Take the Last Bite is a direct counter to the Midwest Nice mentality— highlighting advocacy & activism by queer/trans communities in the Midwest region. Each episode unearths the often disregarded and unacknowledged contributions of queer & trans folks to social change through interviews, casual conversations and reflections on Midwest queer time, space, and place.
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Host: R.B. Brooks, they/them, director of programs for the Midwest Institute for Sexuality & Gender Diversity
Cover Art: Adrienne McCormick
Hey hi hello y'all, this is R.B., your Midwest morsel dealer, welcoming you to another episode of Take the Last Bite, a show where we take Midwest Nice and slip it into the back-pocket of a ballsy billionaire so it can go on a journey to whatever life-defying choice they make next.
On today’s episode, we resurface a conversation from our 6th annual Transgender Justice Teach-In that we hosted back in December that grappled with the unique and ethereal experiences of fat trans and nonbinary folks.
Before we get into that, there’s a few key things that have taken place in fat culture lately that I think are really relevant to the chat you’re about to listen to between myself and the panelists from last year’s Transgender Justice Teach-In.
I’ve had a recurring convo with a good friend, Robert Alberts, who you can hear from in some of our season one episodes such as the Midwest Nice episode, about how we were essentially RAISED on fatphobia– in other words, some of our earliest memories of being taught to be uncomfortable with our fat and growing bodies came from the homes & families we were raised in.
So I was really interested & excited to learn about a book that was just released this year called Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture by Virginia Sole-Smith, who hosts weekly conversations about diet culture and fatphobia on the Burnt Toast podcast. I first heard about the book while listening to NPR and was really drawn to what Virginia mentioned about the messages children receive growing up about fatness, how it upholds white supremacy and some other really fresh and necessary points about how we indoctrinate youth into the harmful confines of diet culture. As someone who has two niblings in my life under the age of ten, knowing there’s a timely resource about parenting in ways that don’t replicate the diet culture we all know and hate is really useful. I’ve definitely added this book to my to-read list. There’s some info about the book & the interview Virginia Sole-Smith did with NPR in the show notes of this episode.
There’s a video clip going around right now of a fat trans woman talking about how she could get any man she wanted sexually and as she’s speaking, the cameraperson pans to all the other people sitting around the table for this conversation looking at her like she’s absolutely out of her mind. Looking a bit further into the backstory of this little decontextualized clip, I’ve since learned that her name is Ali, she is a self-proclaimed certified baddie, and she was one of several guests for an episode of a show called the Whatever podcast– which appears to cover literally whatever– and this particular episode was about dating.
In the full episode, Ali goes on to talk about how it’s quite rare that she finds a man who genuinely wants to take her out on a date instead of being fetishised and desired for sex. One of the hosts straight up ASKS HER if she’s sure about that & Ali receives zero affirmation or head nods of understanding from the other women at the table…
Imani Barbarin also known as Crutches & Spice across social media and is someone who educates on the concept of desirability politics, stitched a clip of Ali’s comments on TikTok and talked about how she became of aware of the ways Blackness, fatness, transness, and disability, among other things, can be fodder for fetishization when she was as young as 18 years old when men in their 60s/70s were offering to fly her out to see them. Imani makes it clear that Ali is 100% correct in the assertion that she can can fuck 90% of the men she meets, but that finding someone to date involves a lot more.
I think both of these recent moments in fat/plus size culture speak to how much we collectively still require in order to undo our nasty, obsessive repulsion of being perceived as fat. Fat folks are seen as victims of their own shortcomings, as lacking willpower to not eat as much, or as being lazy. It’s hard for a society to see how fat folks are being mistreated when we’ve built a society that blames fat folks for being fat, therefore blames them for being mistreated for it.
The answer to fat folks saying we can’t find clothing that makes us feel good, sexy, comfortable is apparently “well stop being fat, and you will find clothing.” The answer to fat folks’ plea that our healthcare systems are killing us is apparently “well stop being fat and the healthcare system will stop killing you”. The answer to fat trans folks’ demand that we be centered and supported in navigating transitions, social status shifts, and claiming of transness is apparently “you have to follow this narrow, prescriptive model of being trans in order to be trans enough.”
Since December 6 2022, my brain has been buzzing with the vibrations of the incredible conversation I had with three cherished friends and colleagues in the work– Shane Smoore, Dr. Jonathan Higgins, and TK Morton. Together we dug into the crevices and fat rolls of what it means to view the world and move through it as fat trans and nonbinary people. We acknowledged that we could not recall a time where this particular intersection was the focal point. Especially not from a place of extracting lessons, holding joy, and sitting with what potential fat trans and nonbinary people have in guiding our movements and change-making if only we could actually take up the space we’re always accused of taking.
In the words of guest Dr. Jonathan Higgins, the Fats Are Talking, on this episode of Take the Last Bite
[INTRO MUSIC PLAYING]
Why can't we be in space with hundreds of other queer and trans folks and having these necessary conversations?
When it comes to dynamics around privilege and oppression, and around identity. Well intentioned isn’t actually good enough.
How far is too far to drive for a drag show? I don’t know, we’re in Duluth right now, I would straight up go to Nebraska, probably,
If you are not vibing, or something’s not right, or also like there’s an irreparable rupture, you have absolutely every right to walk away.
Definitely going to talk about Midwest Nice and if that's as real as it wants to think it is.
Midwest nice is white aggression. That's what it is.
So hey, hello, everybody. My name is RB. 4 rows with the ZI. Use they them pronouns I am the. The director of programs for the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, as well as the coordinator for Sexuality and gender equity initiatives at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where it is very cold and very snowy today. I want to welcome all. Of you, wherever you are. To the 6th Annual transgender justice. Region the format for this event has looked a bit different in its six years, but the whole purpose every year has been centering the knowledge, experiences and liberation of trans, non binary and intersex people. And so we are continuing that objective today. For the past three years, the teaching has been a partnership between my office at UMD as well as the Institute pretty much prompted by COVID when everything went virtual and with the resources and opportunity we had at the Institute to be able to offer a virtual webinar panel style format. We have been continuing that. Model for the past three years, which is actually kind of opened up more opportunity for folks literally across the nation to chime into this conversation and participate. So I'm super excited about continuing that partnership and bringing folks together that maybe wouldn't have gotten in the same level with. Let's see here. So I want to chat about. So part of it is selfishly as a fat and be person, I thought we deserve to have this conversation. And so I got. Got going on thinking about how to curate a really intentional conversation with other trans plus size fat folks. However, whatever language folks use, which we'll get into, and it also felt vital in this moment, thinking about just. Everything that's going on, whatever the everything for. You is right. To kind of come together in our shared context of of an ongoing global health pandemic that has revealed. Owe so much about our healthcare systems and related systems, we'll get into that too. Thinking about continued mass protests related to a a variety of injustices such as police violence, student loan debts, pandemic responses, and a slew of other. Things on a very large and also localized scale, and also just the continued rapid fire legislative attacks on trans folks that just feels almost like a daily occurrence at this point because it's so nonstop and so just holding all of that in this in this context of. You know who do we defer to? Who can we extract lessons from? Who knows a thing or two about how to guide and lead and give direction in this moment that overlaps with a lot of issues that touch all of us related to mental health, health and Wellness, fashion, function design. All of these things. Right? Well, it's it's fat, trans and envy folks that know a thing or two about these things. And so This is why. The focus is on that intersection and I am also jazzed about the folks that I get to share space with today to tuck into that before I get. Into having our panelists introduce ourselves, I did want to add as a housekeeping note for folks watching the live stream today that you are able to drop questions in the chat whenever you feel fit. We will build some time and to answer any like longer form questions that you have for panelists towards the end of our planned conversation. But over the course of the conversation, if there's language or. Perhaps that we use that you're not clear on. You can drop those clarifying questions in the chat and our moderators will work on getting you a quick answer. And if there's not a quick answer, we'll tuck it towards the end, alright. So let's go ahead and get started, OK? So I'm going to have folks introduce themselves. What are some things that you do? And then also if you can share a story that a brief story because we have, you know, plenty of time, but only so much time is. Gonna go fast. That illustrates either how you discovered. That fat isn't a bad word, or, you know, a time that you gave yourself permission to exist fully in your fatness. Whoever would like to start, go for it.
Tristan, you start.
Why did I feel like that? Was going to. Hello, my name is Tristan or TK responded. Either my pronouns RZZ and ziers. I am currently the. Director of the LGBTQIA Resource Center at the University of California, Davis, I know that my team is currently watching. So hi, hello. Well, what else I do in life? I'm just vibing, just vibing. I'm also a soon to be graduate of a Masters degree from Stony Brook University, which I'm also very excited about. So yeah, I think for me like the first time that I realized that. Was it like a bad word, was it? Think like with a very specific cultural context, so like my mother was born and raised in the Midwest. My dad was born and raised in the Deep South, specifically Greenwood, Ms. And so I I I knew from a young age that like being fat wasn't a bad thing. It was more seen as like. A sense of pride and a sense of wealth. I didn't realize that at the time because I lived in a tiny little Midwestern little town and got very much. What's the word? Before that I saw a different view than what my family was viewing, right? But I had a lot of. I had a lot of folks in my life that were like, yeah, this is fine, but I had to work through it as a young, young black woman at the time that it was discovering my identity. But I would say. Fully, but I'm able to like exist is was when I got top surgery in 2017. At first I was like, I don't know if I like this, but I went to a surgeon that specifically knew that I couldn't have the same body type as like a thin person when getting surgery, and it was probably one of the most affirming moments in care, which I will talk about a little bit more later, but I thought was really great. And now I'm engaged and I'm planning a. Running and I went to a plus size bridal store and found a dress and it was also a very affirming moment. And so I feel like those are like some some instances because now I'm like, yeah, this is fine. I'm clear, it's great. And now I feel that. It's just been a culmination of, like, my experiences, but those are just some little tidbits. So yeah, I was so. Excited to be here.
So I guess I'll. So she's talking. So I'm like, hey. So with that being said, hi, everybody who is watching near and far. My name is John, also known on mine as Doctor John Paul. A little about me. I like to say that I am. I'm the person that loves to come into the room and shake. Well, honey, but no, really, I I love to kind of my mom kind of the thing that I've been using kind of to explain what I do is I was like to say I'm writing slash, creating the things my ancestors didn't get to. And so really thinking about the ways, how do I how do I use my voice and my experiences and my knowledge and my education? To really amplify other voices. So whether that be in media, whether that be. In the classroom, I teach full. Time I also write. I am currently on contract with Prime Timer. We'll be covering a whole bunch of different shows and we're in talks to do a bunch of different things, so I'm I'm always everywhere and sometimes I feel like nowhere at the same time, but all that to be said, you know, kind of what I think for me, kind of what really. Shaped kind of. This whole wow girl. You just really need to love you and your body. You know, at the same time. So back I think it was actually in 2018 I was going through the process with Kaiser to get bariatric surgery and I did the 10 classes and I had almost finished. And when I got to my 9th class. You know, this is the class where you start talking to the actual person who's going to be doing your. I was actually starting to come into like my non binary transness at the same time, too, I was starting to play with more, you know, feminine and clothes. I was getting my nails done. I was starting to wear more makeup. I was doing a lot of things to really just kind of embrace the idea that femininity wasn't a bad thing. And as I was having the conversation with the person who was getting ready. To do my surgery. The way that he kept talking to me was as if I. You know, we gotta be careful that you put the weight back on. You gotta be careful that you know this. And it just felt like it. It didn't feel like they believed that I would be able to successfully stay thin. And then there became this conversation in my own head. Who are you doing this for? And I really had to sit with that, that, you know, at that time. Had just really started to break into media. I was in rooms with a lot of dinner people. I had companies wanting to work with me that were telling me very openly. You don't make anything in your size. You know it. There are all of these different things. And I just said. This is a lot and I'm not happy in this process and I think that was kind of the first, you know, window. So when they called to schedule my surgery, I just told them to cancel it. I said I'm actually OK. I'm going to go ahead and cancel their surgery. I don't want to do it and they like, Are you sure? And I'm like, no, I'm very sure. And ever since that day, I think it really. Helped those ten classes. Really helped me understand. It's so interesting because you know those classes are supposed to teach you how to eat better and how to take care of yourself and all team classes are just they're classes of hatred. They they they really. Be affirm and push this idea of fat phobia, and that's what I walked away from that experience with. I was like, wow, these classes are not teaching me how to love myself or or or be one with my body. They're teaching me to hate me and to be even more like to police my body in a way. And I said, well, I'm already being policed as a trans. You know, as a non binary trans person, why would I wanna do this in this process too? So I think that that for me really kind of opened my eyes and that's when I really started writing about my journey to love. In my body and really helping other people. And as you all know, now I have a podcast that I talk about it very openly and things of that nature, but all that to be said, I think that experience you know specifically is what really helped me kind of garner what true fat phobia looks like and how it's pushed and how it starts within the medical industry.
That was a word, John. And I think just thank you for. Sharing that story, story and trusting vulnerability in this space, I think that's hard to do and I think we're just very grateful for hearing that and. You know, I'm happy to introduce myself. My name is Shane Smore. I use he, him his pronouns and, you know, a little bit about me as I I I, I I started plus size trans guy I was like do I talk about my work as a recruiter? I'm an HR professional. I do recruitment but don't want to talk about that. I want to focus a lot on plus size. Trans guy and. The work that I do in that space. And live in the Midwest, identify as a transmasculine person. A queer person. I am a married for just a little over a year, I've got 2 cats. I'm a cat dad and I'm fat and I'm plus size and I'm still learning to love that about myself, but I really I do. I think it's a lifelong journey, about acceptance and and radical acceptance. Out of body and and how we navigate our world and. But I this question really threw me off RB because I was like, Oh my gosh, it was like one story, one pinpoint. I was like, how do I think about my journey as like a 30 year old fat trans person who is white and queer and navigate all of that into a space of how do I learn to be where I'm at and I can't really. TK, I was so grateful. You shared what you shared because I couldn't think of a time where I really learned that that isn't a bad word. I think I never. Thought that was a bad word until I started to have to fight or push back. Health practitioners were telling me what fashion was telling me what friends and beauty standards and all of these other things were telling me, and it's still at that point I never thought it was bad. I was just like, why am I always having to push against these pieces that I never thought I had to? And it's just like a constant battle. And I think it wasn't until I started plus size. Means guy and. Really started getting connected with more people in the fat community and the plus sized community to really understand the political mess of what it means to be fat and how to navigate and unpack fat as a bad word. So that isn't a story, but I will share why I start a plus size trans guys because I came out as trans when like. Tumblr was the way and the truth. And the life about how you learned. About queerness and transness. And I remember just looking on Tumblr trying to read people's stories and. It was like. All, I don't see anybody that looks like me. I saw a lot of white trans people and I can relate to that experience, but I saw so many thin people sharing their journey about surgery, about hormones and their pictures. And I was like, I'm never going to look. I've never looked like that. Going to look. Like that and that is not my truth. And I really struggled to find myself in the trans community at first. And then I started recognizing kind of this intersection of, like transness and fatness, probably about two years into my transition, where people were like, wow, you're just, you're really fashionable, you're stylish. You can you really know what you're doing when you put together an outfit. And I was like, why are you so surprised? Are you so shocked? All the time. Like, can fat people not be fashionable? Can trans people not be fashionable? Can masculine people not be fashionable and and just all of those intersections and. Said I'm going to start plus size trans guide to create a space that I never had and it wasn't. You know, I never thought it would reach the amount of people that it did. I really did it as an opportunity for me to normalize and accept my body and my fashion and showcase that and provide resources and support to maybe my friends in the Community and their people. And I took a topless binder photo and a little Speedo many moons ago, and it took off. And it's kind of come to be what it is. And I take that responsibility really seriously because I feel. Like it was. The first opportunity where we started to create a space and I created with with so many people and help to to say it is OK. To be fat and trans. And it is OK to show your body and to accept your body and be in your body as a fat queer and trans person. And so you know, that is the story that I think about how I came to be where. I'm at is who I am today.
It's just insights, so many like emotions. At the same time, just like affirmation, but just also just kind of like frustration just because there's so many. I I the poor, I just wrote down like and thinking about especially like John your story and Shane yours as well that just goes really across the board experiences. That like the mirror. But things being mirrored to us is a lie, right? Like the things that we are told are the things that we're supposed to see and consume as, like, well, this is the goal. This is the aspiration, right? Whether it's surgery regarding weight or it's surgery regarding transness or its depictions on social media, what, like what is being mirrored back to us, is ultimately a lie. And that to pursue that lie is also really faulty. And I think that's just, is this really unfortunate undergirding factor from what I'm hearing from like these stories, but also that there's this inherent kind of. Pleasure and sigh of relief that comes with realizing. That the mirror. Is a lie to say that, like I don't need that? And actually I can see past that because I can actually see myself in the weird little fractals of this broken mirror that you're trying to show me, love and metaphors. So just like I'm feeling just really just kind of like, just so there's. This goosebumps happening already and we are 20 minutes in. So just again, thank you. I don't ask simple questions. I really like to get into the depth of things pretty quickly and so I know that that question was probably a a hard bite and something that just we don't maybe are prompted to think about all that often either, just because we don't get to talk about. Sadness, like all that often either. So just like all of the things, all things. So I wanna. I wanna kind of go down the pathway of what? In many ways, you all have kind of already started to touch on with kind of the intersections of just gendered experiences and pursuit of like, what is femininity mean? What does masculinity? I mean, what is? What is gender right, which is what these. What are these things for us and I? Had a question that I posed to you all in advance of this that is inspired by an essay from an anthology called Fat and Queer, which I. Also, highly recommend and the essay is by Caleb Luna and it is titled The Gender nonconformity of My Fatness, which just as a title is like hello and in the essay Caleb talks about how the fatness. Arrests their gender and also talks about these interactions with other people. That would be problematized by strangers as assumptions about their gender based on their body size and shape. And so I'm curious for y'all. In what ways does your fatness interplay with your gender? OK, simple questions.
Well, I think I'll start. I I think you know and I do want to acknowledge, I know I see one of the questions and when we get through these questions, I'll answer the question that I saw come through. I just wanted to make sure that folks don't feel like I'm skirting past that question that came up in the box. With that being said, kind of going. Back to your this notion of. Arrest and problematize, you know I. The the the only thing I can think about is, you know I. So I have these two very flowy I how I don't I I don't know where I wanna call them. They're kind of like caftans and I notice when I wear them how peoples response to me is. Yeah, it's girl, like work. You look good. Ohh even like you know it's just it. It's very interesting how I I don't think people recognize that they're microaggressions, but they are the way people, you know, treat you in terms of like looking at you in, in terms of policing what restroom you go into when. They have on something that's more feminine, right? The idea that sometimes I'll go to do things and I can see people looking at my nail right, like they this idea of folks not being able to place me if that makes sense. And I think you know specifically to like when I'm in like a cold and I'm in the plus size section and I'm looking at. You know, sweater or I'm looking at a shirt, right? You can see women looking like, why is this, you know, quote UN quote gentleman in the women's area. Right. And it's like, why don't you just mind your? Since you're not paying for it. But I say all of that to say that I just think that. You know the IT. It kind of all comes back down to this notion of, you know, and we talk a lot about this in all of our the facts of our work. The binary has really put so many people in these very, very insular boxes. And I think that when you start looking at fatness, right, and even thinking about the clothes that are made. Or fat people, whether it be gendered or not, the idea, and I love that you mentioned this shame, right? I it's so interesting. When people go, you look so good and it's like what I was not supposed to as a, as a big girl. What are you trying to insinuate when you make that claim? Oh my God. Girl, you look so. Like what am I supposed to do, wear sweats? You know, it's I I just think that there's so many ways. And I think you know I I kind of go back to this, right. I think that there is this notion of I heard someone say this slash through this and then I'll throw it to you all. You know, someone had said, I always get offended. It was a bigger person, had said a bigger trans personnel. They said I always get so offended. When people say you look so beautiful, as if I'm not supposed to feel beautiful because of my size or because of who I am as a trans person. And so I think that's the arrest, right? There's this, this connotation, this ideology. That bigger people, whether they be trans or not, are not supposed to be happy with who they are because society has made it feel like slash seem like we're never supposed to be happy people. And you know, I don't know about y'all, but I'm always. I mean, if even on a bad day, I'm still having a good day. Right. And so I think that. That's that's the thing like. I I I just feel like there's this question that always kind of sits behind us. Why do you have the audacity that you have to love yourself both as a trans person and as a queer person and as a trans, queer, fat person, right? Like why, and and and I think media plays a big role in that.
Again, the word. Amazing. This reminds me actually of so I sometimes dabble in content creation when I mean, sometimes I actually do mean sometimes because I think like the Last Post I made on TikTok was like 2 weeks ago after not posting for like 7 months. But. Like I have. Well, I I consider it a viral video to other people. But to me it is. But it was a viral video of me showing off my top surgery scars because another fat trans person had never seen some. Someone who is fat that got. Top surgery, right? And got it while they were fat. Right. And I most of the comments were like really positive, but they were all along the lines of like, oh, my God, you're really brave for doing this. Blah, blah, blah. And I was like, I I get the sentiment and going back to I. John Paul said it's like. Why am I brave for doing this? Like, why is this a thing like I'm just. Honestly, that's I'm doing the bare minimum. Really, that, and I think it's really interesting because especially my contacts of like being I not only was like in like see see policing of like my body as like a black trans person. But I saw it as a fat black woman and so that is something that is also like a part of my journey that I'm rediscovering. Yes, I'm trans. And I also like have these in depth experiences as a black woman. Right. And for me, it was really. He, like both of them, seem very different in how it was like I was seeing, like I was basically told to make myself shrink. A lot of the time, whether that was personality wise, whether that was. My physical presence, what have you. And I'm like, I'm not that type of person. Even at a young age, it was I I was just a loud, bombastic little kid, right? But it played out in the sense of, like, how like the world viewed me, even though I didn't view myself that way and let a lot of that influence kind of take me over as well as how. How hard it is for fat folks in general, but especially fat trans folks, to find that sense of like self love, and being able to be like yes, like I'm gonna walk through this world and be grand also really quick commenting pod like the fascist side of it or trying to find. Clothes like knowing the fact that most of us we have to buy all of our clothes online, we're supposed to be hidden. We're not supposed to be in public like a public figure. Like any of these things, and I think that like John Paul, like you said about like media and all of that is, it plays a part as well as the cultural implication. Within various communities as well. And so I think this whole thing is like really interesting. And I'm like, I'm like, hi, I'm here. You know I'm gonna exist and you don't want me to wear this cute little crop top, and I'm going to. And it doesn't matter because it's my body. So I don't know. Why you're caring? Even if it's like we like, we wear the bare minimum. That folks are just like this is like the most. Revolutionary thing I said, girl, I just bought this. Target like like 2 days ago like you know. It's fine or? Ohh this is just something I picked up off my floor and I was like oh it's good enough. I'll just wear it out. It's fine, but I feel like it's this. Sense of like. We're supposed to be invisible and we're not supposed, and we're supposed to move within the shadows and not be seen. As our full selves within all of this, which I'm like a. We shouldn't do that. And B like that's not. That's not reality like we we're going to exist whether you like it or not. And for me, I'm just like, you know, I'm not gonna get your rent. Y'all don't do it. To me, you know, it's a good, great time.
I just think a pause for that. K that was so. And I there are so many things just kind of flooding that. My thought process from just such that this is such a healing conversation for me, and I'm just so grateful to be in this space with you, and I think for many of us, these conversations feel so isolated. I think like where the the fat person in the friend group or the trans person in the friend group or the fat trans queer person in the friend group. And those experience can feel experiences can feel so isolating. So it's just healing to be in this presence for so many reasons and so. So when TK something that you said. Just stood out to me about the fact of. We're not supposed to exist when I think about arrest confinement. When I think about peoples comments on our bravery, on our existence, on our shocking beauty and fashion and presence, I think about we are. Not supposed to be here. I think that. So, so much about our perseverance when we haven't had to be or when we shouldn't have to be our resilience when we shouldn't have to be. And I think you know, our existence breaks that arrest for whatever they're trying to to place on us. Another piece that really came up for me was a piece of passing right and I think around transness and queerness, but particularly transness, there is a pressure for, for valid reasons, for a lot of people. Specifically, I would say black femme, trans women or, you know, femme people, non binary femme. People, there's an essence of survival, but I think there is a real pressure from that that comes to, you know, this idolized idea of what society expects a man to be or a woman to be when you come in as trans. There's this pressure to to meet that 100%, probably 110% more. Then what you navigate, you know when you come out as or before you come out as trans. And I think about for me, you know, the minute I came out as trans people were like, oh, you're going to be in the gym, you want to be a fit guy. You want to do all of these things you're gonna wear like a lumberjack Plaid and chop down a tree and be fit and whatever those people on TikTok. They squish watermelons with the thighs. They're like that's going to be you, you know, maybe I'd rather be the watermelon on some cases, but not not the person doing other things. But my my point around that being. Is there's this real pressure to not be how you are. There's a pressure to like, be on this journey to be something else and something that is harmful. And I think from or can be harmful, depending on who you are. And in a lot of ways, I think we see our health providers like I talked about or strangers or people who try to put this. Confinement on how we're supposed to be and use health or use well-being, or use desire, or use these other pieces of our everyday life really as weapons against us of like you won't achieve. You won't have. You won't do these things because you're fat and you're trans and. And you know, I think about how that impacted my journey as a trans person. I felt the need to really look like this fit, flat chested buff, you know, white trans guy. When I came out and that was a lot of the pressure that I felt. And I think as I've gotten older, I've I'm coming up on almost nine years on. Testosterone, which is like a wild piece of my journey. But, you know, nowadays, particularly around the pandemic and since I've been at home, I'm like, I don't want to wear a binder sometime. So I'm like, I'm gonna go out to the grocery store. And what does it mean to have? Like a, you know, a a lumpy chest as a trans person, as like a trans masculine person. And to not wear a binder and to not feel like I have to be bound and flat to be valid as a trans person. But I'm always weighing. I feel like it's a constant way of pros and cons, right? I go to the grocery store and I'm like, I don't feel like wearing a binder. And like, you know, this is my chest as it is. And it is a trans chest. It is a man's chest. A masculine chest, but I'll be grabbing like my chia seeds and I'll see somebody looking at my chest. You know, if I have, like, a low cut shirt on or a zip up, and I ultimately think about what does that mean for how people perceive me in this space? What does that mean for my safety? What does that mean for what people are reading about me? How are people perceiving me? And and you know, sometimes that can be internalized, or sometimes it's very real. And I think who's to say just because it's internalized, it's not real for for us. And so I think I don't know, that doesn't really land on a point. But I think as I've. As I've continued my journey as like a fat trans person, I've started to really break apart all of these confines around passing around what a body is supposed to look like as a trans person. What? What? What is the? Body supposed to look like in. General and what does it? Mean to just exist with? Starting to learn what your body needs and giving it to it and finding acceptance and how your body is in that space. And so those are little pieces of how it's interplayed with gender. I know that, you know, it doesn't land on a firm point that. You might want. Or be, but I hope it drops a little bit of a little bit of gems there.
I want whatever you would give me, so I have no. That was splendid. I I'll add just cause I I am here too and I have thoughts that I think that that piece. That especially you, Shane named, but ultimately everybody named like this, the perception of other people. And I think it's wild that like. Those folks don't think we know, right? They don't think we know at the moment, and they also don't think we know that like every space we enter, we're taking that inventory, we're sealing, we're kind of sealing it out for those. Those looks, those lingering eyes, right? So I I think about my experience as someone who is also in a relationship with a flat. And how that interplays so much with folks's perception of what? What the arrangement of our relationship is, right? And so depending on the space, you know I'm also in addition to being fat, I'm also very tall. My partner is quite a bit shorter than I am. He's generally a more smaller framed person and depending on spaces. Yeah, and his queerness can get very easily erased based on folks's perception of him. And also if he. With me, and vice versa, if we're in primarily sunset space is my queerness, and my gender can get a waste or reconfigured in those spaces. And so it's kind of this perpetual weird pendulum of kind of trying to coexist as two people who have their own respective complexities around our bodies and our fatness and our queerness and our transness. But then you put the two of us together and it just. It's a whole nother like **** show of just gender fat ******* that just like folks cannot cannot figure out. And it gets really complicated, in fact, like. He'll tell folks. You know who have never met me? Oh, blah, blah, blah. My partner, my partner, and they automatically assume that he's with a man, right? Just like without ever having met me, right. And so just the ways that folks will go through these mental gymnastics to kind of place and push because they can't configure and. And just thinking about how much not only. Does the the gender expression plan to that? But how the size and shape of your body and the fatness of your body just really, really contributes to that as well. And I think about how. How it can get messier, especially in trans spaces where there is oftentimes in my opinion, right, this over eager push for trans like biomedical transition that the assumption is that well if you have this formula you can fix it by modifying your body right? For some folks, that's entirely true. It's life saving and it's valid and right the the conversation around it and sometimes the overemphasis on it can get really messy, especially for like non binary. Folks who have. No interest in biomedical transition and I worry that in addition to that. How does that what message does that also send to fat trans people to say, well, if you're unhappy with it, if your dysphoria or dysmorphia is caused by your fatness, well, you can just fix it as though the size and literal amount of space your body takes up can just be, like you said, TK shrunk down. To fix your incongruence with. Your body either based on gender and or based on being fat, is messy and it it don't like it. We've blamed now media, we've blamed cishets. We've blamed the person in the grocery store. There's a lot of blame to go around, honestly. Like it's just, that's just where we're at. And so I think this pivots ohh so nicely into our next question which. Which is another big one. So it is what has our current moment and our current moment being some of the context I offered at the beginning of our session, right, global health pandemic, anti trans legislative attacks, mass protests, what has our current. Comment further revealed about the treatment of fat trans and non binary people and what does it show about the work moving forward.
Well, I guess going with the theme of me starting, I'll I'll when I saw this question, I immediately went to a conversation I was having with a peer the other day. And I was just saying that what it has shown me. In the what 2 slash going into third year is that people don't care about us and and what I mean by that is that you can't I we can't talk about this conversation. We can't talk about transness fatness, you know, black. We can't talk about any of that without talking about intersectionality and the oppression that that's present. And I think it's so imperative for me to mention that because I feel like the pandemic. Or COVID or however you want however you want to talk about it, cause it's still here, right? It impacts us all. It's certain it's at so many different levels, right. So you have it impacting black individuals from. The standpoint of no one's doing anything to. To help with. Racism, or the injustice, and then you have fat people who are clearly saying that, you know, COVID and the precautions are going to impact me because if. I get sick, then I won't have. The care and then you have, you know, trans people saying, well, if I do get sick and I'm fat and I try to go get care, I'm not gonna get the the proper care. So there are all of these levels that I constantly keep thinking about as we're talking about kind of everything that has happened in the last three years. And the only thing I can kind of sit with and and maybe I'm maybe I'm 100% right. Maybe I'm 100% wrong, but from my purview as a black queer, non binary slash trans person, it really feels like so many people don't care and what I mean by that. What I mean by that is. I see a lot of selfishness right that that's happening. And when I say that it's the notion of, well, I don't wanna wear a mask because it makes me uncomfortable or I don't wanna wear a. Mask because it's hot. I don't know if he could cuss, but I would say for me, *****, I'm always hot. So now like, you know. So because if I get sick and I go to the doctor, I'm gonna have to fight three or. Four doctors to get them. To actually take me seriously as a trans person, to get the care that I need. Let's talk about it. So I think that there's this this thing of, you know, the we can't have this conversation and we can't posit this like, I guess where I'll leave it, we can't talk about this without having a real conversation about what. Like in the scheme of things for people who, and even and I say privilege not just from, like, a white white supremacy or white supremacy concept, I say privilege from the idea of people who can get quality access to care, to people who do have a really good job and have health, good health insurance. People who know that taking time off is there for them because they have PTO. I tell people all the time if I get sick. I'm a freelance. If I get sick, you know, I I literally can't work. I don't have PTO that's gonna come in and pay my bills, so I I I think about, you know, even hearing friends share stories about flying. And I know I'm probably talking about about COVID, but I'm just thinking, like, if we're talking about. Everything related to COVID and the ways people have responded. But we're talking about the injustice we're talking about, all the things that we've seen in the last three years. It just feels like, I guess the only way I can really say it, it really feels American. Very self-centered in the ways of people only thinking about what's convenient for them. And not taking a moment to think about the different caveats and the injustices that marginalized people have to negotiate and navigate when or if COVID does, or any. Sickness for that?
I was just going to say Doctor John Paul, you said it. I mean, there's I. Mean there's just so. I don't know what else I can add other than what you just beautifully shared. And I mean, I think the only thing that came. To mind for me is. I don't want to bring it back to capitalism. We were talking about. Capitalism before it started with that, really. I mean when? When we think about it, I think about, I was thinking in the shower before I got ready. For this and I was like. If we could focus on accessibility, if we could prioritize. People and humans and needs and listening and compassion and individual approaches to what people need and the care that they need or what what you know any of those pieces. I don't want. To go down to on a rabbit hole instead of prioritizing money and prioritizing that, you know we. We all live in the space where we need to prioritize money to survive, but I'm talking about big corporations and the other pieces. When we prioritize that people's health and safety and well-being are just thrown to the wind particularly. Fat and trans people and many more intersections of those identities as well. And I think what I take away from every decision that has been made in the last two to three years, but really you could bring it back all the way to 20. 14 and before that, in so many ways. Around how people talk about. What we're navigating as a society. Is let's prioritize the money. Let's prioritize the quantity. Impact versus comfort, rest need and well-being and what people need to be able to achieve those things. Because I don't know I I many of my times I think is a fat and and trans person. I feel too complicated for people to care about, and I think people have made me feel too complicated. Too complex to care about the things that I need to feel well and cared for and safe. And yeah, I don't. That's where I'll leave it so.
This is this is so good. I have so much to. So I'm like reflecting in real time, just like I'm like. Y'all y'all are amazing humans. I think the only thing that I. Will add is. I think like I agree with everything that I said and I think about two. And all of the fat trans, disabled folks that have been telling us this for years. Like that's been saying this for years, right. So I think about again a very big I, I love TikTok so much to a point where I feel like it's a little unhealthy, but there is a creator. Her name is Imani crutches and Spice, who I love iconic talks about all talks about. Communication with a disability within her within her identity as a black woman, all that stuff. So I think about that a lot as. Well as I. Think about one of my friends whose name is T banks based out of Madison, WI, who. Who is a fat? A fat black trans man and disabled artists, right? Who talks a lot about in in his work, how his fatness, his health has impacted his identity in how, at the end of the day, the people that are going. To be thrown under the bus. Are black are, are, are gonna be fat trans folks. Especially black and brown and indigenous trans folks and trans women and femmes, right? And it shows up the end of the day that if it is for the better. Government of of a privileged identity. They will do whatever they want to to to like like y'all have there to have to build a level of convenience, right? I even think about to even how this like pandemic. Like shaped me and shaped a lot of like my. Friends and my. Community and how that also that also comes in aligned with how I view like rest and what that looks like too I feel. Like as fat folks like fat folks. If they rest, they're just seen as lazy and I'm so sick of that. And I'm so sick of. It and my fiance and I, we were very hilariously the exact same size. Which I I don't want to say that they are plus size or fat, that is their choice to decide what that is for them. But we're the same size all the way. Down to our shoes. Right. Which again I walked out. I walked out there by even when we met, like in the pandemic, and we're trying to navigate that like we talked a lot about like how we view like our bodies and what that looks like for us and how we know that those conversations are not being had. Buy a lot of other people and how, even if we do bring it up, folks just assume that we're just taking up space. It's not that big of a deal, yadda yadda yadda. When it is and folks just don't want to listen and we're at the point, especially from we, we share that we work in a variety of different industries. That at the end. Of the day we're we're we're disposable like we are. We are fully disposable. Whether it is us in, in a role, whether it's career or social standing, that if folks are done with us, then they're gonna move on to what else and it maybe I feel like for fact trans and non binary folks, it really puts in perspective of. Who truly is in your corner and who's truly gonna fight and advocate for you? And who is using you or using the relationship that you have as a performance to gain something? Again, I'm not saying that's everyone, but folks did have some lightnings during like in this time of our pandemic. Dives, but generally that is I feel like a big thing, so yeah.
I think for me the the piece so like that was pandemic heavy and like that we could have a whole Part 2 that really talks about kind of the implications of the pandemic for fat trans people. And in fact, I'll. Put a note, put a pin. In that as a potential futurity conversation, because. Like to kind of bundle everything you all have mentioned right? Like the public consciousness. Around the limitations of our healthcare systems became very, very obvious to pretty much the the general public in ways that like TK mentioned, folks, especially in disability justice work. But then also folks of color, queer and trans folks like we've we've known like we've. Known for a while to then have folks be well, this is egregious. This is so messy like this. You know, our hospitals and our clinics are falling out from underneath themselves. And it's like, yes, they are welcome to welcome to our frustration. But I also think about the the legislative attacks in, in the form of. Just bills after bills, after bills you know, statewide. Statewide bills that really want to put limitations, especially on trans children, and we had a whole conversation last year for our teaching called the Next Generation, where we we really honed in on this. So I won't go. I won't go. The length that we did necessarily, but I really think about some of the narratives we've shared, especially with that first question about coming into an understanding of being trans fat. People right and how it was very much influenced by folks's perceptions of us, even as children. In and how some of these bills that want to go, the length of indicating that either teachers or folks that work at schools or adults in these children's lives are supposed to make determinations about disclosing information about their potential transness, or if they're questioning their gender right, and how much fatness and size. Will inherently play into either conceptions or perhaps misconceptions of a child's gendered experience. I'm just thinking about how you know other related tropes of, you know, aging kids of color to be far older than they actually are thinking about experiences of bullying and mistreatment of like that children and how that's going to interplay with transness for youth. And I there's really no like. And count to that thought, but I think that's a piece too, where I just think about like little me and K through 12 with just I've been, you know, I'm asab assigned fat at birth like I've been big forever. So just like I've always kind of had extra, like **** come my way, that has to come. With like anyway. I'll unpack that later, but I think that's a piece too. Just thinking about what are our like, trans children and trans youth and queer kids coming into in this moment too, where there's going to be even additional monitoring and policing of their bodies and K through 12 when they may already be navigating fatness, which is just not. Not well treated in our K12 systems also so and brought on that. Any other things you want to add? Just kind of I'm thinking about in this moment, anything we've already talked about before, I ask our wrap up question before we get into audience questions any other.
I was going to say to you or be I.
Think to that point around. What is it going to look like stipulation wise? As we fight this. You know, anti trans legislation and I think the first thing that people talk about when you think about health or when you say, OK, can somebody make a healthy decision about their body or about what those things are going to look like. And fatness is. Going to come into play immediately. So when you start to have questions about, OK, maybe we have stipulations around gender affirming. Someone needs to be healthy, healthy young adults to get there. What are those stipulations going to look like and what is health going to be taken into account? How does fat as play into that? And so I think to your point, fatness is completely intertwined with what that is going to be. If it's not a full out. Block from being able to happen. People are going to fight tooth and nail for whatever stipulation they can put to make it inaccessible and again, it will completely be inaccessible to fat and trans people, specifically fat, trans, young people.
I was going to say this kind of ties in. I know we probably shouldn't get into the audience questions, but I think a lot of what you both have brought up really ties into this notion about the narrative of, you know, what is fat, what is healthy for fat people. And I I think it's important to know. That I think a lot of you know, if we wanna dig into this question more I wanna make. Sure that I. Parking lot that for that that part. But I think. A lot of it is is this notion of. What you know? When when you said I've been fat since I, you know. I've been, you know. At birth, you know it really is. This notion of where is our mind around that word? And I think that we have to really. It's kind of the same thing with, you know, like black as a bad word, trans as a bad word. Like these words are, are, are ultimately all of these different things that society has assigned to them, and so. I really think that this conversation right is is unpacking the ways that we look at certain words, because words mean things, right? So what does healthy mean? What does fat mean and how do we recreate or how do we rebrand, rebrand. Gotta love capitalism? How do we rebrand the ways that we talk about health? Healthy for fat people because again, it always has a very negative connotation. Whenever you say both words. And I think it's imperative for us to really stop and think about how are we renaming or how are we giving voice to different words that we put into our own lexicon as we're talking about our identity.
You know, I'm actually, I'm actually a game. If we want to do some of these audience questions because I think that last question I have planned for us is a really good like wrap up question.
Closing. Yeah. OK, cool.
So it yeah, yeah. So, like, since we're already, since we're already in it, the audience question we got right, I'll just read out read out for folks and there's some other ones, but the one that we're already kind of playing with at the moment is the is. Or I would love to know if any of the panelists could speak on dealing with the narrative of it's OK to be fat as long as you're. Healthy because they see a lot, they see that a lot, but feel like it's toxic sometimes. Yes, indeed it is. So what are? Let let's dig into that a bit more. We're already headed there with this idea of of health being tethered to fatness, because I'm. I'm sure we got. A couple of thoughts.
I have thoughts, I have thoughts. I so this was a phrase that I held that I internalized the lie, especially as a young college kid, because I already was fat going into college and I was like, OK, like ohh I I can be like chubby and. But like I need to workout I need to do XY and Z to maintain this level which like in the grand scheme of things like is not is not good. It was not a good way for me to view my health because at the time I was healthy, in the eyes of my doctor. At the time, I'm gonna go very medical. I always seemed this healthy. My blood pressure wasn't high. My cholesterol was fine all that. Good stuff, right? You know, that's. What's what's so great? But that's a different story. But I internalized that a lot of, like, ohh I'm gaining weight, so I have. To I have to be at a socially acceptable. 8 to be seen as healthy, and that that's not, that's not true. And like for me it was more of how I how I needed to change that error within myself of what it means to be healthy because. Healthy for one person is very different from someone else, and I think that when we, when we think about health, it is not only an individual thing with our own selves, but it's also a collective. Like it's a community as well of like thinking about health and like what that means. Right, and it doesn't need to be so literal like like I just shared of like medical and body. It can mean, like, socially it can mean with the relationships that you have, it can mean just how you view yourself into the world. It could be how folks perceive you. It can be a lot of different things and I think that the mindset of of it's OK to be fat as long as you're healthy. It's like, what do you mean by fat? Do you mean like ohh. Like if you're 5-10 that means ohh do you weigh 200 pounds and and it's socially acceptable or does. It truly mean. Like hey, I am working within my community to create a healthier narrative around fatness around talking about fatness, around understanding fatness, and understanding what that means within community as well as what it means individually. That can be influenced by common. Maybe to make it to make it something to create something new and to and to go against the grain of that traditional narrative. Because at the end of the day, that's what it really is. Like what, what healthy means for for someone in the context of individual in the context of Community is. It influences each other and so I think that that's that's how I'm thinking of it. And I'm also still learning of this too of like. What does this mean and how does this? How does healthy look within within my own body within within intimate spaces with people within social spaces with people within? My professional life. As well, and I think there's so much more I could say. About it, but I'm going to leave it there.
Something I really came up for me TK when you were talking is this idea of taking morality away from healthy and and taking these pieces of what does it. Mean to be? Moral good, seeing valid, cared for, or you know, however, people think about morality. Away from what it means to be healthy and I think. When we think about healthy, the thing that comes at least to my mind is a long life life and all of these other things. But we don't, and particularly around fatness. I think we think about a long life. How do we make sure you don't have a list of off the things I've been told my whole life? A stroke, a heart attack. Any of these pieces around? What it means to be fat, and how fatness impacts your health? And then I. Started to think about, well, what is all? The life that I'm seeing taken away from me. Like what does it mean to have health in a community when you know we see people's lives taken away instantly from a variety of different pieces, from police violence, from mass gun violence, from, you know, carcinogens, that are dropped into communities without knowledge? Like what? What does it mean to have health? And when you think about it in an individual level, we're not thinking about health at A at a larger community. What does it mean? To have a healthy, thriving community, but we pinpoint it into like. How are you? A good person and how are you going to have a long health, healthy life without thinking about? How health can be impacted by so many other things that people clearly don't care to? Make lots of. Different choices about in regards to climate change or other pieces. And so I think for me, when I think about it, I really have to pull away. I I, one of my friends that I've followed for a long time. In fact all flow. Talked about how many people when she posted a picture of her body or like you're gonna die. You're not gonna be well, like you're so unhealthy. You like these really terrible things. And she said you have no idea how unhealthy I was when I had an eating disorder or when I had these other pieces. And what unhealthy looks like in those spaces, and so TK, like you said, I think it's so individual about what does it mean to be healthy for you and to make sure you are well and what well means for you in your body, the way you exist the. Way you navigate. But I think we get really in a very toxic space when we start to think about size and fatness as an indicator of health in any way, shape or form. But I also don't want to take that away from individuals who, you know, there can. Be people who are. Prescribed certain things for certain reasons, but I think that's a whole other. Conversation about the medical complex and then other things that people learn and medical, healthcare and other things. But you know, just want to make room for everybody's got to define what's best for them and what is healthy to them, but also know that it has implications as well depending on what that can look like.
I just wanted to say you really want to make a doctor upset. Be above their little weight scale thing and have vitals that all look normal. They come in that office so red cause they don't know what to do. They can't. It doesn't compute well. How are you, £345.00? But all your battles are OK because I'm well. Thank you so much. Doctor, that to me, is what healthy is. If I am living and breathing and I and I'm able to make sure that my my vitals and everything are OK.
That's healthy. That's it. But does it stop you from looking at your doctor visit chart and looking at that big red exclamation point next to the word? They get they get you right.
Back with that.
One, and I think too like Shane, to your point, right, the. Morality of it. A matter what? You know when people say that ****, right? It's about two things. It's about your relationship with food. They're making commentary and your relationship with food and your relationship with activity, neither of which are publicly available to the people making the comments right. I'm a vegetarian and I'm fat. People can't compute, right? I'm just like I've been a vegetarian for 17 years. But I also like potatoes. Right. Sorry about it, you know. Which is the relationship with these kind of material things as though you're supposed to be shamed into not having the relationship with food that you have, or being motivated to do more activity as though you're not necessarily engaging in physical activity that would be socially acceptable based on whatever ridiculous standard that we're on, right. And it turns into. This moral failing if you're not aligned in the way that other folks think that you should be, and it reminds me and kind of like a tangential way of the same kind of stigmatizing, Cringey Ness that comes with, like, the prep conversation or, like, the *** *** conversation around, like, well, you. They're, you know, participating in risky behavior. So if something happens to you, it's on you and it's like, no, like, there's choices that I can make with, like, that are informed, right. I could be informed about putting the potatoes in my body. I could be informed about what type of sexual activity I engage in and make choices they like, understand that there may be consequences. Right, but ultimately not to say that it is a lie. That the consequences that I'm sad, or that the consequence is that I, you know, contract something or that, you know, I'm at a place where that's a higher risk, right. All of this is high risk because we live in tumultuous times. Where to shanes point, there's environmental factors that are poisoning poisoning us. I don't care about going through the Taco Bell drive through when the. Water is getting polluted. You know what I mean? Like help me help me understand.
So anyway help me understand.
I was just gonna. Say tier point RV at it makes me think of the book that Kate Borenstein wrote. That was like. I think it was 99 ways to stay. Alive or a? 100 ways to stay alive and and talking about what does it mean.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
To stay alive. And what does it mean to be OK? The other thing that I thought of the thought is leaving me, but I hate I can't say when that happens, but I was thinking really about this piece of. I think it's. But I I was thinking it might come. Back if we keep.
Talking. Yeah, I'll leave. For other space to to share might come back.
There's there was another audience question that came through as we started talking about this one that I think is a good one to hop into. And then I know John, there's one specifically for you, so maybe we'll do this bad one and then get you back on that one from early. So audience question, we have right now is do. You have thoughts? About what? You're not. Seeing but you'd like to see from. LGBTQ, or specifically trans orgs slash movements to be liberatory and relevant for fat trans folks.
Well, I was going to say I think for me as I'm processing this, I would love. So one thing that I made. As I've been thinking about my own journey, you know, one of the connections I made in therapy was the relationship I have with food is connected to the. It is connected to the way I grew up in terms of being poor, right? So a lot of the relationship that I have with food I celebrate with food because growing up, that was the way my parents celebrated when we had food. It meant that we were in a good place, right? And so there are a lot of a lot of. Things that I don't think we talked enough about specifically with trans folks right in the. Question of do we have enough or how are we making access or how do we make things accessible for folks and the relationship folks are having with their own bodies and how they come up with you know and and and even too. You know, I think culturally I wish that there were more cultural conversations about what body size. Looks like or what body size means for marginalized people. Specifically, friends, black people, right. I I I just. I think for me, that's something that I see a lot. I think we talk a lot about the injustices or the issues that we're having. But we're not talking about them from the lens of cultural or we're not being very specific about what those experiences are outside of the purview, if that makes sense.
My thought came back, so I'm gonna share it before it's. Gone knew it would happen. So, you know, one of the things that I thought about when we think about health and doctors, you know, you, you both Doctor John Paul and Arby were talking about like, what is it like to go into the doctor's office and people share things. And I think we can bring it back to a capitalist lens of how can we treat as many people as possible in a minimal amount of time. And what is an easy blame that I can place on an individual for ownership versus having to take through and dig through what may, it might be an actual cause for high blood pressure. Or for anything else, and I think about. You know my. My wife is a black woman, a black queer. Then and about how often she it took her three years to get to a Doctor Who would listen to her and actually take into account what it means to explore somebody's health conditions and to find a root, or whether it be something genetic or something interactive or something going on. And I think about that as her, as a fat black. Your woman as well, and how much of that is even more dismissed as a fat person and how being fat gives an easy excuse rather than saying let's do this test or let's run this thing or let's get you in touch. With a referral that can do these pieces and again this is all when you have health insurance, so a variety of other things that that go into kind of where I feel it ties back to capitalism on how much we can minimize and shrink. And you know where fat phobia can thrive to allow other things to succeed. Wanted to take that note, but then I I think about this question in particular is you know I want to see people this this is one thing that comes to mind in particular, but I want surgeons to get rid of a BMI requirement in regards to gender affirming care. I want surgeons to get rid of it. In regards to you know hormone replacement therapy. In general surgeries, it is just, there is no reason other than the fact that surgeons don't feel comfortable because our medical health complex does not teach people how to take care of fat bodies. Surgeons are not taught how to take care of fat bodies and the nuances and the intricacies. That aren't really that complex. It just takes time like you have to learn any individual thing or any different thing to to cater for and care for. And so I would like to see that be something that is advocated for, because I think as we continue to advocate for gender affirming care and protecting gender affirming care like we talked about earlier, whether it be for youth or for adults, in some circumstances, the minute they can stipulate it, they're going to find a way. To make fatness A barrier from getting the care that people deserve, so I think that is critical, and I think. We're starting to see it, but I think I would like to see fat people celebrated in our movements. I want to see them in the music, in the ads, in the art, in the fashion, in, you know, the conversations I want to see, the bravery and the resilience. And all of the things. That we are applauded. For in regards to existing be rewarded, I want. To see fat people get paid. I wanna see fat people celebrated. And so I know those are large. It's not a a tangible thing that I can give, but I think you know, give people particularly fat. Trans, black and bipac and indigenous people. The opportunity disabled. Fat trans folks. The opportunity to be celebrated, be loved, cared for, valued and respected, and it can trickle into a variety of different individual things. But if you operate with that at your core. We make decisions differently, so I'll pass it over to you, TK. I love this. This is.
I'm going to post this. Question with a question. You know, for folks in the audience. Think about think about like you know, queer and trans organizations, whether you work out one, whether you've heard of them. Just think about any any. Intentionality of diverse staff that debt centers fat trans folks. Like, just think about it. Just think about. Like if if you are not the person that is intentionally doing it because you are a fat trans person, it does not exist it it's coming out it. It is like both Shane and Doctor John Paul has shared. But within within these. It's like they're not. They're not talking about fatness, and if they are, it is probably internal conversations, right? It's not shared with. The masses, right? Even my own right, like I don't know a programming that's happened in the past or initiatives within my office in the past that centers around Transis and fatness, right? And I think that's really important to name because, like we have shared like the quote UN quote phenomenon of fatness and talking about it. Is still new. To a lot of people and not using it, talking about fitness in in a non derogatory way, right? That isn't just self deprecating to someone's body and so I think that's important to name that. A lot of this quote UN quote nuance. Of fat trans folks like existing, even though we've been existing for the masses, is still a newer conversation. Right. And so I agree. I I think being I require I think the BMI shouldn't exist in general. Period, as well as how in general like. A lot of us. Just default to a lot of things, right? So even in the sense of like if we break it down to as simple as like a program like I was a programmer for like 6 years working. Higher and it's it's too much. I feel like it's too much, but that's fine. But even then, like when we think about like speakers and folks that we want. To read the campus. A lot of all of a lot of them. Just then, and don't talk about fatness. Like, yes, they were talking about their identities. I was like, weird tradespeople. And their experience all within various fields, but like honestly this is even the first time that I'm seeing a conversation about fatness that is accessible for free to do. Like I've seen different. Universities or different organizations that will have these events, but they're not open to the public, they're. And so like honestly, this is the first time that I'm seeing it that like it's readily available, it is easy to get to. Like I think even my mother is watching us right now and I think that's great, right, because it's it's it's successful and it's easy to do. And again, I'm not saying that like I know I've messed up. I know that there's probably been stuff in the past that I'm not. Trying to excuse not trying to look over that. There are things that are that are that have happened in the past that I don't know about right, but that's kind of what I think about is. That like this is still. For the masses, A newer conversation and a newer narrative and dialogue that we're talking about, like we're not talking about the body, body, positivity movement again, that's a whole. That's a whole other bam, that's a. Whole other thing. But really, having a conversation about talking. About fatness itself is is new work. Right. And so for me, what I want to see, and this is also me saying this to my. Self is also having that trans people in leadership and and having and and their and them being central centralized within the work right and and not us just like doing a default I think defaulting. Can be very harmful in a lot of different ways, but that's. What I think about when I think about a lot and it makes me reflect on as a new director, a new young director of an LGBT center in a state like in a state like California, where it is more towards the political health conscience. How I running as a leader a fat, black fat trans leader can send her fatness within my work. And within the work of others.
So we we. Are nearing our time. I just want to name that because unfortunately time is not just a social construct, it is real and it it dictates our coexistence in space. So I did want to at least pose that last question that I have drafted for y'all and then Doctor John Paul, if you wanted to address. The direct question to you in your final thought wrap up absolutely. Feel free to do that too. I think we touched on some of the like medical. Pickiness and how to make those less fat shaming, but I'm sure there's more to be said. So the final question that I had posed for our panelists that was inspired by this also incredible book called Belly of the Beast, the politics of Anti fatness as anti blackness by Deshaun L Harrison, which is an absolute must. Maybe grab that? In the book, Deshawn dedicates an entire chapter, the initial chapter, to the idea that while yes, it is critical to do the vital work of radical self love, we need to move beyond self loves, to break down existing structures. That make us interrogate our own bodies in. The first place. So my final question to you all is kind of a wrap up for us is what does it look like to move beyond self love and into a liberated future?
Well, keeping tradition, I think for me, what? I'll I'll start with is thinking about kind of what does liberation mean for me. I think liberation for me is really. Seeing folks or what? Watching folks embody the the process of unlearning all the things that they have learned around me, my identity, my body, the way I feel about my body, the way I talk about my body. Like I'll say this very lovingly, my podcast host, I know one time I had said something about like guilty pleasures, and they stopped me and said. Ah, girl, ain't nothing guilty about that. You better enjoy that. And I was like, wow, I didn't even realize, like, they were catching me. Say things that could lead to, so I think like that's the kind of stuff that I think I wanna. I I want to embody. I want to see people doing the work. And not relying kind of, I think you know both, Shane, you and you know Trisha, have both kind of said right, it always takes a black trans or a you know a that trans person to kind of name the injustice. Like I don't wanna have to wait to see someone wanting to make a change or wanting to do the work because they've been called out to do it. Right, like you need to be doing your own learning the same way that I'm needing to learn all these different things that are going on around me right around my privilege and and and undoing the you know, the injustices or the pieces around that. That's the stuff I'm looking for and to kind of address this so I can make space for other folks, you know, this this. Notion of hearing, you know, how can the medical community make these consultations more fat, friendly and less shaming? I I really, I I think that there has to be some type of. And again I I say this in this mind of, you know, liberation and thinking of what a beautiful or a more inclusive world can look like for us. We have to get medical practitioners who are really, really rooted or very much kind of what's the word I'm looking for. They have to be invested in making sure that the people that they are serving truly are seen and heard and valued, and I think that, you know, I I find that a lot of medical practitioners will say and do things that go, though that's not my intention. Well, my mom would always say the pathway to hell is paved with good intentions, right? You know, it's the impact. That I think that that's so important and I I really wish that there were more medical professionals who were truly vested in this notion of I don't want you leaving my. Office feeling hurt? I don't want you leaving my office feeling bad about who you are. I want to help you feel good. As much as I want you to also. Be good if that makes sense, and so all that to be said, I think that there's a lot of, you know, you spend all this time reading those medical books, girl, but. Pick up you know that. Book by Deshawn. Pick up, you know. Go on Tumblr. Throw people back on tumbling now that they leaving Twitter. Read something right, go to Twitter, follow you know, go to Instagram the you know the facts are talking and I think that's the thing that we really need is it's more of this notion of of self efficacy. You shouldn't have to wait till someone tells you. Do better to do better, right? I need people doing better because it can't always be us. Three US four talking about the injustices and the things that other people are doing that continue to perpetuate the harm that we all have to navigate. So do better. That's literally what my whole thing is. Just please do something.
Oh my God, I.
I would also say 2 is that that like the unlearning, yes is is a big part of it not just individually but like communally. Like if you're unlearning but your community is not. What? What, what what? Does that say about your community? Right. And so I think about I think about like the notion of how a lot of us have or had work in role. Roles that center queer and trans people, and how we like how a lot of us like, at least from the experience that I've had of like, why does liberation look like? Is that one day my position doesn't need to exist, right? And I think about how what a liberated future looks like is that. That people just exist and there's no there's no hot topic, there's no controversy, none of that. But there might be controversies based on their behavior. Behavior is one thing, but them existing shouldn't be. Like a hot button issue and how this is not just like within the medical field, it's in every single aspect of our lives and how it is everyone's responsibility to advocate for fat trans people. And it's not just a point of like. Well, I don't know where to start. Like, again, like Doctor John Paul saying you. We're talking like the fat folks are talking. We've been having these conversations for not just the last 10 years, but for decades, right? And and it's and it's on all of us, especially folks that are not fat trans people to do that work and to to have difficult conversations because this is not comfortable. Like it's not meant to be comfortable, and it's gonna show some true colors of who's in community and also to truly send her fat trans people is to give them is to give them the opportunities that they rightfully deserve. Right.
It's a big question. RB and Doctor Doctor John, Paul. TK, you all have said y'all been so healing for me today. This has truly been, I mean, just a transformative conversation filled with such a love for me because I work from home now. I feel isolated in a lot of ways in in some ways. And I think it's just. I don't know to be in space with such incredible people. It's just such. A gift and. And so the first thing that comes to mind is there's this quote that. I saw on Instagram a little while back that was like your fat friends don't. Want to hear how you don't want to look like them? And I think there's a start to unpack that. I think we, I think it starts with. What is scary about being fat? What are you? Scared of like. I mean I. Think there is real repercussions to being fat in this world, but not because I'm fat. But it's because people hate fatness, and I think. There was another story that I think about where I had a friend who we were doing a series and they wanted to learn how to drive a stick shift, and I have a Jeep and I I wanted my my friend to be able to learn how to drive a Jeep and we were talking about it and they couldn't get to a space where the Jeep was accessible for them to drive. And there was a moment where both of us internal. They sat there and that was because of their size to name. And they were. Down on themselves and then they said I had to take a moment and think about that. It's not my fault this Jeep wasn't made for me like this is my body and I think we need to start questioning and rather than questioning ourselves, because when we turn that hatred and that fear in on ourselves. We give the rest of the world the power to dictate, you know, so many things about how we navigate our world and and the experiences that we have. And so I think we'll. Flip the script and turn a question and say well, this wasn't made for me or how do I make this accessible for me, or who can who can I talk to? And it shouldn't all be on an individual. But I think. As we start that framework individually and I. Think it's as. Thinner size or smaller size, people start to interrogate what their fear is of being fat. Or what their fear is of fatness, or what that means. If you're fat, I promise you life does not. All I know is how to be fat. Been fat and how many times? I've tried and life. Is pretty damn good in a lot of ways, you know. I think people think you're not desirable or you're not able or you're not. Any of these things. And then I question what does it mean to be able and what does desirability look like and and when I think about liberation, I think about a lens of accessibility. And I think about how do we make things. Accessible and I think we learn a lot. From disability politics and disability activists. About how do we question what a universal design looks like, not just in the physical but in the way that we approach. Medical care, how we treat people and how we lean with compassion around making things accessible and universally there and and for people which I think you can go go and go big about. Like what does it? Mean to be a human? Do we care for? Each other I'm. Not going to take us there, but I think you got to start with compassion. You got to think about how do we think about accessibility. In every frame of, you know the physical, the emotional and how we get to a place where. Fat isn't scary and fat is fat and fat is majestic, magical, and creates the most beautiful experience of the intersection of so many of our identities. And so that's all I got to say on that.
I think that's your piece. Is a biggie, right? I think that I think that when I think about us as trans, that people that trans people. We are receptacles for other focuses, fear and anxiety and aggression around the fact that they do not love themselves enough to permit themselves to explore things beyond the rigid gender that they have established for themselves because of the same messaging we've technically all. Received and the same deal with fatness, right, that their fear of looking like us, right, and that we have. We are receptacles for them to blow their trauma through on a regular basis and that the lessons and the things that we have named in this space do not necessarily mean to say that we do not experience that fear or that restlessness or that frustration. But that we have at least overcome the initial hump of it to say Nope, I'm I'm going to not just accept things at surface and fact and accept that my body can do more things than I was told that I could be again. Looking past the practicals, fractals of that broken mirror and saying actually I see myself past this, I'm not going to replicate what's been mirrored to me as something that I'm supposed to do. We accept that prescription so I could do this all day. I hate that you are all three in very different places. One day we will all be in the same. Hotel lounge slip in our drinks of choice and having another version of this conversation and being. You know, fat trans majestic humans in shared space, but this is the closest we could get today. Y'all are absolute gems. When I think about the fat trans folks that are leading leading the way, you are a a high priority and the folks that I look up to owe so much appreciate folks tuning in for this conversation today. You can check out the recording. Pretty much I think as soon as we're done and information about our previous teachings folks at social Media handles from this chat all things. At sdinstitute.org, very much appreciate folks tuning in. Appreciate our captioners for offering live captions during the session to at least offer one marker of accessibility for this space. Again, that universal design. We'll get there one day. So once again, thank you all so much and I think. That is a wrap.
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