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Pride Month 2019

It’s Pride Month. This is the month when we celebrate who we are. This is the month when we remember the courageous, beautiful, fed-up people who took to the streets to defend themselves against police brutality.

This is the month when we celebrate what it means to be ourselves, what it means to be able to be ourselves publicly, what it means to love and support and cherish each other. This is the month when we remember and celebrate those who are not able to be themselves publicly, and we show them love through our celebration of who they are, though they are not able to celebrate with us.

As we move through June, we also think about the ways in which our society is still not fully welcoming of who we are. We fight for acceptance, for the right to be ourselves, for respect and stability, and for the radical desire to live as we are, without having to hide or be scared. We demand love from our society, and when we are told no, we love each other more fiercely.

In this society, it is incredibly difficult to be transgender. It’s no wonder that we have higher rates of eating disorders, depression and anxiety, and suicide than our cisgender peers. We also have less access to competent care. In honor of Pride Month, we continue to fight for recovery, for ourselves and our well-being, and for the space to love who we are.

That fight is difficult. Some days, that fight looks like following your meal plan. Some days, that fight looks like doing the work in therapy. Some days, that fight looks like doing whatever it takes to still be alive at the end of the day. Some days, it barely looks like a fight at all from the outside.

To all of you who are fighting eating disorders, whatever that looks like for you, I honor you.

Whether you are participating in Pride or not, and whether you are able to feel the love around you or not, you deserve recovery. Here are some tips for trans folks in recovery:

  1. Find your community.

Find the people you can be yourself around. Find the people who help you accept yourself just a little bit more. Find the people who think that you are special and valuable, because you are. Find the people who support your recovery through their actions, words, and being.

It’s worth finding an in-person LGBTQ+ eating disorder support group, if one exists near you. In these spaces, you can discuss the realities of being a trans person with an eating disorder. If such a group does not exist near you, find that kind of community online.

Go to your local LGBTQ+ center. Join a transgender support group. Attend a drag show. Join an LGBTQ+ book club. Find places where you feel comfortable showing up as yourself.

  1. Find a treatment team that you feel safe with.

I know, I know, this is HARD.

But there are treatment teams who embrace Health at Every Size (HAES), and who are also eating disorder-competent and trans-competent. They do exist. If there aren’t any in your area, find providers who are willing to learn.

Check out online listings, connect with your local LGBTQ+ centers, and ask around for recommendations to find competent providers.

If there’s nothing in your area, investigate online care options.

  1. You don’t need to love your body, but you do need to take care of it.

Too much of eating disorder treatment and body positivity sends the message of “love your body!” This can be a complicated message for trans folks. Loving your body might be impossible right now. Instead, consider respecting it, honoring it, and taking care of it. Orient toward what your body can help you do. This might include transition goals. You need your body to get the nutrition it needs in order to meet any transition goals, because you need your body to be alive in order to transition.

  1. Remember that trans people exist in all shapes and sizes.

Representation of trans folks mostly looks like thin, white, androgynous-to-masculine folks. That’s not the reality! Trans people exist in all shapes and sizes, and no shape is more “trans” than any other.

Be aware that some “advice” on how to pass can promote disordered eating habits. Realize that this isn’t recovery-focused. Stick to transition goals that are in line with your recovery.

  1. Fill your social media feeds with trans folks in all shapes and sizes!

In a society that is as cis-normative and diet-oriented as ours is, it is so difficult to feel like we are valuable and beautiful as we are. To change your frame, change what you’re taking in. Fill your social media feeds with trans folks in all shapes and sizes. Here’s a list to get you started:

  1. Sam Dylan Finch
  2. Alok Vaid-Menon
  3. @comfyfattravels
  4. @mermaidqueenjude
  5. @plussizetransguy
  6. @thejeffreymarsh
  7. @decolonizing_fitness

After that, add recovery-oriented and HAES people and providers in general!

About Emmy Johnson, MSW

Emmy Johnson, MSW (they/them) is a recent graduate of UNC-CH School of Social Work. They joined Carolina House as an intern in 2018. Previously, they interned at Carolina Partners providing outpatient psychotherapy. They specialize in working with LGBTQ+ populations with eating disorders and trauma, and provide trainings in working with transgender clients. Outside of work, they love going hiking with their dog Lyra and rereading Harry Potter for the twenty-somethingth time.

View all posts by Emmy Johnson, MSW