Emily Jensen, '15 starts Flattopper Pride: Gender expression and cancer intersect in a supportive space

Submitted by Cynthia Anderson on

Story from her feature in Glamour Magazine, Sept 2015


Jensen, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31, started Flattopper Pride—a nonprofit that provides a community for queer cancer patients and others to explore and express their experiences with cancer. It also supports those who have had a mastectomy and choose not to undergo reconstruction (like Jensen) and encourages them to live proudly in their bodies. "There is nothing shameful to hide," she says. "The fact of the matter is that every person should feel comfortable in their skin."

Emily's sister, Sarah Jensen writes, "for Emily, being in university was part of the healing process. In fact, she chose to go back to school after finishing treatment to find theoretical frameworks to incorporate the felt experiences of breast cancer, gender, and queer identity.

During treatment, Emily felt like she had signed her body over to a team of doctors. Now she can name it: the medical gaze. When her visible signs of cancer are met with stares when out in public, Emily can name that, too: panopticism. More than anything else she learned in university, Emily says Lauren Berlant’s affect theory “resonates with every other aspect of my life, and it changed the way I went about my campaigning.” If chemo and surgery took away a sense of control over her body, knowing how to use her affective body to elicit change is a way of taking it back.

 ~Check back here soon for Emily's full story in CHID's Autumn Newsletter