Radiance as Queer Religion

genderfluid, genderqueer, glitter, non-binary, resilience, spirituality, trans, transgender

Content note: abuse mention, queerphobia in religious contextsspiral_chalice

Image Description: A red, orange, and yellow chalice with a spiral flame burns against a background of blue, purple, white, and green, in a flower and plant pattern. The design is quilted. Image Source: http://peacepeg.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/spiral_chalice.jpg

Well, a lot has happened in my life since I’ve been posting regularly. Another concussion, travel, the end of an abusive relationship, a new job. Hard things, good things, bad things.

But the best thing that has happened is a spiritual awakening.

I am full, deep, rooted in myself. Who am I to say that queers don’t get to have God? Who am I to say that I can’t hold Them, that I am less adequate because of who I am?

Certainly, God has steamrollered over that plan.

I’m saying “God” because I don’t have a better word. It doesn’t quite fit, but neither does anything else.

I have been struggling for months to get out of my own way–to write the deep heart soul writing I know I need to write, that I’ve been working to write on this blog for a long time now. To melt the walls around my heart so that I can hold myself and stand in power all the time.

When I am fully radiant like I am right now, all the hardships and fears on the planet can’t touch me. I laugh, I might even cry, I hold them tenderly. But they can’t tear me apart because I am whole, new, I am together with myself instead of fighting myself.

A friend who read my cards this week said when I asked about mental health, said that there’s the physical mind that gets sick and then there’s the spiritual mind. And spirituality has no limits, and it’s surprising what it can heal, it can heal anything.

When I am rooted and burning bright in my deep true light laughing powerful self, rooted in the universe, yes, I know this is true.

“If It Isn’t Healing, It Isn’t Justice:” What If Solidarity Meant Healing for Us All?

healing justice, solidarity

Content note: general discussion of oppression, trauma, death

Source: https://www.alliedmedia.org/news-tags/healing-justice

I want to start by saying that I love you.

It isn’t easy, always, to love you or anyone else. Love is hard work.

But I do.

It’s just in my being, like my breath—at least when I remember it’s there.

Other times, it feels like there is no love left in the world from or for anyone.

This movement we’re holding, it’s about love. It’s about us living full, healthy, yes, loving lives. It’s about all of us having the chance to hold each other better, to access the fullness of life more fairly and more deeply.

We can do those things now. We may not be able to change all the structures today or stop all the microaggressions today. We will do what we can with those things, as we can. We always can remember love, love for ourselves, love for each other. We always can be rooted in deep living and joy, even in the face of terrible odds for survival.

It’s not easy, always, to be rooted in this way. It’s hard work, sometimes, and other times it comes as easily as the beating of all our hearts. But it’s how we’re going to get through.

What does a healthy relationship with community look like? What does a healthy relationship with ourselves look like? When some of us have so much and some so little, and some in between and in all sorts of ways, when there is such a rocky terrain of difference and having and not-having, how do we still hold each other in this reality?

“It is no sign of well-being to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

“My job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

What is going on with these ideas? Why is it that we all must be disturbed and unhappy to be good movement members? What happened to healing? What happened to love?

What about: “My job is to love the disturbed and love the comfortable.”

What about: “Let’s figure out how to heal, love, and hold each other in this profoundly sick society.”

We have deep heartbreak, loss, death, every day. It’s survival only for many of us. Why does that NECESSITATE removal of love? Why does that NECESSITATE removal of joy?

Miss Major talks about not letting all the BS of life take away your joy. She should know about that.

What if, in addition to having space for anger, we had space for trauma, we had space for grief, we had space for loss… and we had space for a big old party where truly everyone was welcome and held the ways they needed to be? We had space for little and big moments of appreciation—for everyone, and we held open space for the possibility of abundance even when everything seems scarce?

That would probably stick it to the man. The man is definitely most happy when we’re busy judging ourselves and each other so much that we don’t even have room to hold each other’s sadness, let alone our joy.

As Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha says, “If it isn’t healing, it isn’t justice.”

This must mean healing for all of us—healing for the direct oppression we face, and healing for the bigotry we’ve been taught as privileged humans.

So let’s talk about solidarity in the age of one right kind of activism. Solidarity where we all show our love for each other as best we can. Solidarity where that love means we care for both ourselves ad each other. Solidarity where we all are working towards healthy relationships, not only with society, but also in our communities, also in ourselves.

I’ll say what you know: oppression hurts us. It hurts us all, and it directly and deeply and immediately hurts the oppressed person. That pain is different from the pain that comes from bigotry enveloping privileged communities.

It is different because while it seems more dire, and certainly has more immediate and direct consequences on material life, the pain of the bigoted is just as deep. Trauma inflictors and trauma survivors both have deep healing to do. This is on an interpersonal and institutional level.

Remember the words of Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha: “If it isn’t healing, it isn’t justice.”

Now, what that pain manifests as and what the process of healing becomes may end up appearing very different for privileged and oppressed folks—or similar, who knows. Healing always requires deep listening to self and community, then following where that compass goes. There are paths from others’ journeys to learn from, but no map for yours, for ours.

You job when working in solidarity is not to heal us. Not directly. Only we can do that.

Your job is to heal yourself. Your job is to heal your community.

It may not seem as life-or-death, it may not seem as important, but it is. Heal yourself. Heal your community.

Only you can do that work.

Of course you will feel things about the oppression your loved ones face. Of course it will pain you to witness them hurting. Of course it will break your heart when shared community turns their backs on the very people who have no other community to go to.

This all will hurt. And the cost of staying by our side is deep and real. You will never lose your privilege, and it will never hurt the same way as it does when it’s lived reality. But, yes, it will hurt, and there will be prices to pay. Solidarity isn’t free.

Solidarity isn’t free, but it should be healing. (“If it isn’t healing, it isn’t justice.”)

Remember that, no matter how much you stay by our side, no matter how much a price you pay within your own community for speaking out, the pain we’re experiencing is not your pain.

The pain we’re experiencing is not your pain.

And thank God for that! I don’t want any more people to face what I’m facing.

Let me say that again: I don’t want you to have to deal with the shit I deal with every day. How is that justice? Are we looking for more people to deal with more BS? Is that our movement? Or are we looking for more people’s trauma to be lessened?

I don’t want you to experience this, at least not firsthand. I’d love it if you could be a shield, when you are able. I’d love it if you did all you could—within your privileged spaces—to prevent such things from happening in the first place. Not that any one person is responsible or any one person can change it all. But you can do something.

But I don’t want you to hold the pain of oppression I hold every day. There’s more than enough of that going around. Besides, that’s some kind of sin-based, punishing ideology that says the only way we deal with Bad Things is by suffering more.

Nevermind that it would be pretty weird if you tried to say my pain was your own. It really wouldn’t work out too well. Messy emotional boundaries and all that.

What if the way we dealt with Bad Things, in addition to holding space for trauma, was through joy?

Ohh, a celebration, a lovefest, a party of epic proportions that held everyone well and deeply, and the way they needed to be held. (Even if sometimes that meant not being physically held at all!)

Besides, you have your own pain from being trained since birth to enact trauma upon us. Your community has that pain. It hurts you all and closes off your souls in ways you don’t even know yet, ways you don’t know because you are preoccupied with trying to feel our emotions.

Empathy doesn’t mean swallowing someone else’s pain. It means holding space for it. It means doing your best to understand.

You can’t feel our emotions. You haven’t faced the same thigns. Feeling our emotions would be weird, appropriative even.

But you can feel yours.

And the more deeply you are connected to your own feelings, your own emotional process, the more you will be able to help your community overcome the things that are leading them to produce such trauma for others and themselves.

The more you approach yourself with compassion, the more you will be able to approach them with compassion.

And that is vital. Because you are the best person to do that healing work with them. We can tell them our stories, cry out in pain, but we can’t reach them in the same way.

One other thing: it’s OK to rest. Wait—YOU MUST REST.

You can’t do it all—not all the time, and not on your own. You are not a lone hero.

How will you heal without rest? Yes, we are dying every day, and no, we don’t get a break from the direct onslaught. Yes, you have the privilege of being able to retreat sometimes.

Use it.

Of course, be conscious of how and when. Communicate with us so it doesn’t feel like yet another betrayal, another loss.

But none of us will heal this stuff—our communities, our selves—without rest.

So give yourself a break sometimes. Be accountable, for sure, but accountability doesn’t mean 24/7 duty. That’s, practically speaking if nothing else, unsustainable. And we need you for the long haul.

Because as shitty as this stuff is, it won’t be over tomorrow. It won’t be over next week. It’s not like a final exam week where if you study extra hard and push through you’ll pass at the end of the semester. If you keep pushing that hard forever you will die or you will disengage from movement spaces.

It’s not going to be over next year, either. Many more people will die. We will keep on holding and healing all of our suffering until, hopefully, things get a little better.

That’s what we’re here for. To hold each other as best we can. To help each other heal, in the smallest gestures and the biggest actions.

That’s justice.

Stop Playing Dress-Up With My Oppression


CONTENT NOTE: fabulousphobia, non-binary erasure, femmephobia, transphobia, appropriation, assault, suicide, unemployment

Source: http://www.cityonahillpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/QFS3.jpg?w=582

[Image description: A stage covered in glittery confetti (which is also falling through the air) has humans dressed in colorful clothes and balloons behind the confetti in the foreground.]

Well, now I understand why people talk about drag shows as violent.

I am not a costume.

I am not your exotic fabulosity.

I am not a joke.

My gender isn’t something to be played with by people who have better genders to put on when the sun rises. My life is not your dress-up.

But my oppression has become a mannequin for your fashion show.

You might get high off the crowd’s love, but no one cheers me on when I show up at the office in an orange trenchcoat.

When I get dressed, it’s not a moment to broaden my horizons.

No, when I get dressed, it’s a fucking panic attack.

My clothes are not a performance. My gender is not a farce. This isn’t a show that will be over at the end of the night.

This is me.

I am real.

This is not cis voyeurism into trans experience. This is my daily life.

My outfits are not fabulous for your commodification or appropriation. Fabulous has become so over- and wrongly- used (do you say I am fabulous when I show up in court as myself?) that I say it isn’t my word at all. It’s yours.

I am rad, but because I am me. For me, my outfits are quotidian, and every one I wear, whether it’s Carhartts and plaid or feather boas and striped socks, is me. All of them are fabulous.

I am not only fabulous sometimes. There is no “fabulous” uniform. I am not fabulous today and drab tomorrow. I am both fabulous and boring every day.

I may panic more when getting dressed, but I don’t need your objectification of my gender expression making that harder.

It is me,

it is mine,

I am whole.

Don’t make that struggle yours by wearing my clothes as a costume and laughing at how open-minded you are. Laughing at how silly you look in all



all those bright colors.

Why is it that you get more support for looking like me for one night than I do in my entire lifetime?

If you really want to take up the mantle with us, try working to end our suicide or unemployment or assault rates.

Not wearing our clothes.

If you cared about that half as much as you did about us looking fabulous, we’d be in a fucking different place by now.

Think about that before your next drag show, your next fashion show, your next roundup of performed gender.

Who is this for?

Why are you doing this?

What reasons are helpful?

Which ones hurt?

And let me just be. I shouldn’t have to see myself paraded every which way, every sashay, myself snatched in every laugh and cheer.

This is for you.

You do this for fun. To joke at ridiculous and strangeness, what you see as an exaggeration.

I do this to live.

“If you want an Oscar, they give those for supporting roles.”

#blacklivesmatter, ableism, accessible movements, allyship, disability justice, healing justice, intersectionality, racism, saneism, solidarity, transphobia, white supremacy

TRIGGER WARNING: ableism, racism, white entitlement, transphobia


I have had a radical shift in thinking. A radical shift that is also a continuation of the path I’ve been wandering, a fitting in of a puzzle piece that was waiting to be placed there. (I recently had the honor of hearing the founders of the #blacklivesmatter movement, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi, speak. They were SO amazing!)


Cullors, Garza, and Tometi. Source: http://www.blackalliance.org/the-new-leaders-of-social-justice/

Yes, I live at a particular intersection of trans and disabled.

But SO DOES, LIKE ALMOST EVERY TRANS PERSON. Trans people and disabled people are not separate. We are nearly THE SAME THING. Trans people are inherently traumatized by the world around us. It almost always gives us chronic illnesses. Even if we have no other disabilities, we very, very often have these ones.

Trans justice and disability justice are the same thing.

We’ll use some examples from my own life, or fears from my own life, just to illustrate a small amount of the overlap.

Trans disabled lives are lived whenever we can’t “work hard enough” to prove that we’re a “good trans person,” to make a good first impression on all those cis people.

Trans disabled lives are lived every time we are misnamed and mispronounced in the doctor’s office.

Trans disabled lives are lived every time there isn’t a space in the psych ward for our genders.

Trans disabled lives are lived when there isn’t therapy that lets us be who we are, when therapy itself traumatizes us.

Trans disabled lives are lived when we have GI problems and there are no safe bathrooms for us.

Trans disabled lives are lived when the only trans spaces are full of chemicals and fragrances that make them inaccessible for us, and the only disability justice spaces don’t ask for pronouns.

Trans disabled lives are lived when the only trans-friendly psychiatrist in your area won’t see you because they can’t personally separate the workplace discrimination you’re experiencing for being trans… and disabled.

Trans disabled lives are lived when we traumatize and retraumatize each other in the only trans relationships we have.

Our oppression creates our trauma creates our disabilities, living deep in our cells, in our bones, in our guts. Oppression disables us, in so many senses of the word.

We cannot have justice in any movement without disability justice, we cannot have it without healing justice. Each and every one of our oppressed communities has been disabled by our oppression. Often it’s some of the most vulnerable members who have borne this cost.

Oppression is not the only thing that disables us (and some of us are born with disabilities). And not everyone who is oppressed is disabled. But we cannot overlook the huge overlap, even if many aren’t ready to take on the identity “disabled.”

I’ve realized that I’ve been living narrowly in my ideas about what that means. I know all oppressions are interconnected, but I’ve been separating out my solidarity work from the anti-oppression work that directly affects me. On one hand, this is necessary—we can’t appropriate oppression, we have to work from solidarity.

On the other hand, this has created a myopic view of what oppression looks like and what interconnections there are.

The founders of the #blacklivesmatter movement are not just black women who are mostly queer, they are also mostly chronically ill and traumatized.

And they started a nationwide, global movement.

With all that inside their bodies.

I knew intellectually that queer disabled black people existed, and that they struggled. I’ve read some of their writing. But somehow, seeing these women who started such a successful, viral movement right in front of me, hearing their words, their inspiration—well. Our struggles might sometimes look different, but they are different heads of the same beast.

But here’s the thing: I’m not dealing with as many heads of that beast. They are just facing more shit.

I really do need to sit down and shut up, a lot of the time.

OK, I knew that, too, intellectually. But I really need to internalize this.

Because the movement cannot be led by people like me. It will not be led by people like me. I am still a person of privilege, even though I am queer and trans and pan and gray ace and disabled. Even though I am a survivor. So many of us are all of those things–and more.

They are the ones that need to be at the front. My voice can be part of a chorus. It can say my experiences, but it must always be informed by others.

And, as I think it was Patrice Cullors who pointed out (a point that she credited to Lourdes Ashley Hunter), “If you want an Oscar, they give those for supporting roles.” (loosely quoted)

Our place is in supporting roles. That is our non-oppressive place to be. Anything else is reproducing white supremacy, classism, the whole nine yards.

We don’t need that in our movement.

What we do need is more care for each other, more love, more support. What we need is holding each other despite it all.

So I’ll keep on moving and shaking and writing and listening and doing my best to keep my place.

Thank you so much, Patrice, Alicia, and Opal, for your work, your words, and your inspiration.

I am ready to begin again.

Reblog: “on #nbrightsnow”

#nbrightsnow, afab privilege, binarism, genocide, imperialism, non-binary, non-binary erasure, racism, trans women of color, transgender, transmisogyny, transphobia, white privilege

TW transmisogyny, non-binary erasure, racism, imperialism, death, genocide, binarism, transphobia

Hey everyone! You may have noticed I’ve been blogging less than usual for the past month or so. I’ve been doing a lot of internal processing recently and haven’t had a lot of room for all the community-love processing I like to put up here. The blog isn’t dead though, and I’ll get back on a more frequent schedule once I’m able. Hope you’re all taking care of yourselves!

In the meantime, I’m going to spend some time amplifying the voices of more rad trans people of color. This blog post came across my life the other day, and it is such a great, succinct explanation and discussion of afab and white privilege in non-binary spaces. Please read it all. And then read all the links.

Source: http://www.deviantart.com/art/NBRightsNow-501940225

“on #nbrightsnow

“white nonbinary people: you wanna end transphobia? help trans women of color. y’all need to address the white supremacy and colonialism responsible for attacking the indigenous & transgender body — primarily the transfeminine — because that is the birth of modern transphobia.

“as they colonized the world, white people encountered cultures who embraced multiple genders. those peoples were perceived as a threat to the power structures developed from the fabricated gender dichotomy. the invention of transmisogyny was the solution. read up on the colonial gender system and how gender itself came into creation, read up on the lie that is the sex binary; recognize that “science” is heavily influenced by politics and $$$$. it’s all relative when you understand that white supremacy is the root of the issue. in order to build and maintain this system, anything that threatens its existence must be eradicated. these are the tools that were set in place to do just that.

“#nbrightsnow will do nothing but implement a couple of tweaks, because the colonial system relies on keeping the gender-based division of labor intact so that power remains in the hands of men. the gender binary they use to legitimize that relies on transphobia, particularly transmisogyny, remaining a constant. this is who you’re appealing to. so you have two options: either get nowhere, or utilize the aspects of colonialism that don’t affect you to further yourself. and you’ve made your choice, too.

“with your activism being so white and afab-centric, the scope of those changes is very limited and quite harmful. addressing the intersection that trans women of color experience can spark the cultural shift we need. why? because those intersections — (trans)misogyny, binarism, racism, classism, and sexuality — are the main components of colonialism. no true liberation can be accomplished with this being excluded from your politics. pass the mic to twoc and stand with them in solidarity. fight for someone other than yourself for once.

“you’re so diluted in your whiteness that you don’t even realize the state already knows what nonbinarism is. you don’t realize that you’re seeking recognition from a country that’s purposely been erasing indigenous genders via genocide for centuries now. that visibility you’re hashtagging away for has literally been the death of my people (i’m black) for i don’t even know how long. this shit is so wild to me because you purposely restructure your activism to exclude twoc, all while exploiting them for your benefit. change ya hashtag to #govt-please-make-room-in-your-oppressive-power-structure-for-me-please-im-begging-you
What did you all think? What were your reactions? Questions? Comments? Let’s talk about it!

A Valentine for My Community

chronic illness, community, crazy, disability, genderfluid, genderqueer, mental illness, non-binary, resilience, self-care, sick, trans, transgender, transphobia, Valentine's Day

Source: https://img0.etsystatic.com/000/1/5289670/il_340x270.196259270.jpg

TW: transphobia, ableism, abuse, trauma, denial of self

Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. OK, I’ve absolutely hated it. But I wanted to use today to send out a valentine to my fam, to my community. I want to thank you for being alive and being you, every day. I want to thank you for having the courage to find yourself and be yourself, despite all odds. Even when it doesn’t seem like you have a choice, thank you for going down that path anyway. Thank you for holding and nurturing your selves, your real selves, even when it feels so hard to do it.

Thank you for holding each other up, for reaching out to others again and again. Thank you for writing and building community, as you can, if you can. Choosing to be ourselves in this world is choosing to stand up to a lifetime, a society’s worth of abuse and trauma and no no nos.

But again and again, we claim ourselves. We take ourselves from the clutches of a world that likes to determine who we are for us, and we wrap our selves in blankets, hold our selves close, watch our selves grow.

Whether or not you are involved with someone else this year, and however that relationship is, take the time to celebrate the love for yourself that has gotten you this far, and the love for yourself that will get you through. Because that is the strength and beauty and toughness of our community: self-love, even when mixed with shame, even when it’s hard to find, even when we don’t have it—finding our selves, being our selves, is self-love, despite it all.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Thank you for being here. Thank you for holding on enough to be here.

We will thrive someday. We can thrive.

Always remember yourself, OK?

Why FAAB Non-Binary People Must Recognize Transmisogyny

agender, faab, femininity, femme, femmephobia, gender expression, genderfluid, genderqueer, maab, masculinity, non-binary, non-binary erasure, transmisogyny, transphobia

Trigger Warning: transmisogyny, transphobia, non-binary erasure, violence against trans people

NOTE: I know not everyone uses the words “masculinity” and “femininity” for themselves (I don’t), but for the sake of brevity I’m using them here.

themanicpixienightmaregirl:themanicpixienightmaregirl:Hey Nightmare Girls, this is going to be the first t-shirt. Eh?http://www.cafepress.com/manicpixienightmaregirls

Source: http://themanicpixienightmaregirl.tumblr.com/post/109631076432/themanicpixienightmaregirl

A few weeks ago, I saw a MAAB student start wearing some new clothes to school–a sparkly striped pink, purple, and blue shirt; a red sweatshirt with silver rhinestones. The clothes complimented their rainbow pink light-up shoes very nicely.

As I saw this student finally able to make some changes in their school wardrobe, I was excited, for sure, and scared for them, hoping it was going OK. I also realized something–I think I knew it in theory before, but it hit my gut that week.

This student wearing glitter and purple and pink and rhinestones–the censure they face is fundamentally different from the censure I face as someone who is (and is perceived as) FAAB. Transmisogyny and/or femmephobia is something that affects all MAAB people that deviate from the norms set by masculinity.

Those norms are stricter, with less room to move, than the norms set by femininity. Although FAAB people who deviate from those norms still face problems (for sure!) masculinity in FAAB people is more accepted and met with less violence than femininity in MAAB people.

With my body as it currently is, and in the queer-friendly area where I live, I can express my gender in a much wider range than someone who is or is perceived as MAAB, without as intense of a risk of violence.

Now, do I struggle with tons of shit and transphobia? Of course I do! Do I always feel comfortable with the way people are perceiving me? No–on days when I wear a dress, I hate when people think I’m a girl. Do I feel like I have a license to express my gender how I truly want to, all the time? No, definitely not–my gender expression, in some of its forms, is outside the realms of acceptability.

But, as long as I am seen as FAAB, it is much less likely to bring physical violence my way. Even if I leave the house in fairy wings, a leather jacket, plaid pants, glittery platforms, and a big straw hat. I may be laughed at, sure, ostracized, yes, deemed unprofessional–the marginalizations are real, and why I don’t always express my gender all the ways I’d like to.

But it’s still safer. It’s still safer. It’s still safer.

FAAB people, I know we are not a monolithic category. We have a huge range of experiences. If we are perceived as MAAB but also express a lot of femininity, we might even experience different pieces of femmephobia that feel a lot like transmisogyny, even if it’s different.

(Personally, although I’m neither a femme man nor a butch woman, if I had to choose I’d rather be perceived as a femme man. It’s not what I want to be perceived as, but given the options most people think of, it’s the better possibility. But I have to admit that one reason (among many) I’m nervous about taking medical steps for that to happen is all of the extra violence that will be thrown my way.)

We FAAB people come from all sorts of experiences, and we still need to recognize all forms of transmisogyny. It’s real. It’s killing our siblings at very high rates. It may feel like the unique problems of non-binary erasure are affecting us all equally. They’re not. They’re not in 1001 ways (this isn’t even going into how race, class, ability, nationality, etc. affect people). But one big way is the way in which femininity on MAAB (and MAAB-appearing) bodies is reviled and exterminiated.

Honor our siblings who are well aware of this, for whom this is their daily life, for whom this is their deaths, our siblings who wear pink and purple and glitter and rhinestones and light-up shoes anyway. Listen to their stories.

And call out transmisogyny when you see it, again and again. Act in solidarity with our MAAB siblings. Work towards love, for everyone, again and again, and again.

It’s how we’ll all get free.

Getting it Half Right: What to Do (and Not to Do) When Your Client Says You’re a Transphobic Therapist

agender, cicssexism, cis entitlement, cisgender, fatphobia, gatekeeping, gender specialist, genderfluid, genderqueer, mental illness, saneism, therapist, transgender, transphobia

Trigger Warning: discussion of bad therapy, transphobia in clinical practice, fatphobia, saneism, suicidal ideation, homophobia

I’m continuing the story of how I called out Former Therapist #1 for his transphobic gender policing and gatekeeping. I am really pissed at him right now, because he has done so much to take away my ability to work with other providers. I’m putting our exchange here and then some of my feelings about it in footnotes.

Let this be something that other providers can learn from, so that other people don’t have to deal with this pain.

I’m not the only one dealing with or writing about this. Check out this lovely example of therapeutic invalidation (plus an intersection with fatphobia) from Rooster Tails Comic:

The lady who ran out on me then came back in with another person.... it felt like I was in a job interview. So weird.Source: http://www.roostertailscomic.com/comic/happy-mental-health-awareness-week/

Two weeks after I sent a letter to Former Therapist #1 about his mistreatment, I got this email from him:


Hello [Birth name],[1]

I didn’t want too much time to go by before I acknowledged your much appreciated letter I received.  I have been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting on your letter.  I’m planning to send you a response soon.  I’m consulting my colleges [sic] and other gender specialists as well.  I didn’t want you to think my delay was in any way me ignoring or rejecting your letter.  I want to acknowledge the courage and integrity you displayed in your letter with a response that is as thoughtful and respectful as I can make it.

Thank you again for the letter.  I will send my response as soon as it is ready.[2]

[Former Therapist #1], LICSW

I replied almost immediately:


My name is [real name]. I hoped that you would know not to call me by my birth name at this point.

Are you talking with anyone who’s actually trans*?

Also, I am now seeing [current therapist]. If you talk with any providers, I recommend talking with her. She is the only provider I have seen who has been gender affirming. If she has the time and energy, she would be a great resource.

I received no reply to this email. It was early on in my trying out new names and pronouns, and his misgendering hurt a lot. I especially was appalled that he did it in email, after such a gender-relevant letter. Four days later, I sent him another email:



[Current therapist] says that she’d welcome a call from you.

[Real name]

It was at the moment of his misgendering me as his first interaction with this letter—that moment when I 100% gave up on him as a therapist. I was just done. This time, he replied on the same day:


[Real name],

I have placed a call to her today, left a message,  and will consult with her further.  Also my apologies for wrong naming you in my last email.  I realized the mistake right after I sent it, but still no excuse.[3]

[Former therapist #1], LICSW

I received this letter about a month after I sent my own letter to Former Therapist #1.

Dear [real name],

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and courageously honest letter. I have read and reread it multiple times, consulted with some of my fellow colleagues,[4] and done some deep personal and professional reflection before responding in order to give your letter the respect and consideration you disserve [sic].[5]

First, I feel deeply sorry for the pain and suffering you have endured during your treatment with me. One of the guiding principles of my practice as a gender specialist[6] and a therapist is the basic human right of self-identification. Upon reflection, I now realize that I did not respect or encourage that right in our work together.[7] I also feel very sorry for the lingering gender binary prejudice that you felt in our recent work.[8] Eliminating prejudice in all forms continues to be one of the primary goals in my practice. For all these things, and any other moments of pain and suffering you have experienced during our work together, I am truly sorry.

In your letter you offered advice on how I could improve my future work in the gender field. I have taken this advice to heart. I have begun a thorough review of previous and current gender work in my practice, with a focus on improving quality of care.[9] Thank you for suggesting consultation with [current therapist]. We have already exchanged messages, and, with your consent, we will be in further consultation in the coming weeks. Since gender is such an evolving field of study, ongoing education and training to keep my skills current is obviously necessary.[10] I appreciate your sincere wish for me to rise to the challenge you have initiated with your letter. My hope is that I can and will rise to the challenge in my ongoing work.[11]

I am very happy to hear that you have found a therapist whom you feel very comfortable with. I am also happy to see that your right to self-identify is not only being respected, but encouraged.[12] I hope this leads to higher levels of self-affirmation for you.[13] I wish you the best of luck and hope you continue this courageous journey you are on.[14]

With respect and appreciation,

[Former Therapist #1]

A critique by which other therapists may be advised…

  • Always gender your clients appropriately, and apologize if you do not.
  • Vehement apologies for malpractice are always welcome. They do not, of course, erase the damages of said mistreatment. But they at least are a step in the right direction.
  • They are much more sincere and effective when they come with a plan for changing or avoiding the errant behavior in the future—which this one did. At least for some of the problems here.
  • It shouldn’t have to take deep reflection to help you realize how much you wronged someone. If it does, you should note that that is evidence of a long journey ahead. (This therapist didn’t recognize that the level of reflection required for him to realize how hugely he’d messed up was evidence of the level of work he needs to do.)
  • They should be led by the injured party’s wishes—so listen carefully to what the problem is. (This one only did that halfway.)
  • Any kind of social change should be led by the people directly affected by the oppression. (This therapist only consulted with other clinicians—so that did not happen here.)
  • Be humble about your own knowledge and impact, especially if you aren’t a part of the oppressed group. (This therapist showed humility by reflecting and making changes—but he did not show humility by still claiming expertise in gender.)
  • Feel free to wish someone the best, but be careful that you maintain boundaries while doing so. (This therapist slightly crossed a few lines here.)

[1] I very clearly said in my letter that I am now trying a different name, and expressed profanity at the use of my birth name.

[2] The rest of this email made me feel relatively warm and glad that he was doing this work.

[3] If he realized the mistake right after he sent it, then why didn’t he send another email correcting himself and apologizing? I find it depressing to think that this person thinks that he can regularly work with trans people.

[4] I specifically said in my letter that he should consult with trans community members, and that, given the quality of “gender specialists” in the area, I wasn’t sure that they would be a good resource.

So the fact that he consulted with colleagues—I’ve met most of them, and most of them are gender tools—isn’t really that helpful. But I suppose it’s a small credit to them that they recognized he had mistreated me.

[5] I asked him to think deeply, and I’m glad that he did this. I am a little nonplussed that it took such deep thinking and consultation to realize how messed up he’d been. But at least he realized it.

[6] My current therapist says to be very wary of anyone who labels themselves a “gender specialist.” “Anyone can do it, and it shows that they’re trying to claim expertise in who you are.” The fact that he still thinks he can claim this label after me sending him a letter like that is pretty appalling. It’s kind of like claiming the word “ally” instead of having it be applied to you—except with direct clinical consequences.

Former Therapist #1, you are not a gender specialist. Not at all. You are not an expert or specialist in who I am. And you, as a white, straight, cis man, certainly do not know what gender-based oppression is like and clearly have not taken the time you need to attempt understanding from people who do have lived experience with it.

[7] For the most part, a pretty good apology! At least, he said sorry a lot and explained how he’s trying to fix it.

[8] I think he missed the point of what I had experienced in our more recent work. I had told him that his commenting on “reevaluating” my gender showed how much further he needed to go in his understanding of gender. I told him that no one except me gets to evaluate my gender. He didn’t really address this in my letter.

I had also noted that he had projected ideas about what my gender was onto me—not necessarily binary prejudice. Extra apologies aren’t a bad thing, necessarily, but I am concerned that he is still stuck to the gatekeeper model of trans care, and he didn’t address that in his letter.

[9] I am so glad that he is doing this! I asked him to look into it and he says that he is. Wow. I’m not sure many people would take this to heart like that.

[10] This feels like a veiled “you non-binary people are so new” comment. Just because the Standards of Care only recently started to recognize us doesn’t mean that we only recently “evolved.”I know that he was referencing a field of study—but we are people, not a field of study, and we’ve been around for a while.

When I first started seeing him, I needed him to have cultural competency and awareness of non-binary people then—six years ago, not just now.

[11] I was truly uncertain as to whether he would take up this challenge or not. And I don’t know if he has, really, or if he just said he did. I am glad that the therapist I knew, who was committed in ideals to eliminating prejudice, if not always in practice, is trying to put his ideals into practice now.

I only wish that he was listening more carefully to me, and to other community members, more than his fellow quack “gender specialists.”

But I am glad that he has taken this to heart and trying to make changes. That is so important and goes a little ways towards helping me feel a little less wounded by all of this. (Although I still have a lot of trauma and trust issues with providers, thanks to him and others.)

The fact that we had such a close and long therapeutic relationship I hope helped for him to reflect and take this seriously—and the fact that I could leverage that feels really important and good.

[12] I appreciated this part of his wishes.

[13] This starts to get… I don’t know—like he’s back to being my therapist again? I really can’t imagine anyone except a therapist saying that in this way.

[14] There are so many things that he could be referencing in terms of “courageous journey.” Does he mean my journey for healing mental-health wise? Does he mean my transition?

When people talk about “courageous journeys” to trans people, they often are talking about transitions. If he meant my mental health journey, it again feels a little weird-are-you-my-therapist-or-not-boundary crossing. I suppose that boundary is also crossed with referencing transition, but there’s so much more in there with transition.

If he meant my transition—well, whew! I mean, there are a few awkward things about that. One is that it’s pretty patronizing for him as a cis person to call my journey a courageous one. Even if it is, even if does require a lot of courage.

It’s especially galling given how he’s already tried to shut down that journey before. I imagine that’s why he said it—he wanted to say, “Hey, I’m trying to affirm who you are now.”

But that ship has sailed, bro. You missed that opportunity. It’s a little late now.

And saying that you hope I continue it now—it implies that I’m considering discontinuing it. The only way I’ve really considered doing that is by suicide. And I’m sure you didn’t really mean, I hope you don’t kill yourself. But maybe you did. I don’t really know, because this was so vague.

Guess what? Discrimination is more awkward.

#LeelahAlcorn, agedner, ally, cisgender, cissexism, genderqueer, non-binary, resilience, suicidal ideation, transgender, transphobia, youth rights

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING: suicide, transphobia, cissexism, discrimination, #LeelahAlcorn

Why do our babies have to die?

Why do we live in a world where little trans kids want to die rather than live their lives?

Who is making it so unbearable for us to be alive?

We are just trying to be ourselves. We are just looking for respect, dignity, our true truths of ourselves.

We keep on dying for people to maintain their ideas, their boxes, their order of things, their wrong order of things.

They say, we would rather you die and us stay in our boxes. We would rather you die, because you don’t follow these whimsical Willy Wonka rules that never fit anyone anyway.

We would rather you die than us feel uncomfortable.

I want to live in a world where anyone, child, teenager, adult, someone who has thousands of wrinkles—where anyone realizing that their gender doesn’t fit these rules doesn’t want to die. Where every single person who realize they’re trans or something like it—where death doesn’t seem like a better solution than facing the trauma. Where it no longer seems like nearly everyone trans I know has thought about suicide, or attempted it.

When that has happened, it’s not a matter of an individual problem. Unless you think oppression is a series of coincidences.

I want to live in a world where we are welcomed and held with open arms by everyone, where our trueness of self is celebrated.

I don’t want us to die for the sake of cis people’s fear—their fear of discovering their own selves, their fear of toes getting over the line, their stupid fucking fear of gender being awkward.

Well, of course it’s awkward. It’s a coercive system that forces people into a rigid set of unnatural rules that governs nearly everything that someone does in order to maintain an oppressive hierarchy.

I’d call that awkward, maybe. Maybe discrimination is more awkward than your discomfort. Maybe suicide is.

If someone not fitting your idea of what their gender “should” be is awkward, just think about how it might feel when they’re dead.

Do you feel less awkward, now that we’re not in front of your face anymore?

This is why I can’t stop talking about trans deaths. I refuse to let us fade away. I refuse to let our deaths make us disappear.

We are here. We are here. We are here. We will be here, here, here until we rise like a glittery sun, until our fierce power and beauty spreads across the world.

We must keep on. We must move forward. We must get up every day and live, live. Because we are stunning. We are beautiful. We are handsome and dapper and kinky and funky and fabulous.

We give a gift to the world that they do not want to accept, but it is a gift nonetheless. It is freedom.

That discomfort they’re feeling? It’s the beginnings of freedom.

Of course, we aren’t here for them, though they should be grateful for us. We are here for ourselves, we are here for our communities, we are here for the glittery gorgeous right to be who we are and be safe.

Pride and love will keep us alive.

Source: http://randomflyingpigeons.deviantart.com/art/Tie-Dyed-Trans-Pride-275151732

PLEASE CALL the Trans Lifeline if you need it: 877-565-8860 in the US http://www.translifeline.org/

It’s not about you…

#LeelahAlcorn, agender, ally, cis entitlement, cisgender, cissexism, coming out, ftm, genderfluid, genderqueer, mental health system, mental illness, mtf, non-binary, parents of trans people, privilege, pronouns, saneism, solidarity, suicidal ideation, therapist, therapy, trans children, trans men, trans women, transgender, transition, transphobia, youth rights

TRIGGER WARNING: family abuse, suicide, transphobia, transmisogyny, #LeelahAlcorn

“I’ve watched as parents get supported for struggling, and failing, to cope with their child being transgender. I’ve seen parents talk about deliberately misgendering their child for months on end because it was too hard for them. Parents who used non-binary pronouns, despite not having a gender neutral child, because they didn’t feel ready to switch over to the pronouns their child preferred. One common thread through all these conversations is “I need…”

“You know what? It’s not about you!

“We don’t get to pick the kids we raise. We don’t get to choose their height, their hair colour, their IQ, their skills, their goals, or their gender. It’s that simple. I couldn’t pick singing skills and you can’t pick gender. And it doesn’t matter if you think you were raising a boy and instead, whoops, she’s a girl… or vice versa… or neither… or both.

“…The benchmark for being a good, supportive parent to a trans child is not “well I didn’t kick him/her/them out”. If you can’t manage to use your child’s preferred name and pronouns, you are not a supportive parent.

Because I'm Fabulous

I remember being pregnant with my children, feeling as their gentle flutters progressed into full belly flops on my bladder and painful karate kicks against the backs of my ribs. Back then I had no clue what my children would be like; they were more like ideas than real people. I’d sit in my rocking chair with my hands clasped gently over my stomach and wonder who they’d be. Dreaming of children who loved singing as much as me; envisioning singing rounds, our voices weaving together in harmony.

Then they were born. Short, chubby, bald people who looked a lot more like Winston Churchill than either their Dad or myself. People that screamed randomly, pooped on themselves, and considered “gah” to be an entire conversation. I still had no idea what they were like except loud, messy, and highly uncoordinated. They slowly evolved into their own people. Emma was colicky and had a desperate need to be…

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