The fullness of our humanity exceeds the stunted stereotypes that often make up "masculinity" or "femininity" in modern Western culture. Yet when our gender, or others' perceptions of our gender, impacts so many aspects of our lives, it can feel overwhelming to question, explore, or shift how we show up in the world. The first half of this intensive will focus on broadening our perspective around the gendered nature of the traits that we embody or wish to embody in an effort to free us from stereotypical or toxic expectations around how we show up in the world. We will then move into locating how we want to bring these traits into our everyday lives, and what boundaries will be needed to facilitate that change. Participants will leave this workshop more in touch with their values, and with new tools for actualizing their unique expression into their everyday lives.
Eli was in his early twenties before he learned (from a library book) that trans was something one could be. His passion for the trans community was born in that moment, but several years of self-exploration and struggle passed before he chose to start hormones and pursued surgery. Since that pivotal moment in the library, he has worn many hats, including professional cook, writer/editor, manager, tutor, teacher, student, researcher, and public speaker. His drive to serve his community is a through-line that connects these experiences.
With a B.A. in Gender Studies from UCLA and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, Eli has about ten years of experience researching transgender people and healthcare through the lenses of public health, policy, law, sociology, and history. Originally, he wanted to use research to change the many policies that constrain and harm trans people in America. However, he realized that he could serve his community better through direct support.
The Gender Doula was born when he heard Erica Livingston, a full spectrum birth doula, on a podcast. Erica said that there should be a doula for every threshold of life, and it felt like he had been struck by a bolt of lightning. At first, he didn’t believe that this was a viable path for him, but a year later, he was part of the mentorship program created by Birdsong, the bi-coastal doula collective owned by Erica and her partner Laura Interlandi.
Gender doula work is just one name for the work of supporting gender-expansive folks where they are at. While this work itself is not new, there is no specific career path or certification for a gender doula. He has drawn on his unique combination of formal education, informal education, research, and life experience to support those who come to him, and he hopes to eventually mentor and train others in this beautiful and fulfilling work.