Trans-Empowerment: Believing In Yes

I often do the exercise of imagining what I might say if I got a chance to speak to a specific audience, so I was just spit balling a presentation for Connecticut Trans Advocacy Coalition’s Transgender Lives Conference which focuses on clinical professionals and transpeople.

Believing In Yes

Trans people grow up being taught to fear & doubt their own nature, to distrust & deny their instincts and to avoid showing their own trans heart.  The experience of being shamed into silence by a resistant society is one they all share.  This workshop will focus on techniques for empowerment, encouraging the very individual capacities of transpeople and helping them find the resilience & confidence to share their unique gifts in the world.

The Legacy of No.

“Third Gotcha.”    Thin Ice, no margin of safety.

Politicized Choices: Got surgery just to shut people up


Hidden Dreams, Crushed Hopes

The armour, the armour, the armour

We see what we expect to see.  Cognitive bias.

Flawed projections of power
— Ours, playing out unconsidered and unhealthy power trips
— Theirs, using visual cues to box in the limits and obligations of power

Have to meet people where they are.

Without Peer

Origin Story: Sick/Broken/Weak vs Natural/Heart/Calling.  What does our desire mean?

So much easier to know what we are not than know & accept who we are.

Learn to purge or learn to manage?

Learning to fear.   Fear others, fear ourselves.

Imposed Political Identity: Others tell us what our secret desires “really” mean.

Beyond anguish & isolation, beyond believing we need to conceal our sickness.

Second adolescence, without camouflage or encouragement.

Beyond Despair.

Learning Your Own Lessons

People grow & heal in their own time and their own way.  You can’t teach.

Empowerment is a unique personal process, not a shared political goal. Empowered individuals do create stronger communities, but community demands do not empower individuals.

Beyond Comfort: Supporting Diversity

How queer is too queer?

Getting to “I would never make that choice for myself, but it looks great on you!”

Consciousness raising not call “call out” shaming.

Passing & Policing

Fear that noise will queer how people see us.   We are “and” people, not “or.”

Self policing is almost always over policing.

Conceal Sex or Reveal Nature?  Invisibility to Exceptionality

Torn Choices: trained versus heart.  Gender as a learned discipline, advertising abilities.

Gender Shift requires Power Shift: New ways of gaining influence.
How to flirt?

The core of empowerment is trusting your exceptional gifts will be seen, valued and accepted.

Open Enough For Feedback, Contained Enough For Persistence.

Needy: Move to not bleeding, not crusty

Out of the bubble: able to see reflection of vision, not just of assertions

Engagement, presence rather than separation, clinging

Effective Mirroring Is Required

Mirroring empowers you to feel what you feel and know what you know.

Bessel Van Der Kolk “The Body Keeps The Score”

The power of names: nothing you wouldn’t write on skin with a sharpie

Resistance reduces endurance, weakening us.  Mirroring restores that commitment.

Beyond Victim.

Lowest Common Denominator Support: Surrender Voice to Group

Power == agency & influence in your life and community.

The beauty of scars as marks of life

Returning the Gift.   Being Of Service.

Open enough to engage feedback, solid enough to hold to inner knowledge

Unleashing Exuberance

2/3 of help is giving encouragement.

A therapist is someone who sees something in you that you do not yet see in yourself.   This includes not only blocks & twists but also possibilities and brilliance.

Transpeople are people who can: succeed, love, transform, become new, claim peace, be empowered, etc.   Believe that or be gone.

A dream shared is a dream that begins to breathe.

We are not alone.


How did I get this outline?   Simple.  I just took all the things that were done that disempowered me over my life and reversed them.

Too many people believe that the best thing you can do for those that stand up, stand out is to pound them down, trying to teach them how to fit in, how to be normative, how to follow the rules that keep everyone scared and compliant.

In the end, I decided that this was way too much for an hour presentation, especially for an audience that has no grounding in this kind of thinking.


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