Theory to Praxis: PurpLE Clinic


            Last spring, I took the class called Graphic Med: Drawing Disability with Dr. Fox. Specifically, the readings that we completed in the transgender unit really struck me because they exposed the treatment of transgender people, and LGBTQ+ people, in the medical world. This year, I am in both GSS 101 with Dr. Gonzalez and Child Psychopathology with Dr. Stutts. Both classes have highlighted the struggle that transgender people go through, specifically when it comes to being treated and understood in the medical world. Studies have shown that transgender youth as well as other LGBTQ+ people often avoid seeking medical care because they feel that doctors are not fully equipped with the knowledge and ability to help them (Thu et al., 2020.) Additionally, there is a large distrust of the medical world because of outdated practices by older physicians (Hackman et al., 2020) and a need for increase funding and inclusion for procedures and support services that directly benefit LGBTQ+ patients. Similar to what we learned about women’s representation through the creation of the Committee on the Status of Women in India (1974) and its purpose, something similar needs to occur in the medical world for transgender youth.


            Sexual violence and assault is experienced by the majority of LGBTQ+ members, but a staggering 64% of transgender people alone (DeKeserdy et al., 2017). The stress and risk of lifestyle judgment keeps transgender people away from medical offices (Hackman et al., 2020). Combining what I have learned in these impactful classes, and acknowledging that there is so much more to learn, I have drafted this proposal for the Layendecker Grant as a way to increase social justice of transgender youth through shadowing in the PurpLE clinic in NYC.

PurpLE Clinic:

            This grant would help me partner with the PurpLE Clinic that serves to create an environment where survivors of assault in a specialized clinic. The PurpLE Clinic is an acronym for Purpose: Listen & Engage to ensure sensitive medical care. By getting involved, we could increase awareness and even eventually make more of these clinics across the country. The clinic was created in response to feedback from anti-sexual violence community based organizations that experienced challenges in connecting survivors of sexual violence with trauma-informed and stigma-sensitive medical care.


            With the help of this grant, I would able to travel to the clinic to work alongside the most influential physicians and nurses in the world. These workers are the future of medicine, and being involved by watching their interactions with patients would be life-changing. Each day, I could take notes of interactions and how to approach certain topics in a way that is the most comfortable and helpful for the clinics’ patients. From these notes, I would put together a “manual” for healthcare regarding LGBTQ+ populations, and specifically those who suffer from any sort of sexual violence or other traumatic history due to their identity.

Future Impact:

            I could speak with Dr. Stutts specifically to integrate these ideas into her class to be taught every year, as well as for her to bring to the clinical world. Dr. Stutts is also a licensed psychologist who serves those in the Charlotte area. By working with her, I could then ask her to incorporate these ideas into future conferences with her peers. On a smaller scale, there could be seminars each semester for future medical students at Davidson. On a larger scale with more funding, a PurpLE Clinic could be established in Charlotte, equipped with doctors, nurses, PAs, NPs, Psychologists, psychiatrics, etc. who are ready and knowledgeable about the imminent needs of the LGBTQ+ community. By spreading this manual, we can start shifting the ideas in the medical world to a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all.

Works Cited:

Do, T. T., & Nguyen, A. T. V. (2020). ‘They know better than we doctors do’: Providers’ preparedness for transgender healthcare in Vietnam. Health Sociology Review, 29(1), 92–107.

DeKeseredy, W., Hall-Sanchez, A., Nolan, J., & Schwartz, M. (2017). A campus LGBTQ community’s sexual violence and stalking experiences: the contribution of pro-abuse peer support. Journal of gender-based violence1(2), 169-185.

Hackman, C. L., Bettergarcia, J. N., Wedell, E., & Simmons, A. (2020). Qualitative exploration of perceptions of sexual assault and associated consequences among LGBTQ+ college students. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.

India. Committee on the Status of Women in India, & Guha, P. (1975). Towards equality : report of the committee on the status of women in india. Govt. of India, Ministry of Education & Social Welfare, Dept. of Social Welfare.

DRI Grant Proposal


A cancer diagnosis is daunting and life-altering. However, a diagnosis can also be a privilege that not everybody has access to. Many LGBTQIA+ people, especially those living in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, are less likely to have access to or choose to utilize routine screening services for common cancers, and are therefore less likely to be diagnosed with cancer and receive treatment that is essential for survival. Through my research project, I aim to better understand the similarities and differences in how individuals in four key populations access services surrounding cancer:

  • non-LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals residing in a socio-economically advantaged area
  • non-LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals residing in a socio-economically disadvantaged area
  • LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals residing in a socio-economically advantaged area
  • LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals residing in a socio-economically disadvantaged area
Continue reading “DRI Grant Proposal”

1972 Sex Positivity Fair: Body Image

1972 Sex Positivity Fair: Body Image by Rachael, Maryanna, Malia, and Caroline B.

“If we start from a position of neutrality, and do not make an a priori assumption that higher  BMI  is  unhealthy,  we  are  left with  numerous  studies  showing  health  benefits based on quality nutrition, regular physical activity, social support, restful sleep, freedom  from  violence  and  stigma,  abstention  from  smoking  and  excessive  alcohol  and drug use, access to quality medical care, and so on” (Burgard, 47).

According to Jen Baker in her TED Talk Total Body Love, “4% of women will call themselves beautiful, and in my experience men are very similar.” By creating an exhibit for the 1972 Sex Positivity Fair, we seek to discover why only 4% of women would call themselves beautiful. As students of GSS 101, we have learned to identify the voices seeking to force, in both subtle and blatant ways, the image of the “ideal” body upon us. We have learned to reject these voices in the name of Total Body Love. We have identified three voices that are loud, though sometimes unrecognized in our culture: advertising and media, the health/wellness industry, and the medical world.

In a society overridden by advertisements and media, we are constantly bombarded with both conspicuous and inconspicuous symbolism in images dictating what “attractive” means. These images pervading online, in the news, and even in public spaces, are in almost all instances edited to depict what those believe to be a desirable body type for both men and women. For example, in Agnes Rocamora’s article about the fashion industry titled Personal Fashion Blogs: Screens and Mirrors in Digital Self Portraits,she states, “in a field, fashion, where those in charge of taking photographs have been predominantly men, and those photographed women, visuals show the latter behind the camera actively engaged in an act of self-representation contrast with doxic views of men as photographing subject and women as photographed object” (Rocamora, 420). Our culture teaches us that the woman’s body is valued only when serving a specific audience – whether that is the male gaze, commercial gain, or even representations of purity or innocence. The woman’s ideal body type has changed drastically over time, however. Today the ideal female body type depicted in the media is widely accepted as unrealistic and photoshopped, and many companies have moved towards a “body positive” approach to their advertising as in the case of Aerie’s #AerieReal campaign featuring models with untouched bodies. Conversely, advertisements featuring the male body are frequently also photoshopped to unrealistic proportions of musculature, which acts to shape society’s interpretation of masculinity. However, this issue has yet to take off as a widely accepted false representation of the male body, which can lead to low self-esteem and poor body image in the male population.


The health and wellness industry contributes to an unrealistic body image by creating an unattainable picture of health. There are men and women whose bodies simply cannot be shaped and molded into the hard, athletic lines of a stereotypical gym-goer. The pressure to be toned and muscular has led to an increase in disorders like muscle dysmorphia: an obsessive preoccupation via a delusional or exaggerated belief that one’s body is too small, too skinny, insufficiently muscular, or insufficiently lean. Muscle Dysmorphia and other related disorders concerned with the strength of the body (together referred to as “The Adonis Complex”) are often overlooked. Because those affected by muscle dysmorphia are not seeking to drop significant amounts of weight, if at all, they are sometimes considered outside the realm of eating (or body) disorders. We are reminded of Marilyn Wann’s claim that “The weight divide is not just a fat/thin binary… People feel superiority or self-loathing based on each calorie or gram of food consumed or not consumed, in each belt notch, pound, or inch gained or lost, in each clothing size smaller or larger” (Wann xv). We learned that identifying voices seeking to shape body image in a way not immediately identifiable with the pressure to be thin or beautiful are especially insidious, and need to be addressed. IMG_6510Because they are encouraged to subscribe to patriarchal standards of “masculinity,” many men are imprisoned by society’s definition of “healthy.” Harrison Pope argues in his book Rise of the Adonis Complex, “Over the last three decades, the Adonis Complex has spread dramatically among boys and men, and more and more men are struggling to improve their appearance in one way or another.”  This obsession men experience with body image echoes Harrison Pope’s study, which reported “95% of college-aged men being dissatisfied with some part of their bodies.” Muscle dysmorphia and other disorders of the health/wellness world need to be more widely recognized in order to make effective and valuable changes.

Another voice seeking to define which bodies should be loved and which should be shamed comes out of the medical world. Fat studies scholars like Marilyn Wann and Deb Burgard argue that the unrealistic and scientifically false standards of “health” set up by health and wellness industries are perpetuated by members of the medical world through measures like BMI. BMI, or Body Mass Index, is one of a variety of “ideal” weight charts used by the federal government to mandate who is healthy and who is not. The problem with BMI is that it is too simple, and does not account for the full range of human diversity, especially in children. BMI works by juxtaposing height and weight to create a n
umber from 12-42. The oversimplification of the incredible varieties of the human body leads to the “medicalization of human diversity,” which “ inspires a misplaced search for a ‘cure’ for naturally occurring difference. Far from generating sympathy for fat people, medicalization of weight fuels anti-fat prejudice and discrimination in all areas of society” (Wann xiii).  Medical professionalsIMG_6508 who seek to determine patient’s achievement of “good health” based on flawed scales like BMI contribute to the chorus of voices that say, falsely, that our bodies are too fat, not muscular enough, too short; basically, that our bodies are
incorrect. We still need to seek advice from medical professionals; there are men and women who have completed years of training in order to help us live our best lives. Through this project, we discovered the importance of seeking medical professionals who understand and appreciate the diversity in human bodies and also encourage us to seek out a truly healthy lifestyle (in every sense of the word).



Works Cited

Rocamora, Agnès. “Personal fashion blogs: screens and mirrors in digital self-portraits.” Fashion Theory. Vol 15, No. 4, 2011.

Wann, Marilyn. Foreword to the Fat Studies Reader, by Marilyn Wann,  xxi-xxvii. New York: New York University Press, 2009.