From identifying as non-binary to having cancer, the gender spectrum opens the door for people of many experiences and body types to be seen, heard, and loved.
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Background: Why this story?
The removal of my breasts, ovaries, and uterus is something I knew was coming since the age of 15. Even though I know my survival is linked to removing these parts of my body, I still grieve.
I have a genetic mutation called BRCA 1 which gives carriers an extremely high risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Both my mom and grandma passed away from ovarian cancer, and, to survive, I am receiving preventative surgery to remove my breasts, ovaries, and uterus.*
The question of 'who am I now' as a changed person is deeply concerning to people in a variety of life circumstances; from cancer prevention surgeries to queer identities. This piece examines the culture around gender in the transgender community and the cancer community.
The gender spectrum opens the door for people of many experiences and body types to be seen, heard, and loved. In optics, the word spectrum is used to describe the rainbow of colors visible light splits into after passing through a prism. Through this gender-queer prism of multicolored light, I find liberation.
The Body Spectrum examines the culture around gender in the transgender community and the cancer community, particularly with breast, ovarian and uterine cancers. There is significant research related to the identity crisis in cancer patients in general, and a subset of research related to gender/sexual identity issues in people who have primary and secondary sex organ targeted cancers. The question of 'who am I now' as a changed person, a “disfigured” person is prevalent and deeply concerning to people in a variety of stages of cancer, as well as other conditions that have a significant impact on a person's physicality. While there is limited research on the specific impact of cancer on the queer and transgender communities, there is increasing attention to the connection between gender identity and mental health. Despite these parallel research streams around gender, identity, and health, the conversations have yet to fully merge. This documentary aims to be that merge.
*The statistics on BRCA 1, and its sister mutation BRCA 2, fluctuate yearly, but a study in 2003 estimated that carriers have up to an 87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 63% risk of developing ovarian cancer. At 25 I am in the recommended age range for BRCA 1 carriers to begin preventative care. Prevention in the breast and ovarian cancer world means regular mammograms. It frequently also means preventative surgeries to remove at-risk tissue: a complete hysterectomy (removal of uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and cervix) and a mastectomy (breast removal).