Hip-hop, for all its creative force and ingenuity, has long subscribed to an image of addiction that corresponds with the culture it professed to reject—the image projected by fear-mongering politicians, the one that undergirds the criminal-justice system that launched the War on Drugs. The drug dealer in hip-hop is a resourceful antihero, part Robin Hood, part CEO. But the addict in hip-hop is like the addict everywhere else. Hopeless. Deserving of shame. Off to the side. Something subhuman—weaker, stranger, more destructive than the rest of us.
What would it look like if, high above the skyline, you could actually see where trains were shuttling people around? Online artists are offering a new way to visualize an often hidden mode of transit in these striking images.
In our July/August issue, Jesse Singal wrote about a preteen under the pseudonym Claire, who considered pursuing a gender transition before deciding against it. Tey Meadow, a sociologist who studies transgender and gender-nonconforming children and their families, responds:
While it is true that there are “no easy answers” to the questions raised by significantly gender-nonconforming kids, believing that the most important issue is whether Claire is “really” trans misses the point of the complexity of gender transitions. Claire’s story hasn’t ended; she is still very much a young person and a work in progress. And it isn’t up to Claire’s parents, or Jesse Singal, or the general public to determine where she will end up in time. That is a question for Claire to answer herself, ideally with the love and support of parents and professionals who can be fully present and supportive, no matter how circuitous her journey may be. This is a distinction of great political importance. To position Claire as a “desister” in the way Singal did is to participate in an inherently stigmatizing discourse with a very particular and damaging social history. The frames journalists use to discuss these controversial issues are themselves political and moral decisions, and ones of great consequence. They set the terms by which the public understands trans youth.
Happy birthday from Urja to Kashvi (a year younger than Google); to Thomas (the same age as Egypt’s Aswan High Dam); from Daniel to Olawunmi (one-fourth the age of The Atlantic); and to Emily’s dad, Gaylen (twice the age of MTV).