September 24, 2021 / Leave a comment
From What If to What Next: Episode Thirty One
This is such an incredible episode. One of those ones I had to go off and sit under a tree afterwards to absorb. Today we talk about gender. I grew up in a society that thought in terms of two genders, you were male or you were female. This was accompanied by expectations that men behaved in ways that were ‘masculine’, and women in ways seen as being ‘feminine’… If you were someone who didn’t identify as either, or someone who challenged society’s expectations of what being masculine or feminine meant, it was a bleak time. And in many cultures, far bleaker still, indeed very dangerous.
Some cultures recognise a ‘third’ gender, but what would it be like if we were to see gender instead as a spectrum, and where you choose to place yourself on that spectrum is up to you, and can change as often as you like? What if society accommodated, supported, nurtured even, such a degree of fluidity? What if everyone could be who they wanted to be, to define themselves however they wanted to, and the kind of abuse so many LGBTQI+ people experience was instead replaced by a culture that valued people wherever they are across the spectrum. What wonders might such an approach unlock in our culture?
Syd Yang is the Senior Advisor for Healing Justice and Wellness at Movement Voter Project. Syd’s work finds its resonance in the stories we each hold at the intersection of memory, body, sexuality and mental health. Syd works primarily with queer and trans BIPOC individuals as well as regularly leads workshops, community healing circles and has been a group facilitator for over two decades, with a specific focus on grief, healing ancestral trauma, sexuality + spirituality, body liberation and eating disorder recovery.
Mahfam Malek has held many roles in justice movements over the years, including facilitator, somatic coach, non-profit staff of many stripes, social justice-oriented stand-up comic, direct-action and cultural organizer, environmental educator, and more. In addition to training, facilitating, and coaching, they write, organize with a group of abolitionist diasporic Iranians, hang out with their dog, and chat on the phone nearly daily about absolutely nothing with their parents. They are also the Training and Operations Director at the Chicago Torture Justice Center.
I really hope you find something very special in this discussion. My thanks to Syd and Mahfam, and also to you for supporting what we do here, and Ben Addicott, who so beautifully records, edits, produces and embellishes these podcasts. See you next time.