In this third chapter we will learn from gender transgressors on the front line of resistance. Oftentimes tragic or harmful single stories of trans lives dominate public consciousness. As Tatiana (she/her), who you will meet, shares, ‘People should know more stories about us. There are not just sad stories.’ We will be introduced to Non-Binary superpowers, trans talents, and narrative practices that foster dignity, resistance and draw on the multitude of existing skills and knowledges of gender expansive folk.
Kyle Sawyer (he/him) unpacks the way that rigid gender norms are enforced through discursive power, coercive power and repressive power and gives language to the resistance of trans subjectivity.
In these videos David Nylund introduces us to some of the complexities, opportunities and ethical dilemmas of therapy with transgender young people. He then shares a short recording of a conversation with William (he/him), a young trans man, which centers William’s knowledges about masculinities and agency in self-determining his preferred masculinity.
NOTE: When David Nylund refers to Rae Connell, David is referring to influential gender studies scholar, Raewyn Connell (she/her).
Bi-gender therapist Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad (he/she) shares rich practice wisdom and lived experience about resisting pathologising practices, gender incongruence, gender belonging, trans talents, bodily adjustments and finding a resting place in order for a body to be a good place to live in.
Two years on Esben Esther reflected on this interview and wanted to extend the conversation. She names ‘the power of the demand for passing’ in trans lives and communities created by the ongoing hegemony of binary gender constructions. His short essay hopes to invite you into the conversation.
Reflexions on ‘passing’– Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad
Aya Okumura, alongside Nikki, Connie, Melenie, Noelle, and Tatiana (all use she/her), illustrates how the metaphor of journey can allow for rich explorations of gender transitions and the importance of co-researching liberatory traditions of gender diversity.
Here’s another rich example of practice. Together, Manja Visschedijk (she/her) and Indi Wishart (they/them) describe the possibilities for re-authoring gender histories, repositioning trans folks as expert and subverting the patholigisation of trans lives.
- What do you know or what might it be possible to know about the cultural histories of gender expansiveness in your context (especially pre-colonial cultural histories)?
- How many gender diverse people have you knowingly worked with?
- If your answer is none or few, what do you think might be the barriers for gender diverse people to access your practice or to be open with you about gender diversity?
- What might you be able to change or shift within your practice or the context of your work to reduce those barriers?
- For cis-gendered therapists/community workers: How do you attend to cis-privilege?
- What has been made more possible in your life or practice by the resistance, activism and shared lived experience of trans and non-binary communities?
- What will you do differently in your practice or life as a result of the resources in this chapter?