This is a long-awaited update about my current health issues with fatigue, my thyroid, sleep apnea and being on Testosterone.
When creating or thinking about trans friendly/inclusive yoga, the main thought should be about being welcoming and inclusive, as often these spaces don’t feel so for those that don’t fit the mould. The second thought is about the description, what does it mean when a class states it is a safe space and/or welcoming to ‘transgender and gender non-conforming people’?
Reading Nick Krieger’s “Why Trans and Queer Yoga?” recently when trying to draft an email to one of my local yoga teachers (yes I do go to two different yoga studios). The small, almost all female, classes I attend are run by a group of wonderful and kind women. We are all referred to as ladies, girls and goddesses throughout the class – misgendering and referring to me with female pronouns. Like Nick Krieger I realised that the teacher’s would have no way of knowing the impact of their words, however I also don’t know how to tell them.
The second yoga studio is relatively new and is very inclusive to all body sizes and genders. I feel more ‘me’ there yet I still struggle with the gendered language. There is hope for me in this group as the instructor is queer identified and working hard to create a safe space for trans and queer individuals – YAY!
Other classes that I have found so far advertise ‘queer and trans’, but I am not too sure if they know themselves what the needs are of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Do we need to possibly spend an hour on diversity and inclusion when including the ‘trans’ in event titles? Are they stating that they are providing a space for ‘visibly’ trans people, and if so where do I fit in as genderqueer when I keep getting referred to as ‘she’ or as one of the ‘girls’?
What is all the fuss about? The benefits of creating a safe space for everyone is so each individual can feel that they are amongst like-minded people. You don’t want someone to be self-conscious of their body or stressed about how they identify or present. I would like to walk into a yoga class where the world, and room, isn’t being divided into binary genders, a place where you won’t stand out if you bind or pack to express your gender.
Here are a few things that could make queer/trans yoga different from other yoga classes:
- small group of other queer/trans people
- introductions with pronouns and check-ins about feelings (if this is not possible in a group then the teachers/instructor should at least be aware of everyone’s name and/or pronouns)
- a visibly/vocally queer/trans instructor (as much as I love one of my yoga classes I struggle to connect with a room full of cis women)
- no gendered language on the part of the instructor
- less about hardcore exercise, closer to gentle stretches and meditation (this is with keeping in mind that some individuals may also be recovering from surgery)
- lots of “if you are able” and “if that is accessible to you” to not assume all participants can, say, close their eyes for meditation or reach a deeper version of a pose
*Thanks to Ilan in helping to create this list.
Here are two places that have crossed my radar, however I haven’t been to either of the trans and queer friendly classes:
Queer and Trans Inclusive (QTI) Yoga Melbourne describes itself as “a safe yoga space for the LQBTIQ+ community and their friends. All welcome including absolute beginners.”
Chunky Yoga, who provide classes in a safe place to explore the practice of yoga regardless of your size, gender, age, sexuality or race. There are also plans of starting trans and queer friendly classes in Prahran/St Kilda!
Today, after many month (well almost a year), the General Manager of my workplace has posted the following statement on the organisation’s intranet today: Continue reading
After almost four-weeks since my last injection of T, while thinking about ‘quitting’ and wondering how my body was going to react I relented and went to the Dr’s. It was a pain as I had to drive into the city, on my day off , for a 10-15 minute appointment. I’d been having cramps for approximately a week and had stopped taking the Finasteride because it seemed to be causing a rash/outbreak of pimples on my forehead. I saw another doctor at the clinic as mine was not due to be back from leave until 10th August. I managed to have a good talk about the Finasteride, thoughts of stopping T, cramps and the anxiety of having to re-experience monthly periods.
I went to this month’s Genderqueer Australia (GQA) gathering, which was small but cozy. I chatted a while about my physical and mental health, reason for starting T and thoughts about stopping, and ended up with feeling a little lighter for sharing but still unsure about my decisions. The highlight of my day was discovering Janitorqueer’s blog and Tumbler.
I was advised to re-visit Neutrois Nonsense who touches on low-dose testosterone and being hypothyroid. I have to say what an amazing blog/resource it is, I wish I had discovered it 3+ years ago when I was starting on my own hormone journey. I find it a challenging read however as it talks about hysterectomies and top surgery – both things I have thought about but chosen not to do at present. I am find it really difficult to think about stopping T (see previous post for reasons why), and while researching online can be helpful it doesn’t provide me with a forum to talk it out face-to-face with someone [who understands my particular journey]. There are people I could talk to over a nice cup of Chai, but I don’t because a) they are busy, b) there’s a personality clash or c) I don’t know the person well enough to approach them.
I did however have some success over the last few weeks. For starters my Sleep Apnea is slowly being managed and monitored, which will hopefully mean a gradual increase in energy levels and a decrease in fatigue. Secondly, my current GP confirmed that I may in fact had been misdiagnosed with hypothyroidism and to stop my current medication for a month so we can do a comparative blood test. Lastly, I was prescribed a quarter dose of Finasteride per day to see if that helps with the hair loss. Small victories.
Lately I’ve been thinking about changing to T Gel, reducing my dose or stopping all together. The reasons for this are mostly to do with recent health issues and the anxiety I feel about hair loss/thinning.
Write a poem about being Genderqueer (if you struggle, try a haiku, acrostic poem with your name, or just a stream of consciousness paragraph).
I am a genderqueer
Nor boi grrl but in between
Pronoun “they” not “she”
*with thanks to http://writeahaiku.com
Yesterday I was approached by one of my work colleagues, who happens to be a gay male, wanting to discuss my recent email. He wanted to know why I sent it, what gender neutral pronouns were and how on earth you would expect someone to use ‘they’ while you could just use their first name (ok valid point). He then progressed into asking me if I was a hermaphrodite… At that point I was caught between thinking “what the… did he just say that?” and wondering if I should explain to him how:
a) that term is perhaps not appropriate;
b) explaining the difference between intersex and trans*; and
c) that is none of his business (which I didn’t in fact think about until this morning).
Throughout the last week several counsellors have thanked me for my email, asked me about it a little further and also helped educated others who have not felt comfortable enough to approach me. I however, wrongly, assumed that some of the queer staff at work would have some idea about gender diversity. By the end of yesterday I actually felt quite upset and angry that I allowed myself to be so vulnerable and didn’t have my wits about me to say how that question was both inappropriate and non of his business.
Overall however I had over 15 emails acknowledging my request, congratulating me and supporting me. One person asked, via email, if I could clarify whether I would like my preferred name and gender neutral pronouns to be applied only when dealing with clients who may refer to me by name and/or in general. Thankfully my response didn’t reflect my thoughts and feeling of ‘what part of preferred name and pronouns do you not understand!?’.
In my last Team Leader meeting I asked if it would be ok for me to request for my preferred name to be used in all IT systems at work (e.g. email correspondence, case note records and within the programs we use to manage client information). I also asked if I could send out an email to staff to let them know about my preferred name a pronoun change. Here is the response I got after it needed to be discussed with the Team Manager: Continue reading