Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: Reed Miller

Today’s reflection on body image and dating comes to us from Reed Miller.


One White Transman’s Take on Dating Cismen & Body Image

My relationship to body image takes me back to middle school, where I distinctly remember becoming aware of my appearance and its supposed shortcomings. The affluent suburb I resentfully grew up in valued brand names, thinness, and generally looking like you just walked out of a magazine. (Due to my class privilege, I have access to many more resources than people with less class privilege have, including those related to body image, so my experiences are probably different from others’.) I was thin due to my metabolism, but I saw how my friends’ adolescent bodies were forming differently, and rejected notions about fat people being lazy and ugly. I’m grateful now to be in community with feminists and fat justice activists who help me keep learning about these issues. An important thing I learned from a Wellness Coach is that surrounding yourself with people with positive body images is much better for your own body image than being around people who are constantly degrading their own bodies or judging others. As a result, I’ve tried to be more conscious of how I talk amongst other people (and in this post!).

For me, body image has mainly had implications in the dating world. I had my first boyfriends in 5th and 6th grade, but we mostly climbed trees and played video games. Around 7th grade I told friends I was bi, and since then have mostly dated ciswomen and slept with cismen from time to time, taking on labels from bi to lesbian to queer to gay back to queer. In my quest to meet fantastic partners, I’ve suffered from self-imposed expectations (guided by despicable popular media and gossip) that I needed to look certain ways to be attractive. I admit and regret that I have sometimes projected those expectations on others. I’ve also gauged my attractiveness and boosted my self esteem based on AIM messages from boys about how sexy I was, but I’ve gotten away from that a bit in the past 15 years.

Since coming out as trans 5 years ago, dating has been a trip. My body image has gradually improved as I’ve settled into this new version of me. I’ve enjoyed attention from some really super queer ciswomen. I’ve wanted to date queer men, and have had a couple of boyfriends, but overall I’ve met few radical queer men–cis or trans–who want to date transmen. I’ve found that most cis gay men lack even a basic understanding of transmen, which is startling and frustrating to me. Since I’ve grown facial hair I’ve become more confident, but I still worry about coming out to someone cute I’ve been flirting with at a club–how will they react??

Because of those worries, I’ve mostly been trying the internet thing. Many of the gay apps feature photos of headless 6-packs. I’m not interested in conforming to that aesthetic, and I don’t have the interest (or discipline) to try to attain that physique, so I put up head shots. Grindr convos have been mediocre to bad in terms of trans questions–check out http://transmenongrindr.tumblr.com/ to get a sense of what I mean. Scruff is a bit better because you can list yourself as transgender and/or seeking transgender. Lately, posting on Craigslist for people seeking transmen and thoroughly screening responses has been really successful because it’s a self-selecting group, but I’ve still encountered ignorance there.

I’m about to move to a new city in the South, and I’m excited to meet new and charming people there. My goal is to be full-time fabulous, and not let my perceptions of others’ perceptions hold me back! I am also eager to engage in conversations and read more about fat justice, because as we know, oppressions intersect in oh so many twisted ways.

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Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: Benjamin D. Perkins

Today’s reflection on body image and health was written by Benjamin D. Perkins

My Body & Advent: A Reflection

I’ve really only recently paid attention to my body. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and cannot take it for granted. Perhaps it’s because as a gay man I’m aware that the currency it carries is diminishing in some circles. Or perhaps it’s because both of my parents died relatively young, their bodies failing them–in one case, quickly, the other, slowly–and I am inching ever closer to the ages they were when they died.

After a lifetime of being fairly sedentary, I recently became a runner. At best it’s a love-hate relationship, oftentimes more one than the other, but I can say honestly that the experience has been transformative. The ability to go distances I never dreamed I could travel has given me confidence in my capacity to persevere, and I love the way I look running… sometimes.

What I’ve also come to understand on my journey is that my body has value and meaning, and that I owe it respect. I know that food, exercise, and meditation are essential to my well-being-—these aren’t luxuries. My ancestors’ blood flows through my veins, and I honor them and my Creator when I respect my body.

As a someone who is in the process of becoming an ordained minister, I cannot help but also be reminded of the centrality of the body-—intellect has its place, but when the mind takes motion, it is the body that shapes and molds. And it is only then, as we say in the Christian tradition, that words become flesh.

I believe that we are all made in our Creator’s image, and a big part of that image is what I do with my body, which is why I really love the name “Body Image 4 Justice”! For it reminds me that one purpose of my image is to be about the business of creating justice in the world, and that’s a wonderful thing to ponder this Advent Season.

Amen.

New Posting Schedule for the “Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies” Campaign

Starting this week, the “Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies Just As We Are” campaign is moving to a weekly posting schedule, which will continue through the end of 2013. New campaign posts will be published on Wednesdays on the BodyImage4Justice Web site and on the organization’s Facebook page.

We are still seeking new contributions of writing and video for this campaign, especially from youth and elders in the trans and LGBTQ community. We particularly want to include the voices of trans women in this campaign. For more information about how to submit a story or video to the campaign, please visit the “Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies Just As We Are” Campaign page.

“Supporting Our Child’s Transition” a Success!

BodyImage4Justice would like to thank all the people who came out to Harvard University on Wednesday, December 4th for our panel discussion, “Supporting Our Child’s Transition”. We’d also like to thank the families who served as our amazing panelists, moderator Corey Yarbrough, our wonderful friends and supporters from the Livingston Pangburn Transgender Access Partnership, and our co-sponsors: the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition, and Greater Boston PFLAG.

We appreciate everyone’s participation and support in making this event happen! Please visit our YouTube channel to view short video clips of the panel discussion.

Love Ourselves, Love Our Bodies: Vann Michael

Today’s poetic reflection on body image and gender comes to us from Vann Michael (O.N.E.I.)


I AM AGELESS

I AM an Ageless Image

So when You birthed me

You could not imagine this

An Ageless Image

An external U tur (n) Us with internal Testi-calls

Physically and/or mentally

We are Revered Sacred at festivals

Divinity of Universal Mind

So i- IdentIfy- as male or female to satisfy

Those encased in jail sitting on gender ice

At times i mutate so my soul can take flight

I AM an Ageless Image

Surpassing nipples that ripple and rip apart my cosmic dreams.

Soaring by scrotum impressions, triggering unwanted aggression onto Kings and Queens.

Bypassing apples, bitten lips that don’t speak my language

i, then unknowing, have anguish ‘til i came to, know there is no limit. i have no image.

I AM Thee Ageless Image

We take it back to basics, the line of scrimmage

These lines will hemorrhage every illusion constructed, clearing eyesight obstructed

Our images will challenge every non-Universal institution that says I AM not!

Remind All who forgot!

I will shape shift and shatter your scientific dogma, rhetoric & societal definitions-

I AM, THEE AGELESS IMAGE since the BEGINNING.

—–

By O.N.E.I. © 2013