TRANSLASH ZINE translash zine volume 5#TransBodiesTransChoices Trans Bodies, Trans Choices An Interactive Tale about Bodily Autonomy INSIDE Trans-affirming short films, animations and more! SCAN THE QR CODES A collaboration with POC Zine Project
This special edition of TransLash Zine is a companion to our #TransBodiesTransChoices campaign, centering the voices of TGNC people in our fight for bodily autonomy in all facets of our lives: reproductive justice, medical care, sex & romance, and more.
The aesthetic for this zine was inspired by the 1970’s novel Are You There God? It ’s Me, Margaret. That iconic book was about a young cis girl coming into herself in every way, especially into her body.
Our homage to the essential aesthetic and approach of this book explores what it would be like for this legendary coming of age tale to be about a trans youth who cracked their egg—became aware of their gender identity— at a sleepaway camp.
For some of us who had the privilege of going to camp during their adolescence, it was a place where the thrill and angst of our changing bodies could build to an intoxicating frenzy, inspiring us to take wild leaps of courage and attempt things we would never try at home: learning a new skill, a whirlwind summer romance, and other diary-worthy experiences.
But that euphoria––for those of us whose gender assigned at birth didn’t match what we knew about ourselves––was a complicated experience. Out in the stillness of nature, under green canopies, we could take a breath and imagine new ways of being after we one day escaped from our old lives––when we could finally be free.
Because of this dichotomy of experiences at camps, and its absurdity, it’s no surprise that there are so many horror and comedy films devoted to the camp experience. It could be both terrifying and hilarious.
Beyond camp though, the truth is that many TGNC people have gone through two phases of adolescence. Our first adolescence is imposed upon us, with the second one (our egg cracked) embraced by us in order to become who we are truly. This second adolescence is where we are able to face the truth of who we are, and are able to make choices about what happens next.
TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives.
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The site of change for both phases is our bodies. How they develop, how we feel about it, and the choices we make about what to do with them is the cornerstone for our humanity. As our Founder and CEO Imara Jones says, “our bodies are the first site of freedom” and it is why we fight against the #antitranshatemachine.
With that in mind, Vol. 5 of TransLash Zine is devoted to honoring YOU and that sacred journey of bodily autonomy through the lens of #TransBodiesTransChoices: whether your egg just cracked, or you’re already on a journey of self-discovery & reinvention.
In this issue, you will find abortion stories––because trans people get abortions, despite what anti-trans media would have your
think. You’ll also find stories & art about the power and joy held within disabled bodies, transitioning after sexual assault, and a bunch of handy QR codes connecting you to all of our #TransBodiesTransChoices resources. Be sure to check out all of our community opportunities at the end–we want to hear and share more of your stories!
We hope that within these pages, you’ll also find joy & healing–and some answers to the questions burning in your heart. That’s a lot to ask from a zine, but we’re up for the task.
With Love & Strength, Team TransLash
Since 2019, TransLash Zine has been a collaboration with POC Zine Project founder Daniela “Dani” Capistrano (they/them), TransLash Zine editor-in-chief. @POCZineProject has been helping to make zines by people of color easy to find, distribute, and share since 2010. POC Zine Project is going through a rebrand process in 2022 and will remove “POC” from the title by 2023 to honor community feedback.
Cover Art Title: San Junipero (2022)
Artist: Ava Tuitt
Artist Statement: San Junipero was created with the intention of visualizing a haven for trans and queer bodies. In this piece, and in this place bodily autonomy has been stretched and curved into a physical landscape. A campground serving as an oasis. Through color, texture and gesture I sought to reclaim pleasure and reassert that care,touch, sensation and connection are integral to any aspiration towards personal and collective freedom.
ARTIST BIO: Born and raised in New York City, Ava Tuitt is a visual artist and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate from Purchase College with her B.F.A in Painting + Drawing her work focuses on the intersections of race, gender, religion and pop culture. Constructing what she calls “trans creation stories” her practice inserts and asserts the black trans body as a perpetual entity and explores the formation of both personal and collective identity.
Artist Social Media: IG/@EUNUCHDOLL
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#TransBodiesTransChoices PAGE 05 TABLE OF CONTENTS 01 Genderqueer Legacies by kuwa jasiri Indomela 03 #TransBodiesTransChoices: Outfest Los Angeles Q&A feat. Cazembe Murphy Jackson and Jack Qu’emi Gutiérrez 07 WORTHY by Averi Rose 09 Womb: About Trans Motherhood by fei hernandez 15 Finally Feeling Comfortable: The Necessity of Trans-Affirming, TraumaInformed Care by Alex Petkanas 19 Be Unafraid by Alina Wahab 21 Outfest Artist to Artist Conversation: Intersex Bodily Autonomy feat. Pidgeon Pagonis and River Gallo 24 TRANSLASH’S TRANS-AFFIRMING GUIDE TO ROE V. WADE 27 Meet Me in the Yes: Transition After Sexual Assault by Dominic Cinnamon Bradley 29 Streaming to Be Demeaned: My Addiction to Gender-Affirming Misogyny by Alex Masse 33 Healing Separateness Through Transness and Disability by St(ephanie)Ann, “Stann” 37 TransLash Community Opportunities 38 Acknowledgements
PAGE 01 Translash Zine Volume 5
The Sun illuminates the Trees as Water cascades down the Cliff. Past the polyamorous couple, Water rises above the Rocks in a dance. The rhythm that carries our Majick.
This collage reminds genderqueer folks to receive love, of our gentleness and greatness. Ushering us into pristine wildlands where our ancient legacies shine and thrive. The Spiritual Realms have lots to offer; support, protection, love and answers. A proposal to go inward, deeply becoming aware of Self. A moment to regain our agency and choose from a place of informed discernment. A celebration of our authenticness and will to narrate our own stories.
Pause. Rest. Sadness. Peace. 333. Prosperity. Gratitude. Petoskey Crystal. Care.
kuwa jasiri Indomela, beauty (English) + elle (Spanish) pronouns
Keeper Of Ancient Wisdom, Founding Steward of Authentic Creations Artistic Apothecary
kuwa jasiri’s love for community sparked from the compassionate, patient storytelling and cultural sharing of Indigenous Diné Elders. Beauty advocates for more marginalized leadership and resource return (reparations + rematriation + repatriation), especially in foundational components such as inclusivity agreements, accountability practices, affinity gatherings, and centering marginalized identities. Through writing and coaching genuine relationships form as a national organizer.
A intersex, polysexual, Ghanaian, Cuban, Spanish, Zulu, Creole descendant, beauty is immersed in cultivating their Ancestral traditions. Passionate about Seed stewardship and native Seed dispersal to offer wellness and rest to the Land, Watershed and the Original Seedkeepers. kuwa jasiri (first name) peer studied wild foods and became inspired to apprentice with retired birthworker Daphne SingingTree at her home apothecary EagleTree Herbs A graduate of the dynamic and ever evolving People Of Culture Herbal Freedom School where we center our wellness stories and medicines.
Free E-Zines at: ArtisticApothecary.org/zines
Support at: Patreon.com/
Nourishment At Home Captioned Tutorial Videos: Youtube @ArtisticApothecary
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Image Description Artist Statement
At the 6th annual Outfest Los Angeles Trans, Nonbinary & Intersex Summit in West Hollywood, CA, attendees shared an afternoon of storytelling, dialogue and laughter.
The fest showcased short films from emerging trans, nonbinary, & intersex filmmakers. Each screening was followed by a moderated conversation with the filmmakers and offered a glimpse into a particular theme. Filmmaker Perspective #2 | Our Bodies, Our Choice featured two of our #TransBodiesTransChoices films: My Abortion Saved My Life and Trans Bodies, Trans Choices. Our collaborators Cazembe Murphy Jackson and Jack Qu’emi Gutiérrez participated in a Q&A after the screenings.
Team TransLash was in attendance at this event to share the video and transcript with our community. Below are highlights from the conversation.
JADEN FIELDS Check check, mic two, one. Okay.
JACK QU’EMI GUTIÉRREZ We on, hi.
CAZEMBE MURPHY JACKSON Hello.
FIELDS I wanna invite everybody to take a quick breath, you know, find your breath,
PAGE 03 Translash Zine Volume 5
#TransBodiesTransChoices Outfest Los Angeles Q&A feat. Cazembe Murphy Jackson and Jack Quíemi GutiÈrrez
JACK QU’EMI GUTIÉRREZ
CAZEMBE MURPHY JACKSON
USE THIS QR CODE TO WATCH THE IG LIVE REPLAY AND ACCESS THE FULL TRANSCRIPT!
take it at whatever pace feels good for you. It’s a lot to receive stories. You good? You got your mics on? I just wanna give y’all a second too, to get settled, get comfortable. Thank you both so much for sharing your stories. And I just wanna start off first—I wanna just thank you for joining the legacy of trans and non-binary and genderqueer and gender nonconforming and intersex storytellers, ’cause that’s how we find ourselves. That’s how we find each other. So I’m so grateful to you both for sharing your stories. And I’d love to know why was it important for you, in this particular moment, to share your stories this particular way?
JACKSON So, hey y’all. It’s an honor to be here, first of all. That’s a good question. I think it’s important to tell my story in particular because I don’t all hear a lot of trans men talking about abortion, and I know that they’re, you know, we out here and we are getting abortions. And I think it would’ve done a lot more for me, when it was time to get an abortion, had I seen that representation. Just knowing that I wasn’t like a fish out of water.
But I also just wanna say that, also I think telling abortion stories helps to normalize the stigma around abortion, and even in situations not as egregious as mine, folks should still have access to abortion.
FIELDS Absolutely. Absolutely, too often there’s a focus, or some people who are antiabortion, sometimes allow for the exception around survivors of rape or incest, but often they don’t include trans and non-binary survivors in that conversation. So thank you so much for naming them. Jack, what about you? Why was it important for you in particular to tell your story in this way?
GUTIÉRREZ Well, Cazembe and I have been talking about our abortion stories for years. Like we’ve had abortion stories with We Testify, the organization that we worked with, and just doing abortion speak ups forever. But I started
talking about it about a year after I had it, because I kept seeing such really sad stories about how people regretted their abortions. And it was always cis women talking about it and it bummed me out. I laugh at my abortion story. Yeah, it was heavy, but you can’t tell me it’s funny. The condom broke and I took plan B and that shit still didn’t work for me. Like that’s funny that I somehow fell upwards like that into that situation. I can’t help but laugh at it.
And ever since I started talking about it, I get emails, DMs, messages from other trans people that are going through the same things and didn’t know that it was something that was survivable, didn’t know that it was something that there was, you know, a light at the end of the tunnel for, and they’re scared. But they’ve seen something I’ve written, or they’ve listened to a podcast I was on, or they saw this documentary, and they see folks like me and Cazembe just living.
You know, we’re out here. Half of y’all, I’ve seen you on Tinder, so. We’re living our best lives, you know? There’s life after it.
JACKSON Me too.
GUTIÉRREZ So I wanted to make sure that I use the privilege that I have, as someone who feels comfortable telling their story, to be that person to say, you know, there is life after this. I could’ve used that at that time.
FIELDS Absolutely, thank you both for sharing that part. Y’all gonna get some gems from them. Okay. There is a life after your abortion.
That really leads me to my next question: both of you touched on, in your stories, the impact of poverty. And how that impacted even being able to access an abortion. So could you both share a little bit more about just what that was like navigating for you, and what you see in the work that you’re doing? How living through poverty impacts people’s access to overall reproductive care.
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GUTIÉRREZ I explicitly chose a medication abortion over a surgical procedure, even though the surgical procedure probably would’ve, it would’ve been like a shorter bounce back time. I may not have had to leave the job that I had at the time, ’cause I was a full-time student. But a lot of it was gender related… At the time I was like, a bunch of strangers in my garage? Not so much. In my thirties, maybe. May be fun, but different.
FIELDS Clarity, once again.
GUTIÉRREZ You live and you learn. But it was a hundred dollars cheaper of a procedure, too. And I could go home, be by myself, take two pills and handle it. The partner that I had at the time, not great. But I was privileged enough, even though I didn’t have any money. Like I had nothing to spare for it.
But his parents, ’cause he was the same age as me. His parents had given him a credit card for emergencies. And so we put it on that. And then when my financial aid came in I was able to pay for half. And I also didn’t have a car, and I had to depend on him, ’cause his parents gave him a car. I didn’t have any of that. That was basically food for the month. I had to just not eat for two weeks because I had to pay for that half.
So I can only imagine how much worse it would’ve been if I had actually, you know, had a child, because I can’t afford that at all. But it was definitely rough at the time. And I didn’t know what an abortion fund was. So I didn’t know that that was something I could have access to.
FIELDS Absolutely, thank you so much for sharing that. Cazembe?
JACKSON Yeah, I think it’s worth saying that poor people, particularly Black and brown folks, are disproportionately affected by poverty. And yeah, for me in 2001, $300 was a lot of money
as a broke college student. I went home, my mother was not supportive, so I got a payday loan, with those like 300% interest rates, probably turned into a thousand, maybe more, that I ended up paying for that abortion.
And yeah, I know I had the privilege, if you can call it that, of being able to get my mom to come pick me up from Huntsville and bring me to Austin. But you know, I think that’s another way that abortion funds actually help folks now, is like getting from one place to the other to be able to access your abortion.
That’s why I say donate to ’em, volunteer, whatever you can because, especially now more than ever, folks are having to travel across state lines to be able to access abortion. I didn’t have to travel across the state line, but I definitely had to go three hours.
FIELDS Well thank you both for sharing. I think it’s so important to highlight how being poor is such an expensive experience, and how all of these systems are set up to keep you in cycles of poverty. And even though you both were able to access an abortion, it still impacted how, like your overall wellness and your overall livelihood. And I know about them payday loans.
FIELDS Okay, the payday loans are, hoo, they’re evil as well. Capitalism, I tell you. Okay, so I have one last question for y’all, a little envisioning question, ’cause we’re manifesting futures here. And as people continue, ’cause this isn’t a new fight for access to reproductive care, access to abortions. This is a long fight. As we continue to fight, if you can envision, what would a gender affirming, trauma informed abortion look like for you now?
GUTIÉRREZ An abortion clinic run by trans people. I don’t wanna see or be seen by cis people anymore. I don’t wanna be perceived.
PAGE 05 Translash Zine Volume 5
#TransBodiesTransChoices: Outfest Los Angeles Q&A feat. Cazembe Murphy Jackson and Jack Qu’emi Gutiérrez
FIELDS You heard it here first, folks. Whoever got that coin, go ahead and open that trans abortion clinic.
JACKSON You know, one of our trans elders, Miss Major, always says right, shout her out. She always says, you’re not trans until you are. And I think when I think about what a trauma informed, gender gender affirming abortion would look like, it’s like everybody is getting treated the same. Everybody is getting treated like humans.
Like ask everybody their pronouns. Ask everybody what their body parts want to be called. Ask everybody what their preferred name is. And do it in a way where everybody feels respected and affirmed in their care. And you know, remember that trans people exist, but remember some of these folks don’t know that that’s where they’re going, and respect that. Respect it, just like respect the future. When we talk about manifesting our futures, respect that.
Because 10 years ago, I didn’t know that I would be in this seat talking about my own trans identity, and I still, or 20 years ago, still deserved that type of care.
FIELDS Thank you both for your honesty and openness in sharing your stories. I’m deeply grateful to be able to have this quick conversation with you, and to have seen your story up there. Give it up for them one more time. Thank you. Now check out the resources they mentioned.
USE THIS QR CODE TO ACCESS OUR PLAYLIST OF ALL #TRANSBODIESTRANSCHOICES FILMS AND OUR TRANS-AFFIRMING GUIDE TO ROE V. WADE.
CONTRIBUTE YOUR BODILY AUTONOMY AND/ OR ABORTION STORY:
Share your abortion and/or bodily autonomy story publicly or anonymously through our submission form. Anonymous stories will be shared on our social media channels, website, and in other media formats. If you provide your contact information, we will follow up to collaborate on the best way to share your story in 2023 and beyond. Scan the QR code to access the form.
On March 14, 2022, TransLash Media launched a video series and digital campaign called #TransBodiesTransChoices in which transgender people speak out about their abortion and bodily autonomy experiences. The videos not only highlight the variety of experiences trans people have, but the challenges they may face navigating a system set up largely for cisgender people. Learn more: translash.org
Outfest, established in 1982, is a queer arts, media, and entertainment organization that empowers LGBTQIA+ storytellers and clears pathways to visibility of their work by all members of the public.
The 6 TH annual Outfest Los Angeles Trans, Nonbinary & Intersex Summit showcased a multitude of trans, nonbinary & intersex experiences as a vision for the future. This year’s summit was a time-capsule titled Manifesting Our Future – a call to action to imagine ourselves 50 to 100 years into the future and to leave behind a record of our stories. While trans, nonbinary and intersex people have garnered varying levels of visibility, the goal of this year’s summit was to unpack how visibility can shape our collective future. Storytelling is a manifestation of our imagination and the futures we dream of as trans, nonbinary and intersex people. The future is ours, the future is here, and right now more than ever, we have the power to manifest it. Learn more at outfest.org
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This poem by Averi Rose was originally featured in TransLash Zine Vol. 3: Pride Month Edition (2021). Enjoy our animated short film inspired by the poem by accessing the QR code at the end, or visiting translash.org/transbodiestranschoices, the hub for all of our #TransBodiesTransChoices content.
I remember reflecting in a mirror that didn’t reflect me. I used to run in circles around my identity. The noise of social conditioning was deafening, and I felt defeated.
What purpose would I have if I was no good to myself? The world was different then, and my voice was still developing. Acceptance starts from within, and courage is like a muscle.
There is no right time to find or redefine your individuality. Womanhood is precious. It’s not limited to one experience or idea. Womankind is ever-evolving —revolutionary— creating space for women like me.
Trans women, Black trans women, are worthy of all the goodness this world has to offer. Our lives have been disproportionately snatched away at the hands of insecure men.
Men who would rather silence us than admit their love for us We deserve love, unconditional love, and most of all—we deserve peace. I am a woman. I am a Black trans woman. And I am worthy.
CREATED BY IMARA JONES
DIRECTION & ANIMATION BY JAY KATARA
WRITTEN & PERFORMED BY AVERI ROSE
PRODUCED BY RUBY ROSE FLUDZINSKI & TILER WILSON
SOUND DESIGN BY RUBY ROSE FLUDZINSKI
SOUND MIXING BY ANTON JIRACEK
DIGITAL AND CONTENT STRATEGY BY DANIELA "DANI" CAPISTRANO
AUTHOR BIO My name is Averi Rose. I am a model, poet, and an active voice for the trans community. I recently found my voice after reading countless news articles targeting trans youth. I am quite sensitive to the subject of children and their well-being—especially as it pertains to trans children. I struggled with myself growing up. I didn’t have the same courage at their age to fully vocalize my concerns surrounding my identity. I silenced myself out of fear. However, children today are fearless. Their parents are listening and it’s extraordinary to witness. I refuse to remain quiet while the law attempts to silence them. averirosepoetry.com
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ACCESS THE ANIMATED SHORT VERSION OF THIS POEM.
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PAGE 09 Translash Zine Volume 5
WOMB: About Trans Motherhood
BY FÉI HERNANDEZ IMAGE BY TARYN ELLIOTT
My trans identity has always been about my body, but more so about my womb, my desire to bear a child and be a mother.
As a trans femme person assigned male at birth (AMAB), I felt uncomfortable naming my experience with my womb. I could recount all the times I felt it throb and felt its thirst to hold something, but I struggled to articulate it.
I wish I could find solace in a celebration of all that I have been able to give birth to. Poems. Artwork. Writings. Songs. A spirit school for developing spiritual practitioners. Yet my womb, my desire to bear children in my body is what brought me to my transness, to my spiritual practice, and to the community I needed to carry me through this transcendental journey.
As the years passed, motherhood felt like it had become more intangible—further from me. I was vulnerable to my body’s changes at 28 years old. I was entering Dad-Bod mode, my facial hair was growing in thicker, I was squaring, and my weight was creating a lot of body dysmorphia for me with no child in my belly. I wanted to see what could help me feel more connected to my gender expression and my femininity.
Recently, I reached out to a health specialist at FOLX to inquire about Hormonal
Replacement Therapy. We talked about a lot in the 30-minute consultation I paid $59.00 for, but there was one particular moment that felt full circle. While I knew the effect estrogen would have on my testosterone production and fertility, I wasn’t expecting for this to come up in the conversation. Thinking ahead and considering sperm banking took me for a spin. I hit the brakes and my whole life tumbled before me. The point of entry to my transness (birthing, bearing children, and fertility) seemed to find me even as I tried to ignore it to lessen the grief.
I was also having concerns about growing older. My body had changed dramatically over a short period of time. I had gained weight after surviving Covid-19 and a car accident that left me with traumatic brain injury (TBI). I was economically affected as I could not produce work. I was dealing with PTSD, my little brother’s death, a new disability, all while still not having a partner, a child, or building a family like many others around me. Cis heteronormative pressures of all colonized types began to creep into my trans body. I logged out of the zoom consultation, reviewed all the notes I took, and began processing. I immediately started calculating when all the birthing people in my family had children. I realized I was past the age my mom was when she gave birth to me. Anxiety fueled me to math in ways I never could before. I felt incompentent, as though I had failed at being and doing what I was supposed to do on this earth— birthing from my body, something pivotal and important within me. I was single and had no love interest in mind, so I questioned
#TransBodiesTransChoices PAGE 10
when I’d be able to experience motherhood. Clearly, I was also associating motherhood with being partnered and in love as if they’re mutually exclusive.
I mourned. I cried. Maybe I could do it on my own. But did I want to walk the same traumatic, difficult, yet path experience my mom had as a single parent? Did I have money to go through lengthy procedures that involved a medical system I didn’t trust? What if the person holding my baby ran away with them? How do I deal with the legalities that come with having a surrogate? It is all so unbearably confusing! I would lay in bed in wrath thinking of all the men I could’ve convinced to impregnate me. I wrote into the first night angrily, and every night after, until it became clearer.
I want to name the culture of immediate fixing: superficially healing wounds by intellectualizing the experience instead of feeling and studying the emotions that naturally arise. It’s clear we want to avoid the inevitable suffering that comes with holding said emotions, even the good ones. When sharing my painful truth regarding my womb, my desire to childbear as a trans person, I have been asked to pivot and instead look at all that I’ve been able to birth, symbolically— but finding satisfaction in symbolic birth wasn’t helping me move past this. People jump to finding solutions when they don’t want to see me suffer because they love me, but I believe that it is essential for us to hold this pain longer, to bear witness to this revealing longer, and let it change us. Our instinct is to run away from the discomfort of the questions my relationship to my womb, childbearing, and my trans experience may bring up in all of us. Whether my experience may be too spiritual, too unscientific or
unquantifiable, or too sensitive—it’s real. This may feel new to folks who are unfamiliar with yearning for a physiological function, an organ, or a defining experience they can’t live through its completion because of their physical impediments. So I want to challenge us to consider that maybe what I’m revealing is actually an ancient, Indigenous reality for so many humans on this planet that don’t have
live in their truth.
I was reminded of a funeral, a spiritual miscarriage I experienced many years ago in the dirt lot of my first home. My mother prepared a bath for me with romero, lavender, dry roses, and sea salt after my flooding came. The flooding felt like something visceral spilling out of me followed by a sinking feeling that I had, without consent and control, been separated from something within me. I had been in ceremony with myself the days leading up to that moment around childbearing, identifying my womb, naming it, and questioning why I had been thrust into a body without the function I knew was a part of me. Semi-answers started pouring through during the ceremony, and after the bath, I felt more healed. I was able to enter a womb of my own needing. The romero protected my spiritually open womb from any more transgressions. The lavender laid me to rest. The dry roses helped ease my pain, held me in a sweet aroma and tenderness. The sea salt absorbed the heaviness and helped create space to be vulnerable and affirmed. My mother bore witness to my suffering and wrapped me in a white towel. I knew it was a wound from time immemorial. A past life? Or maybe it was all the stress I was under at the time. One thing was certain, I was grieving the loss of a child I never had, a miscarriage in multiple ways. I had just begun my training to become a postpartum doula through
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Womb: About Trans Motherhood
Birthworkers of Color. The experience activated something in me that I was afraid to know existed. I have a womb. Even if it’s one that can’t exist how I need it to, or bear the children I wish to home. It’s invisible yet alive within me. There is no science or way for me to conjure my ancestors, spirit guides, or TransGod to prove otherwise. Yet my mother held me after she pulled me out of the bathtub, and together we held vigil to a spirit child within me that could not metastasize fully. I drowned in tears and my mother wept with me. We mourned the children we’ve lost, lit candles, and tied red string around my waist to keep whatever was left of me together.
It has been years since that incident, and I’ve never given myself space to allow my yearning to be a birthing person unfurl. The way my mother held space for me in our yard that night is not the way the world-at-large holds me. I fear reliving the pain of being told I’m unacceptable, alien, sick, or taking up space that isn’t mine. It has kept me from articulating my truth in the ways I’m doing now.
My truth is that if I could, I’d have a womb surgically introduced to my body. I’d be whole if I did. Having a womb would let me breathe fuller. My calling is to be a mother, a birther of beautiful things, but being limited by a physiological counterpart is distressing. It’s a quiet doom to find hope in all the other births. To have the ability to birth life in this way would make me feel like I am not broken, unlovable, incapable.
I want to believe that before I entered this life on earth I chose my experience: my body, it’s diaspora, my eye color, my family, my laugh, my community, my hair etc. At least in my choosing I could blame
myself for not having what I needed. I could blame myself for my brokenness. With this perspective it’s easier to solve the mystery, find answers and consolation amidst the grief: I did this, I am to blame. It’s a “lesson” of my own making. Maybe I was brought to suffer in this way so that I could write about it and hopefully help someone else who’s going through something similar? Maybe I’m here to reveal to the world more about their humanity through my suffering? It’s hard to create this narrative to lessen the damage of my reality—although it could very well be true. On horrible days I condemn nature and TransGod for taking from me what I need to be complete: a functioning womb in the body I’m in. But alas, there is only this féi, capable of birthwork to help redefine and expand notions of mother/parent hood and non-nuclear families.
My hope is that through this essay we can move beyond a linear process of healing (eg: pain to happiness), expand the space for complex identities, and hold our emotions longer. Through this essay I offer my process as one of revelation with many waves of elation, discovery, grief, joy, and peace that move to their own rhythm. Even in my longing, I am birthing a new world. There’s no consolation for the kind of birthing I wish I was capable of, but I gift you, my reader, this: my truth.
In the present, so many of us TGNC (Trans Gender Non-Confirming) BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) are already under constant attack. We regularly face violence from the state, family, community, or ourselves (from all the internalized stigmatization). So nowadays we search for sweet resolves, answers for us by us, resolutions with happy endings, and decolonial hope.
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Womb: About Trans Motherhood
I hope that by exploring trans AMAB folk’s yearning for child bearing we can make room for a new world of possibilities for all types of bodies and experiences. Although this lived experience is painful, it has given me the opportunity to reshape my inner world and how I operate outside of it.
As a result of all this, I considered more deeply what limited beliefs I still carried that I needed to let go of. What is family? What is “community”? I realized how limited my imagination was in conjuring the life I wanted to live. I couldn’t see my experience as a love story because I was told I was not enough, ill, or missing something. My imagination existed within a colonial context and I needed to burn it all down. I couldn’t believe the discourse I had daily: didIwant atallhandsomecismanofcolortobethe parentofmychildren?WasIconstructing,in mysoul,theprototypetheAmericandream hadsoldsomanyimmigrants?Icanonlybea motherifthechildcomesfrommyownbody. I didn’t actually believe any of this. My soul began to break through the limited scope of my understanding. Soft tender light shone through and pulled me out.
I began building the blueprint for a home for TGNC BIPOC parents and children. When I close my eyes I see a purple, pink, and blue five story house. Designed and built as a community. The house is in a meadow surrounded by pine trees and the scent of the ocean in the wind. It’s a safe haven to blossom and build a world where we can center love. The bounds of connection are endless. We are possible in ways unimaginable. Everyone’s fulfilled in the body they need and our understanding of being is expansive. We co-parent gently and fiercely as a community, or in units of one’s consensual choosing. This is the
world I want my children to grow in, which means I must live in it now.
I still have moments like the zoom call with the consultant with FOLX that take me back to the start of my journey as a trans person. There’s something that says let your experience be a full one. Let every single part of your body speak, let every need be named, let everything that needs to bloom blossom, and all that needs to shift transform. Let your metamorphosis engulf you and have everyone see you, so they can see themselves too. There’s something that guides me to and from certain people.
I want to believe it’s the child I lost and mourn that guides me towards their young being. The closer I feel with my child the more I realize the work is in decolonizing motherhood, transness, the body, birthing, and living in a fuller, safer world. The more I allow the possibility of my experience to reveal the possibilities of life on Earth, outside of the lens of Western colonialism, I can see that my child and I are possible right now. In this very moment we are together and in presence, even if a physical body is what keeps us apart. While this brings me consolation on a bad day, there’s the grief that exists regardless. Touching each other is beyond even the strongest spiritual connection. As I allow myself space to mourn and wallow, the more I am able to get back up and live, patiently awaiting the slow reveal of what this was all for. I, as well as my community, shouldn’t have to fight to be alive, feel full, or human. Being alive, surviving, or on a good day thriving in a capitalist and colonized world is something we celebrate because we are bound by it; but I want to know what my experience would be like in a world where fate is us becoming all that we need to without the fear of persecution and systemic violence.
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I will have children eventually, even if it won’t be directly from my body. I am open too, in acknowledging how much fulfillment and joy I have experienced mothering Kosmoh, my TransGod sent puppy. I am open to seeing my creations both private to me and public to others alike be held in the reverence they deserve as my children. Especially Hood Criatura, my first full length poetry collection published by Sundress Publications. Yet, while I maintain a healthy (sometimes obsessive) relationship with birthing new projects, more grand every time, it doesn’t always feel fulfilling in the ways I need it to. I have also become open to exploring a life where motherhood is only one facet of my purpose. I wonder how many experiences I’ve missed out on or have kept myself from because bearing children was always so central to my becoming. I want to give myself the opportunity to be sensual, find pleasure, turn my acts of service inward (no pun intended), and continue to surround myself with community that sees me in truth.
I stand on my porch sometimes overlooking the dirt lot in my yard. We still haven’t found the time to prepare for a garden to blossom, but right where we buried my spiritual child, yellow flowers always bloom.
AUTHOR BIO: féi hernandez is a trans, Inglewood-raised, formerly undocumented immigrant author of the full-length poetry collection Hood Criatura, which was on NPR’s Best Books of 2020. They are a Define American Fellow for 2021 and are currently the Board President of Gender Justice Los Angeles. They have been published in POETRY, Autostraddle, Immigrant Report, The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext, forthcoming Somewhere We are Human, and more. féi is the founder of The House of Ethér a center that provides spiritual healing. féi launched Spirit School for the Divinely Gifted, which centers spiritual teachings for TGNC BIPOC practitioners.
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Finally Feeling Comfortable:
The Necessity of Trans-Affirming, Trauma-Informed Care
BY ALEX PETKANAS
My own experiences with annual gynecological exams as a trans person have been consistently negative.
I had grown accustomed to the base level of discomfort and fear—until my most recent visit. Feeling out of place usually starts in waiting rooms or during intakes. While gender nonconforming language in waiting room literature and on intake forms are not guarantees of trans competent care, these
introductory elements can either include me or alienate me. At many offices, I was required to select “male” or “female” for my gender, leaving me totally unsure of what to do. I would be asked, “If you’re a woman, could you be pregnant?” The question made me feel invisible because I am not a woman, but I still have the ability to get pregnant. At the visit where I felt safest, the waiting room was full of information for people of all genders. The forms allowed me to indicate that I am trans and nonbinary, and medical questions related to specific body parts— not to gender.
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During regular intakes, I would typically be asked about my last menstrual cycle. Even before starting testosterone I had a highly irregular cycle and felt deep dysphoria about my period. When explaining why I didn’t know when the last period was, nurses often seemed surprised or annoyed. However, during my most recent visit where I felt welcomed, the person I met with asked questions about my experiences and needs as a trans person. She had a clear understanding of testosterone and simply asked if I ever bled during my menstrual cycle anymore. It was the first time I felt like I was going to get gynecological care that made my body feel accepted.
But OBGYN visits weren’t the triggers for my dysphoria.
It was years before I realized that I was having dysphoria about my chest. This is why breast exams made me so uncomfortable. Every visit, without fail, I would laugh nervously and start to feel nauseated while the person doing my exam pressed their hands into my breasts. I would apologize for how nervous I was, but the examiner would say “you’re just ticklish,” or ignore what I was saying completely which left me even more anxious. This pattern continued after I came out. No providers ever offered any kind of solution or support.
During my recent gender-affirming visit, the registered nurse had me place my hand on top of hers and take deep breaths throughout the breast exam to lessen the sensation of surprise. For the first time,
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IMAGE COURTESY OF BROADLY’S GENDER SPECTRUM COLLECTION
my body relaxed. I was able to get through it without any nausea or uncomfortable laughter. When I realized how simple the solution to my anxiety was I felt relieved and disappointed in every other provider I had been to. For trans people who often experience body dysphoria and have high rates of sexual trauma , going to a gynecologist for an annual exam can be anywhere from triggering to downright retraumatizing. According to a 2015 study of over 27,000 trans people across the United States, 47% of respondents had been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. One-third of these respondents also reported having a negative experience with a health care provider as a result of being trans. While I don’t know exactly where this nurse learned trans-affirming and trauma-informed approaches, there are plenty of resources that provide information on trans-specific health care needs and alternatives to standard testing procedures.
In a study referenced in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ page on Health Care for Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals, transmasculine patients expressed an overwhelming preference (90%+) for self-collected vaginal swabs. A training module from Michigan Medicine describes some of the potential impacts of hormones and encourages providers to discuss options for testing with patients, like self-insertion of the speculum. The University of California San Francisco Gender Affirming Health Program provides a variety of techniques for providers to establish trust and perform pelvic exams, like using a mirror so patients can directly observe and checking with patients about their
preferred language for their body parts. Additionally, examiners should clearly communicate what they are going to do before interacting with patients. Patients should have an opportunity to process these requests and verbally consent to each part of an exam.
The registered nurse who provided a safe and comfortable exam for me demonstrated that she had a comprehensive clinical understanding of my needs, but also showed patience and empathy in her approach. She took time to listen to and acknowledge my previous negative experiences, and when she did, it felt like she made an effort to begin healing the wounds caused by medical institutions. She had a conversation with me about how we could proceed, asked me if I felt ready to move forward, and reminded me that I could stop the exam at any time.
This is another crucial element of transaffirming and trauma-informed care.
Medical professionals should slow down and clearly ask what the patient’s experiences with medical exams have been in the past. While some patients may know exactly what they need and be able to express it, others may not. With a strong understanding of trans-specific and trauma-informed health care, medical professionals can provide positive care to those who do not have specific requests by using good communication and giving as much control to the patient as possible throughout the exam. The opportunity to discuss safety at home is important, but some patients may also need the support of a partner, relative, close friend in the room, or on the phone.
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Finally Feeling Comfortable The Necessity of Trans-Affirming, Trauma-Informed Care
The stakes are high when gender-affirming care is inaccessible. Annual breast and pelvic exams are opportunities to screen for multiple types of cancer in addition to STD testing. When these are not caught early, they can develop into issues that are much harder to treat. It is essential that medical professionals stay up to date on their continuing education.
For the safety and wellness of trans people, providers must adopt a trans-affirming and trauma-informed approach to annual exams because it can save our lives.
AUTHOR BIO Alex is a trans and sober 29-year-old living in Alaska with their partner, their cat, and their dog. After graduating from law school and getting licensed as an attorney during the pandemic, Alex quit working as a lawyer. Since then, Alex has started working on a local farm, writing, and providing child care.
Follow Alex on Twitter: @alexpetkanas
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India. Their work is especially inspired by old school anime, haute couture, and art history. They enjoy exploring themes of queer desire and joy in their work.
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August 7, 2021
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Outfest Artist to Artist Conversation INTERSEX BODILY AUTONOMY feat. Pidgeon Pagonis and River Gallo
Intersex representations matters.
The 6TH annual Outfest Los Angeles Trans, Nonbinary & Intersex Summit took place in West Hollywood, California, on July 23, 2022. This incredible event showcased work from two brilliant intersex artists— River Gallo and Pidgeon Pagonis—and brought them together for a conversation about intersex visibility, artistry, and storytelling.
RIVER GALLO I wanted to say welcome. It is the sixth annual Trans, Nonbinary Summit, but it’s the first annual Trans, Nonbinary and Intersex Summit.
PIDGEON PAGONIS So good.
GALLO Pidge, it’s so moving actually that you’ve come because the reason I and many people in kind of like this post-social media era, intersex culture and community have found out they were intersex through your videos and through your Buzzfeed video. That, you know, and all the content that you put out. Like, because of you, I mean, I stand on your shoulders, and- don’t cry! Okay. But no, really I mean, you are for so many of us a pioneer in the whole movement. And so that bears saying. A lot of my work in film and starting to identify as an intersex filmmaker and being intersex came from the work that you did. So thank you for that.
PAGONIS You’re so welcome.
GALLO What are you thinking right now?
Pagonis: I’m thinking about, what am I thinking about, y’all? Oh, here, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about abortion.
PAGONIS Yeah. Okay. So let me tell you the story about me. About a month ago, you said it was, when the Roe v. Wade got overturned. I was like bodily autonomy? I don’t know her. Who is she? I was, I was just like, duh, like it was so normal to me to have to see somebody not have bodily autonomy, or to see the state say you don’t have bodily autonomy. And I think that’s fucked up that that was normal to me, and that I expected it.
PAGONIS It was kind of like a moment where someone in the (previously screened) film where the screen said something, like –
GALLO They said, it was in the content warning before the abortion film, where one
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of the filmmakers or producers said “Nobody understands bodily autonomy like trans people.” And Pidge and I looked at ourselves like, well, intersex people could have a thing or two to say about that.
PAGONIS So we both lookedGALLO Not to play, not to play –
PAGONIS Not to play oppression Olympics, you know?
GALLO No, no, no.
PAGONIS But no, for real though, but there was this moment we were sitting right there and we had, we just looked at each other. It was like, yeah, we, we understand. So I think this conversation around abortion… Here’s what I want to say. Anybody know the rapper Noname? So what does Noname say? “Everything is everything.” And I know that, like other people say that too, like Lauryn Hill
and others. But what I was thinking about is when everything is everything, okay? If we can understand that, then if everything gets bodily autonomy, like intersex people, trans people, people who need abortions, then everything is good. The net benefit increases. But when everything doesn’t get autonomy, doesn’t have good things, has pain, has trauma, has violence, that everything is bad and there’s a net negative. So I’ve just been thinking a lot about solutions, and my old way of getting to solutions, which was like “Let’s go to the hospital and make them pay.” And “Let’s protest and let’s do this and let’s do that,” which I still love and I really want other people to do. But I’m also thinking about what are root causes and what are root solutions. And I think a lot about violence, ’cause like what happens to intersex people, what happens to trans people when they’re denied bodily autonomy? What happens to people that need abortions? When they’re denied those, it is an act of violence. And why does violence happen? I live in Chicago, I’m born and raised there and I still live there. 36 years. You’ve probably heard about
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us in the media. Probably not good things. You know, sometimes. I mean we do have really good things, but you – the media sometimes –
GALLO Good hot dog scene, right?
PAGONIS We have good hot dogs. We have good food. Come by. I’ll give you a tour of the food places. I love food. But I’ve been thinking a lot. Like the night before I came here, there was a shooting. I could hear it, a lot of shots. And then I went to wake up. I woke up and heard about another shooting that I slept through also just a few blocks away.And I’m like thinking about violence, you know, there’s an onslaught of violence in our media, in our consciousness, around us. To intersex people, to trans people, to nonbinary people, to Black people to brown people, disabled folks, etc. And I’m like, why? And I see it, I see it in children.When kids are not treated right, experience trauma, not getting enough love. Basically what I’m trying to say is we need to heal. And when people get healed, everything is everything. Everything gets better. And I don’t know how to get to the healing. I just know that a lot of us need it.
GALLO Yeah. Yeah. I’ve been working on this thing throughout this whole year processing this breakup that I had. And, and sometimes I get so, um… self-obsessed with my own, like, sadness and heartbreak. But like seeing it up here, I was like, oh my God, my intersex heartbreak matters. The way I, as an intersex person relate to my relationships, to my love to other people and how I process that into art. Even if I just look like a Lana Del Rey wannabe, which I’ll take. Like, it matters! It matters in the sense of like, she could never.
PAGONIS She could never!
GALLO No! Love her, love her, but she could never. But for intersex people, the underlayment of invisibility is really prominent. So much so that like, I often posit the question of “What is intersex culture?” Like, I don’t know, because it doesn’t really exist, but it’s
happening right now. Like, you know, with this and us here. I just think about, what does it mean to transition from invisible to visible?
PAGONIS From myth to real as fuck.
GALLO And also there’s us, two intersex people on stage right now in Los Angeles.
PAGONIS Yeah, on this side of the country! Cause that’s the other side of the spectrum!
GALLO Hollywood, baby!
SPEAKER BIOS: PIDGEON PAGONIS is a filmmaker, consultant, and activist for the intersex community as well as other marginalized communities. They were one of nine LGBT artists honored as an Obama White House Champion of Change in 2015. They were also one of "30 Under 30" honored by the Windy City Times in 2013. They were also featured on the cover of National Geographic’s “Gender Revolution” special issue. pid.ge/
RIVER GALLO (they/them) is a GLAAD awardwinning Salvadoran-American filmmaker, actor, writer, model and intersex activist from New Jersey. They are a recipient of the 2019 GLAAD Media Rising Star Award, the 2020 Ryan Murphy HALF Initiative for television directing, a 2021 Berlinale Talent fellow, and was selected as part of the inaugural Sundance Institute Trans Possibilities Intensive. River’s work explores the dynamics of personal and confessionary storytelling, and media’s ability to transcend human consciousness via re-envisioning underrepresented narratives. rivergallo.com
THIS Q&A WAS EDITED FOR CONTENT; TO ACCESS THE FULL TRANSCRIPT AND WATCH THE IG LIVE REPLAY SCAN THIS
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Outfest Artist to Artist Conversation Intersex Bodily Autonomy feat. Pidgeon Pagonis and River Gallo
TransLash's Trans-Affirming Guide to Roe v. Wade
BY DANIELA “DANI” CAPISTRANO FOR TRANSLASH MEDIA
The Supreme Court overturned the federal right to an abortion on June 24, 2022, effectively blocking abortion access in roughly half the states where there are laws–already on the books or proposed—to end the practice. This move sets back a half century of progress for reproductive justice, body autonomy, and possibly puts even the right to privacy in jeopardy.
Because these issues are at the very heart of the transgender community, Team TransLash will continue to update this guide with the latest news and resources.
On May 2, 2022, POLITICO leaked a draft opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. In it, Alito argues for an end to Roe v. Wade and its privacy protections. Many conservative states prepared years in advance for such an opinion and have “trigger laws” that will ban abortion within their states the moment Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Because the Supreme Court decided to overturn the decades-long ruling this week, abortion rights will be left up to states, many of which have already passed laws to ban abortion immediately.
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A 2021 study of transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive people in the United States shows that out of 1694 respondents who were <30 years of age, 210 respondents (12%) had been pregnant. These 210 reported 433 total pregnancies, of which 92 (21%) ended in abortion. Of the 1694 participants, 76 people (36% of those ever pregnant) reported considering trying to end a pregnancy on their own without clinical supervision, and a subset of these (19% of those ever pregnant) reported attemptingto do so.
“We have to recognize that this decision will impact trans folks,” Alexis Rangel, policy counselor at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) said. “Particularly trans men and nonbinary folks who need access to reproductive healthcare and abortion specifically.”
The Food and Drug Administration changed its regulations in December 2021 to allow abortion pills to be sent by mail, but at least 19 states have bans on getting the pills delivered by mail or via telehealth, passing laws requiring a medical clinician to be physically present when abortion pills are administered to a patient: Republicans in South Dakota, Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee and Oklahoma have moved to further restrict access to abortion pills in recent months.
The implications of a negative Roe V. Wade decision on trans men and those who are nonbinary are devastating: as explained by OutCare, a culture advocating forced birth is difficult. What will happen when trans and nonbinary people lose access to birth control or elective hysterectomies? Will people lose access to hormone therapy? Will they be excluded from discussions about reproductive health, and how will the loss of Roe impact them?
Many trans men and nonbinary people say they feel left out of the abortion conversation. Team TransLash created this trans-affirming guide
to Roe v. Wade to help you make sense of what is happening and what you can do to access resources and fight back.
WHAT IS ROE V. WADE?
Roe v. Wade is the name of the lawsuit that led to the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The majority opinion found an absolute right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Jane Roe was a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey, who was 22, unmarried, unemployed and pregnant for the third time in 1969 when she sought to have an abortion in Texas. By the time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in her favor, McCorvey had given birth to a girl whom she placed for adoption.
Henry Wade was the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas. It was his job to enforce a state law prohibiting abortion except to save a woman’s life, so he was the person McCorvey sued when she sought the abortion.
Roe v. Wade has been the focus of anti-abortion groups since the opinion came down in 1973, but the history of the movement started more than a century before Roe, with roots in British common law
At the time of Roe, abortion was broadly legal in just four states and allowed under limited circumstances in 16 others. Constitutional rights trump state laws, so the court’s decision nullified the bans in the remaining 30 states.
WHY IS ROE V. WADE IMPORTANT TO TRANSGENDER PEOPLE?
Now is the time for the larger progressive movement to connect the struggles for LGBTQIA people and reproductive rights more deeply, especially for those who are tran, gender nonconforming, and non-binary. As Imara Jones wrote for LGBTQ Nation , trans people get
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TransLash’s Trans-Affirming Guide to Roe v. Wade
pregnant. Trans people need abortions. Trans people deserve access to culturally competent medical care. Trans people must have the freedom to live—something that is currently under unprecedented direct attack through hundreds of pieces of legislation across the country. Despite all of this, trans people have been marginalized in the mainstream fight over body autonomy. That must end.
The right wing mainstays of the antiabortion movement, including The Heritage Foundation, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Liberty Council are at the forefront of the anti-trans movement, especially the ability for trans people–including children–to have equal access to health care.
Learn more via our podcast limited series, The Ant-Trans Hate Machine: translash.org/ antitranshatemachine
Many trans rights advocates say that because the transgender community can often only get safe and inclusive care at clinics that provide abortions, restricting them impacts overall health care. This is why many leaders of diverse backgrounds are looking at the intersection of reproductive rights and genderaffirming healthcare.
Now—more than ever—is the time for people of all genders to fight to protect abortion rights for all.
SOME ABORTION RESOURCES FOR TGNC PEOPLE
Under 18 and need an abortion + free legal representation for judicial bypass? Call or text Jane’s Due Process: 1-866-999-5263
The National Network of Abortion Funds connects abortion seekers with grassroots organizations that can support financial and logistical needs here: abortionfunds.org/ need-abortion
Here are tips on how to choose a good abortion provider and questions to ask a clinic: abortionfunds.org/how-do-i-find-the-clinicthats-right-for-me
The Brigid Alliance arranges and funds travel, along with related needs, to support individuals across the country who are forced to travel for later abortion care: brigidalliance.org
SCAN THIS QR CODE TO ACCESS A LIST OF PHYSICIANS IN THE UNITED STATES WHO ARE WILLING TO PERFORM A TUBAL LIGATION ON ANY PATIENT, 18-21+, NO MATTER THEIR MARITAL STATUS OR NUMBER OF CHILDREN.
Access all of our #TransBodiesTransChoices content: translash.org/transbodiestranschoices
AUTHOR BIO Daniela “Dani” Capistrano (they/ them) is the founder & CEO of DCAP MEDIA LLC, an NGLCC Certified LGBTBE® Enterprise that leads digital & content strategy, audience development, brand consulting, and strategic partnerships for TransLash Media and other BIPOC and LGBTQIA-led nonprofits, B2Bs, and B2Cs. Dani is proud to be a latinx, queer, trans non-binary storyteller, entrepreneur, and coparent. Learn more about their latest initiative: Non-Binary Entrepreneurship with Daniela Capistrano, a podcast series that applies a nonbinary lens to startup ecosystems, unpacking the ways that transgender and cisgender founders innovate and collaborate. Learn more: nonbinaryentrepreneur.com
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MEET ME IN THE YES: Transition After Sexual Assault
BY DOMINIC BRADLEY (THEY/THEM)
Dominic Bradley decided to pursue gender-affirming surgery after considerable time distinguishing between body dysphoria, gender dysphoria, and assault trauma.
I am unapologetically non-binary. I am unapologetically a survivor of sexual violence. After considerable time distinguishing between
body dysphoria, gender dysphoria, and assault trauma, I decided to pursue gender-affirming surgery.
On August 30, 2021, about a year before my 40th birthday, I had a radical chest reduction. Prior to the big day I wrote in an online support group
“I need a place to put some difficult feelings. I’ve seen lots of posts about how amazing their surgeons and support teams were. I don’t think I will have that experience…I think I will feel good after it’s all said and done, but I’m already
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experiencing grief about the process not being particularly affirming.”
The first time I was assaulted my chest was involved. I froze. The psychiatric treatment I received afterwards made the bottom fall out of my appetite. My chest grew and grew. In a matter of months I was unrecognizable to myself.
I had made a couple of half-hearted attempts to pursue surgery, but I was stopped by money and insurance issues. Last year, I realized I deserved to inhabit the body I wanted to inhabit. I refused to go into my fourth decade of life with a body that caused me physical pain, did not reflect my gender identity, and served as an unwelcome reminder of what happened to me. I recall something I wrote pre-transition for a now-defunct online publication: “I deserve to modify my body as I see fit.” My transition goals are valid even if they are partially inspired by my SA history. People modify their bodies for all sorts of reasons including aesthetic reasons.
During this journey I was told that my transition goals were too permanent and that I would live with regret. Some people believed that I had not done enough healing work to make a clearheaded decision about this, and wondered if I might be able to make peace with my body without going under the knife. Many people, working from their own biases, mourned a grave for my femininity they’d dug themselves. I had to tune it all out. I wanted to be more open about how my survivorship played a role in my transition. I wish it wasn’t minimized or met with expressions of doubt.
Money, insurance, and backlash weren’t the only barriers. I have significant medical trauma, not only from the time of my assault, but also from subsequent psychiatric intervention that included forced drugging, and unfortunately, additional assault. Pursuing gender-affirming surgery can be a lengthy process that involves interacting with a number of different healthcare workers. Also, limitations imposed by my insurance led me to a surgeon who, while good at his craft, was not trauma-informed. I was thrust back into an environment that could
trigger feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, numbness, and fear, but I needed to maintain my momentum.
I remembered I could advocate for myself and used my past successes to encourage me.
When talking with the surgeon in my consultation, I stated I wanted to go down to a small A cup with no nipple grafts. This felt like the most authentic choice for me as a non-binary person. He paused, scrunched up his face, and asked me, “Wouldn’t that look weird?” I took a deep breath and reasserted myself. He was also fatphobic, but having seen beautiful post-op pictures of larger folks, I refused to be deterred. He eventually agreed to do what I asked.
READ THE REST OF THIS STORY ON TRANSLASH.ORG OR BY SCANNING THIS QR CODE.
AUTHOR BIO Dominic Cinnamon Bradley (The Johns Hopkins University BA | Columbia University MSW) is a Brooklyn-based Black, disabled, nonbinary artist reared in the crunk-era “Dirty South.” A former Roots. Wounds. Words. storyteller, Dominic writes primarily creative nonfiction. They are also a freelance sensitivity reader who has reviewed author manuscripts for various publishing houses. Dominic recently completed the inaugural RiseOut Activist-in-Residence Fellowship (2021) at The Center and focused on creating mental health resources for the LGBTQIA community. Currently, Dominic is an editor and disability justice reader for an upcoming book project on disability artistry. Dominic’s writing appears in such publications as Color Bloq, Rest for Resistance, HuffPost, and The Guardian.
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STREAMING TO BE DEMEANED: My Addiction to Gender-Affirming Misogyny
BY ALEX MASSE
While the misogynistic and sexually charged comments were uncomfortable, there was something oddly thrilling about the transphobic ones...these complete strangers had called my bluff. It felt electric.
I spent the first 20 years of my life trying really hard to be a girl—even if it seems the only person I ever fooled was myself.
Before I came out, my mother often told me my gender-neutral birth name had “worked out.” Strangers asked for my pronouns all the time, even before that was particularly common.
It frustrated me because I didn’t get it! I was giving womanhood my best shot, even as it grated and chafed against my very being. In fact, I gave my cis girl self a last hurrah back in 2019. I was dating a butch lesbian and more than happy to be their femme. I dressed up, experimented with my hair, and tried whatever makeup I could endure for half a day. I even wore lingerie! I wasn’t just “girl,” I was “girlfriend,” which inexplicably fit a lot better than the former.
Funny enough, this relationship reopened the long-repressed gender confusion I’d felt throughout my life. My butch ex-partner was a nonbinary lesbian and was the first person I’d met who identified that way in real life. Our conversations around gender led me to question my own. I only got about as far as experimenting with she/they pronouns before we broke up.
Then the pandemic hit.
All of a sudden, I was alone with my thoughts—and they were the worst possible company. Many of them had to do with hating the person I saw in the mirror. At the time, I thought I was just insecure, but in hindsight, it was textbook dysphoria. I impulsively chopped off the hair on my head, and let it grow wild everywhere else. If I wasn’t on a Zoom call, I paid little mind to what I wore. After all, nobody saw me, and I avoided looking at myself too hard.
A lot of this changed when, on a whim, I tried a new creative outlet: live streaming. It seemed pleasant enough—a way to socialize from home or with strangers from all over the world. As a musician and general fan of performing, the format of having my own virtual audience was also exciting.
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My intention wasn’t vain—I just missed the chemistry and connection.
I tried Instagram, Tiktok, and even Twitch a few times. The one I found the most success on though was Reddit. Success is a relative term, of course—I made about $12 total over a year’s worth of streams—but I had fun! For those not in the know, Reddit is an unconventional social media experience. It’s not about following people as much as it is following communities. These communities are called “subreddits.” So in a world where influencers dominate most other platforms, it stands out. There are few famous Redditors—but many famous “subs.”
Additionally, in 2020, Reddit launched RPAN. RPAN let anyone stream from their phone or computer with ease, and because of how Reddit works, you didn’t need a massive follower count to rack in views. I’d stream for an hour or two and get view counts in the tens of thousands. For the most part, these viewers were normal enough—they shared song requests and commented on my playing, that kind of thing.
However, I was a feminine-presenting person showing their face on the Internet. Specifically on Reddit, which spent a good deal of the late 2010s in hot water for being home to some major misogynist communities, among other things. The site even has a Wikipedia
page dedicated to its “controversial” communities past and present.
In short: the insults were inevitable.
A lot of it was outright misogyny. Men asked weird personal questions, demanded I take off my clothes, and called me a bitch when I didn’t humor them. As a flautist, blowjob jokes were especially common. Due to my androgynous appearance, many viewers dipped into outright transphobia.
“Howoldisit?”(I’d get called an “it” a lot.)
Transphobic slurs were also liberally hurled about—ones I don’t wish to repeat. To make it worse, after my streams, some men would berate me through direct messages. They would demand I shave and become a “real woman.”
While the misogynistic and sexually charged comments were uncomfortable, there was something oddly thrilling about the transphobic ones. I’d spent my whole life trying and failing to feel comfortable as a woman, and these complete strangers had called my bluff. It felt electric.
Soon, I was streaming on the regular, enduring “bad” insults to hear the “good”
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ones. I’d care less and less about my appearance, knowing it dragged in more insults, more people denying the womanhood I was too scared to deny on my own. When people asked, I’d say streaming was just a fun outlet and got me practicing my instruments, but that’s not the whole truth—I was addicted to how they interrogated my gender presentation.
Two major factors broke me out of this vicious cycle. First, the insults became more than mean comments. Strangers from Reddit would find my other social media accounts, or become unsettlingly sexually explicit in private messages. Grown men would rant about their pornography addictions, their insecurity surrounding their genitals, their fantasies about having sex with lesbians, and all kinds of things without my consent. I realized that while they didn’t really see me as a woman, they didn’t see me as a person, either.
Secondly, I reached out to my own support system. Despite my own confusion, I had plenty of out and proud trans friends by then. In fact, some of the first queer communities I found myself in were led by trans folks, and many of my childhood friends also ended up trans (which, in hindsight, should’ve told me something about myself).
Seeing trans people in my life explore their gender identities opened my eyes.
I watched them deal with dysphoria, and find healthy ways to express their euphoria. When I shared my own experiences they were not only understanding, but validating. They gently nudged me towards dealing with my discomfort and finding less dangerous ways of confronting it. Lighthearted avenues to my own euphoria came about as I played with my clothes, hair, and other kinds of presentation.
The last major catalyst though—of all things—was a meme. My friend tagged me in a silly picture about the “different types of nonbinary friends,” putting my name beside an illustration of a particularly androgynous fey creature. For some reason, that’s what made it click: this picture of a pretty, genderless being, and my name right next to it. I realized my gender didn’t have to be repressed any longer, and it wasn’t something to be ashamed of.
These days, I continue to prioritize joy in my gender journey, and the only validation I need is from myself. Femininity and I are back on good terms—I’m a nonbinary femme dyke, and couldn’t be happier. I also make art about my nonbinary experiences— Happy art! Funny art! The kind of art that I think could help kids who are as confused as I once was. If I can help at least one trans kid not hurt themself online, I’ll have done a good job. No trans person should have to find euphoria in cruelty. I deserved better—and so do you.
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AUTHOR BIO: Alex Masse, AKA Fairything, is a 21-year-old writer, musician, and student residing in what is colonially known as Vancouver, BC. The arts are a longtime love of theirs, and their work has been seen everywhere from the Scholastic Writing Awards to Vancouver Pride, as well as in collaboration with Penelope Scott, artsUNITE, She Does The City, and more. They’re also a neurodivergent nonbinary lesbian, which greatly affects their process.
When not writing, they’re making music, and when not making music, they’re writing. Occasionally though, they can be seen working on their Communication degree or cozied up with a good book.
Find them on Instagram and TikTok: @itsfairything
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HEALING SEPARATENESS THROUGH TRANSNESS AND DISABILITY
BY ST(EPHANIE)ANN, “STANN”, hey/hem/hez
I am a Two-Spirit trans person and I live with disabilities. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (Complex/ Dissociative subtype).
I have survived Lyme Disease, Endometriosis, police brutality, and two car accidents caused amy service dog, Elliott, and my mobility device, Rolo Tony. I own and operate a holistic health business as a Reiki Master, Teacher, and Intuitive Healer.
I have always been a healer of others in my life. I discovered I was Two-Spirit when I started learning more about my heritage. My father’s side of my family has roots in the Algonquin and Oneida territories, now known as the border between Canada and the United States, northeast of Lake Erie; the home of Great Lakes Indigenous People. In the early 1600s, French fur traders colonized Algonquin and Oneida land. They began taking cis women as wives to procreate their population and “kill the Indian.” This violence created a strict shift into the gender binary and removed Two-Spirit folks from their duties as medicine people and caretakers of their tribes. We were the mediums between the physical and spiritual worlds. We were
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trusted to communicate with the spirits that give us life on this planet and translate that information into useful action in our communities. This history informs my belief that trans people have incredible power. We navigate and investigate aspects of our lives that cis folks don’t bother to engage with. Today, our world is split into so many binaries beyond gender. Binaries can trick us into believing there are only two options. This happens in the healing community as well because the general consensus is that a path to healing is linear, predictable, and within a binary of “good” and “bad.” I feel it is my purpose to help folks free themselves from the separate nature of binaries (me vs you, us vs them) that cause us so much pain in our experiences of the world. Over time, my disabilities gave me another kind of insight into what it means to do this work.
I was an active kid growing up in rural New England. I went horseback riding, swimming,
and canoeing. I took ballet, gymnastics, and yoga. I played softball, hockey, and tennis. Quickly, it became obvious how different I was. Athletic environments hyperfocus on physical presence. My body made shapes that were considered “impossible” and performed beyond most expectations. I could do full splits on command and comfortably rotate my left shoulder 360 degrees in its socket. My ballet turnout looked inhuman; as if my feet were on the wrong ankles. The coaches were impressed. Peers were jealous or grossed out by my body.
Then I started getting injuries from hypermobile limbs, which is a characteristic of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. EDS is a genetic disease that affects the connective tissue of the body—mainly skin, joints, and blood vessel walls. My major issues are velvety skin that easily bruises or breaks, poor wound healing, elastic skin that stretches past limits of “normal” range, hyper-mobile joints,
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IMAGE: “WE’RE ALL LINKED IN THIS LIFE” BY LUMINOLA.
digestive issues, and frequent dislocations. If I spoke to an adult about the pain in my joints, I was immediately dismissed. You’re fine. You’re young. You do this all the time. You’re stronger than you think. Walk it off. It made no sense to the people around me that I could be so physically able but in so much pain. The doubt and distrust of my body were sewn early on. This was my life before puberty.
I got my period when I was fifteen during a sleepover. After teasing me about how “behind” I was, my friends celebrated, but I was miserable. I didn’t want to become a “woman”—whatever that meant—and I didn’t know how to articulate it without the risk of being doubted or ignored. I had little faith in the adults around me to provide the medical care and protection from harm that I needed.
That first period lasted an entire month. It was the worst pain of my life. I thought it would never stop. My legs would go numb and I’d be stuck in bed, but the adults in my life didn’t believe my pain. The school nurse got suspicious after seeing me multiple times in a month. Counselors got involved. They asked me if I was being abused by my parents because I was so sick all the time. A nurse even accused me of faking the pain to get out of class. Peers whispered around me that I just wanted attention. They thought I wanted people to “feel bad” for me for not having friends, my divorced parents, or my dad’s Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Teachers and school staff told me in counseling sessions that “it happens to all women” and that I would “get used to it.” Plus, they would assert—“don’t you want to have children someday?”
My body was a warzone. “Kids someday” was the body armor they tossed me. Soon, my mother recognized what was wrong. This was 2003, and endometriosis was not discussed openly, but she grew up with endometriosis
in the 1970s. Her parents and doctors didn’t believe her either. So, she believed me. She believed that my joints were swollen and achy. She believed that the bleeding just did not stop. When I asked her how to make it go away she said “pregnancy, childbirth, and a hysterectomy.” I decided I would get a hysterectomy when I turned eighteen. My mother never discouraged me. She simply held the space for us to be sad, grieve our losses, and try to care for ourselves through the process. The conversation felt like another initiation into a more exclusive club: life with a disability that no one could see and even fewer understood. It was meant to be a conversation about support and trust because she wanted me to be prepared for a future of being doubted.
This disability also directly impacts my gender and sexuality from a deeply rooted place. Those organs did not belong in my body. They did not function in my body. So my advocacy for a hysterectomy was not only gender-affirming care, it was lifesaving. I believe it was my responsibility to care for myself by having the procedure. It was my responsibility to the people in my life who never had a choice, my ancestors who were enslaved to procreate with the white colonizers, and their children born into that trauma. My hysterectomy was my way of breaking the chain of destruction in my lineage caused by the forced performance of colonial binary gender roles.
Looking back, I can see how witnessing and experiencing ableism prepared me for experiencing transphobia. Growing up with a visibly disabled person in our family showed me how horribly ableist society is to disabled people. My father came to as many of my school functions as possible. I found it fascinating (and gross) how threatened these able-bodied white people were by a man using a wheelchair. In school, I would hear
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Healing Separateness Through Transness and Disability
people whisper cripple, gimp, handicapped, sick, weak, and poor kids behind my back. Still, I always wanted him there. Ableism is directly based on someone’s arbitrary measurement of what a body should be. It’s based on the differences between a “good” body versus a “bad” body and all the gendered connotations that come with it. People equated my dad’s difficulty walking independently with being a weak man, and therefore associated it with being a bad father. After my mother’s hysterectomy, she struggled with what it meant to be a woman if she could no longer carry children. My mother, born early in the 1960s, was also teased for being a tomboy growing up. She said they called her queer and tranny because she wanted to wear jeans and climb trees. Ableism and transphobia harm everyone. The obsession with an imperfect binary limits our society as a whole. However, as a trans and disabled person, I am forced to navigate these constructs intimately. With that knowledge, part of my healing work is to help undo them entirely.
In 2020, I was at home, as most of us were. I started looking for support groups for trauma survivors, two-spirit folks, and disabled folks. My main source of information is Disability Twitter, Queer/Trans, and Two-Spirit Twitter. Through those communities, I was able to access support groups from all over the world where it was a guarantee I would be in the “room” with someone like me. The flood of voices, stories, and connections was pretty overwhelming at first. I made my Twitter account private, have no followers, and only use it as a resource tool for building community off the platform. I have found so many resources by us, for us that have helped me find freedom from the binary construct. Transness and disability are organic ways of existing between the polarities of the human condition. Life at the intersection requires creativity, resilience, and support from one another. We are the opposite of the
separateness that isolates us and tricks us into believing messages of unworthiness in our bodies. Our communities are our lifeblood. We take care of each other. We hold space for our struggles and we lift one another up in our successes. We exist without the approval or assistance of systems that seek to eliminate us. We speak out against our internal colonizers, ableists, and transphobes that formed as a result of living under these systems. Every disabled person’s joy and every trans person’s happiness is a direct action of dissent against white supremacy. Separateness is the illusion that drives this suffering. The reality is love and radical acceptance because it is what we, as humans, all desire.
Author bio: St(ephanie)Ann, “Stann”, hey/ hem/hez, was born in Connecticut on Leap Day. Hey is a disabled Two-Spirit musician, poet, and healer. Hey is the proud owner of Prism Wellness Works, a holistic health initiative based in the desert Southwest. Stann is a Reiki Master and Theta Healing ® practitioner working to return autonomy to the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Find hem online at prismwellnessworks.com
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SCAN THIS QR CODE TO WATCH STANN’S STORY IN OUR #TRANSBODIESTRANSCHOICES SHORT FILM SERIES: I DIDN’T THINK I’D MAKE IT.
TRANSLASH COMMUNITY OPPORTUNITIES
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Contribute YOUR story to
Be a contributing writer for News & Narrative, TransLash Media’s personal essay and journalism platform where you can find stories by transgender and gender non-conforming people that get to the heart of what what’s happening in our community— and the world around us. Scan this QR code or visit translash.org/newsandnarrative for examples of the writing we are looking for. If you have a story idea, send it to us with your contact information: translash.org/connect
#TransBodiesTransChoices, our film series and storytelling initiative centering the importance of reproductive justice for transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people through Trans Bodies, Trans Choices. What have you experienced navigating healthcare systems as a TGNC person seeking trans-affirming healthcare and/or an abortion? Share your story publicly or anonymously through our submission form. Anonymous stories will be shared on our social media channels, website, and in other media formats. If you provide your contact information, we will follow up to collaborate on the best way to share your story in 2023 and beyond. Scan the QR code below to access the form:
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TransLash Media tells trans stories to save trans lives. Want to get involved? Here are a few ways to collaborate with us.
Team TransLash would like to thank all of the contributors to this issue, as well as all of those who responded to our call for submissions with their art, poetry, and photography. Our team had such a difficult time making final selections; we appreciate everyone who shared their creativity with us! As with every issue, we made it a point to pay each contributor because we believe in paying TGNC creators for their labor. To support our cultural production, send us a tax-deductible gift today: translash.org/donate
TransLash Zine would not be possible without the support of many people. Team TransLash thanks @POCZineProject founder Daniela “Dani” Capistrano (they/them) for helping us launch our zine in 2019 and being editor-in-chief. Learn more about Dani by subscribing to their new podcast for intersectional entrepreneurs & allies fighting for trans rights: nonbinaryentrepreneur.com
We also want to thank Resistance Communications for helping us through their design talents, collaborating to bring Trans Bodies, Trans Choices to life.
Some of the contents in this zine was previously published on our News & Narrative platform that launched in Spring 2022; explore our website today for more stories by and for TGNC people: translash.org/newsandmarrative
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TRANSLASH ZINE VOL. 5 TRANS BODIES, TRANS CHOICES ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Averi Rose, Daniela “Dani” Capistrano, fei hernandez, Alex Petkanas, St(ephanie)Ann “Stann”, Dominic Cinnamon Bradley, and Alex Masse CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS Alina Wahab, kuwa jasiri Indomela, Ava Tuitt, and Jay Katara #TransBodiesTransChoices Q&A & Outfest participants featured in this zine: Cazembe Murphy Jackson and Jack Qu’emi Gutiérrez, Pidgeon Pagonis and River Gallo COVER ART Art Direction by Daniela “Dani” Capistrano and illustration by Ava Tuitt Special thanks to everyone else involved in the #TransBodiesTransChoices campaign. Learn more: translash.org/ transbodiestranschoices Design for this issue by Resistance Communications: resistancecommunications.com TransLash Media is the publisher of TransLash Zine. Read digital versions of every issue for free and purchase print editions as single or bulk orders for your organization to support our contributing writers and artists: translash.org/zine
TRANSLASH ZINE VOL. 5 Trans Bodies,Trans Choices is dedicated to all the brave TGNC folks who shared their bodily autonomy and reproductive justice stories—including abortion—with us in 2022 and beyond. We hope you enjoyed this special issue of TransLash Zine, a collaboration with POC Zine Project. To learn more about how to access print editions of this issue and past issues, visit translash.org/zine TRANSLASH ZINE Copyright © 2022 TransLash Media. All rights reserved. This zine or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever for commercial use without the express written permission of the publisher, TransLash Media. TransLash Media tells trans stories to save trans lives.