Nov. 10, 2021

S3E11 (Eli Lawliet/The Gender Doula)

S3E11 (Eli Lawliet/The Gender Doula)

Eric and Gil were honored to be joined by Eli Lawliet, The Gender Doula.  Eli shared a lot and taught us a lot about his work within the Trans community.  For more information, visit:

website
Instagram
TikTok

Upcoming Events

Transcript
Eric:

Hello and welcome to the Q lounge, I'm Eric

Gil:

and I'm Gil.

Eric:

join us as we discuss news stories and life situations, as they relate to the LGBTQIA plus experience, please visit us at theQloungepodcast.com and hit that subscribe button or listen wherever you get your podcasts. If you would like to follow us on social media, you can hit us up on Facebook @theQloungepodcast or on Instagram or Twitter @theQlounge. Hello and welcome to the Q lounge. I'm Eric

Gil:

and I'm Gil.

Eric:

And today we are super excited to be joined by Eli Lawliet, gender doula. How are you doing?

Eli:

Hi. I'm doing good.

Eric:

That's good to hear. Thank you so much for joining us. Yes,

Eli:

I'm super excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Eric:

Oh, you're welcome. I love your shirt

Eli:

by the way. I would thank you. It says protect trans kids. Love that shirt.

Eric:

That's awesome.

Eli:

That's great.

Eric:

What is a gender doula just? So our listeners know, I know we'll probably get into more detail later on in the podcast, but just to give us like a quick rough synopsis really quickly before we go into it.

Eli:

Sure. So that's a really good question. Basically I am creating this from scratch. But my elevator pitch for the work that I do is that I provide full spectrum support to folks who are questioning, exploring, or transitioning their gender. And I can also provide support to loved ones and family members as well.

Eric:

Oh, that's awesome. I love that. That's beautiful.

Eli:

Thank you.

Eric:

So how's life treating you in a COVID kind of world.

Eli:

It's a million dollar question. What's wild is like during the pandemic, I have been like writing a dissertation and starting a business. So it's been a little bit intense, and I think that actually, what I feel has been most interesting is I feel like. I've gone really deep and learned like some really intense lessons during this time about like grief and rest and integration and processing. And and it's I've been going through all this and then it'll come up with the folks that I work with. And then I'm like, oh, good thing. I've been like heavy processing this for two months now, because now I have five clients going through the exact same, series of emotions and I feel more equipped to help them process and hold space for them. And so I was spend like a really deep an interesting and unique time, not always great, but I definitely feel like I'm learning a lot. Oh, that's good.

Eric:

It sounds like you were busy though, to

Eli:

just do doing a few things here and there

Eric:

just one or two every so often.

Eli:

Yeah. When I have time,

Gil:

so when did you realize you were a part of the LGBTQ community?

Eli:

Yeah, that's such a good question. I feel like it was a rough ride because, so I grew up in Missouri and like small town Missouri I was born in Oklahoma and my family was extremely conservative Christian. But like we've been Christian for generations. You had ancestors burned at the stake type. Christian. Oh, damn. Yeah. And so there was no like visible queerness in my family and it wasn't really something that I was allowed to know about, I think in many ways. And for example, my aunt is actually gay and I wasn't allowed to know her like my whole life. And I was just told she made bad life choices. So I assumed she was a sex worker actually in the Bible. That's like the only bad woman, stereotypes. So I was like, oh no. And then I found out she was just a lesbian and I was like, oh my God, I can't believe all these years. I couldn't talk to her. But anyways, so it actually, like I found, I understood that queerness was a thing that existed starting in about high school. And I had friends that came out and I didn't I didn't really identify myself as queer in that time. But then when I was in my early twenties, I was like tootling around a library in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I found a gender theory book. And I was like what's this? And boy, that lit me on fire. I was like, oh, wow. And I, again though, like I didn't identify that. Like I was like, oh, this is all very fascinating. And for some reason I am extremely drawn to it. But I didn't really think oh, I'm actually a trans person. And it took me quite a few years between that point. So that was when I was probably, I think like 22 or 23. And then I came out as non-binary I think when I was about 26. And then I actually medically transitioned starting when I was 29. So in all those years it was me grappling with a lot of not trans enough feelings, a lot of insecurity, a lot of oh, maybe I just hate women. Because I had a lot of gender based trauma from my childhood and, I really had a lot that I had to process and work through. And I honestly, I think that's part of what led me to the work I'm doing now, because it would have been helpful to have somebody be like, Hey, you're not crazy on that journey. And yeah, so w but actually what happened for me is that I realized I was. Queer in some way before, and then I like realized I was trans and then I realized that I was actually like gay and male identified, but it was like a weird sort of trajectory. Cause it was my very confused. I am queer. I've never been attracted to a woman in my whole life, but I'm definitely queer, and then I was like, wait, how am I? What is this? And then I'll, I'm not a woman. And that's I had to then come to terms with what my gender identity was before I could figure out what flavor of LGBTQ plus I was, that is a journey that is

Gil:

wonderful.

Eli:

It was quite a journey

Gil:

it's like before I turned 30, I

Eli:

slid right under the 30 mark. We'd like starting testosterone

Gil:

at 29. I made it, how did your family take it?

Eli:

Badly,

Gil:

I didn't want toassume anything, but,

Eli:

Okay. So to be completely fair. So I have two brothers and a younger sibling and my younger sibling also identifies as trans non-binary and trans masculine. And they're also queer. So out of four there's two of us that are trans and queer and I, my siblings, for the most part, we're all really great about it. And we were all pretty close. I don't have contact with my father and my mom really struggled. And because I had already had the experience of cutting a parent out I didn't want to do that. Get my reasons for cutting my dad that were extremely robust, but for my mom, it's I knew she loved me. And even though she was having a very bad reaction and a very hurtful reaction to my identity. It was like underneath all that. I knew she loved me and it took quite a few years. Even still it's something that's still being negotiated actively in our relationship. But she has made a lot of progress and yeah.

Gil:

Are you still dealing with any personal struggles from your, from there? I guess your still in your. 20 still, it's already less likely like struggles you're dealing with like demons and

Eli:

stuff like that. No, I'm 30 or 35 now. And again, I'm the oldest one in here. Yeah, so struggles and demons. I think, honestly at this point, I'm definitely, I would say I'm definitely still deep in the healing journey from my trauma which is like life spanning, various and sundry things. But I don't have any demons with regard to my queer trans identity. I think there was a lot of internalized transphobia that I had to deal with. More so than homophobia when I was earlier in my journey. But really over the years, I've just come to be so in love with transness and trans people. And I've come to see so much of what being trans gives us as like super powers and like advantages in this world. And more than anything, it makes me really sad that so many CIS people don't avail themselves of the knowledge and experience and awareness and spirituality of trans people. Cause it's we got a lot of shit that would help you all out, but people are just over there being like super transphobic and it's you can go over there and be transphobic, but like you're really missing out. Like these are some incredible people and yeah, I love that.

Eric:

What do you do to deal with any struggles that you do have or anything like that? Or how did you deal with getting over your transphobia?

Eli:

Yeah, that's a great question. I've been in therapy for quite a few years. That's definitely helpful.

Eric:

I love therapy. I miss having a therapist. So I'm like super pro therapy.

Yes,

Eli:

absolutely. We are pro therapy in this house. Yes. But I have a really wonderful therapist and she does, she's very specialized in trauma and she's used quite a different quite a few different modalities to help me. And, I, a lot of it, I consider it to be lifelong work. But as stuff I'm consistently working toward, I think another big part for me is Like my spiritual practice. And so there was a lot of, like I mentioned, my family is conservative Christian, and so I was very actively rejected all spirituality for quite awhile. And then in grad school, I hit a wall with chronic illness and exhaustion. And I had to have something, that was more than what I was getting. And I developed. I think I started out by just being like, you know what, I just have a queer spirituality and that is what it is. And then over time I got into tarot, I'm a tarot reader. Yeah. And that's really been a huge. Cornerstone of my practice. And I actually use tarot with my clients a lot, and that's also been very beautiful as part of my gender doula practice. And just various, I really, at this point I really like to connect with nature. And I like to just really lean into like nature and my intuition and like a ritual and meditation and these different ways of regulating the nervous system and maybe getting in touch with what I call my guides or, source or whatever you want to refer to it as. That's just been a really huge part of me healing, a lot of my trauma and dealing with the stuff that's really played to me when I was younger.

Eric:

Okay, that's great. I think nature is absolutely healing. It's one of the most healing things I think out there in grad school seems to have that. What's the word I'm looking for? I don't want to say ability, but it seems to have that knack of giving you a bunch of chronic illness and stress and exhaustion. I, while I was in grad school working on my ma when I was working on my master's, I ended up getting really sick and actually almost got dropped from the program because I had to miss so many weeks of school, but luckily I was like, High enough level student that they're like, no, we'll keep them in. So yeah, I I had the same kind of thing when I was working for my masters and I was like, oh no,

Eli:

Yeah, it's really severe. I think that a lot of folks who go to grad school are high achieving and deeply motivated by external validation. And

Gil:

I'm

Eric:

like, wow, you're just like reading me out. Like

Gil:

we're in the library

Eric:

right now. We're going to read Eric up and down and highlight

Gil:

all the passages.

Eli:

But yeah, definitely me too. And I think when I was an undergrad, I was pushing myself extremely hard, much more than. Any person ever should. And when I thought that I could use all those same tools and really like bad approaches, I don't want to say bad, but like really not respectful to myself, approaches to work. And then I got to grad school and it was just like, oh, no, like this is beyond anything you've ever dealt with before. And I was like head first into a brick wall after one semester just in terms of my health. And it was very challenging and I had to take some very extreme sort of measures to get myself back on track. So lots of empathy for anyone who goes through that process. Yeah. Are you

Gil:

finished, are you still working on your.

Eli:

Hopefully my advisor's not going to listen to this. I am still working on my PhD. I'm writing my dissertation. I won't touch it in a couple months, awesome.

Gil:

Awesome.

Eli:

So we'll just see what happens. What is your focus? So my focus is actually on the just a little bit of backstory for trans folks when they want to change their name or gender on their identification, or when they're trying to seek hormones or surgery. In both instances, they're required to get a letter from a mental health care professional. Basically certifying this person is actually trans. And this letter is very contested, right? It's there's been like a lot of literature that sort of says Hey, this really isn't ethical. And should we have it? Should we not? And I was looking and writing about it academically. And I was like why do we have, if it's been around since the first iteration of the standards of care for trans people why? There was no answer. Yeah, there's no research on it. There was no nothing, there was no citation for it. So I was like, okay, cool. I guess that's my dissertation. So basically I trace the start of the letter back to 1910 Germany. Yeah. And then it crosses the Atlantic and becomes enshrined into American transgender medicine and tracing it up to the point where it is formalized into the first standards of care. That's my dissertation.

Eric:

Oh, wow. Thanks. You're your, was it your advisor? Probably isn't listening. We have seven listeners. So in the room and his husband is also one of them. And although he's not in the room, so we're just kidding to all, our listeners. I know.

Eli:

You're like it's okay. I know there's really 20 of you guys.

Eric:

I think you hit the number right on the head. Actually. Did you have any struggles accepting yourself in your queerness?

Eli:

Yeah, I really did. I think that I really thought that I was just traumatized and that, that's why I was the way that I was. And so I had that sort of struggle. And then I also had the And this is a really common thing. Actually. I found him on a lot of trans people where I thought that I was just like fetishizing, queer and trans people. For a long time, I was like, oh why am I so interested in this? I guess I'm just like a horrible, disgusting fetishizer, instead of thinking maybe I'm interested in this because it's reflecting me, and like appealing to an authentic part of myself. And I think that, unfortunately because of the type of, childhood trauma that I suffered, my self esteem was very low and I was much more likely to think of myself as like a villain or like a bad person than to think of myself as a person who genuinely had good intentions and wasn't trying to hurt anyone. So it took me quite a while to like process through that and. Even be able to accept the fact that it was okay for me to be interested in the world of queer and trans people. And it didn't mean that I was like a fetishizest. Okay.

Gil:

What are some lessons that you've learned so far through your journey?

Eli:

So many things I'm like because I'm a super nerd. So when I started like questioning all these things, nerds are like,

Eric:

I just have to say nerds are like super hot.

Eli:

I

Gil:

know.

Eli:

But yeah, it was like, oh God, I have all these questions, I guess I'll go get a degree. I went back to school while I was in school. Like I had decided to go back to school 26 and then I just kept being drawn into doing research about trans and queer topics. And so when I transferred to transfer to UCLA for my undergrad and I was like, oh I'll go into gender studies. So I ended up getting a whole degree in gender studies and LGBTQ studies and I think. So it's really hard for me almost even delineate all the lessons I've learned. Cause there's like the whole world of academic things I've learned and there's no whole world of like spiritual things I've learned and like social things. And but I think, I guess if I had to pick like one of my favorite. Pet lessons that I've learned from this journey. It would probably be that in my opinion, like queer and trans people because we exist outside of the mores of the over culture, I feel like we have access to almost like behind the scenes of. The world. Like I feel like I just made a tic talk about this actually yesterday that like we exist on multiple timelines of trans people, especially. Professor grace library from Berkeley at one point I read something that she wrote, which said that trans people have multiple ages. Cause you have the age you've been on this world in years, and then you have the age you've been since you transitioned. So there can be people who are much younger than you in years who are much older than you in trans years and who are like, taking a parental role and helping you transition. And there's many other ways that sort of expresses. And so I almost feel and many people have talked about with queer people, how often we experience our adolescents, like later in life. Or like we reaccess our childhood later in life and things like that. And I think that just in, in terms of time, it's like. Instead of seeing that as something that sets us apart in a negative way, I like to see it as one of our superpowers, that we can exist in these different timelines and that we can see through the maybe what most people would be like, oh, that's not real. Or that they would even, or maybe even not even know how to look. It's like we can peek through the curtains of the world and these like really beautiful ways. And I think that's there's so much to learn from that.

Eric:

What do you think we could do better as a community, as a society? Sorry. And then also in the LGBTQ community, I know that's a loaded question and it's two parts.

Eli:

It's on my face. I think like one of the biggest things in society cause when it comes to society, it's to what extent can we break it and burn it and make something new? Because ultimately it all needs to be redone. Ooh, it's a mess. But I think that if there was like, one thing that I could, if someone was like, okay, there's one like policy that you could make happen immediately? It would definitely be single payer healthcare. Because I look at like the health disparities among different communities, especially communities of color and in the trans community that just gets even more intensified. So you have white trans people not doing so great, but then you have like black and indigenous trans people, especially trans women. And it's just like a completely orders of magnitude difference of like violence, and just even having access to like good. Free health care could make a world of difference for so many people on so many levels. And I think that just that one change could have such a tremendous impact. So if I was just going to pick like one big change that I could make to like the current system, that would be the one. But I think as far as the queer community, I love our community deeply. And also I think that this community has consistently made the error of deprioritizing the most marginalized. And, that's a huge mistake because now you see, I don't know if you guys heard other recent trans lash podcasts, their series, a the anti-trans hate machine.

Eric:

I have not, but we will definitely check

Eli:

that out. Yeah. Highly recommend it. But basically they talk about how the right wing is using the misconceptions around the trans community. And people's transphobia to. Push an agenda of essentially creating loopholes and laws via religious discrimination court cases. And because it's, we're such a small community, trans people, and we're, most people don't know that they know trans people, and so it's very easy for this misinformation to get passed around and for people to believe all these lies. And then they whip people up into hysteria oh, they're doing surgeries on children, and stuff like that, but because they use those things to get people whipped up, then people will vote like in ways that actually end up undermining our whole democracy. And I think that if the queer community cause the actual, the full LGBT, et cetera, everything community, especially, white affluent gay people CIS people have a lot of capital and power in this world. And. Taking the care to really center the needs of like disabled, black and brown trans people. Then we would have a much different, I think, world in terms of how the funding gets spread around for nonprofits and how different lobbies go to Capitol hill and all that various and Sumner things. So I think it was really a mistake to prioritize our most marginalized members.

Eric:

I agree. And that's because of our most marginalized members that we have a lot of the rights that we have

Eli:

and exactly.

Eric:

What do you think of what's the importance of pronouns?

Eli:

Oh, yeah, the importance of pronouns. So like really the importance of pronouns, can't, overstate, overstated. I think it's one of those things where it's if somebody came up to you on the street and they were like, Hey, you can do one thing and it's super easy. And if you do it, somebody won't kill themselves. Are you going to do it? You'd be like, yeah, probably gonna do it. Cause I'm not a jackass. Like that's basically the question of pronouns, it's like folks have, a basic human dignity, and part of our basic human dignity is that we have a right to determine how we want to be referred to. And when folks can't even be bothered to, to respect the most basic of your human dignity, it really leaves you feeling like trash. And, we all know that there is a very high rates of suicide in the trans community. It's been extremely well established in the data. And a lot of that is because of simple things like people, You can hear yourself. Mis-gendered a certain number of times and not feel it, but eventually it's like death by a thousand cuts and it can be so painful. And I think if people realized how much of a difference they could make by just putting in that little bit of extra effort to make sure they're referring to someone correctly, then I think most people would do it. But I think a lot of people just don't understand how much of a big deal it is. But it really, it's it can't be overstated. It's a huge deal. And it's just really a very small and simple way that you can show someone that Hey, I see that you have dignity as a human being.

Eric:

What do you think about when, if someone was to ask another person what their preferred pronouns are, and they're met with hostility. 'cause I've had a few people contact me and asked me about that. Oh, I asked this person and they were extremely upset with me that I would even ask that. And it threw me back. Cause I'm used to, I w I would be really happy that someone you would take that care in that respect to ask.

Eli:

Yep. Yeah. It's funny because we're in a world where things are changing really rapidly and folks don't always know, even the vernacular is changing so quickly that sometimes folks will. There's even within the trans community, there's always cyclical discourse. Like we have the same five fights over and over again. And one of them is always about vernacular, right? What's okay to call yourself. What's not okay. Et cetera. So I understand like some, sometimes people. They think okay, I'm doing it right. And then somebody gets mad oh shit, I did it wrong. So I think that, ultimately you can always ask someone, Hey, what are your pronouns? I would say, if you don't ask everyone you meet, then I would, encourage you to interrogate that. If you're only asking people, because you find them to be visibly trans, then that could be insulting. If someone's just watching you meet seven people, and then you're the only person that gets asked about your pronouns, like that can feel really confronting. Yeah. So that could be one reason why someone would get upset. Another reason is I'm sure you've heard these well, I don't know. There's been a sound bite going around on social media of a hysterical like person, parent. Child's school meeting. Be like my child came home in tears because they thought their parent or their teacher was going to call them a they/them or something. And it's okay. I know sometimes it's just a little bit of an overreaction. And if that's the case, whatever people are gonna have their weird reactions to them. But I would say as long as you are being equitable about asking pronouns, as long as, You are having the best intentions when you ask. And also I would encourage you to just ask people pronouns and not use the word preferred unless the person gives you multiple. If someone says, oh, I use she and they, you can say, oh, is there one that you prefer? Okay, gotcha. That would be like a time when preferred would be like a great word to use. Otherwise it might come across as it can come across as patronizing to say preferred. Yeah. And so there's, those are some things I would think, but ultimately, people sometimes take things wrong, they get mad. It's okay. We're all just human, we're just trying our best.

Gil:

So what's your opinion on allyship and what makes a good.

Eli:

That's a good question. I struggle with this personally because I'm a white person and I pretty much always pass as male. And I have a lot of privilege because of that. And so I tried my best to live in such a way that I could be recognized as an ally to communities that are marginalized in any way in disability, race et cetera. And I think that. Really what it comes down to when it comes down to a word like allyship, is that it's not something you can give yourself. Like it's not a title that you can give yourself. But you can always be asking yourself what more could I be doing? To be an ally or sometimes people use the word accomplice or, there's various terms, but to support a community that I'm not a part of, but that I care about. And I just think ultimately, if you're always asking yourself, what more could I be doing? Is there, could I be giving more money? Could I be spending more of my time on this? Could I be learning more about this? Could I be reading more books? Could I be uplifting this content through what I choose to put on my social media feeds? There endless ways that you can Make that happen. And I think the, ultimately if you are doing your best and it's coming from a genuine desire in your heart to help people the that's great. And we always need more of that in this world.

Eric:

Yeah, absolutely. I agree with that. What's your opinion on representation like in Hollywood and like social media and all that others.

Eli:

Yeah, I think representation is complicated for trans people. There's been, so we had, I don't know if you guys remember back in, I think it was 2014 where Laverne Cox was put on the cover of time and it was like the transgender tipping point, and everybody was all excited because there was like three trans people on TV or at the time or something. And that was a beautiful moment, obviously. We love Laverne Cox, and I want her to get all her flowers, but it had this double-edged effect where it's first of all, people felt at that point oh, okay. So there's a lot of trans representation when there really wasn't no. And B that all of a sudden it made a certain level of hyper visibility for trans people where, folks that may not have been clocked as being trans before were suddenly being clocked as being trans. And it also, I think, created the conditions for there now to be all these, bathroom bills and supports bills and stuff, because we became a political football. By being visible and controversial, and so it's so on the one hand, I'm like, I would like every piece of media that exists to be all about queer and trans people. I think straight people have had enough and I think they can, rest for awhile and we can have our time or like a really want to see more like queer, like romcoms. And I would really love to see movies that are about queer and trans joy and that have Naria hate crime and the whole, 90 minute running time, if we could just have one where nobody has like the moment of like angst, like I would love that because yeah, like things suck sometimes, but also there's a lot of beauty and joy and incredible. I don't know, just wonderfulness and being a queer trans person and why we don't, we never see that. It's always everybody's happy. And now your boyfriend's dead, like

Gil:

we've seen that film many times, so

Eli:

many times, and then you're like cry. It's gotten to a point where folks will come to me in the week. Oh, have you seen. Such and such queer trans show that is very popular at the moment. And nine times out of 10, I haven't, because I'm just so tired of crying about queer and trans people shows, so anyways, all that to say that I want infinite representation across every platform and every media type of queer and trans people, I want queer and trans actors to be hired and paid, and and writers, I think that there are so many beautiful things that can happen when we make media that's us for us. And also like I have to recognize the complications of being thrust into the spotlight when it has made us into a political football for all of these Republicans. Yeah. Yeah. It's nicely put

Gil:

D on a lighter note. Do you have a favorite. For within the cinema

Eli:

within the whole of cinema, the whole of our LGBT

Gil:

genre.

Eli:

Oh gosh. Oh my gosh. A favorite movie. I don't know. That's such a good day survived.

Gil:

Actually, like this is an oldie,

Eli:

but like I was recently watching to Wong. Foo was the moment when they're throwing the scarves around the bedroom and it's like literal, queer magic. It is

Gil:

I would say this is so beautiful. Like it made

Eli:

me tear up because first of all, I'm a huge crybaby. Second of all just see. Depict, even though, obviously we can talk about like the actors that shows or whatever dah, but like the movie itself is beautiful and like that scene with the magic and how they decorate the bedroom just, and make it so queer. And so then like throwing scarves around Ugh, it just, it like warms my little heart,

Gil:

Good choice.

Eric:

What is your opinion on pride and the commercialization of it? And is it important to still have it? Why or why not?

Eli:

Oh, it's such a good question. I definitely believe that it's important to have it. I do wish that we could have pride with no corporations and no cops. I think that would be ideal. The corporations. I do think that there's some room for nuance there. For example, if you go back and look at like the first corporations that supported queer people, like Subaru, for example there's this sort of like really beautiful story of Subaru doing market research and being like, oh my God, lesbians love us. And and then deciding that they were going to market to lesbians and and they were like the first, I think the first or one of the first companies ever marketed to, gay people. And, so I have some respect and some love for that. Cause I'm like, okay, like if that was a bold choice, like in the nineties or whatever, when they did it, especially when we're like just like climbing our way out of the worst of the aids epidemic and stuff like that, it was not a popular time to align yourself with anything gay. And so I have some respect for that, but now when you go and you see these people who like, if you look up their donations, they're like actively donating to hate groups, like literal hate groups that have been, shown by the Southern poverty law center to be hateful against LGBT people, specifically other, they have the audacity to slap a rainbow on their product and like March a bunch of half naked twinks in the pride parade. And it's look like you don't get to do both. If you want to divest from all of those. People that you're giving money to, and the people that are killing the environment and the wars and everything else and the prisons and all the stuff that you shouldn't be supporting. And then you want to put a rainbow on your, like vodka or whatever, and come to pride okay. Maybe, but if you're going to be actively harming our community and then like marching in our parade like that, doesn't vibe with me now. And it's for cops. Like you just no mistake. You don't vibe unless

Gil:

part of the village people or something like that. Then I'm like up week here in San Francisco and I'm just like, oh, bless it. The uniforms, all the uniforms are beautiful. I'm just like, hi, every one discount for everyone.

Eric:

If I was there, I'd probably be like laying in the splits.

Eli:

I'm ready

Eric:

and unhinged the jaw.

Gil:

So can you dig into your profession then the, what you are doing and how you're changing? The landscape since you're are pretty much the you're. What is it? You're the first correct

Eli:

in your world? So basically around the time that I got the idea to do this, I, of course, as one does immediately looked at genderdoula.com and there was no website there. And I was like, sweet. I'll save that. Soon. And then two weeks later, I came back to reserve it and somebody had the website and I was like, so I was super pumped because I was like, I'm not the only one I emailed that person. And actually we've talked and we're buddies now. So that's been cool. There's been a few people since I started doing this, who've contacted me and said, Hey, I'm doing something like, you know what, you're describing your services as is it okay with you if I use this, wording, gender doula. And what I always tell people, I was like, look like I laid no claim to the phrase, gender doula. I don't want anybody else to be taking my branding, which is as the gender doula, like my logo and stuff. Yeah. Calling yourself, a gender doula is totally okay. In my ideal world, there's like thousands of gender doulas. And when we're all linked and we all work together and it's beautiful, like that's the world that I want. But I was definitely one of the first people that like started using that phrase. If the website thing is any indication and I know I came up with that because what basically what happened was I was listening to a podcast. And it was my tarot teacher's podcast. And she had a full spectrum of birth doula on named Erica Livingston. And Erica was like, at one point in the podcast said I believe that we need a doula for every threshold of life. And it was like lightening. I was like, oh my God. And at the time I was thinking, oh, we need trans doulas. And then I was like that's a cute idea for a person who isn't me to do. Cause I was in my second year of grad school, I just applied to law school. And I had this whole thing going on. And then, as I mentioned before, I was in this deep, like healing process after this chronic illness scare and every time that I was really like connecting with my body, the only thing that I could think of. Be a gender doula, internal voice. I was like, you have to gender Dilla, gender doula. And I was like, finally, I was like, I think I'm going to do this. I think I'm actually, so I turned down law school and I decided to do this. And that was the best decision I've ever made. I think probably in my whole life since law school. But basically I contacted Erica Livingston, the doula from the podcast and I was like, oh my God, I had this idea of help. And she was like, like I have no clue, but you can come and be in our mentorship. She and her business partner, Laura Interlandi, they have a business called Birdsong. Business and they mentor doulas. And so I've done two rounds of mentorship with them now. Which is a really good, I think that was a really good addition to like my academic work, because it gave me the more soft skills side, I guess I needed. And yeah, so that was how I like came up with the idea. And then as I've started doing it, I've had many people express interest in doing similar work, but I tell them, I am planning on doing mentorship at some point, but right now, like I'm still working through, what is this profession? What does it look like? How do I do it? I'm sure other people will do it in beautiful, different ways and I'm totally here for it. But I don't have the capacity to mentor people until I've gotten to just a different place with it. And so I'm still very much in the. I would say, like building phase of this business and I'm learning new things all the time and it's amazing. And I've just been bowled over and totally in love with every minute of it. And, I don't blame people for wanting to do it, but you have to commit to being like a groundbreaker if you're going to do it, because I constantly have to tell people who I am and what I do.

Eric:

So what kind of services do you offer?

Eli:

Yeah, that's a really good question because it's such a broad range of services. And one of the things about other types of doulas for example, if you're a birth doula, there's a pretty specific. Timeframe, You're there for them. And then there's other doulas that have modeled a more broad, so like postpartum doulas, for example can work with someone at any point after they have had children. And for any amount of time lingo it just depends on what their needs are around support. And so seeing these different models and then there's also like end of life doulas. So seeing these different models, I was like, okay, like the main thing here is that you're giving support the type of support that trans people need varies wildly depending on the individual. So what I offer sometimes looks like, Hey, we're going to sit here and talk for an hour every other week, and I'm going to give you advice or exercises or homework questions, or, or sometimes we're just going to talk. So I'm just going to be like, Explore this grief that you have, or Hey, actually you're not crazy, or you are trans enough things like that. Sometimes it's like today literally me calling the hospital and being like, hi, do you have experience treating transgender people? Because that takes the burden off of my client to call them and make a really scary phone call. That for me is like really easy to make because I, it's not my personal, hospital. And sometimes it's like I have clients that are strictly fashion where I go and help them pick out a whole new wardrobe so that they can have a more gender affirming wardrobe and give them advice like, Hey, if you're used to wearing women's sizes, this. Some things to look forward to find men's clothes it'll fit you well, or vice versa. If you're used to wearing men's sizes, like here's how to look for women's clothes. And so that can be a part of my work. Working with parents it can be and partners can be a part of my work, who are like processing and sometimes struggling. And sometimes. Sometimes just need to run things by someone that isn't the person in their life who's transitioning. So I do that work. I also help people by creating rituals. So sometimes if someone's getting ready to do a surgery or to start hormones, we'll create rituals for them to honor their journey up to that point and then move into this new leg of their journey. Or sometimes I do grief rituals. If someone is grieving, maybe something that they didn't have access to at a younger age or a part of their transition that didn't feel right to them, different there's different sort of things where rituals come in as like helpful ways to really honor someone's experience and allow them to fully express themselves so they can continue to move forward on their path. And oh, and I also do I'm starting to do these HRT, so hormone replacement, therapy, Q and a sessions. And yeah, so people can come in and I give a presentation about hormone therapy and then they get to ask all their questions and it's very judgment free sliding scale. And then I'll be in the future doing classes and also offering different digital products. I currently have something I call it toolkit for the mis-gendered where folks can use it to energetically shield from being mis-gendered and also our ritual to wash away the negative energy of having been mis-gendered. So all of these things are in the wheelhouse of what I provide and I imagine there will be many things that I haven't even done yet that folks will need. So yeah, it's very individual. Yeah. That's

Gil:

so awesome. It's so tailored down to the person and they could be with you pretty much from now through death. Ready to go. And it's so nice. It's really cool. What is the best way for our listeners to get ahold of you or

Eli:

in context? Yeah. I have, my website is thegenderdoula.com and my email is hello@thegenderdoula.com. So I'm pretty easy. I love that. And then all of my social media is just the gender doula. So I make a lot of tiktoks. I'm on Instagram. I despise Twitter. I try so hard, but I just can't Twitter. So I'm on there, but just like only barely, I think I have 10 followers. And I do have a Facebook page, but I always feel a little like 90 years old when I update it. The main platforms are Instagram and tiktok. Okay,

Gil:

perfect. We'll attach it as well. Show notes. I say we as in Eric's going to attach it. Oh my goodness.

Eli:

Do you have any opinion

Gil:

or what would you, what advice would you give your younger self now that you've gone into your journey? You've, obviously you'll still could keep going, but is there anything that you would tell yourself now to when you look back

Eli:

with kinder eyes, that's such a good question. So I'm a Taurus and I generally like my life

Eric:

was born 11 minutes into the Taurus sign.

Eli:

Very nice wait Gil. What's your sun sign? Cancer,

Gil:

but barely. So I am on the Leo

Eli:

Cancer Leo cusp. Okay. Gotcha. Gotcha. Nice. Okay. So being a Taurus, maybe Eric can relate, but I have to learn all of my lessons the hard way I have to like, yeah. I get bumped in the head over and over, get my butt kicked. Like it's just, that's my life. And someone, I think about what I would tell my younger self I'm, like, I don't know, because I think I had to get my ass kicked just like repeatedly to get to this point of my life, I think if there was like one thing I could tell my younger self though, or if there was some way to convince my younger self to just be nicer to yourself, like start to learn some self compassion, cause I really didn't even start learning self-compassionate until I was into my thirties. And that is a huge reason why I went through a lot of the stuff I went through, and even just what I said earlier, Assuming I was like some horrible fetishist, instead of thinking like, Hey, maybe you have a trans identity, like that's just all coming from a space of not having any compassion for myself and just assuming the worst about myself all the time, which is a terrible way to live.

Eric:

I think sometimes conditioned to be that way, like to believe

Eli:

that. Yeah, absolutely. I totally agree. And I think that being queer, like magnifies it because you already have this like ingrained voice from the over culture being like, oh, you're a pervert. Or there's something wrong with you. And then you internalize that in a really deep way, I think. And yeah, just self compassion. I think that so much of the harder things in life. If you have a little self-compassion, you can weather it without so much big T trauma. And that's what I would hope for myself and anyone else as well.

Eric:

Awesome. What do you think about where we are now? And like today's generation.

Eli:

I love today's generation every thing about it. I think there's obviously not nobody is like a monolith, but a lot of the young folks that I see first of all, there's so much more open-minded to. Gender and sexuality than even my generation has been, and I love that also just the absurdity of their humor is like so good. Like I'm just consistently blown away and laughing so hard at the stuff that I see on Tik TOK sometimes. Like my boyfriend sent me this Tik TOK where somebody was like, oh, they banned backpacks at my school. And so people were like pushing baby carriages. They had these like these weird little like M&M statues with holes in them that they were like carrying their books and like the M&M statues, like M&M, like the candy and I don't even remember, oh. That somebody was carrying her like a trashcan dumpster, like now. And it was just like,

Gil:

they banned backpack. So this is what you guys like dragging

Eli:

a sled, like a, like indoors in their high school, and I was just like crying with laughter. I was like, this is so funny and so absurd. And I just, I dunno. So I feel for them deeply, because I think that they're really like inheriting the depth of climate change and like seeing how much they've been fucked over by older generations and being like, what the hell guys, and I feel for that. And then also like their sort of absurdist, weird humor response to it is just so delightful. And then the way that they are. You idiot. It's why do you think gender is a problem? I love that. I'm like, yeah. It's it shouldn't be a problem. So there's a lot there, I think in some ways I'm really excited by them. And in some ways I have a lot of empathy because I think it's a very difficult world that they're inheriting and, so did we, right? So it's, it's tough and it's hard to see kids having these realizations so young and being like, oh my God. Yeah.

Eric:

Gil, and I are always talking about like how we're like jealous of today's generation because of how open they are, but then when you flip it and like everything they're inheriting, like I'm not necessarily jealous of that part

Eli:

of it. Yeah. Yeah. I totally, I feel the same way. And also it's interesting with me and some of the other trans folks that I talked to, we're seeing these trans kids who, came out at three or four fully accepted by their families, went on hormone blockers at 12, started hormones at 16, never had to go through so much of what has defined the trans experience in previous generations for a lot of folks. Correct. And it's such an interesting thing to witness. And just to see because your sort of snap reaction is oh my God. So lucky. And in many ways sure. There's a lot of privilege there and also it doesn't. I mean that you don't feel the trauma of being a trans person in this culture because this culture is so transphobic. And so it's also like you can witness that and be happy that they have those opportunities and also hold space for their trauma and their pain, even if it looks different from our own

Gil:

well put.

Eric:

So what types of things do you have going on now? What's the future hold for you and other projects besides your dissertation and get

Gil:

it's something simple,

Eli:

Like I have so many ideas. I feel like. I feel like if anybody could just crack off my head and see the number of ideas that I have, they would be like, you're insane because it's like, how could one person do but I really I'm thrilled about all of them. So I, one thing that I'm really excited is that I have a class I'm working on. I'm hoping to offer it next year. It's called reinvisioning gender. And basically it's going to be like a five or six week course that helps folks of any gender to break down their preconceived notions of what it means to have their gender and their body and et cetera, and to identify what are their actual values and how do they actually want to show up in the world and how do they actually want to embody their most authentic self and then figuring out how to then live that authentic self in the real world. And so it's a total like. It's just a total revamp. I call it creating your own bespoke gender. Because I think that one thing that happened when I first started telling people, Hey, I'm going to be a gender doula. Is that all these people that I understood to be cis, people like came out of the woodwork and were like, oh, I need that. And I was like, you do, I'm like for what? But then they would be like like I have never had space to play with my gender or I've always been okay with being called a man or with being called a woman, but I don't feel any sort of like affinity for it, or I don't really know what it means, and just all of this sort of like vagueness and confusion because the categories we have for gender are stupid and don't really fit anyone, and so the idea is no matter who you are, how you identify. In my appeal. I say this all the time, gender doula work is for everyone. It's not just for people of certain genders or certain gender experiences. And part of the reason I say that is because of this, I think that we all benefit from critically examining our genders and how we show up in the world. And the other thing is, I don't think the world's going to get better for trans people until all people have worked on healing, their relationship cisgender. And ultimately I want the world to get better for trans people. Yeah. And then in addition to that, just, I want to make a lot more of these sort of digital products, like my tool kit for the mis-gendered. And I want to just expand my class offerings. Ultimately my goal is that even folks who couldn't afford to work with me one-on-one will be able to access my services either through a sliding scale downloads or sliding scale classes or payment plans on classes or scholarships even. I just want the services to be available for everyone. So that's

Eric:

awesome. I love that. That's. You're doing beautiful work. Thank you

Gil:

for that.

Eric:

And again, we can find you at thegenderdoula.com and on Tik TOK and Instagram @thegenderdoula. Okay. Just want to make sure that we have that down. And I want to say thank you so much for taking this hour to spend with us and chat with us and educate us and everything else.

Gil:

Been a pleasure. Awesome. Really

Eli:

enjoyed. And

Gil:

I

Eric:

want to say thank you to all of our listeners and we'll be around next week.

Gil:

Thank you for joining us. We hope you enjoyed your time in The Q Lounge. If you have any comments, questions, suggestions on topics, or if you would like to be a guest or contributor, please email us at info.theqlounge@gmail.com or through our contact page at TheQLoungepodcast.com while you're there hit that subscribe button or listen wherever you get your podcasts. If you would like to further support us, hit that donation button

Eric:

until next time live in your authenticity.