Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: Monica Rochon

Today’s reflection on body image and fitness comes to us from Monica Rochon.

Using fitness as a form of resistance my entire life has helped me to be confident in my ability, to be seen, and to be held accountable to a team’s goals. More recently, my enthusiasm around fitness has helped inspire me to work for the body I’ve always wanted–to constantly challenge myself mentally and physically, build strength and endurance, and to sustain a community and foundation of wellness.

My gender identity and sexuality are both things I value. I am masculine. I am gender non-conforming. I am Trans. I am Monica. And it’s complicated, mostly for others. I don’t feel like a woman or man, I’m Monica and I look forward to the day I can have top surgery so I can feel like the person I have always felt I was, and be in the body that I wanted to be in. BodyImage4Justice represents love. Caring about my health and wellness is a gift to myself so that one day I can feel like my whole self. I hope to encourage others to continue finding the strength and courage to live life in the body they’ve always wanted.

– Monica Rochon

BI4J Presents: Healing Touch Focus Group

Are you curious about how massage, Reiki, and other healing touch therapies can benefit trans people? Are you a healing touch therapist who is interested in serving members of the trans community? Are you a trans or genderqueer person who wants to experience massage in a safe and comfortable environment?

The Healing Touch Focus Group for Trans Awareness will bring healing practitioners, trans people and allies together for a dynamic discussion on topics of concern to clients and therapists alike. Learn more about the benefits of massage and healing touch for people at all stages of transition, how therapists can create a welcoming environment for trans clients, and how we can work together to make healing touch more accessible.

Following the discussion session, attendees will have an opportunity to experience sample massage and healing touch sessions from professional therapists.

Refreshments will be provided courtesy of Ula Cafe. Co-sponsored by BodyImage4Justice, HBGC Boston, Heidi Stucker Massage Therapy, Pathways to Wellness, and The Meeting Point.

Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: Von Stowers

Today’s story comes to us from BI4J intern Von Stowers.


Growing up I was just like every other little boy in my small town. We would all ride our bikes to the park on the weekend and play basketball, football and baseball. I was often picked first because I was fast, strong and extremely athletic. I was very proud of my body and never hesitated to rip my shirt off when I was on the skins team. In physical education class I always paired with the other boys for competition and could hold my own.

As we grew older, the other boys started going through physical changes that I didn’t. They became taller, gained more muscle mass and soon were easily out running me and had no problem tackling me. In attempts to keep up with my peers I hit the gym and started working out twice as hard as them in hopes of changing my body. My attempts failed and soon I stopped being able to compete and play with the other boys and became very isolated, inactive and anti-social, which lead to a deep depression that lasted well into my 20’s.

As time went by I learned that the only person I had to compete against or be stronger or better than was myself. I learned to love myself and my body again, and was able to find a healthy way to transition into the person I always felt I was. I am still not as fast or as strong as my peers, but I am happy to work towards my own personal goals and am comfortable being the man that I am today.

– Von

BI4J Heads West!

BodyImage4Justice is pleased to announce that we are expanding into western Massachusetts! Please join us for dinner and an introductory meeting, where we will brainstorm ideas for local programming and discuss how BI4J can best serve members of the trans community west of Boston and Worcester. We believe that trans communities everywhere deserve the resources and support that they need to stay as healthy as possible, and we especially want to help people who live in areas that lack such resources. Please help us do this work by coming out to meet us and let us know your needs, ideas, and dreams for the kind of community health support you’d like to see!

Date/Time: Tuesday, April 8th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Location: South Congregational Church, 45 Maple Street, Springfield, MA

This event is free, and dinner will be provided. If you live in western MA and are on the transfeminine or transmasculine spectrum, or are outside/beyond the gender binary, you are invited to attend. We look forward to meeting you and sharing food for the body and the mind together!

Transfeminine Show and Tell a Big Success!

Our organizers, facilitator, and participants at the Transfeminine Show and Tell program

Our organizers, facilitator, and participants at the Transfeminine Show and Tell program

On Saturday, March 22nd, BodyImage4Justice held its first Transfeminine Show and Tell event at Fenway Health. Our wonderful facilitator, Ms. Kim Watson of CKLife in New York City, presented an engaging and informative session. Ms. Kim was joined by Daisey Lopez from Queens and nearly 20 participants. There was a powerful feeling of community in this gathering of trans women that was truly inspiring. We thank Ms. Kim for sharing her empowering and affirming messages, experience, and information with us, and we look forward to having her return to Boston for a future event!

We also thank CKLife, the LifeSkills program at the Fenway Institute, and the Fenway Trans Health Program for partnering with us to make this event possible.

Daisey Lopez and Ms. Kim with a new friend

Daisey Lopez and Mrs. Kim with a new friend.

Ms. Kim and Daisey say goodbye to Boston

Ms. Kim and Daisey say goodbye to Boston… (Photo courtesy of Daisey Lopez)

Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: Noori Jerrard

Today’s reflection comes to us from Noori Jerrard.

From a tender age, I knew that I was a boy. I was just as tough, fast and strong as the other boys but for some reason they insisted on calling me a “tomboy” and/or “she”.

I absolutely abhorred their blatant confusion. In my mind I was just developing slower and EVERY night I would pray that I would wake up from some figurative cocoon as the me I intrinsically saw.

Well that never happened.
What did happen was modeling, where my feminine beauty was to be celebrated and athletics, where I felt somewhat duped for having to compete with girls.

During this time my body image was hit like a ton of bricks! I felt lost, scared, angry and it almost felt like some wicked cosmic trick was being played on me and me alone.

Leave it to the Universe to know, because my parents began noticing this “disconnect” too and allowed me to express myself exactly the way I wanted to. They fostered both the feminine and masculine energies in me. I sincerely believe this gave me the courage to grow into and discover who I was and what I was truly about.

When I first decided to begin transitioning, I wanted to just disappear and not let anyone in. I wanted to erase who I was believing that who I was would never be part of who I was becoming.

Something in me told me that wasn’t how it should be and I’m glad my inner voice prevailed because unbeknownst to me, my transition has been a vessel to strengthen others!

Now, here I stand as a transman, who decided to not only shape my body, mind and spirit the way I saw fit, but as a personal trainer, helping others do the very same with their lives. This has led me to creating Triumphant Transition Fitness, my fitness, health and wellness brand. It is my goal to empower others to manifest their dreams and never give up until they do.

To add even more to the equation, I have a plethora of sublime souls as a support system who, like me, are striving to create a space in which we can live free from the misconceptions that come both from the outside world and inside our hearts.

There are still times when I struggle with my body image. I struggle with not being able to do certain things that other men can do, not looking the way I feel I should look, etc.

However, I have learned over the years to be gentle with myself, to love myself more and remind myself that my journey was chosen just for me.

Peace and Blessings
Noori Jerrard
The Chief

Shop to Support TAP

Does your wardrobe need a bit of freshening up for the warmer weather ahead? Here’s an opportunity to get some new Spring apparel and support a wonderful organization at the same time! Artwear on Mass. Ave. in Arlington, MA will give 40% of what you spend to the Livingston Pangburn Transgender Access Partnership (TAP) when you shop there, so that ALL transgender young people can have good access to the services and support that they need. Bring your friends along, and head over to Artwear on March 26th!

TAP is a Greater Boston PFLAG initiative that was created in memory of Livingston Pangburn, a transgender Hampshire College student who was killed in a bicycle accident in 2013. TAP seeks to both increase services available and reach out to underserved, disenfranchised transgender youth and their families.

Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: Jennifer Gann

Today’s reflection on body image comes to us from Jennifer Gann, a trans woman, activist, and prisoner in California. Jennifer’s story comes to us thanks to outreach by Black & Pink, “an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and ‘free world’ allies who support each other.” For more information about Black & Pink, please visit their Web site.

My name is Jennifer, I’m a 44 year old pre-op MTF transexual on a regimen of hormone therapy, and I’ve been incarcerated in California state prison for nearly 25 years.

My body image issues started from the day I was born: October 6th, 1969. I was medically sex-assigned as a biological male gender “boy”, but from early childhood through my teenage years and into adulthood, I have instinctively always leaned toward the feminine gender. I was the middle child between two sisters, and raised by a loving mother and an abusive step-father. I’ve always identified with and gravitated toward cisgender females–the “fairer sex”.

As a small framed, feminine-looking kid, I never quite fit in with the other boys. I was “different”, insecure, introverted, and seemed to have a lot of behavioral problems. In the 1980’s southern California punk rock counter-culture, I rebelled against authority, patriarchy and social norms. I wore make up and outrageous clothes, and cut my hair into a mohawk.

My sexuality also developed from a strong preference for women toward bisexuality. This is when body image really began to affect my mental health and well-being. I wanted badly to be a girl–to be beautiful, pretty and sexually desirable. I became severely depressed, suicidal, and began prostituting, that is, having unprotected sex with random men on the streets of L.A. I even took birth control pills!

For the last several years, I have been fully transitioned to the female gender identity, including my appearance, secondary sex characteristics (breast development), name, fashion, styles, etc. For all intents and purposes, I am a woman! I love myself, and love my body a lot more than I did, but I still have body image issues. “My boobs aren’t big enough!”, “I’m too fat!”, “I need a sex-change operation!”…

I love being a woman more than anything. I’ve become a dedicated trans woman prisoner activist, blogger, aspiring artist/poet and Siddha Yoga student. I can identify across racial identities, am more self confident, and more compassionate and connected to people.

You can view my blog and post comments at

I hope this contribution is helpful to your campaign to promote discussion of body image and its connection to health and social justice issues. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the LGBTQ community.


Jennifer Gann

Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: M.J. Depina

Today’s reflection on life changes, transition, and body image comes to us from M.J. Depina, a pre-op FTM, Licensed Massage Therapist, and an AAI-ISMA Certified Personal Trainer who loves going to the gym. He enjoys networking with people and wants to utilize his skills for the greater good in our community.


Hi, my name is Marc Joao, but I go by “M.J.” Before my transition, career, and improved body image, I was a lost person, not knowing what to do with my life. I wanted to be somebody, but I didn’t know how to get there.

When I was a kid, I knew something was up with me. I was born a female but acted very masculine. I loved playing sports, played with action figures instead of Barbie. Most importantly, I absolutely hated wearing dresses. I mean, I’d kick and scream, dodging from my mother. But as I got older, I realized I couldn’t stop my body from changing, so I was disappointed and emotional. Being bullied and teased throughout my school years didn’t help either. My confidence was really low, and I couldn’t defend myself.

I felt alone because I didn’t have anybody to help me who I could trust to share my secret. Thank god for the lesbian community, they took me under their wings. Before I knew I was Trans, I identified as a “Butch” masculine lesbian during and after my college days. It helped me release some built-up tension, and I had a group of special individuals who accepted me. But as soon as I started dating, I realized how much I was still uncomfortable in the body I was in. I even tried working out harder in the gym to build muscle because I hated my chest.

It was through couples therapy that I discovered I was Trans. My relationship ended, but I managed to get something life-transforming out of it. Seriously, I accepted the trade-off as a blessing in disguise. Finally, I had a reason to light a fire under my ass. I took the Personal Training test, then started hormones, and went to school for massage therapy. I graduated, and am now employed as a massage therapist. I haven’t been this happy in a long time, and it feels amazing!

I love meeting and helping people. There are many of our brothers and sisters who are in need of a massage, but are dysphoric and uncomfortable going to a spa. Even though I’m pre-op, I can relate to this. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be a part of BI4J. We want to create a network of services to benefit the community. As a trans man, I want to provide a service to my brothers and sisters. Not just because I want to, but because it feels right. I hope to meet you all at our upcoming events.

Peace n’ love,


Deconstructing Masculinity — Body Image as Armor: Upacking How Masculinity Masks Us

BodyImage4Justice invites you to join us for an in-depth participatory workshop on masculinity, body image, and identity as we explore what masculinity represents, how it impacts different communities, and how we relate to and define masculinity for ourselves.

Masculinity is a social construct that often has the impact of oppressing and dividing both women from men and men from each other. We hope you will join us for this thoughtful discussion on redefining and reclaiming masculinity as a human quality that honors and reflects all of our lives.

Deconstructing Masculinity flyer

Date: Saturday, March 29th, 2014
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Location: Simmons College
Linda Paresky Conference Center
300 The Fenway, Third Floor, Boston, MA
The nearest T stops are Museum of Fine Arts (Green Line – E) and Fenway (Green Line – D).

This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP for this event at the Deconstructing Masculinity Event Page on Facebook.

Many thanks to our co-sponsors for this event:
Simmons College Office of Residence Life
Simmons SWAG (Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Center)
The Hispanic Black Gay Coalition
Black and Pink