Being fat and trans is an ethereal existence but, like most things that are joyful and magical, there are barriers intended to steal our pleasure. Over about 90 minutes, T.K. Morton, Dr. Jonathan Higgins, and Shane Smoore dug deep, having a rich, vulnerable, and healing conversation for each other and viewers.
"I'm so emotional right now... Very happy I caught this live," said one viewer in the live chat. "Feeling very grateful for everyone's body, mind, spirits right now... important stuff here," added another.
At "Trans Fat: Lessons from Large Trans Folks," the Institute's R.B. Brooks led the trio of panelists in talking about the unique positions of fat/plus size trans people to unearth lessons about desire, wellness, design, language, love, and so much more. In what ways can fatness and gender come together to shape our lives? What lessons have been revealed in the current moment? What does it look like to move beyond self-love and into a liberated future? Morton, Higgins, and Smoore offered stories about their lived experiences, observations of health and beauty practices that inhibit our livelihoods, and ways fat/plus size trans folks are (re)claiming agency over their bodies.
Overheard at the teach-in
"I feel too complicated for people to care about. And I think people have made me feel too complicated, too complex to care about the things that I need to feel well and cared for and safe... I think there's real repercussions to being fat in this world. Not because I'm fat, but because people hate fatness." — Shane Smoore
"[Medical professionals] have to be invested in making sure that the people they are serving are truly seen and heard and valued." — Dr. Jonathan Higgins
"[There's a] sense that we're supposed to be invisible, and we're supposed to move within the shadows and not be seen as our full selves... That's not reality. We're going to exist whether you like it or not." — T.K. Morton
Our speakers and series
Tristan "T.K." Morton (ze/zir/zirs) is a Black Trans Queer person residing on Nisenan, Maidu, Miwok and Me-Wuk land (Sacramento, California). Tristan is currently the Director of the LGBTQIA Resource Center at the University of California - Davis. Jonathan Paul Higgins (they/them) is an educator, professor, national speaker, freelance journalist, thought leader and media critic who is passionate about television and film. They are the creator, executive producer and host of the “Black Fat Femme Podcast." Shane McClure Smoore (he/him) is a chubby, queer, trans man who calls the Midwest home. As a model, speaker, and influencer, he is making space for body liberation within the LGBTQ community.
The event marked the 6th annual Trans(Gender) Justice Teach-in, a collaboration with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Sexuality & Gender Equity Initiatives. The teach-in is a series dedicated to centering trans, nonbinary, and intersex knowledge, experiences, and liberation.