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

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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.

VonStowers

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
a.k.a
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.