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One of the things I love most about art is its ability to make us realize others have felt our feelings and thought our thoughts, and the illusion of separation is just that: an illusion. We’re not alone!

Earlier this week, a short New Yorker documentary made me tear up. Sad tears, then happy tears.

Whenever I’m moved by a story and want others to know about it too, I either share it to my Instagram story, Tweet it, or reference it in an article.

This time is different. I wanted to put it in the spotlight, so I’m dedicating an entire article to it.

This documentary really broke down those walls of “otherness” for me, of the idea that we’re so distinctly different from others. It reinforced my spiritual belief that we’re all more connected to each other than we’ll ever care to admit.

Time usually has a strong grasp on us at all times, but this documentary broke the shackles of age and “too old to do X.”

Intergroup Contact Theory & Penumbra

Published in 1998, the Intergroup Contact Theory states that personal interactions with members of minority groups reduces prejudice between majority and minority group members.

When I was younger, I didn’t know anything about Trans people. We tend to reject and judge the things we don’t know.

But long before I had access to information about Trans people or could hear their stories firsthand, I considered them extremely brave.

Penumbra: the number of individuals in a population who personally know someone in a given group.

“The fight for gay rights, for example, has seen major progress in the past two decades. The gay penumbra is much larger than the immigrant penumbra, which may explain why the former has gained ground while the latter has stalled.”

How “Social Penumbras” Explain Shifts in Attitudes Toward Different Social Groups, Andrew Gelman and Yotam Margalit

I talked about this in Boycotts, logical fallacies, and trans people in Albania:

“…If we were to apply 0.6% worldwide, that would imply there are 17,256 Trans people in Albania.

What if one of them is your best friend? What if it’s me, or your sibling, who has been listening to how you speak about Trans people all her life and will spend her life as someone else, unhappy, hiding, just not to disappoint you?”

The New Yorker documentary Coming Out as a Trans Woman at Fifty-Eight made me tear up. Then, it put a huge smile on my face.

The courage it takes to admit you’re not yourself in your body is more than most people will ever muster in their entire lives.

Millie did it and it inspired me in so many ways. To speak up, to scream if that’s what it takes to be heard. To stand for others, to encourage them to take all the space in the world. To shed what isn’t mine no matter what others tell me. To vouch for a life lived fully and truly.

In Shhhh… Listen! Do You Hear the Sound of Vulnerability?, I wrote:

Good people and good content (writing, cool studies, and some powerful, beautiful stories told via design and video I’ve come across lately) make it ALL worth it.

Art lets us know we’re not alone, even when the good kind of people and content aren’t around to help us smile, breathe, stay afloat. The illusion of separateness is fueled by people refusing to be vulnerable, almost ruining all art, and all people, and all things for us. Almost, fuckers.

In 2 Things Writers and Creators Should Always Keep in Mind, I wrote:

Sometimes you get lucky and end up at that part of the internet, the one filled with wisdom, authenticity, amazing studies, and amazing people, so pure, so raw, so genuine that it fills you up with joy and hope.

Millie’s story was one of these. I hope you’ll consider watching. I hope you’ll consider doing that one little thing you’re avoiding even though you know it would make you happier and feel more genuine in your own skin.

58 isn’t late. 88 isn’t too late. The only time it’s too late to become more you is when you stop breathing. Unless you went into cardiac arrest and are now back to normal, in which case, yeah, still not too late. God knows we could all use some of that you-ness. Remember:

“In the end, winning is sleeping better.”

Jodie Foster

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