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The Brown Boi Project’s Freeing Ourselves: A Guide to Health and Self-Love for Brown Bois is a beautifully constructed, deeply thoughtful, and powerfully political health guide by and for masculine of center/transgender/gender non-conforming people of color. Intentionally slender, the book is full of poetry; exquisite photography; safer sex information; adaptive device how-tos; nutritional, herbal and exercise advice; poignant personal stories; healthcare histories that centralize the experiences of people of color; exposures of class and racial injustices in healthcare and/or prison systems; and thorough analysis of the impact of oppressions as lived trauma experiences.
All that, plus wellness charts, graphs, cartoons, appendixes, a few instructional porn shots, and more, in 126 cleanly designed, easily read pages.
As the book explains, the Brown Boi Project searched for a health curriculum that spoke to masculine of center/transgender/gender non-conforming brown bois, one that centralized our experiences, and reflected images and practices from communities of color. But after looking high and low, we realized that it didn’t exist. So we created it!”
Edited by B. Cole and Luna Han, co-authored by Sara Flores, Erica Woodland, Jacoby Ballard, Rachel Esquilin, and Patricia Manual among others, the book is broken into 6 extensively illustrated and compactly organized chapters: mental/emotional/spiritual health; healthcare allies; sex, pregnancy, and menstruation; holistic gender transition care; energy, diet, and physical practice; and the profound Brown Boi Health Manifesto, written by Prentis Hemphill.
From the Manifesto:
We recognize . . . . the disparate values placed on our bodies in a society that oppresses. . . .As individuals and communities existing at the cross-section of multiple oppressions, we . . . . reclaim our true selves from internalized stories of inferiority or gender superiority and celebrate the immeasurable value of all of our lives. We will work to take back our decision making power from those who do not hold our best interests at heart. And through those excavations, we will carve out in ourselves the capacity for greater choice and love . . . . We release the idea that “healthy” is a place where we can arrive . . . . We are working toward profound social change knowing that there are no disposable people or communities. We all need to be here.
Carrying that intention of shared accessibility, the editors are translating the book into multiple languages, working on an edition geared towards youth, and meeting with people from differently abled communities to speak more clearly to issues of ableism.
I have never read a health book before that so thoroughly connected systems of oppression, the effects of trauma, and health, alongside practical and immediately useful suggestions towards holistic and sustained well-being. This is one of the best and most comprehensive health books that I have ever read.
That said, I do wonder how well the book speaks to men of color with trans experience, people in the stealth community, and people who do not identify, participate in, or feel allied to queer or politically left communities. I have often seen issues of healthcare accessibility split along these identity lines, with fears on all sides and critical repercussions for those left out. I do hope future healthcare resources manage to address these persistent splits along identity and political lines. They are very, very tricky ones.
Freeing Ourselves: A Guide to Health and Self-Love for Brown Bois
by The Brown Boi Project
The Brown Bois Project