster and louder. Under the white-striped ebony hood, the engine screams.

She jumps out to show off some of the original components underneath the hood, struggling with one hand to release the latch. The other hand rests idly at her side like an inflated surgical glove, swollen with a staph infection that wont seem to go away, despite the daily trips to Casper for antibiotics.

She slammed her hand under the hood of her truck last week.

This is where Misty and Mark begin to diverge. Despite the long hair and frosty pink eye shadow, her hands still belong to Mark. Thick-knuckled with half moons of grease under the nails, these are hands used to doing dirty work.

This has always been her passion. Shes a certified mechanic and, as Mark, had worked for years in the trade, even owning her own shop.

Now, as Misty, its much harder to find work. People arent exactly clamoring to hire a former man who now identifies as a female. The trouble is that though her genders changed, her skills havent.

Doors dont exactly open to a man wearing make up and pink shoelaces and introducing herself with a girls name. Usually, the employer says that she doesnt fit their company image or says there are no openings. Sometimes shes just met with abject stares and smirks.

Its funny people will hire ex-cons no problem, Misty says, flicking an ash on the ground after a deep inhale, but forget about hiring a transgender.

Unfortunately for Misty, she falls into both categories. Worse, she bears the label of a registered sex offender given that she went to jail after a lusty night of heavy petting with a 14 year old an encounter that landed her two years in prison and another year of probation. Shes been out for less than 10 months.

Misty is stoic when it comes to defending that charge. She screwed up, plain and simple. The girl lied about her age, Misty says, and she didnt think to check her ID.

Thats completely on me and Ive served my time.

Misty shrugs. Shit happens.

I may have a shitty reputation as a person, she says, squinting as she tightens a bolt, but Im a damned good mechanic.

Smart, too, she adds, not afraid to admit she has an IQ of 142. She loves working on cars and would prefer spending her days in a garage away from people. Cars make sense to her, people dont.

That includes herself.

All her life she felt that something wasnt quite right but it took her years to realize that it was her gender.

Shed always felt more comfortable as a female, beginning with her earliest memory of her sister and cousin dressing her up in their clothing, but how, as a boy, do you admit that out loud? Especially when its clear your parents disapprove. Misty remembers being confused when her father beat the hell out of her after finding Mark wearing a dress, berating his sisters for trying to turn him into some kind of sissy.

Clothing plays a big part in Marks gender identity, both as a haven and a form of torture. She prefers feminine clothing and always has. Mistys worst childhood memories revolve around holidays and being forced to wear suits and ties. She had no idea why it made her miserable.

Her confusion, too, was compounded as a teenager, when she went to see the doctor about a bladder infection, and according to Misty, found out she also had a uterus and was therefore considered innersex, the term for a person born with the sexual or reproductive anatomy of both a female and male. Oddly, innersex births are more common that one might think. According to the Intersex Society of North America, it occurs in nearly one in every 2,000 births.

The fact that she had a uterus didnt exactly make the situation any better.

How do you approach a person with that statement, Misty laughs, bitterly. She didnt have anyone to talk to about this when she was younger, so she just tried to live with it and do her best to fit in.

Trying to do anything outside of the social norm as a teenager is hard enough, she says. It doesnt matter what it is. Its not met well.

This grin-and-bear-it strategy didnt work, however, and after two suicide attempts in her early twenties, she realized she only had one choice: Become a woman or die.

Theres no way to explain how it feels to be born with the wrong body. You either get it or you dont. What Misty can tell you, however, is that the day she buried Mark and became Misty was the moment she realized what it felt like to breathe.

First the name change, then came breast implants, hormone replacement therapy, make up and female clothing.

Its hard to explain, Misty says, but when you start to transform physically, the mental follows. These thoughts and feelings have always been inside her but up until now shes worked hard to hide it. With every step toward transition, she feels a weight being lifted.

Its kinda like being on deadline, Misty pauses. Like theres so much stress and pressure trying to get the work done, but the second that you meet that deadline, you instantly feel a sense of relief.

There are a lot of people who dont get what it means to be transgender, she adds. People think its some kind of fetish, guys who like to put on make up and dresses and pretend to be a girl.

For Misty, it means living in a body where she feels she finally belongs. Its real. The make up and clothing reinforce her sense of femininity. Shes not doing this for attention.

Believe her. Theres nothing fun about being stared at or having obscenities yelled at you or otherwise being treated like some kind of freak, especially here.

Look around you, she shrugs. Lets face it, Wyoming hasnt exactly evolved a lot. If you want to experience the old West, just go outside.

Regardless of geography, Misty chooses to live as a woman with the goal of saving enough money to have gender reassignment surgery, a procedure that involves turning her penis into a vagina. The hefty price tag$22,000 just for the surgery alonekeeps it a faraway dream, but shes determined to make it happen. Shes met the criteria, talked to several doctors and has done the research. Now, its just a matter of when.

Im not going to cave, Misty says, slamming the hood as she reaches into her back pocket for another smoke. Its not in my nature. Id be more afraid of meeting my maker and telling him why I didnt have the courage to do what I needed to do.

Theres an official process involved when it comes to switching genders. In order to officially become a woman, surgically speaking, Misty had to first prove she has lived in a female role for over a year and had to do so many months of hormone therapy replacement treatment. She also had to have a psychological evaluation that validated, that yes, she identified as a female.

That part, logistically speaking, was easy.

The harder part comes now as she leaves Marks world behind in order to become Misty. One doesnt ever get to easily dispose of a body, even if just in name only.

First there are a few demons to exorcise, starting with teenage Mark, a tough guy with a chip on his shoulder.

I wasnt a very nice person back then, Misty says, shrugging.

And those who knew him in high school, like Maria Bromley, would agree. Though Maria hated Mark in high school, shes since fallen in love with Misty, who shes learned to see in an entirely new light.

He was pretty much a total a**hole, Maria says, cuddling now against Mistys shoulder.

Its fair to say I wasnt a very nice person, Misty says with a tight-lipped grin. As Misty, shes still trying to get used to pubic affection and other social niceties like smiling.

You think? Maria jokes. Mark pretty much told you exactly what he thought.

Back then Mark was pumped up with muscles and enjoyed going to school drunk and doing everything he could to mess with teachers.

He was also pretty violent. A lot of this anger stemmed from hating his life and his circumstances.

Its hard to be happy when you feel like every part of your life is a lie, Misty says, staring through the kitchen window. Outside, the finger-like branches of a maple tree bend in the gusty wind as if clenching together in a fist.

Marks also left behind some causalities, including three daughters from two different women from relationships in his late teens. Misty doesnt have too many good things to say about one of the moms, Katie, who cleared out his checking account one day while he was at work and refuses to let her see her girls, despite the fact they have joint custody.

Mistys youngest girl was given up for adoption when Misty was working out of the country on a drilling rig. Misty didnt know the daughter was hers until a year after she returned.

Nonetheless, its a sore spot.

My children mean everything to me, Misty says defiantly, when pressed to remember the last time shes seen or talked to any of them.

Shes vague about their lives. Misty repeats how much she loves them. Marks oldest daughter picked her new name Misty, she quietly recalls.

She has no idea when shell see them again.

This is a common refrain in Mistys life: people who have wronged her or dislike her leaving unseen emotional scars.

Nonetheless, Misty makes it clear that she doesnt put up with anyones crap or abuse.

She tells a story about an elderly woman who lived in a trailer park near her years ago and how this woman would always complain about Mistys truck being too loud. So Misty checked the local noise ordinance and set her engine to two decibels below the max. When she worked on her truck, it sounded like a drag strip. The woman called the police who came out to test the decibel levels, which were always within the legal range. The woman finally sold her trailer and moved, Misty says, smiling.

The lesson is clear: hurt me, and Ill hurt you. Leave me alone, and Ill be cool to you.

Shes still dealing with a lot of anger, Misty confesses. Its going to take some time.

Maria needs a cigarette.

Theyre in my purse, babe, Misty says, twisting in her chair to grab a small glittery bag off the floor near Marias feet.

The door shuts behind Maria and soon a cloud of smoke fills the window behind Mistys head.

They are in her grandfather Gale Lane, or Pops, kitchen, the one home where Mistys always been welcome. For the past decade, Pops has been slowly declining with Alzheimers and at present has little recollection of his earlier life.

Pops and Bonnie, Marks step-grandmother, have been the only people in her life who have half-way understood, or at least accepted Misty, no matter what. For that, she loves them deeply.

Theres a lot of pain in Mistys past, starting with Marks relationship with his dad, which deteriorated even more when he began dressing in his sisters clothes.

Picture a six-foot something mans man, Misty describes her father. The fact that Misty mainly takes after her motherwho left the family when Mark was 9was another sore point for her father. Basically, my dad had a lot of reasons for beating the shit out of me.

That was just the start of Marks problems, which culminated in him getting into lots of trouble at school, and, finally, for reasons Misty refuses to disclose, eventually landed Mark in a juvenile facility at age 13.

After shuffling throughout several facilities throughout the state, he ended up in a group home in Douglas, which left some good memories. The woman who ran the place was kind, Misty says. Life there wasnt too bad.

Eventually, Mark graduated from high school, enrolled in college, then headed to the oil field. Misty got a commercial drivers license and went to mechanic school.

The door opens and Maria is back. She wants to clear the air about Marks violent past. Mark was dealing with a lot of anger because he couldnt be the person he needed to become, she insists.

Maria likens it to being in an abusive relationship. Her voice gets soft as she describes how that life becomes your reality and when youre stuck in the middle of it, you know that anything you do can never be right because youll never be able to please that person. You become somebody youre not.

Thats how Misty felt, she says. She couldnt find any glimmer of happiness in herself, so how on earth could she find happiness anywhere else?

The waitress at the Village Inn does a double take when Misty, in a male voice, orders a double cheeseburger and a Coke with fries. Up until that point, Misty and Maria had been just two more attractive blonde women in a morning when she already seen plenty. Now, the waitress takes a closer look at the woman with the male voice.

Sometimes, Misty softens her voice to blend in, but only when she wants to.

A couple of middle-aged cowboys at a nearby table swivel in their seats to eyeball Misty with prolonged stares. Blondes always turn a few heads, but theres something about her face that doesnt quite fit. Much like a face can either look 20 or 50, gender too is revealed in the bones. The men smirk.

This is typical of the range of reactions Misty gets in public: stares, smirks, double takes, name calling, or, conversely, the conscious effort to pretend that shes not transgender.

The waitress immediately falls into the latter, overdoing the pronouns with too many self-conscious references to ladies and girls, even joking with Maria about Mistys ability to eat like a man without putting on weight.

Shes a skinny bitch, Maria laughs, playfully slapping Misty.

Right? the waitress answers, joking at how just looking at Mistys lunch makes her fat.

Misty smiles indulgently before lifting her burger in both hands and taking a big bite. She cant control the way people react to her, nor does she care. She doesnt expect people to understand.

And though people in Wyoming are less open to diversity, they tend to be pretty laid back when it comes to minding their own business. And while in the urban circles of the hyper-politically correct, transgenders are fighting for pronoun equalitypreferring to be referred to in the third-person as them and they in effort to embrace both sides of their sexMisty isnt carrying any flags.

That said, shes less sympathetic to the name-calling and blatant attempts to pick a fight. She willand hasfought back.

I always tell them that I may look silly but theyre going to look even sillier when they get their ass kicked by a tranny.

Misty, unlike Mark, stays out of the bars. That helps avoid fights, though not entirely.

Misty doesnt exactly mince words. Social skills in general can be a problem for her, she concedes. She blames her Aspergers Syndrome for being too blunt. She sees things as strictly black or white, very little gray; success or failure, nothing in-between.

Misty drops a pen on the table, then lifts it in the air. You either have the ability to pick up or not, she says.

Maria covers her face and shakes her head. Trying means nothing?


Maria gives up.

Misty rubs her thumb over a clump of mascara thats fallen under Marias left eye. She holds her chin and rubs gently.

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Transitioning: Controversy, corrections and new-found peace, Misty Lane is finally finding happiness with herself – Douglas Budget

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Top five misconceptions about menopause – Starts at 60

Posted: at 10:45 pm

Going through menopause is usually a difficult time for women and there are a lot of physical changes that take place. So often we hear about the hot flushes, sleepless nights and lowered libido. But is it really that bad and what actually happens? Specialist Clinics of Australia owner and clinical director Dr Garry Cussell debunks the top five myths of menopause and sheds light on how to make this time of transition as easy and as possible.

Whilst the average age that women hit menopause is 51 to 52 years old, it can in fact happen to women in their 40s (early menopause) or even younger (premature menopause). Surgery or medical treatments that affect hormones such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can bring on early menopause or premature menopause. Genetic factors also play a role in determining the age a woman will hit menopause but every woman has her own moment, says Dr Cussell.

Lack of estrogen can cause symptoms such as itchiness, decreased lubrication, and pain during sexual intercourse and incontinence of urine. These symptoms generally appear a few years after the onset of menopause and affect up to 50% of post-menopausal women. Many women believe that the only way to treat these symptoms is with invasive surgery or Hormone Replacement Therapy but these days there are a lot of safe alternatives out there. GynaeLase is a quick, non-invasive and relatively painless laser procedure that relieves these symptoms without surgery or HRT. It encourages renewed functional activity in the treated sections of tissue through a special heat effect. Optimum results are usually achieved after three treatments as the process of collagen neogenesis takes time to develop, with the effect of tissue tightening and collagen build-up increasing after each treatment.

Laxity and atrophy can be bothersome conditions and impact on happiness and sexual function. Even the healthiest of women will experience the natural process of laxity, and this can be exacerbated by child birth or weight gain. GynaeLase helps treat these symptoms and the vast majority of patients at Specialist Clinics of Australia who have undergone the treatment have reported improved sexual activity.

Although hot flushes are one of the most common symptoms experienced by women going through menopause, not all women get them. Its still not clear exactly what actually causes hot flushes but its estimated that four out of five postmenopausal women will experience them. The usual treatment for these is using oestrogen tablets and patches, however these have potential side effects and there are alternative treatments.

Decreased oestrogen levels can impact on your bodys metabolic rate but this doesnt necessarily mean youll gain weight post-menopause. Keeping a balanced diet and exercising regularly will help you manage your weight. If you notice a sudden change in your weight, despite maintaining a healthy lifestyle, talk to your doctor.

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Dermira Commits $135M for Global Rights to Roche Eczema Drug – Xconomy

Posted: at 10:45 pm

Xconomy San Francisco

Skin treatments developer Dermira is adding another experimental drug to its pipeline that it plans to test as a potential treatment for eczema, through a deal announced this morning with healthcare giant Roche.

But in picking up the global rights to lebrikizumab, Menlo Park, CA-based Dermira (NASDAQ: DERM) is entering a suddenly crowded field of new treatments for the skin condition, which is characterized by inflamed, itchy, and scaly rashes on the skin. Dermira has agreed to pay Roche $80 million now, plus $55 million next year for global rights to the drug. If Dermira can hit development and regulatory goals for the lebrikizumab, the company could be on the hook to pay Roche up to $250 million more.

Should Dermira commercialize the injectable drug in other diseases, the company would have to pay more than $1 billion as the drug hits undisclosed sales marks. Dermira would also need to pay Roche royalties on the drugs sales. Roche is keeping the rights to the drug in interstitial lung diseases, a group of disorders that lead to progressive scarring of the lungs.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an autoimmune disorder that produces an inflammatory response thats visible on the skin. The condition affects at least 28 million people in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Lebrikizumab is a monoclonal antibody drug that targets interleukin 13, a protein associated with inflammation.

Other pharmas are aiming to address the eczema market with new drugs. Last December, the FDA approved Pfizers (NYSE: PFE) topical ointment crisaborole (Eucrisa) as a treatment for mild-to-moderate eczema. That drug, which blocks the inflammatory enzyme PDE4, came to Pfizer through its $5.2 billion acquisition of Anacor Pharmaceuticals last year. Meanwhile, Tarrytown, NY-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: REGN) received FDA approval in March for its moderate-to-severe eczema drug dupilumab (Dupixent). Like the Roche drug, dupilumab targets interleukin 13.

Dermira and Roche expect to close the licensing deal later this quarter. In early 2018, Dermira plans to start a Phase 2b dose-ranging study, enrolling patients who have moderate-to-severe eczema. The goal of the trial is to find the best dose for a larger Phase 3 clinical trial. Dermira said it expects that it will spend approximately $200 million to get the early results for the Phase 2b study.

Photo by Flicker user Oregon State Universityvia a Creative Commons license.

Frank Vinluan is editor of Xconomy Raleigh-Durham, based in Research Triangle Park. You can reach him at fvinluan [at]

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Does Early Probiotic Supplementation Reduce Eczema, Asthma Development? – Monthly Prescribing Reference (registration)

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Probiotics in first six months of life do not reduce incidence of eczema at age 2, asthma at age 5

HealthDay News Probiotic administration during the first six months of life does not reduce the incidence of eczema at 2 years of age or asthma at 5 years of age, according to a study published online August 7 in Pediatrics.

Michael D. Cabana, MD, MPH, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) supplementation on the cumulative incidence of eczema and asthma and rhinitis in high-risk infants. Ninety-two intervention infants received a daily dose of 10 billion colony-forming units of LGG and 225mg of insulin for the first 6 months of life, while 92 control infants received 325mg insulin alone for the first 6 months of life.

The researchers found that the estimated cumulative incidence of eczema was 30.9 and 28.7% in the control and LGG arms at 2 years of age, respectively, for a hazard ratio of 0.95 (95% confidence interval, 0.59 to 1.53). The cumulative incidence of asthma was 17.4 and 9.7% in the control and LGG arms at age 5 years, respectively, for a hazard ratio of 0.88 (95% confidence interval, 0.41 to 1.87).

“For high-risk infants, early LGG supplementation for the first six months of life does not appear to prevent the development of eczema or asthma at 2 years of age,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical and nutrition industries.

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Mitobridge’s Investigational DMD Therapy MA-0211 to Be Tested in Healthy Volunteers in Initial Clinical Trial – Muscular Dystrophy News

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The investigational therapy MA-0211, also called MTB-1, a potential treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), was approved for a Phase I clinical trial, developerMitobridge announced.

The trial will evaluate the therapys safety and tolerability and determine its pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics profile, or its behavior in the body and mechanism of action, in healthy volunteers. The data collected will then be used to launch a trial with DMD patients.

Mitobridgeis a company focusing on new small molecule therapeutics to improve mitochondrial functions. MA-0211, a modulator of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) delta, was developed under the companys mitochondrial enhancement platform in collaboration with corporate partnerAstellas Pharma. It is the platforms first therapy being tested in a clinical study.

The trial was established after extensive preclinical studies, either with DMD patient samples or animalmodels for the disease, which showed MA-0211 has therapeutic benefits. DMD patients exhibit mitochondrial defects that contribute to the diseases progression.

Treatment of patient muscle cells with MA-0211 increased the expression of numerous genes involved in a key metabolic pathway known as fatty acid oxidation that occurs in mitochondria and is vital for producing the energy cells need to function properly. The treatment increased the number of mitochondria and improved their function.

Later, MA-0211 was tested in the well-established animal model for human DMD, themdxmouse. This animal model has a mutation in thedystrophin gene (the underlying cause of DMD) and exhibits many of the defective features observed in DMD patients.

Mice were administered MA-0211 once daily for five weeks. The therapy led to significant improvements, including increasing the endurance of mice while running on a treadmill. Additionally, MA-0211 reduced muscle inflammation and degeneration and decreased diaphragmscarring.

In another study where mice were treated for a longer period (six months), MA-0211 decreasedthe levels of creatine kinase in miceserumand improved their cardiac and respiratory function relative to untreatedmdxmice. Measuringcreatine kinase is used to assess muscle problems, frominflammation (myositis) tomuscle damage due to muscle disorders.

PPAR-delta modulation represents a promising therapeutic approach to improving mitochondrial function and muscle health in DMD patients, Mike Patane, Mitobridges chief scientific officer, said in apress release.

This milestone with our lead program further validates our mitochondrial enhancement platform and ability to generate promising drug candidates that modulate mitochondrial function. Our research teams are actively evaluating MA-0211 in other diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and developing other novel approaches to restoring healthy mitochondria, he added.

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McLinn family champions national ‘Right to Try’ legislation – Greensburg Daily News

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INDIANAPOLIS Jordan McLinn is an eight-year-old boy with a disease with no known cure.

His condition, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, is caused by a genetic mutation that prevents the body form producing a protein that the muscles need to work properly called dystrophin. Without the protein, the muscles become damaged and weak. The disease hinders the ability to walk and breath, and eventually becomes fatal.

When we first started lobbying for the right to try in Indiana, Jordan did not qualify for clinical trials, Laura McLinn, Jordans mom, said. There was this drug that existed, kind of just dangling in front of our eyes, and my son did not qualify for a clinical trial.

The McLinn family helped get the Right to Try legislation unanimously passed in Indiana in 2015. Now they are working with U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly to get similar legislation, which allows families to exhaust all treatment options for a terminally ill family member, passed nationally.

Donnellys Right to Try Act gives families in every state who do not qualify for clinical trial, the ability to try drugs that have not been approved, but have passed the first stage of the Food and Drug Administration testing.

Donnelly was introduced to the family in early 2016 and has since met with them several times to work on the federal legislation.

The bill has already made it through the Senate, and Donnelly is certain it will pass through the House when lawmakers return in September.

We went from less than 50 to, about a week ago, having this pass 100 to nothing in the United States Senate, said Donnelly, All we have to do is have it pass through the House, which will believe it will do.

Jordan travels to Chicago every week to take part in a clinical trial to receive his treatments.

He just finished his 23rd week of his clinical trial. Donnelly said he hopes this act will open up other roads of opportunities for Jordan and others who are terminally ill.

Jordan is our teammate here in Indiana, Donnelly said. I could not live with the thought of not getting this done.

Christian Sullivan is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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Little boy with Cerebral Palsy appeals for help for 100000 operation to get ‘new legs’ – ITV News

Posted: at 10:44 pm

A family from Garndiffaith in Torfaen are appealing for help to raise enough money to fund an operation for their little boy.

Lincoln Hope is five and has Cerebral Palsy. His particular condition might be helped with surgery, but isn’t currently available in the UK. So his family are trying to raise enough money for an operation in the USA known as Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR).

As many children with Cerebral Palsy get older, the effects on the body are quite severe. As the bones grow everything tightens up and they start to get deformities in their bones and joints so the operation is really more for going forward for the future really so he doesn’t end up in a wheelchair or severe mobility issues as he’s getting older.”

Jess Hope, Lincoln’s mum

On September 9 a fundraising night of comedy will be held at St David’s Hall with comedians Frankie Boyle and Francesca Martinez. All proceeds will go towards the Lincoln’s Legs appeal.

Last year the Welsh Government did fund 14 patients to receive that specialist SDR surgery – and are currently evaluating the programme, which they are running alongside the NHS in England.

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Mother of cerebral palsy child establishes Inclusive Educational Centre – Ghana News Agency

Posted: at 10:44 pm

Accra, Aug. 12, GNA -Mrs Ellen Affam-Dadzie, a mother of a seven-year old girl with cerebral palsy,has established an Inclusive Educational Centre to cater for children withspecial needs and offer the parents the opportunity to work and earn an income.

The Centre; With GodCerebral Palsy Ghana, also offers physiotherapy services and provides qualitycare for children with cerebral palsy for free.

Mrs Affam-Dadzie, inan interview with the media, said she knew how stressful and frustrating it wasto have a child with the condition and decided to offer support to enablemothers of such children to earn an income.

I do not believe thatany family or person should become poor simply because they had a child withcerebral palsy. The mothers inability to work, among other factors, is whatcauses many families to kill these children or even wish their children dead,she said.

Mrs Affam-Dadzie saidsince government was not doing much to support families of such children, shedecided to start the Centre as her contribution towards reducing their burden.

She said the Centrealso gave the children with special needs an opportunity to mingle with otherchildren, adding; We are practicing inclusion.

Mrs Affam-Dadziecalled on the Government to ensure that the inclusive education policy embracedmajority of children with cerebral palsy, if not all.

She said the very fewschools in Ghana that admitted children with the condition were very expensive,which many parents could not afford.

We also intend to setthe mothers up in small enterprises so we train the unemployed mothers in soap,beads, batik and tie and dye making among other things, and we hope thatcorporate organisations will come on board to help us enhance the lives offamilies with children who have cerebral palsy, she said.

Mrs Hannah Awadzi,Initiator of the Special Mothers Project, lauded the initiative saying; Thisis what the project is looking for; we need mothers to take up the fight forservices and do something to help children with cerebral palsy.

She called on theGovernment, corporate organisations and volunteers; both home and abroad, tosupport the Centre to make it viable.


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