I drew this picture back in 2000…I was a full year into my recovery
from anorexia at the time and felt that I needed to draw a picture for
my therapist to show her how I felt about my body…the darkened areas
represent the places that cause me the most dsyphoria on a day-to-day
basis…The white is what I want to be seen.
I did this in 2000….I was still full female-bodied at the time. Here I
am in 2011, happily transitioned but sadly, still to this day I
struggle with the darkened areas. I recently did a new photo shoot with
my good friend and amazing photographer Fred Schneider. I was nervous to
get my photos taken because each time I do them I try to make my body
more defined. I work out more at the gym and I try to watch my carb
intake…I basically obsess in a very unhealthy way.
My heart sank when I saw my pictures. I felt deflated, sickened and
ready to wave the white flag to whatever it is in me that drives me to
try and get my body in a place where I accept it.
People may say to me…you look great…and I should take it as a
compliment. I truly wish that I could take it as a compliment, but my ED
brain will never allow it to happen.
A colleague and I will be doing a presentation at WPATH in Atlanta,
Georgia on eating disorders and the transgender community. For those of
you that have suffered, I hope that you’ve been able to find help and
get in a place where you can at least recognize your triggers and now
respect your body.
I am interested in hearing stories and see artistic depictions to
help me develop a more rounded view of the trans community and eating
disorders. If this is something you’d like to share….message me
privately or email me at rsallans (at) gmail.com.
Today, the state of Illinois will officially recognize civil unions among LGBT folk that live there. Although civil unions don't even come close to granting the full-range of legal rights that a marriage does, I see this as a positive step.
I've been doing training on LGBT marriage issues for the past six years and while looking through some
old powerpoints, I found a map from 2005 that showed states that
currently had partnership recognitions. (posted above)
Here is the run down if you can't read the map: 1 state offered marriage - MA, 2 offered civil unions - Connecticut & Vermont, 3 offered some spousal-like rights - New Jersey, Maine, Hawaii, 1 offered domestic partnership - California.
Today, with the new law that has passed in Illinois, we have 21 states with some type of partnership recognition, this includes: marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships and designated beneficiaries.
I know our community has gone through a lot of muck, but I see positive change. In fact, it would be great to hear individuals impressions who were part of the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
Keep on using your voices folks, those voices change perspectives and laws!
We all laugh at the idea of us sitting under a tanning bed or spritzing each other down with self-spray tanner just to try and make ourselves look better even though we're probably piling on more cancer causing agents that in the end cause more harm than good for our health.
I try not to tell my friends, I don't want to "tan it" I want it toned...I want to be like the congressman (p.s...I think he's gay) on the front of Men's Health June edition, shirtless and defined.
I hate this about myself.
I hate that I am as obsessed about trying to get defined abs as the general public. I hate the amount of time I spend thinking about how I should look to be pleasing to the public's eye. I'm an educator on the topic of body image, I shouldn't be wanting the same things that I'm trying to help others move past.
I spend my days talking about the realities of supplements and how they are not regulated by the FDA. They are sold on the shelves as a cosmetic, a beauty product, not a supplement that goes through your digestive system. I talk about the hours models spends in the gym and the strict diets they undergo, as well as dehydration to try and have that "cut" look for the camera. I talk about the potentiality for lost relationships and physical/emotional harm caused by putting all your focus toward your body....but am I a poster boy for positive body image and the ability to look past the medias' influence?
No...I am not.
My friends and brother are obsessed with P90X. I find myself interested in plopping down the 120 bucks and trying it for myself but two things are keeping me from it. 1) My girlfriend has informed me it's either her or that workout video (I am no fool...I choose her 100%) 2) Anybody and I mean ANYBODY who works out 6 days a week for a hour and a half per session and watches their diet to the point that eating is more of "fueling" the body over being fun is going to see results...granted the results will be heightened if you pay an extra 100 bucks a month for the supplements sold which are again, not regulated by the FDA so what is in there and it's long term effects on health are still an unknown.
So I am reaching out to all of you, who, like me....seek those abs but know deep down inside it's just not a reality for your health both physically and emotionally...
Who are we really trying to impress?
How different will our lives be if we have defined abs vs very strong abs that are a secret underneath our round bellies?
Will abs make us have better relationships besides those one-night hook-ups?
Will our abs make us as successful as the magazines promise? Who gets jobs where we are shirtless all the time anyway?
Will we truly be able to maintain the madness of supplements, grueling workouts, strict diets and limitations for more than six months to a year and keep it going for the rest of our lives?
When we are old and gray, will what our abs looked like fifty years ago really matter?
Tell me your opinions....tell me your impressions....tell me whatever, I want to know.
While sipping on my water, I nearly fell off my chair when
someone posted on a dating blog, "How to pick up a transgender person."
The person posting the question on a love and romance blog also posted a picture of the individual they believe to be MTF while she was working. You can tell this picture was snapped and posted without the young woman's knowledge.
Even though this blog/question has nothing to do with me, I felt violated, betrayed and put on display for this young woman who is the topic of conversation.
This brings up two areas of discussion: 1) How safe are we in the community with the ability of people to use social networks and media to out us without our knowledge? 2) How do relationships work for a transgender person?
The first question is something I can't really answer...I am in a way fortunate that I live a very public life and that I work in a specialized field so that being "outed" is just part of my day-to-day life...but I am one of I'm guessing fifty or so in the large community that allows this one identity to rule most realms of our life.
When it comes to dating, romance and love which is hard to find, maintain and respect for anyone, it can and often is extremely draining for individuals in the transgender community.
Depending on where you live, how you identify, who you are attracted to and what their own background is there are constant questions cycling through one's mind:
- If I start dating someone and desire to get to know them as a person before I tell them about my past, what will happen if they find out before I disclose?
- What will happen/how will they respond when I tell them? What will an intimate relationship be like with my body and theirs?
- Do we tell immediate family? Do we tell extended family? Do we tell the friends of the one we are dating? And if so with any of these, when?
- How will I feel if I find "the one" and know that we can't have biological children together?
- Does this person really love me or are they just into the mystery of me?
Does it all really matter?
These questions are a reminder to me that no matter how many years have passed since my physical transition, I'll never fully feel like me. There will always be reminders or questions or moments where I know that I am different and this difference can affect some of the most intimate and what should be organic moments in my life.
So, how do you "pick up" a transgender person? If when using the phrase "pick up" you mean "ask out." I'd say, first, don't out them to everyone in the world....and second treat the person of interests like anyone else you date, respect boundaries, communicate-communicate-communicate with each other about your feel-good loving and what is not so much a feel-good position. And lastly, be ready to listen and to take on other people's judgments because even some with the best intentions or their own struggles don't get, nor fully understand your relationship.
These were the words I read while trolling through the current events related to LGBT issues yesterday and clicking on an article with the title, Gay rights protester dumps glitter on Newt Gingrich.
The protestors request to stop the hate
gave me goosebumps and the glitter gave me a laugh.
Curious as to what comments were posted by the public, I decided to scroll through (even though I rarely do this because anonymous comments usually cause a raise in my blood pressure). My BP in fact did raise as I read "...Glad he wasn't hurt. I don't like him but no one should be physically harmed in this country for expressing their political opinions."
I too, am glad that no one was hurt because I don't believe in violence, however, you know what...Newt's political opinions are not just opinions, in his position of power, he has a way to take his opinions and force them onto us as a community through legislation and power of influence.
Not only do these politics harm families of LGBTQ individuals, it devours the overall health of people in the LGBTQ community. Study after study shows that the LGBTQ community suffers from minority stress which causes severe physical and psychological health disparities due to the societal stigma that we face everyday. We are 1 out of 6 most under-served minority groups in the US.
On the CDC's LGBT Health page they even state and recognize that our community as a whole does better and sees a decrease in health disparities when individuals in the LGBT community are treated with equal care.
But do these facts change things in our country?
No. The only way we can see change is to have political parties take their opinions and leave them for behind closed doors, when they are at their job, I would like them to look at human rights, research (properly vetted) and human condition to fulfill the role they were voted into office to complete instead of fulfilling the role of who has the deepest pockets or are easiest to grab votes from by saying what they want to hear due to their own opinions.