Friday News Bites: Caitlyn Jenner, Health Breakthroughs + More

This week, this beginning of Pride month, these past few days… I wish I could say I am heartened by the ongoing discussion of human rights and LGBTQ issues, but I’m tired. I’m tired and I’m disheartened, and there is so much more work to be done. Let’s just get to the news and end with an amusing pig story, shall we?

So yes, we saw Bruce Jenner come out as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair. And it’s started a discussion about looks, gender, and economic standing.

Laverne Cox weighed in and talked about the work we still have to do as a culture:

I have always been aware that I can never represent all trans people. No one or two or three trans people can. This is why we need diverse media representations of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities. I started #TransIsBeautiful as a way to celebrate all those things that make trans folks uniquely trans, those things that don’t necessarily align with cisnormative beauty standards. For me it is necessary everyday to celebrate every aspect of myself especially those things about myself that don’t align with other people’s ideas about what is beautiful. #TransIsBeautiful is about, whether you’re trans or not, celebrating all those things that make us uniquely ourselves. Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have now have. It is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people. We must lift up the stories of those most at risk, statistically trans people of color who are poor and working class.

Even a Twitter bot got in on the story, politely correcting people who misgendered Caitlyn.

On a related note: Sexual orientation will soon be a protected class in the U.S. military, but it doesn’t yet include protections for gender identity.

Political News:

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, according to federal law enforcement, “paid $1.7 million over the last four years to conceal sexual abuse against a former male student he knew during his days as a teacher in Yorkville, Ill., where Hastert worked until 1981.”

This is extra-notable because Hastert was one of the Congresspeople who led the movement to impeach former President Bill Clinton. All of these men engaged in behavior that was quite similar to the President’s.

File Under Jerk MovesSenator John McCain is among those allowing the sale of Apache holy land in Arizona to a mining company. -sigh-

Better news: Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which ends the collection of phone records, but is just the first step in dismantling some of the more intrusive aspects of the Patriot Act.

Denmark Prime Minister candidate John Erik Wagner has an ad in which he poses nude. Well, that’s one way to bring attention to your campaign.

In Other News:

The Duggar parents went on Fox News to talk about their son Josh and his child molestation, and the result was… another chapter in a tragedy. What’s the word for when you’re not surprised, but still manage to be more disturbed?

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has resigned amid the organization’s ongoing bribery scandal.

Paris will remove all the “love locks” on the Pont du Arte bridge, since they are causing structural damage and some residents consider them an eyesore.

Apple is looking for the woman who sent a rare Apple I computer to an electronics recycling facility. They sold the computer for $200,000, and want to give her half of the money.

American Apparel now has a restraining order against their former chief executive, Dov Charney. It “temporarily restrains Charney from breaching terms of an agreement that prevents him from seeking removal of the company’s board members and making negative statements in the press against the company or its employees.”

R.I.P. Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden. After battling brain cancer for years, Beau died on Saturday at the age of 46.


Actor Christopher Eccleston (and Ninth Doctor in our hearts) has a good essay up at The Guardian about his father’s dementia and finding new ways to “enter his world.”

This is a big breakthrough: Researchers have found the missing link between the brain and the immune system, and this could significantly benefit how we treat a variety of chronic illnesses:

Kevin Lee, PhD, chairman of the UVA Department of Neuroscience, described his reaction to the discovery by Kipnis’ lab: “The first time these guys showed me the basic result, I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks.’ There has never been a lymphatic system for the central nervous system, and it was very clear from that first singular observation – and they’ve done many studies since then to bolster the finding – that it will fundamentally change the way people look at the central nervous system’s relationship with the immune system.”

Even Kipnis was skeptical initially. “I really did not believe there are structures in the body that we are not aware of. I thought the body was mapped,” he said. “I thought that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not.”

This is amazing for me personally, since I have both chronic fatigue syndrome (which affects my immune system) and fibromyalgia (which affects my nervous system). Come on, Science! Help me feel better!

Also related: Researchers are studying the vagus nerve’s relationship to inflammation, and how electrical stimulus can help treat illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis.

In Entertainment:

Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley series is in development as a TV show. Fingers crossed it turns out well because they’re among my favorite books.

Paul McCartney has said that Oasis should get back together. Noel Gallagher’s response? “Write our comeback single and it’s on.”

(I’m of the opinion that Oasis probably shouldn’t reform, that it was great while it lasted, but let’s give them all a chance to move on as artists. That said, if they did decide it was right for them, of course I’d still be enthusiastic.)

Would you like some David Bowie paper dolls? YES.

Last week, I mentioned that Hot Topic was in talks to buy ThinkGeek. Turns out GameStop might have the winning bid instead.

Joel McHale has been cast in the upcoming new X-Files miniseries. He’ll play a conservative news anchor who ends up working with Mulder.

For all the people who like to claim that entertainment has no use in the “real world,” here’s a great feature on what is being called “The John Oliver Effect” when it comes to government policy and other issues.

If you’re looking for some reading suggestions, the LAMBDA Literary Awards have been announced, so here are some great LGBTQ books in a variety of categories.

And finally, here’s a story about a Michigan pig who got picked up by police after he was chasing around the residents of Shelby Township.

Pig in a patrol car
via Shelby Township Police Department/Facebook

Look at that pleased piggy face.

Until next time, friends.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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