A lot of skeptics think that fat activism is based on pseudoscience because they think fat activists are trying to equate being fat with being healthy. For those unaware, fat activism is advocating for the equal treatment of people whose bodies are fatter than what is considered socially acceptable because fat people tend to be treated differently in medical, legal, and social settings as a result of their weight. If you even YouTube “fat activism” most of the results will be photos of fat people accompanied by a scathing commentary, and if you really want to see how much fat people are hated in society, just visit r/fatacceptance where one Reddit user posted “fat people shouldn’t have rights. Who’s with me?”
I’m just going to come out and say it: atheism has a problem with transgender people, especially in online circles. Atheist and secular communities have had issues with diversity for as long as they have existed, and while the demographics have shifted slightly over the years, atheism as a movement is still predominantly white, straight, cisgender (i.e. not transgender), and male. Those who hold marginalized identities, like people of color, women, and LGBT+ folks have consistently been driven away from atheist spaces due to harassment and prejudice.
For the 2016–2017 academic year, I served as a leader for Freethinkers of Portland State University, a student group with a similar mission statement to the Center for Inquiry. In the beginning, I naively assumed that the areligious ethos of ultra-progressive Portland and the PSU campus would be fertile ground for mobilizing students in secular activism. Instead, I learned quickly that the staunchly nonreligious social environment nearly rendered our group irrelevant.
My last semester at Central Michigan University, I received an email about the summer internship opportunity with the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, NY. It would be lying to say I immediately wanted to apply—in fact, I originally was not going to, as I felt a biochemistry major had no business applying as a non-profit intern. I was also about to graduate and move to Wisconsin from Michigan over the summer; the timing did not seem ideal. As I prepared my secular on-campus group before graduating, making sure leaders were in place and ready to take over, I realized I was not ready to let go of what had become a huge part of my identity while at university. Sitting at the library, all my campus group files organized, I decided I had to at least apply. I would worry about the details later since at the end of the day, I knew this was something I was passionate about and would make happen.
On the morning of June 12, 2016, I took this selfie after spending the past few hours at a popular Portland gay club. I just finished a grueling finals week at Portland State. Still having the medley of Rihanna and Beyoncé tunes in my head, I casually snapped this photo to memorialize the occasion where I could wear a Barbie pink tank top and white skinny jeans without care or concern.While reviewing my phone notifications, my eyes widened as I read the headlines coming in: “Orlando mass shooting; club shooting; active hostage situation.” The severity of the situation didn’t quite hit me while I drove home. Exhausted and perhaps desensitized to gun violence in America, I told myself I would read the news later. I couldn’t imagine how profoundly affected I would become in a few hours.