TheRainbowTimesMass.com • The Rainbow Times • 23
April 5, 2018 - May 2, 2018
Periscope from Page 16 of ways,” Sallans said. “People are curious and also confused, and want to understand how to use language, and understand that you’re going to make mistakes. It’s part of being human. Being human is a little messy at times.” Students took the initiative, according to Sallans, to talk about their experiences, out-
Ourselves from Page 2 more likely to report purging” than straight men. Connectedness to the LGBTQ community, according to NEDA, can make a very positive difference to those inclined to binge eat, induce vomiting or abuse laxatives. Although I may be a little bias, I can’t underscore enough the important role The Rainbow Times plays to nurture a sense of community. Albany, New York no longer has a local LGBTQ newspaper and it leaves an unfortunate void for many living in the capital region. No doubt there is someone reading this column who is struggling with their weight. Some of it may be a “simple” fix like keeping less pasta and bread in the home. A good dietician can be very helpful and grocery stores are increasingly making them available to customers. In other cases, there may be more serious issues going on. Talking with your doctor or spiritual advisor can be invaluable. It’s often beneficial to talk with both a medical provider and head of your religious community if you have one. Increasingly, good health is considered the integration of mind, body, and spirit. Your health is interconnected. Engaging in a little self-analysis can go a
Trans Woman from Page 18 people’s often intensely personal questions is something I sometimes do with little to no prompting anyway. When I really thought about this, thought about the things people actually ask me when I’m going about my daily life, there were a few things that I thought of. Here’s a short list I made: “How tall are you?” “You wanna hang out?” “How does your family feel about … this?” “So, how long ago did you start?” “What was your name when you were born?” “Have you, y’know, changed fully?” “Do you play basketball?” Now, on the surface, some of these seem pretty innocuous. There’s some that are even things I don’t mind answering, if they are asked honestly and without particular subtext. But in reality, almost all of these are questions that usually have a very specific subtext accompanying them; a tone that simply reading them in print does not convey. For one thing, they are almost always asked by cisgender men. And, what they actually want to know is one of the following things: Am I really a woman, or just “pretending?” Have I had the surgery (gender affirmation surgery)? Do I have a penis
looks, and understanding of the LGBTQ community. “There were some trans identified students there who were brave enough to speak up and talk about the experiences they’ve had on campus,” Sallans said. “From the campus standpoint, I felt very positive energy, and felt the desire for positive change.” long way as well. Growing up there was no such thing as portion control in my home. Mom lived through the Great Depression. Dad survived Nazi forced-labor. Hence, being “stocky” or a plump child was considered a good thing. You never knew when the next war or depression was going to occur. Overeating was good. Today, I still need to reinforce the importance of portion control. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean I need to eat it. There’s also work and life stress that could draw me to a pile of pasta with oil and garlic. There are other ways to manage stress than eating. Disciplining yourself to find quiet time encourages self-reflection. No television, radio, e-mail, or smartphone for small blocks of time each week is key to getting you there. I look at my need to be aggressive in weight management as an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. One can learn perspective that can be applied to other life challenges. No matter what, you’re not alone in your struggles whether you call on a higher power or a combination of the holy and professional help. *Paul is a corporate chaplain, seminary trained priest, and lawyer in greater Albany, New York. He’s also the author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis.” or a vagina? Isn’t it a terrible life being trans? Do they have to pay me to have sex with them, or will I do it simply because— they think—my identity is a fetish? Also, do I play basketball? Okay, that last one is usually genuine. I’m just, as a tall person, sick of being asked and hoped it might stop when I transitioned. But nope. People still ask. And to be clear, I suck at basketball. But the rest are all things that assume my identity is a “trick” or that I exist simply for their sexual gratification. And, because I am a trans woman, I am likely also a sex worker. The thing that really ties these questions together though, the thing I intensely dislike, is that they all assume that being trans must be a shameful, terrible thing and something they cannot ask me about directly. Something they have to dance around. Usually this is really because of shame and discomfort that they feel around my identity as trans. Not me. I am proud. Proud to be trans. Proud to be me. And I will not justify anyone’s discomfort or personal issues by pretending otherwise. Slàinte! *Lorelei Erisis is an actor, activist, adventurer and pageant queen. Send your questions about trans issues, gender and sexuality to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
But characteristics in the Brockton community fly in the face of that positive change. O’Donnell of Health Imperatives said that, as a minority-majority community, many people in Brockton come from traditionally religious backgrounds. LGBTQ youth will often find themselves at odds with families who do not accept their gender or sexual identity, and those people sometimes find themselves at her door. “With religiosity comes a whole lot of families and people who are not so accepting and not so progressive,” O’Donnell said. “It’s definitely a little bit of a difficult balance because we’ve seen through research that people, who are marginalized, tend to turn to things like religion for comfort.” Housing for homeless youth is another major issue state- and nation-wide, Zakarin said. “For unaccompanied youth that we see in the Brockton area, some are [homeless] be-
cause they are LGBTQ and their families have rejected them, and some for other reasons and those resources are really limited,” she said. “If you’re 19, it’s also not really ideal to be stuck in the middle of a homeless shelter. It’s not really equipped for younger people. One of the biggest barriers to making people safe is having adequate housing resources.” Cisternelli believes that a lack of funding, and resources, in general, are a major impediment to delivering on the mission of her organization. “As with all nonprofits, funding is tight. But we make it work and have a wonderful, dedicated staff who is always willing to look at services in different ways to meet our clients’ needs,” Cisternelli said. But O’Donnell said that though the issues facing LGBTQ youth in Brockton can seem insurmountable, they must still hold on to hope.
Coming Out from Page 2
comfortable. They didn’t support it. So, after a particularly heated conversation with somebody from there the summer after my junior year, I decided I’d had enough. I contacted several members of my old school’s LGBTQ+ community and helped pen an open letter to the high school’s administration. In short, it helped set in motion longneeded reforms that I, frankly, wish had existed during my time there. All of this, too, emboldened me. I’d then finally gained the courage to come out as a trans woman. While the response was, and has been, generally positive, it has come with backlash—mainly from those in my old town but, surprisingly, a handful of people in Brookline. Despite the negativity and turmoil that has accompanied my coming out, I’m grateful for the experiences. They, at the end of the day, strengthened my resolve and my sense of self. But, on the other hand, they’ve cemented
which I looked with regret and disdain. That is until I, on a whim, decided to attend a meeting of my high school’s gender sexuality alliance (GSA). If there was, in my being, even an ounce of that “teenage rebellion,” this was it. I was emboldened; though just my first time attending the club, I experienced and felt complete support of my identity, the likes of which would have been unheard of back in Illinois. Through more meetings and conversations, I began to thaw. My elation and relief became so much, in fact, that I put my name in to speak at the school’s Day of Dialogue (a day dedicated to, among other things, queer students discussing their identities). That is exactly what I did—which also helped me turn my pride and euphoria into anger. As I stood at the podium, coming out in front of almost the entire school, my mind began to defog. I began to realize what exactly had happened in my old town. While in Illinois, I had felt like a nuisance. However, as I began to realize, they had shut me up because it made them un-
Read the rest of this story at: TheRainbowTimesMass.com
Read the rest of this story at: TheRainbowTimesMass.com