MHM 12: Activism + Self-Care

Happy Monday REVOLUTIONARIES!

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We hope you all are well. We had a fun AND busy weekend! Most notably, we got to hang with our COM|PASSionate REVOLT family (our favorite dream worker and tarot-ist, Kaeti Gugiu,) catch Sister Spit hosted by the Long Beach Center and check out the drag show at Hamburger Mary’s new location (not that new- we’re just getting old and don’t get out as much as we used to.)

We giggled a lot, saw some great drag, ran into some familiar faces and got to give hugs to some new friends. All in all a lovely night of community witnessing and reflection. As often happens when you’re at a non-work related social (but community) event, hanging with folks that work in community (not at the event,) the talk turned to “the work.” It came up over the course of the night in several different scenarios and incarnations and it got us to thinking about the healing but also, at times, insidious way “the work” itself becomes tied to our own healing, survival and flourishing.

It’s an interesting dilemma that those of us that are the most passionate (often because of personally driven volition) are often getting paid the least or not at all for the work we are doing. Whether or not we have paid positions we are also often doing other unpaid work or activism in the community and when we take time off we often fall into commiserating about the depleting nature of the work/activism/community navigation. We talk about how much more work needs to be done or how ineffective the structures are we’re working within. One action may feel like it’s gaining movement while another seems to be falling behind. We’re tired but another group that collaborated with us earlier in the year is having an event. Our advocacy group is in between big events but our partner is having a shitty time at work/with family/the sometimes uphill battle of everyday life. We organized an event that went well and didn’t realize how much it would trigger for us personally. An event doesn’t go well and (because our identities are personally invested) we feel the weight of failure, not just in the eyes of others but in the fear of a present and future that continues to not hold and nurture us. While we’re all doing our best to give our all to causes that need support, it’s a slippery feedback loop– a cycle that doesn’t lend itself well to breaks, self-care or, in actuality, sustainability and success of our movements.

You know the directions they give on airplanes before you take off. They show you the little air mask and remind you to secure yours first before you help anyone around you?? It’s because you can’t help anyone around you if you’re passed out!

That’s something more of us need to institute into the work we do with our communities. Aftershock, by Patrice Jones, is a guide for activists and allies confronting trauma in a violent world.

{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1JhlfTc}
{Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1JhlfTc}

We think this is a great start to understanding the effects and care we need to take of ourselves when working in our communities– after all, if we pass out from exhaustion the work doesn’t get done anyways.

We also think it’s relevant to feel into the kind of change that best suits your individual personality, talents and person. Sure we can try to add temperance and self-care to our lives by decreasing the work we do in the world but the truth is many of us are intimately invested in the work we’re doing. We don’t want to stop because we want the world to be better for ourselves as much as we want the world to be better for others!

So, for example, if you’re someone that gets an adrenaline rush from loud group protests go for it! Maybe you’d rather be involved in a letter writing campaign behind the scenes? Do you have natural charm and put people at ease so they can hear a new point of view? A lot of grassroots campaigns could use folks going door to door to connect. Maybe you’re an artist? Can you design a shirt raising awareness/funds for a group you’re involved with? Web designer? There are lots of small groups and non-profits that can’t hire a big firm to build a website or do a bit of upkeep. Are you using your voice in blogging community? Drop us a line! Let us know if you’d be interested in being part of the COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION! The possibilities are endless.

We sometimes get stuck as seeing “activism” in only one light that benefits the sun energized, loud, confrontational group movements. Are these important? Absolutely! Would we, being the humans that “cry as much as some people pee” and have a lot of feelings be in any form of conscious state if we engaged in too many of these?? Not so much.

We often fail to question why these masculine forms of movement are valued higher than the quiet powerful ways feminine water energy has continuously and unrelentingly turned mountains in beaches one patient grain of sand at a time.

So, we know it would be silly of us to ask you, REVOLUTIONARIES, to stop making the world a better place by your presence, sacrifices and compassion. We do, however, encourage you to take the time to check in with what is the best, most fueling, most sustainable way for you to contribute.

We implore you put on your mask before helping those around you.

Until next time. Put your mask on.

In COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION,

Skye + Traci

 As always you can reach us at…

compassionaterevolt@gmail.com

www.compassionaterevolt.com

www.compassionaterevolt.wordpress.com

COM|PASSionate REVOLT FB

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Skye is a youth worker, educator, activist and white transmasculine human. Traci is a therapist, yoga teacher, educator and queer vegan femme-inist of color. They reside, practice, navigate, process, survive and flourish in the Southern California area.

 

 

 

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MHM Ep11: Clear Requests

Morning REVOLUTIONARIES!

Today on the Mental Health Mash-Up we want to talk about clear requests– why they’re so challenging, how we can all be a little bit better at them and why they’re so important to our mental health.

MHMBannerClear requests are difficult for everyone but they can be especially difficult for queer folks. Is this because we’re some different awkward convoluted breed of communicators?

No.

It’s because a lot of us have had experiences of our requests not being appreciated, honored and, often, down right ignored and disrespected. In fact sometimes the opposite gets validated. Sometimes we ask clearly and get punished while at other times we find some alternative way of getting our needs met– and they are. We don’t think we’re making too large of a projection to say this doesn’t feel very good when it happens. It doesn’t give us evidence that all the hard work that goes into being clear with our requests is worth it… but it is!

When we can’t voice clearly what we want/need to the world around us this becomes a loop back to us. Soon we’re not asking ourselves what we want/need. Soon we’re not even sure how to ask ourselves what we want/need.

Is there a behavior or way of interacting that isn’t functioning well in your life? Take a few moments to really sink into it– not just the negative reactions/responses/outcomes but also the positive ones. Take your time. You might need to spend a few breaths on it, take a break and come back to it. Still unsure? Maybe check in where you feel it in your body when you think about it. Maybe think about the folks that it seems to happen with (if it’s a behavior that happens with others.) Take a moment to think about what else you need in life or from those people.

This can be a long process. After all, how old are you right now? That’s that many years that your clear requests could have been getting denied and your alternative ways of asking could have been getting answered. Be compassionate with yourself but know that learning how to listen, dialogue and affirm yourself is a worthy practice.

In COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION,

Skye + Traci 

As always you can reach us at…

compassionaterevolt@gmail.com

www.compassionaterevolt.com

www.compassionaterevolt.wordpress.com

COM|PASSionate REVOLT FB

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Skye is a youth worker, educator, activist and white transmasculine human. Traci is a therapist, yoga teacher, educator and queer vegan femme-inist of color. They reside, practice, navigate, process, survive and flourish in the Southern California area.

MHM Ep9: Membership Cards

Happy Monday REVOLUTIONARIES!

Today on the Mental Health Mash-Up we’re thinking about “Membership Cards.” How we get them, who gives them, when “membership expires,” how we’re accountable to the spaces to which we’re allowed entry and, of course, how this affects our mental health.

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We often joke about “Membership Cards.” It’s a way to humorously commiserate about the struggle of the marginalized as if there was some secret exclusive queer country club where we could gather to drink organic fair trade coffee and discuss oppression without the privileged rif raf getting in and mucking up the place. The truth of the matter is though, we need those spaces, not for their exclusionary value but for their safety and healing.

So what’s the problem? Gather unicorns, gather!

Well, there are a few challenges we’ve noticed. For one unicorns are a diverse group- we come in different colors, shapes, bodies, sizes, with varying abilities of flight and magick. The “Queer” community cuts across all other demographics of race, ethnicity, gender, physical/mental ability, age and socioeconomic statuses. Some of us are athletes, intellectuals and self-proclaimed geeks! Some of us crave the nightlife, a blaring dance track and fancy cocktails while others of us want nothing more than to hunker down with some hot tea, a good book or our favorite Netflix series on a Friday night.

So, okay, start a meet-up group to check out the newest clubs, get folks together for a hike, organize a book club, plan a movie night and stop whining.

Okay, okay, we could do that and know that folks do! {As a sidenote, if you’re trying to get out and meet folks we totally recommend doing a quick search on Meetup for folks interested in similar activities. Of course you won’t know if it’s a good fit until you go but it totally takes a ton of the social pressure off that everyone is going with the intention of meeting new people!} Here comes the next challenge. Do our memberships, especially for those of us that fall in the middle of the spectrum or have some fluidity in our identities, depend on how they currently function in our lives? Sure, we can hope that folks can check their biphobia at the door if someone happens to have an other gendered partner at any particular moment but how about if your group’s activity is a monthly “ladies” night where everyone gathers to dance, hang and meet who everyone else is dating? The LGBTQ community often gathers in gender segregated “safe” spaces (and we’re not even at how this affects intersex|genderqueer|agender|bigender folks yet.) While we’re on that subject what happens when we’ve built community in one identity and find that our identity starts to shift? How does it affect all of our interactions? Even if no one is drawing a hard line to keep us out, how comfortable is it to change the safety of a space with your presence or to bring in someone who changes the safety of a space when you yourself are acutely aware of how necessary safe space is?

It gets confusing.

And, yet, anyone with multiple identities (read: ALL OF US) will tell you that different parts of our identities need to be attended to, reflected and nurtured at different times. Many of us with multiple marginalized identities will also attest to the fact that finding these spaces can be an uphill battle and compartmentalizing the healing around them can be exhausting! So when our identities shift we’re often stuck in the grief of losing these memberships while also conflicted with wanting to protect space we know was so important to us.

Is there a way to access these spaces while still honoring them in our present form?

How are we accountable to the privilege of the new memberships we hold while still honoring that the memberships we held over the course of our life journey might still need some of our attention?

Here are some thoughts on how to manage changing memberships:

  1. Take a moment to reflect. You know how marginalized communities are always talking about “holding space?” Hold some space for yourself and the process that you’re going through so that you can get a clear picture of what you need and where you might be able to access it without impeding on anyone else’s needs/space. We were really moved with this article on space holding around a different type of transition, but we think that it holds a lot of resonance for the complicated and emotional work of holding space for ourselves in the fluidity of queer identity.
  2. Get accountable! Take some time to notice as your membership changes and be honest and open about what you observe. Then if the same behavior that was once acceptable is problematic take steps to do something about it. Honor your current and past memberships by realizing the new intersections of privilege and oppression you find yourself at. So for example, you’re a newly passing transman? Does that mean you’re only allowed to access communities that hold an assumption of a cis-male experience? No! Your journey is (and will continue to be different) but know that you no longer have an all access pass to female space and that your interactions with women are informed by your male identity. We’ve recently been in conversation with folks about this article on Rethinking Masculinity as a Newly Masculine Presenting Person and really dig the reflections and the tips.
  3. Accept if your membership level changes! Sometimes when our memberships fluctuate (via ourselves or our partners) it’s just about conscious, respectful navigation. So for example, you’re a queer female identified person dating a fabulous feminist man? Great! Take your new love interest out on the town and enjoy that new queer art gallery opening on reflections of femininity and power, but accept that you might have to forego the small group women’s only discussion space afterwards if you want to hang with your honey all night. Sometimes you might also have to accept that membership may change from identified community member to ally. For example, you’ve been a feminist female identified activist fighting for women’s safety on your college campus but over the course of the past year have started to align with your transmasculine identity. You identify as male, use male pronouns and are recognized as male out in the world. Should you stop supporting the issue of safety on your campus? Hell, no! We need strong feminist men and safety is important for all genders! However, maybe take a supportive role to your female co-organizers for the next rally on keeping the gym safe for female students and take a leadership role in the discussion group on how men can create a safer campus. It might be difficult to see your membership changing but allies are important and if you can accept this role respectfully you can still be a part of the communities that are important to you. We really like Everyday Feminism‘s article on 30 Ways to be a Better Ally.

Memberships are a complicated issue- especially in the context of queer community. Unlike gathering around race our memberships can sometimes shift depending on our ascribed, attributed or functional identities. It can be a lot of work to keep all your cards updated but it’s totally worth it- there are so many glittery unicorn filled intersectional discussions, social gatherings and movements that need your participation and support! It might be troublesome but it makes us more conscious, honoring humans, that can engage in safe and authentic interactions with one another. So go forth and mingle in identity appropriate circles, we believe in you.

In COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION,

Skye + Traci

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Skye is a youth worker, educator, activist and white transmasculine human. Traci is a therapist, yoga teacher, educator and queer vegan femme-inist of color. They reside, practice, navigate, process, survive and flourish in the Southern California area.

 

MHM Ep 8: Femme-inist Masculinity

Good Morning REVOLUTIONARIES!

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You may have been wondering where we skipped off to last week. We were enjoying ourselves at UC Riverside’s Trans* Asterisk Conference and, in truth, didn’t quite recover in time to sing it’s praises last Monday morning during the Mash-Up! Nevertheless, we couldn’t let such an amazing weekend go unsung!

Today’s intersection is FEMME-INIST MASCULINITY! You might think that sounds like a contradiction, and while it might be rare, we assure you it exists. We saw it, felt it and engaged in it at the conference last weekend and it was utterly magical. A unicorn glittered demonstration of community building, space making and dialogue.

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We got to spend some time with old friends, had serendipitous run-ins with folks swirling in nearby communities and gathered more new crushes than we can count! So many amazing hearts and spirits and utterly fabulous accessories! We were absolutely impressed by the warm and efficient organizing and honored and flattered to be among the ranks of the other speakers. Our only regret to participating was that presenting kept us from attending other workshops! However, with all of these other wonderful pieces what will shine the brightest in our  memories was our spontaneous extended workshop turned community summit!

We were so excited to run Taming the Hulk: Temperance for the Transmasculine Journey and will likely post some of the activities at some point. As we got going on planning and prepping we quickly realized that time was short and our activity list grew/shrunk as we discussed and organized. We did the math and figured, maybe 30 folks at the most? We spent some time thinking, okay, if 10 folks show up for this gig can we still do our activities? Would the processing exercises resonate for folks that were unfamiliar with gender deconstruction? Were we offering real tips for temperance or were we just echoing the narrative that finding and remaining consistent with our own versions of masculinity was an uphill unsupported cultural battle?

Needless to say, we were pretty blown away when we returned to our room to find that there were already about 40 participants waiting for us and participants continued to roll in for the next 10 minutes until we were up to probably around 60-70! As these things go, we scuttled about, took a breath, re-routed where we could and then just surrendered to being around and in such amazing community. We tried to sink into the fact that in a lot of ways this gathering in itself was a movement towards transmasculine temperance- that folks were seeking out space to come together to find balance in this journey often wrought with extreme ups and downs.

The participation and experiences that got shared in our workshop were already more than we could have hoped for but as we took final comments we were again pleasantly surprised. Folks voiced that there wasn’t as much deconstruction as hoped and that they wanted to know if there was more space to keep the conversation going. Participants went to speak to the conference organizers, found us an empty room during the final workshop slot and spread the word. As we rolled into Taming the Hulk Part Deux, we were again floored as a good 30-40 magnificent humans came in to discuss and deconstruct the narratives of masculinity that support us and constrain us. With very little facilitation the group made space for each other’s voices, witnessed and validated each other’s stories and generally commiserated and problem solved around the hulking presence of masculinity in all of our lives and gendered journeys.

It brought me an intense feeling of Kim Katrina Crosby’s prezi on Femme Science and Community Based Research in action. I implore you take a look at it, take it in and add Laura Mvula‘s That’s Alright to your conquer the day playlists! As a community we took on the community agreements that Crosby discussed:

Community Agreements

Express care, concern and consideration to yourself & others.
Speak for yourself.
Protect each other & yourself.
Examine your prejudice.
Share your needs and give ample space for others to do the same.
Treat others the way that they want to be treated. Ask.

Another’s experience does not invalidate your own,

but it should and necessarily does complicate your own.

We were so thoroughly grateful for the heart opening and intuition practice that we experienced at the conference, that drew folks to our workshop and that left space for folks to take and create what they needed. A lot of the discussion surrounded the struggle of binary systems, the way that accessing masculinity sometimes felt mutually exclusive from feminine energy/nurturing/space and the loss of one identity/community as another solidified. Folks voiced the desire to be conscious of the unique nature of this journey into privileged space and were desperately seeking ways to honor it as they also took on masculinity in ways that felt holding to them.

It felt like we not only started to “Tame the Hulk” but that we started to build a framework for “Femme-inist Masculinity.”

Even with our extended time together, we know that we’ve just barely scratched the surface. We’re figuring out what would feel like the best ways for us to continue the conversation and we’ll leave more information here as it comes. If you would like to be a part of this continued conversation please shoot us an email to compassionaterevolt@gmail.com.

In COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION,

Skye + Traci

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Skye is a youth worker, educator, activist and white transmasculine human. Traci is a therapist, yoga teacher, educator and queer vegan femme-inist of color. They reside, practice, navigate, process, survive and flourish in the Southern California area.

MHM Episode 6: More Than a Single Story

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Good Morning REVOLUTIONARIES!

We hope everyone had a lovely V-Day and you all showered yourselves with lots and lots of love and self-care!

On today’s Mental Health Mash-Up we talk about the complications of one dimensionality, how our stories serve us and how single stories/labels/identities limit us.

I AM MORE THAN A SINGLE STORY

You can listen here or visit us at Libsyn!

Here are links to some things we mention in the podcast:

We hope you enjoy and we’d love to hear your thoughts!

 As always you can reach us at…

compassionaterevolt@gmail.com

www.compassionaterevolt.com

www.compassionaterevolt.wordpress.com

COM|PASSionate REVOLT FB

 In COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION,

Skye + Traci 

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Skye is a youth worker, educator, activist and white transmasculine human. Traci is a therapist, yoga teacher, educator and queer vegan femme-inist of color. They reside, practice, navigate, process, survive and flourish in the Southern California area.

 

MHM 4: Energy + Advocacy

Happy Monday Everyone! We hope everyone had a wonderful Super Bowl weekend! Not football fans either? Well, we hope you had good snacks. We’re mostly in it for the vegan tofuffalo wings (perhaps some COM|PASSionate food blogging should be in the works.)

Today’s Mental Health Mash-Up will be in blog format (we’re also dreaming up some videos, prezi’s and other magic to come.) We’d like to welcome anyone popping over from LibSyn! “Hey, friends! This here’s the main blog– we hope you podcast listeners stick around and check out some of what the other folks are doing around these parts!”

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In this “episode” of the Mental Health Mash-Up we would like to talk a little about community energy and advocacy as well as, of course, how this plays into our mental health and self-care. Last week this post from Non-Profit With Balls (they’re awesome by the way- check them out) on Trickle Down Community Engagement came through our feeds. This concept isn’t a new one to a lot of us in the COM|PASSionate REVOLT community and was really more of an “Amen, Vu, Amen, thanks for saying this in a way that we wanted to laugh as much as cry,” moment! It really struck a chord with us and got us thinking about the sustainability of the work, how we’re being compensated for it (financial and otherwise) and how we take care of ourselves while we’re doing it.

On the last episode of Mental Health Mash-Up: Disclosure, we encouraged folks to take a moment to check in with how much educating they were willing to do along with what information they were trying to relay. We implored you all to remember that  it is NOT your job to educate others on your identity– even if your identity is something they may not be familiar with. We also discussed the very relevant possibility that in some cases, if one has the energy and desire, a little educating of those around you can go a long way in making your journey smoother.

It’s a bind. We know.

And  it doesn’t just happen on the personal level with those we choose to tell in “perfectly” (read comical, awkward, ridiculous, etc) orchestrated “Coming Out” performances. It takes us off guard and happens when we’re asked to talk to a friend of a friend, a kid of a friend, a sibling/cousin/roommate, etc going through a similar journey. It happens when we’re asked to educate our colleagues or speak to a group about our lived experiences. How many of us have become accidental activists in this way, when asked to lay out our struggle, even though we haven’t fully figured out yet to some group, because we were the only one’s that had any information about being {insert identity journey here.}

It’s not all bad. A lot of us have found it to be a really affirming and passion fueled part of our lives. Story, experience, knowledge and wisdom gained sharing are central pieces of what we’re doing here on COM|PASSSionate REVOLT because we believe it to be healing– to ourselves and others. And lived experience storytelling and resource sharing has long been a piece of the LGBTQ civil rights movement’s gains in strength and visibility.

It’s an admirable thing to share your story AND it’s not your job.

It’s imperative to our individual and community’s mental health that we each find our own balance of if and how much of this we are able to do.

It’s AS important to say, “No, I don’t have the space/time/energy/etc” or “Yes, I do have experience speaking on this topic here is my workshop rate, dates I’m available and other sliding scale/trade based ways you can compensate me for my expertise” as it is to say, “Hell, yes, I have some free time and I’d love to come talk to other folks about how awesome our community is and how they can be more awesome to us!”

This check-in with ourselves in the arc of our lives, the space of our year and our moment to moment present is a way that we can honor ourselves as complicated, fabulous, 3 dimensional beings traversing this complicated, fabulous, 3 dimensional life journey!

So, in conclusion, thank you for reading all you queer educators, lived experience panelists, non-profits of one, vegan tofuffalo fans and folks that have accidentally found us through a series of serendipitous link clicks and hours of internet surfing.

We sincerely appreciate rolling through this rough and tumble journey of life with you as our community!

Please, take us for a ride in your back pocket as you wander, skip and cartwheel through this big beautiful and sometimes chaotic world!

And if you need a little extra support or guidance in how to say “No, I need to take care of myself” check out Non-Profit With Balls’ very inspirational Contact Page.

Until next week,

In revolutionary COM|PASSion,

Skye + Traci

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You can reach us at compassionaterevolt@gmail.com

www.compassionaterevolt.com

www.compassionaterevolt.wordpress.com

COM|PASSionate REVOLT FB

MHM Ep.1: Gendered Expectations and The Self-Made Man

Happy Monday REVOLUTIONARIES!!!

We’re really excited to share a new project a couple of us have been dreaming up!

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The idea for The Mental Health Mash-Up came up for Skye and me as we were talking about the complicated intersection of being bodies, brains, hearts and spirits in this big, beautiful and sometimes chaotic world.

We wanted to explore the way we understand, experience and talk about mental health, how this is seen through the lens of our queerness and how our queerness is seen through the lens of mental health.

We wanted a place where we could discuss the struggles and complexities of being queer so we could honor how it affects our well-being and our access and understanding of “being well” in positive and negative ways.

We wanted to have a place for community dialogue and process where we could sit down, have a cup a coffee and… just figure stuff out together.

Thus, The Mental Health Mashup was born! This podcast is part information, discussion, healing circle and support and process group and we’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment or send us an email if you’d like to get involved, have a topic/question or just want to let us know that you’re out there in the universe, a big mash-up of body, brain, heart and spirit, trying to make it through this rough and tumble journey of life!

Enjoy our first episode!

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Mental Health Mash-Up Ep. 1: Gendered Expectations + The Self-Made Man

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You can listen directly below:

Or visit our LibSyn Channel: Here

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Episode Description

Join Skye + Traci as they kick off the Monday Morning Mental Health Mashup with Episode 1: Gendered Expectations + The Self Made Man.

The COM|PASSionate REVOLT team is gearing up to run two workshops at The Trans* Asterisk Conference at UC Riverside, Feb 27-28, 2015! This is the 2nd annual occurence of this conference which seeks to address issues of trans* health, well being and to provide resources for trans* youth and advocates. Follow the link for details and registration.

In this episode Skye and Traci will discuss the objective of their workshop, titled Taming the Hulk: Temperance for the Transmasculine Journey, which aims to deconstruct the intersection between gendered expectations and the creation of identity for transmasculine individuals by looking at:

  1. The exploration and uncovering of one’s most authentic masculine identity
  2. The complications of how “passing” and one’s attachment to passing fits into this identity
  3. How to integrate what the world tells us about ourselves with the men we see ourselves to be

We hope you enjoy and we’d love to hear your thoughts!

You can reach us at compassionaterevolt@gmail.com

www.compassionaterevolt.com

www.compassionaterevolt.wordpress.com

COM|PASSionate REVOLT FB

In COM|PASSionate REVOLUTION,

Skye + Traci