Counting a Vanishingly Small Population

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The transgender community has experienced a rise in cultural visibility in recent decades. While some of this attention is welcome, even necessary, to gain full acceptance into mainstream society, it has also brought resistance in certain quarters. Although 62% of Americans in 2019 reported being more supportive of transgender rights compared to five years ago, 25% reported being more opposed. For all of the gains made in public acceptance, a sizable minority remains resentful of what they see as our abrupt emergence on the national scene, mistaking our call for equal rights as a demand for special rights and our unexpected prominence as a cultural tsunami, threatening to drown out their own lifestyles and concerns. The actual data, however, tell a different story, that of a tiny minority making up around 1/2 of 1% of the total population. My own analysis, conducted this year, indicates just .54% or 1.36 …


Are You Too Queer for this Club?

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Photo by Nathana Rebouças on Unsplash

In 1950, communist and labor organizer Harry Hay, along with a small group of friends, formed one of the first gay rights organizations in the United States. This organization, which would come to be known as the Mattachine Society (a reference to a group of medieval French maskers), grew to become a national network and earn its permanent place in gay rights history. The Society, based in Los Angeles, would spawn a newspaper, a sister organization to advocate for lesbian rights (the Daughters of Bilitis), as well as chapters around the US in San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C, …


I am both a data scientist and a transgender woman. The two of course are completely unrelated and I only mention them together because I used the principles of one to help me deal with the messy realities of the other. I realize this description may be extremely eye roll-inducing to some, but please bear with me here.

What is data science?

At its core, data science is a software engineering field. It combines computer science with statistics to produce machine learning. The statistics predict the most likely outcome which is then checked against the real world. Did the algorithm get it right? Which subtle difference explained most of the data? The winning output can then be fed back into the algorithm and the process started all over again. …


It feels good to be yourself

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The simple genius of Theresa Thorn’s 2019 book It Feels Good To Be Yourself lies in the fact that it presents trans and non-binary youth as completely normalized and healthy members of society, which of course they are. This delightful and uplifting children’s book — geared to kids in the 2–7 year-old age range — tells the story of four kids with different gender identities: Ruthie, a transgender girl, her brother Xavier who is cisgender, Alex who identifies with both genders, and JJ who identifies with neither. …


How a racist oversight led to one of the most amazing looks at Black life ever created

In 1893, the “World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition” was held in Chicago to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World. It was intended to showcase the technological prowess and financial might of the United States of America. Several cities across the country engaged in an intense bidding war for the right to host the exhibition with prominent local citizens pledging millions of dollars. The House of Representatives itself ultimately awarded the exhibition to Chicago after eight intense rounds of voting, aided no doubt by Chicago banker Lyman Gage’s seven million dollar pledge over and above New York’s own fifteen million dollar one. Gage’s investment paid off. By almost any metric, this monument to American enterprise was a huge success with the event running for over six months, shattering multiple outdoor attendance records, and so impacting the psyche of the city that it is commemorated to this day as one of the four stars on Chicago’s municipal flag. …


Exploding the Myth that Black Lives Matter Protests are the Cause of America’s Surge in COVID Cases

We’re in the midst of a resurgence in cases of COVID-19. Since mid-June, infections have surged to more than 50,000 new cases daily according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. We’ve all seen graphs similar to this one from June 28, which shows the relative rate of infections in the USA vs the EU.

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Source: Johns Hopkins University

The increase in US infections roughly coincides with any number of factors. These include states reopening their economies, Black Lives Matter protests, a generalized quarantine fatigue, and the politicization of disease response with many simply refusing to wear masks or observe social distancing guidelines.

Despite the multitude of factors at play and the difficulty in unraveling exactly what is behind the recent surge, a dominant narrative has arisen on the right that the protests are the single most important factor behind this surge. For instance, Fox News, the right-leaning news source, has pointed to a dramatic surge in cases in Cleveland, Ohio following Black Lives Matter protests there. Tucker Carlson, one of the channels most popular hosts, has pointed to what he termed a “flagrant double standard”, stating “The very same officials who threatened us … for going outside urged their own voters to flood the streets, and they did, and no one was punished.” …


A look at the economic underpinnings of the Black Lives Matter movement using Seaborn, matplotlib, and the bar_chart_race animation

In this post, I will take data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and evaluate it using the Seaborn, matplotlib, and bar_chart_race packages. This post is a companion piece to the article 5 Graphs that Help Explain Black Lives Matter and is intended to be a code walk-through of how I produced those graphs. If you’re interested in analysis and commentary on the work done here, make sure to check out that post.

To begin this analysis, I first imported the working libraries

I like to work with seaborn, both because it has a nice, clean visual style, but also because it sits on top of matplotlib and lets that library do all of the heavy lifting for processing. …


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On June 1, 2020, author and activist Kimberly Jones posted a now-viral speech about Black Lives Matter titled “How Can We Win” in which she brilliantly breaks down the economic conditions which have led to Black Lives Matter protests. In this speech, she likens the economic history of America to a game of monopoly and points out that for 400 turns Black people were not allowed to play at all, and then for the next 50 any money they did earn was taken from them. …


Her advocacy efforts focused on those she saw being excluded from the mainstream gay and lesbian rights movement.

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If I described a person, assigned male at birth, who dressed in feminine clothes and wore makeup from age eleven onward, what would you call this person? Transgender? A cross-dresser? What if I told you this person adopted a feminine name, Sylvia, and used she/her pronouns? At this point, you might reasonably conclude she was transgender. And yet, the actual gender identity of the person in question, early gay liberation, and transgender rights activist Sylvia Rivera, was significantly more complicated.

Sylvia Rivera was born on July 2, 1951, in New York City. Abandoned by her father at birth, and orphaned at the age of three by her mother’s suicide, Sylvia faced beatings and rejection for her effeminate behavior, especially once she began wearing makeup in the fourth grade. …


How J.K. Rowling went from being a champion of the downtrodden to a recalcitrant bigot

In 1997 J.K. Rowling burst onto the scene with the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The book quickly gained in popularity and spawned several sequels, films, a theme park, a play, and more. As of this writing, Rowling’s works have been translated into 80 languages with “more to come”. The books themselves are a thinly veiled response to fascism and eugenics. Rowling has said she wrote the books as “a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry”. The cast is seemingly diverse, and the main female character, Hermione Granger has intelligence, drive, and self agency. …

About

Melissa Ingle

Transgender data scientist and parent to two children.

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