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Letting Go of the Stories We Create for Ourselves


Question:
Do you come out to everyone you meet or let them assume whatever they want?

Glennda Testone:  Yeah.  I traditionally do come out to everyone.  And there is so many ways I can come out.  You know, professionally gay, I’m personally gay, I’m pretty gay.  And I actually enjoy that because I think a lot of people look at me and you know, if they don’t know me at all, may assume that I am straight and I sort of like challenging their assumptions and say, actually I’m not.  And I have a girlfriend and I run an LGTB organization and you know, I’m an activist for other LGTB people.  So, I either talk about my job, talk about my girlfriend, talk about being a big lesbian, you know, all of those.  And I really you know, it’s usually not even something that I think about.  

But when I was first coming out, it took me a long time to tell my girlfriends from high school, like my friends who were girls.  And I think it was exactly what you were talking about, it was about really letting go of the stories that we create for ourselves.  And I was the Homecoming Queen, I was the Prom Queen, and you know, Student Council, and Class Secretary, and all of these things.  And I didn’t realize that narrative was sort of influencing me and created my image of myself.  And I think telling them was – it felt really scary because it felt like shattering everything they thought about me and saying that I was something different.  And I worried that they wouldn’t accept me, and I had a generally, you know, I didn’t have an experience where people weren’t you know, “Stop talking to me,” or anything.  And I was worried that they might.  

And I think I was more worried about you know, I think it was my own internal homophobia and hesitation sort of projected on them, that I was worried that they would look down on me.  And when I did come out to them, it was, you know, as soon as it stopped being an issue for me; it wasn’t an issue for them.  Like as soon as I got comfortable really being who I was, I noticed that all of them are fine and accepting and embracing and it’s not an issue.  So that’s been really great.

Question:
Is there significant overlap between the women’s movement and the LGBT movement?

Glennda Testone:  I certainly think that, you know, this is probably the toughest question for me.  There are certainly – there is certainly an overlap in terms of issues.  Women face a lot of pressure around gender expression and certainly get punished if they step out of line, whether they’re straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender normative, there’s a certain pressure on women to really fit certain molds and be very clear about our gender and our sexuality.  And so I see a lot of overlapping issues.  I wish there was more overlap between the movements themselves.  Sadly, I think it’s pretty siloed.  There might be some gay or bisexual or queer women working in the women’s movement, not necessarily on those issues.  There might be, and there are, straight women who work in the LGBT movement and I don’t see the feminism brought into that as much.  

So, at the center, we actually had a program called Causes in Common which built bridges between the Reproductive Justice Movement and the LGTB Rights Movement.  And it was really exciting and it was a rare moment where there was an overlap and there was a conversation about we’ve got common enemies.  The legislation and issues, they impact us both.  When we’re talking about health care and reproductive rights and access, this really impacts LGBT people if they’re trying to build a family.  And so I wish there was more collaboration.

Recorded on July 16, 2010

Interviewed by Max Miller

At first,Testone feared coming out to her friends would shatter the narrative she had created in high school. Looking back, she calls that fear internalized homophobia.

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

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A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

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  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
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Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.

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