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Nickey Douglass is a certified personal trainer with over a decade of experience training bodies of all shapes and sizes in the LGBTQ community. Nickey creates customized fitness and nutrition plans to achieve your goals, whether that’s increased health, strength, and endurance; and/or masculinizing, feminizing, androgynizing, or otherwise transforming and modifying your body to better match your identity.
Read more about Nickey’s training practice here: http://www.manhattanalternative.com/team/nickey-douglass/
What are my rights as an immigrant under Trump’s immigration executive orders?
Guest blog post by Angela Torregoza, founder at LegalEase.us, a boutique law firm providing immigration and small business support. She is a member of the New York City Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. In her free time, Angela blogs about art and social justice on Instagram as @venusinorbit.
In his first 100 days in office, Donald Trump signed 90 Executive Orders, several of them relating to immigration. Protests by immigrants and their advocates ensued, prompting congressional and judicial actions blocking these orders. In this time of uncertainty, the lives of immigrant individuals and families hang at a balance. We’ve provided below some useful information to immigrants and their families regarding immigration or criminal justice contact.
Who is at risk?
The executive orders have broadened immigration enforcement priorities, making those that entered the country without inspection or overstayed a visa, and irrespective of whether or not they have a criminal record deportable. This means that someone who entered the U.S. on a valid tourist visa, for example, and overstayed and arrested for a minor infraction could be deported.
If you’ve been arrested:
Inform your criminal defense attorney or public defender of your immigrant status, especially if you crossed the border or overstayed your visa. Legal permanent residents (LPRs or “green card” holders) may also be deported especially if they have arrests or convictions. If you are not a U.S. Citizen, you should consult with an immigration attorney to find out how you can protect yourself from deportation. A criminal lawyer’s job is to address the criminal issues and may not consider the immigration consequences which can be very severe, especially under this new administration. Do not sign or agree to anything until you have spoken to an immigration lawyer.
If you’ve had prior arrest or convictions:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been pursuing LPRs with prior convictions, even if they did not serve time in jail, the case was from years ago, the case was very minor or a misdemeanor. Even longtime green card holders or those with U.S. Citizen family members have not been spared. ICE has also targeted undocumented people with prior convictions, especially if the case involved DUI, drugs, domestic violence, gun possession or child endangerment. If you are not a U.S. Citizen and have prior arrest or convictions, you should seek the help of an immigration attorney or a nonprofit organization providing legal services.
I’m at risk. How can I protect myself?
Plan with your loved ones in case you are picked up by ICE and investigate in advance the steps to take if a loved one is detained (e.g. which office to contact, who to ask for help). Carefully plan your contact with immigration and speak to an immigration lawyer before any contact. This includes regularly scheduled check-ins with immigration officials. Do not file to change your status, renew your green card or travel outside the U.S. without speaking with a lawyer. Avoid unnecessary risks that can result in interaction with the criminal justice system. For example, if you do not have a license, do not drive, avoid venues where police may interrupt the proceedings, take extra precautions for things that you may not normally have paid much attention to (e.g. littering, traffic violations, drug use, altercations). You should also keep in mind that police share state fingerprints with immigration and some cities and states have agreed to use local police officers to assist with the immigration enforcement.
What are my rights as an immigrant?
- You have the right to remain silent.
- You have the right to speak to a lawyer.
- You do not have to share any information about where you were born, your immigration status or your criminal record. Ask to speak to a lawyer instead of answering questions.
- You do not have to give your consular documents or passport unless they have a warrant from a judge.
- You do not have to sign anything.
For more information about consequences of criminal convictions and list of free legal service providers, read our previous post, Consequences of Criminal Convictions: Know Your Rights. If you have any questions or would like more information, please email us at [email protected].
Click HERE or on the following link to see the full live Google doc of Gender Inclusive Terms for Pregnancy, Birth, and Sexual Health: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pSq-wQq_gVCw7Px4gexKH1QXY5X9nJCaR-mCXWGvBVM/edit
While there is a notation in this document giving permission to share and repost, the original author is not listed. If you’re reading this and happen to know who the author is, please comment or send me a message so I can update this post. Thank you!
How many trans or gender nonconforming people are involved in BDSM, nonmonogamy, or other forms of alternate lifestyles? Actual numbers do not exist, but anecdotal evidence suggests percentages are significantly higher than in cisgender (non-transgender) populations. Why?
Those of us in the transgender and gender nonconforming community have nontraditional relationships with our bodies. A large number experience bitter dysphoria pretransition, having spent decades tormented by a conflict between our inner identities and external selves. So often this clash centers on genitalia, the most prominent markers of gender; we may have an intense disgust and a desperation to rid ourselves of parts that feel so alien. Also, numerous studies have documented higher rates of trauma and abuse in trans populations, and some people are so troubled by their bodies that they shower in the dark, completely unable to view themselves unclothed.
Others do not experience such distress but still choose to live as a gender other than the one they were born into physically. Those of us who feel this way may be running toward futures we believe will be happier rather than away from pasts of suffering, regarding our transitions not as how we have to live, but how we want to live.
Whatever our motivations, being trans or gender nonconforming demands we spend at least some time occupying the liminal space between “masculinity” and “femininity,” existing in that middle ground where we are neither one nor the other. This is especially true for those of us who identify as genderqueer, gender nonconforming, genderfluid, bigendered, demigendered, agendered, gender expansive, gender diverse, two spirit, or outside gender binaries altogether. We defy easy classification.
How do our genitalia interact with other facets of our identities? What do our genitalia say about our sexuality? Often sexuality is a dialogue between individual and society, so how do we reconcile our identities as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, or straight if our sex organs don’t necessarily match? What if we don’t identify as either male or female? Pretransition, how do we make use of organs we may otherwise reject, or relearn our bodies posttransition? How do we negotiate with partners… and, for that matter, how do we have sex?
We don’t necessarily even use the same language as the rest of you. Vagina, clit, chest, breasts, penis, certainly… but we also use “girlcock,” “boycunt,” “manhole,” “cockpit,” “lollipop,” “bits,” “strapon/strapless,” “trannyclit,” “dicklet,” “asspussy,” “stock” versus “aftermarket,” and countless others terms1. We relabel and reinterpret our genitalia so as to align them with the bodies we internally visualize. Or for fun.
So it is a tiny step from there to “alternate lifestyles,” a world which offers us the opportunity to express fantasies and other aspects of our identities in creative, safe manners. Why not continue exploring outside boundaries? Some of us happily pursue monogamous, heterosexual, or “vanilla” lives, but for others, traditional relationships and missionary sex seem to be quaint social constructions. Sensation and impact play (bondage, whips, paddles, crops, clamps, featherdusters, needles, Wartenburg Wheels, ice, wax) allow us to submerge ourselves within an endorphin rush that encompasses the entirety of our bodies. Roleplay (ageplay, genderplay, fantasy) mirrors our pretransition experience of periodically assuming identities that may not match our daily “realities.” Through dominance and submission we are provocative around power dynamics in ways that sometimes parallel gender dynamics and other times liberate us of them, while nonmonogamy and leather families offer us the prospect of taking pleasure in the many loves and bonds that were so often denied to us before. And at times we become empowered by eroticizing the abuse, victimization, and trauma in a manner that can be healing.
Being trans of any variety involves questioning how we relate to our genitalia; those of us who identify as genderqueer or otherwise nonbinary go further by openly confounding normal and destabilizing social convention. Many of us make it our life’s mission to play, to be confrontational, to creatively investigate the body, identity, and sexuality. Ultimately, for a large number of people in the trans and gender nonconforming community, heteronormative or not, reveling in these nontraditional forms of sexuality and relationships is part of our ongoing examination of the human experience.
Our bodies are the playgrounds of our fantasies. And there is so much to enjoy.
You can find more about me at: LauraAJacobs.com
1I refuse to include “junk.” Genitalia are anything but.
Guest blog post by Kailey Roberts, a clinical psychology PhD candidate at The New School for Social Research and an NIH-supported pre-doctoral research fellow specializing in cancer and bereavement. She has worked as a researcher and clinician for 6 years supporting the psychosocial needs of individuals diagnosed with cancer and their family members.
Originally published on April 30, 2015, republished January 14, 2016.
When I was invited to contribute to this blog because of my professional and personal experiences with grief, I struggled with what to focus on. Grief is in many ways a ubiquitous experience but is also so diverse in the ways and reasons its felt that sometimes it can be seen as an untouchable set of emotions, even by some mental health professionals. Further, as someone who is actively grieving, I understand that often there is nothing that can be said to help the pain; sometimes it is just about feeling the waves of pain. However, through my professional experiences studying bereavement, I have picked up a number of important points that inform my own process of grieving as well as how I approach grief counseling that may be helpful to share:
1) Loss comes in many forms.
Grief can be experienced as a result of many different types of losses. While my professional experiences have primarily focused on grief as a result of death, I preface this all with the important acknowledgement that loss comes in many forms, whether it is loss of a limb, loss of a social role, loss of physical health, or loss of a relationship.
2) One loss may be the starting point for a series of losses.
When grieving the loss of an individual, a person may actually be grieving over many losses, not just of the individual. For example, parents who lose a child often not only grieve the loss of their child, but also the loss of what they knew as their role as parent.
3) Meaning reconstruction in the face of loss.
Central aspects of the grief experience can be a loss of meaning, reconnecting with meaning in life, and making sense of the loss itself.
Loss of worldview assumptions. Death in itself may be a topic that a grieving person has not consciously thought about previously; beliefs about a just world may be challenged, or visions of what a “good death” looks like may be blown away.
Meaning-reconstruction. Grief can often involve feeling disconnected from and/or reconnecting to sources of meaning in life, as well as finding meaning in the deceased person’s life. For many grieving individuals, finding meaning in life after a devastating loss can seem unthinkable but many find that reconnecting with sources of meaning can be a way of connecting with the deceased individual or with important aspects of one’s identity.
4) Grief is impacted by societal values.
As with any emotional experience, a person’s experience of grief is impacted by familial, cultural and societal beliefs about death and norms for mourning. For some, these norms may be helpful but for others, these may not only be unhelpful, but detrimental, particularly if they lead to a lack of recognition of someone’s right to grieve or right to grieve in their own way.
5) Disenfranchised grief.
“Disenfranchised grief” is what the grief counseling world refers to as any experience of grief that is not recognized by the majority or that may be in some way negatively received if talked about. Whether a person’s grief is “disenfranchised” might depend on the type of loss they experienced, their pre-existing experience(s) of marginalization, their social and workplace environment, or a combination.
a) Disenfranchised grief because of cause of death. Certain causes of death are stigmatized, such as suicide and HIV/AIDS-related deaths. In the case of suicide, family members may feel they will be stigmatized because of assumptions about suicide and mental distress.
b) Disenfranchised grief because of relationship to the deceased. Societal norms about what constitutes a meaningful relationship can dictate how bereaved individuals are treated and acknowledgement of grief. On a policy level this can leave some grieving people without institutional support for their grief, as many institutional bereavement leave policies only acknowledge familial relationships, excluding bereaved friends or unmarried partners. On a social level, certain losses may be assumed to be more meaningful than others so individuals may not feel supported in speaking about the loss or their grief to their social circle.
6) Talking about grief can be disempowering.
It can be difficult to find spaces where talking about grief is welcomed. Many people find it uncomfortable to hear about grief and death, even if they sincerely want to help. Additionally, though a person may be grieving for months and years after a loss, social norms for how to help generally involve a great deal of attention, practical and emotional support in the wake of the loss but these sources of support may taper off. This can leave a grieving an individual wondering where and when it is appropriate to talk about their grief and potentially feeling ashamed, saddened, and/or isolated in their grief.
7) Talking about grief can be empowering.
Particularly in the case of disenfranchised experiences of grief, the act of talking about the loss in a safe space can be a way of reclaiming the right to grieve as well as asserting the value of the deceased individual’s life. In the case of suicide, this can be particularly meaningful if the deceased individual was marginalized in life. While bereaved individuals often express disappointment in finding certain friends or family members are less supportive than they expected, it is also common to discover new sources of support or strengthened relationships.
A list of 7 points relevant to grief certainly does not do justice to the complex, unique, terrible, poignant and fluctuating experience that grief can be. However, it is my hope that in sharing this someone may feel a little less isolated for even a moment and validated in their experience of grief, and that this continues an open dialogue to de-stigmatize grief.
Please visit and share the following list of resources:
Parachute NYC provides alternatives to hospitalization for people experiencing emotional crises.
The Support Line is a free and confidential phone service operated by peer staff that offers support and referral services to NYC individuals experiencing emotional distress: 646-741-HOPE.
1-800-LIFENET is a free, confidential, multi-lingual, mental health and substance abuse information, referral, and crisis prevention hotline available to anyone at any time.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
ManhattanAlternative.com is a network of therapeutic service providers in New York City who are sex-positive, affirmative, and have expertise related to issues that kink, poly, consensually non-monogamous, trans, gender non-conforming, and/or LGBQ-identified individuals face.
Guest blog post by Sara Tunick, social worker and general manager and instructor at Sword Class NYC, where she studies kendo and has achieved 2nd Dan in Siljun Dobup.
Compared to others in my generation, I came out relatively late in life. I grew up doing what I was “supposed to do.” I played sports, did my chores, went to college, and I assumed that I would eventually marry a man and have babies. For as long as I was sexually aware, I’ve known that I’m not straight. I was raised in a very liberal and affirming home, but I was also told that bisexuality was a myth—everyone was either gay or straight. It took several toxic relationships, years of therapy, and an identity crisis or two for me to own my queer identity. By my mid-to-late 20s, I knew who I was attracted to and how I wanted to love them. I had a Masters in Social Work and was working with dually-diagnosed LGBTQ homeless youth in Manhattan. Though I wasn’t out to everyone yet, being queer was the center of my work and personal lives.
While I was in graduate school, a friend of mine began teaching martial arts classes in midtown. He had been studying Siljun Dobup (a Korean sword form that uses the curved katana) and kendo for several years and wanted to open his own school. I signed up for classes because…Well, swords are cool! I never expected to get as hooked on it as I did, and, when I was suffering from unemployment after social work school, I started working for him in exchange for classes. I’ve been managing Sword Class NYC since 2010 and we just opened our very own studio in Harlem. It’s been a long road, but this is a huge and exciting step for us!
I spend a lot of time at the dojo. I train in two forms, teach classes, and have a lot of administrative duties. One of my main responsibilities (and greatest joys!) is creating an enthusiastic and supportive community. I spend a lot of time with students, but rarely disclose much personal information. One evening, I went out with some students (mostly straight cismen) for drinks after class. After a few rounds, one of the guys pointed out a particularly attractive woman at the bar and I immediately concurred. As soon as the words left my mouth, I panicked. Would they judge me? Worse, would I immediately become a fetishized object? Would I lose the respect I had earned, which is no small thing for a female-presenting person in the martial arts world?
No one missed a beat. The conversation moved on. No one has ever brought it up or treated me differently. I have not become a spokesperson or a token. No one has treated me oddly because they’re trying to demonstrate how OK they are with my queerness. My sexual orientation is a non-issue. My role in the school is defined by my ability, my status as an instructor and manager, and by simply who I am. I am so fortunate to be part of a school that affirms and supports me and am so thankful for the opportunity to help create a safe space in a community when gender and sexual orientation are often stigmatized.
As I have progressed in my training, I have not only become a stronger martial artist, but I have become a stronger person. Gaining rank, becoming an instructor, and building a dojo have given me a level of pride in myself I have never experienced nor expected. Practicing four days a week has increased my patience, focus, and my physical, mental, and emotional endurance. I finally had the courage to explain my identity to my mother. I no longer fear my identity coming up in casual conversation with students, or with most anyone. This Sunday, we’re holding a grand opening party for the new space. I will be celebrating my teachers, my students, and our new home, but I will also be celebrating myself and how the study of the sword has allowed me to be my truest self, in all respects..
Guest post by Mike Blejer, a comedian living in New York with a degree in philosophy and 98 degrees in his mouth. He has worked as a humor consultant for the Air Force and Microsoft, two institutions known for their urbane ribaldry.
I totally agree with the content of the cartoon in this article, but something about the use of the word privilege in the headline rubs me the wrong way. Currently trying to figure out if there’s any good reason for that or if I’m being silly.
On the one hand, of course it is a privilege to not experience the kinds of mental anguish and cultural stigmatization that people with schizophrenia experience.
On the other hand, the use of the word privilege as a suffix for every identifier you could put in front of someone’s name seems a bit overwhelming, and to paint all these subjects in the same light. The kind of privilege I experience as a male seems really different to me than the kind of privilege I experience as a white person, and this is doubly so for the “privileges” of having two legs, or a neurotypical experience of the world. It also seems weird to me to use the same word to group say blacks and people with schizophrenia. One makes you suffer as the result of a societal disease (racism), the other actually is a disease, and I assume that most of the people who experience it don’t want to have it whereas I don’t think most black people are wishing they could be white, I think they wish that the world would stop being so shitty to them, but it’s the world they want to change, not themselves—not that schizophrenic people don’t want the world to stop being shitty to them, but I gotta think that’s 2nd on the list after “wish I didn’t have schizophrenia. I mean I’m not schizophrenic, but I have experienced some mental health stuff in the past and I had a broken arm for four years as a kid as a result of a hollow bone and became obese for a time, but while I did hate the way people were shitty to me, I actually also wanted to not suffer from the things I had. It seems weird to me to use that same language then for things like race or gender. Women, to my knowledge usually want men to stop being such shits to them, they don’t just want to not be women. If they want to not be women, then they can not be women and deal with a whole different privilege situation.
I dunno. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I’m not articulating what rubs me the wrong way about the use of the word privilege. But if anyone has any elucidating thoughts that don’t involve being needlessly shitty to either me or to people with mental health issues, I’d be happy to hear them.