To anyone whose autoimmune disease knocked them down so hard, they wondered if they would ever rise again.

Never underestimate your ability to rise. We all have a phoenix within us.

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Episode 226: Transgender Autoimmune Health

My goal with the Phoenix Helix Podcast is to help people with autoimmune disease thrive. Today’s episode is dedicated to our transgender listeners and the healthcare practitioners who serve them. We’ll be talking about the medical complexities that might arise from the intersection of gender-affirming treatment and autoimmune treatment. We’ll discuss the challenges transgender patients face when seeking medical help and not knowing if you will face medical discrimination. We’ll share tips for creating safe spaces within healthcare practices. We’re also going to talk about the stress-autoimmune connection and the special challenges facing transgender people, with advice for self-care and self-advocacy. I’m honored to have a panel of guests with me today. Mitch Hankins is a transgender man living with autoimmune disease and will be sharing his experience and advice with us. Dr. Aly Cohen is an integrative rheumatologist who will be sharing the medical perspective. And Dr. Shainna Ali is a mental health counselor, educator, and advocate. She’ll be sharing the psychological perspective.


Meet Eileen

Hi and welcome to my website! I’m an author, podcast host, and autoimmune warrior, living a vital and resilient life with rheumatoid arthritis. While there is no cure for autoimmune disease, the choices we make every day can have a powerful impact on how we feel. I believe in a holistic approach:

  • Nutrition – using food as medicine.
  • Lifestyle – health is about more than just food.
  • Mindset – harnessing the mind-body connection.
  • Medication – when beneficial.
  • We don’t need to be victims to our diagnosis.

My goal with this website is to offer information and inspiration for autoimmune health. May we encourage each other.


author dancing on a mountaintop, arms out, sweater coat swirling like a cape

I believe resilience is a superpower. It's our ability to navigate life's challenges, and I think autoimmune disease is a masterclass in learning this skill. I've lived with rheumatoid arthritis for over a decade, and if there's a recipe for autoimmune resilience, I think it's equal parts empowerment and self-compassion.

The name of my website symbolizes resilience to me. The phoenix is a mythical bird that rises from its own ashes. When I was at rock bottom with autoimmune disease, I desperately needed a symbol of hope. The phoenix embodied that hope, and I've loved it ever since. The helix represents the spiral of our genetics and epigenetics - those factors that influence our genes. We are more than our DNA, and our choices can have a powerful impact on our health. Put them together, and you have a name that represents the autoimmune empowerment I seek in my own life and strive to share with others.


Hands together
  • I believe our bodies are amazing and deserve our love, not our anger.
  • I believe the choices we make every day have a huge impact on how we feel. Nutrition, lifestyle, and mindset are powerful interventions for autoimmune health.
  • That said, if medication is needed to put you in remission, it’s a wonderful thing to live in a world where medicine is available. Never feel like a failure if you choose an integrative approach.
  • I believe self-compassion and compassion for others go hand-in-hand, and they are both skills worth nurturing.
  • I believe everyone on this planet is deserving of dignity, love, joy, health, safety, and equal rights. That includes people of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, ages, abilities, religions, and nationalities.
  • I believe community health, public health, and personal health are intertwined, and my mission is to help us all live our healthiest lives. May we all rise together.
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