Student Activists Promote Positive Queer and Trans Body Image

Jacob DeCarli ’22 , Associate News Editor

Dickinson students affiliated with the office of LGBTQ services hosted a luncheon to celebrate body positivity among the queer and trans-identified community. 

The luncheon featured a student panel led by James van Kuilenburg ’22. Van Kuilenburg, along with Evie Priestman ’21 and Fi Keane ’19, facilitated discussions among the attendees about perspectives on body image. People talked about self-acceptance, body shaming and contemporary “diet culture.” Students were asked, as an exercise, to write down positive adjectives to describe and appreciate aspects of their body images.

Van Kuilenburg is a volunteer for the office of LGBTQ services and an LGBTQ student activist, and he said he felt the event went well because of the large group of people with different experiences who attended. “We got to hear from presenters who are trans with experiences of their bodies with their queerness,” he wrote in a statement. Van Kuilenburg stated that he appreciated that non-LGBTQ people asked questions and shared perspectives on queer body image on campus. 

Van Kuilenburg stated that “the LGBTQ community at Dickinson is a little fractured in some ways.” He said the LGBTQ community is not as strong as it should be, but facilitating conversations about queer and trans body appreciation makes it stronger. “Having a formal reason to have this conversation instead of relying on connections people have brings in LGBTQ people across campus to be able to create a community,” stated van Kuilenburg. 

He said events like the luncheon encourage non-LGBTQ people to learn about queer-related issues not usually discussed in classrooms or in all friend groups. 

Van Kuilenburg stated he hopes to facilitate more queer-related events on campus. “Love Your Body Week is a really good start for body acceptance and positivity on campus, but we have to go beyond that,” for more than one week a year, he said. 

“This is a good topic that student organizations could take on in their meetings,” van Kuilenburg said. “We want to make sure we are spreading our resources that everybody could use [to] start these difficult conversations.”

The event took place on Feb. 12 and marked the second day of Love Your Body Week under the office of LGBTQ services.