Jul 262013
 

This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns, Kelsey. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section.Shanna

According to recent research, 41% to 72% of queer (Iincluding LGBTAIAA) people never come out to their health care provider (McManus, Hunter & Renn). However, the majority of individuals who chose to come out experienced increased satisfaction with their care afterwards. What a relief! But, coming out to a provider is easier said than done. Queer individuals encounter compounding oppressions, and often challenge the norms for gender expression and sexual preferences. Coming out to a provider can be especially complicated, stressful, and your identity may just be hard to explain. Not to mention it’s exhausting having to constantly be teaching, when few are willing to seek the information on their own. However, with the right provider, healthcare can be completely individualized.

So, how can you come out to your health care provider? The first thing to remember is the provider is there to help YOU. Listening is crucial. There is no space for assumptions in the doctor’s office, especially on their behalf. The provider must refrain from determining your needs before you open your mouth. In order to do this, providers must deconstruct their assumptions about gender and gender expression. But still, sometimes as the patient you have to explain things more than once. For example, many health care providers assume that their patients are heterosexual so, continuing to advocating against this assumption is an uphill climb but very necessary! You can be honest and explain your needs.

For example, a transgender individual who has just decided to start hormone therapy may have a well-established relationship with their provider. But, this trusted provider does not understand the needs of a transgender person. To overcome this barrier, the patient can start the conversation by asking questions like, “do you know what my needs are and do you understand them?” If the answer is no, the patient can say “are you willing and able to become educated on my needs?” If the answer is still no, than the patient can ask their provider to refer them to someone who can help. Wouldn’t it be great if more doctors had experience with transgender individuals?

You may also need to explain that a certain identity, just like a certain appearance, does not equate to a certain set of needs. Honest conversations can turn a dreaded trip to the doctor into an empowering experience that ensures continued self-care. For example, providers may not understand that you may be considering birth control this year, even though at your last appointment your partner was female, and you have ovaries and a uterus. Another example is that you need to be able to trust that your provider will believe you if you say you are in an abusive relationship, even though your partner does not fit the stereotypical abuser profile.

Gender and sexuality are fluid and no identity is simple. Unfortunately in our society, doctors are less versed in the needs of queer individuals. But this does not mean you deserve to have your needs met and your concerns validated any less.

Tips for Patients:
• Take your time finding an accepting and supportive health care provider

• Tell your provider your preferred pronouns

• Bring a trusted friend with you to your appointment

• Ask questions

• Explain your health concerns

• Be a self-advocate

• Report discriminatory or dismissive behavior

Mar 272013
 

Both folks online and those attending my workshops are always asking me for an inclusive list of all of the sex toy and lubricant companies that create body friendly sex toys and lubes. I usually point them over to the Coalition Against Toxic Toys (aka, BadVibes.org), but their list, while excellent, is much shorter than all of the companies out there producing good products. And of course, if you check out my list of Feminist and Sex Positive Toys Stores, you’ll be more likely to find good quality, body safe sex toys and lubes there.

That all being said, I’ve spent the last few weeks putting together the most inclusive list I could of body friendly sex toy companies and body safe lube companies. I’ve asked other sex educators, sexuality retailers, bloggers, etc, and together, we have created this list of companies. Now, they could certainly change their products, and I might not know, so if you have info on them producing toxic toys, just contact me. Also contact me if you know of a body friendly company that is not yet on the list, and I’ll update it. However, please note that I am trying to feature companies that are completely phthalate and other chemical free, so while some larger toys companies DO produce SOME body friendly toys, they are not listed because other toys they make are dangerous for bodies.

And with no further ado, I present to you, my list of Body Friendly Sex Toy and Lube Companies.

Feb 082011
 

I had this sent to me by Sarah Sloane, fellow sex educator and a friend of mine. Her friend, Ann Coakley, is doing this survey, like many others currently out there, to work on improving healthcare for trans folk. If you fit in this demographic and are willing, please take a moment to participate in this study, to help change the climate in health care that currently exists for trans people.

-Shanna

As a graduate student at Smith College for Social Work I am conducting a study to develop a better understanding, from a trans person’s viewpoint,  what good care and treatment by a primary care healthcare provider looks like. This recruitment letter has the  purpose to collect perspectives from a diverse sample of self-identified trans people. By trans people I mean, in the broadest sense, people whose gender differs than what was assigned to them as a baby.

  • Participants for this must be over 18 years old,
  • able to read and write English,
  • reside in the United States and
  • identify their gender as different from the gender assigned to them to as baby.

Participating in this study will involve filling out an anonymous online survey taking about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. This confidential survey can be accessed at

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/V78G8F8

I am also asking for help with recruiting other trans people for this study to collect a diverse sample of viewpoints. There are three to ways to help with outreach. One is to forward this email with or without the attached flyer to other people involved in the trans community. Second is print out this letter and or flyer and hand to a potentially interested participants. The third is to post the flyer in places highly trafficked by potential participants. If you work for an organization or agency, make sure you are acting within the policies there.

Thank you for your attention and help in recruiting for my study. If you are interested in the findings of this study please contact me at acoakley@smith.edu.

Sincerely,

Ann Coakley

Dec 132010
 

A cohort of mine from Widener University is behind this study, and I’m hoping to get lots of women and gender diverse people (who are/have been sexually intimate with women identified people) to participate. There is very little research done on queer sexuality, especially by people who recognize the difference between women, trans (men), gender queer and gender diverse. I’d love it if you’d support this great research by taking the survey if it applies to you, or at the very least (or if it doesn’t apply), passing it on, re-posting, etc. Thanks for doing your part in helping to create queer visibility and awareness.

-Shanna

This is a groundbreaking study about the lives of women and gender diverse people who are sexually intimate with women.  Please participate and forward on to others who you think might be interested.  Also, after you complete the survey, you can enter to win one of three $100 gift cards.

Are you a woman who is or has been sexually intimate with another woman?

—–OR—–

Are you gender diverse or trans and sexually intimate with women?

If you answered yes to either question, please take this survey

web.me.com/sexuality/

Who Can Participate?

You qualify if you identify as a woman who is sexually intimate with another woman OR a gender diverse person who is female-bodied, assigned female at birth and/or woman-identified and is sexually intimate with a woman. You must also be 18 years of age or older.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this research study is to better understand the sexuality of women who are sexually intimate with women, gender diverse people who are sexually intimate with women, and those who may not identify their sexual orientation and/or gender so narrowly. In this study, sexual behavior and sexual identity will be measured to better understand women, including gender diverse people who are female-bodied, assigned female at birth and/or woman-identified, who are sexually intimate with women and those with whom they partner.

Description of the Study

This study is about sexuality and identity of women and gender diverse people who sexually partner with women.  The survey will take about 25 minutes to complete.  The study is completely anonymous, meaning there will be no way to trace any questions or data back to you or your computer, and it is completely free to participate.

Win a $100 Gift Card

After you finish the survey, you will be invited to enter to win one of three $100 gift certificates to say thank you for participating.

Additional Important Information

The Widener University Internal Review Board (Protocol #38-11)  has approved solicitation of participants. The Primary Investigator is Debbie Bazarsky, M.S., M.Ed.  If you have any questions, you may email her at sexuality@me.com.

Nov 092010
 

Passing this along again, as she needs a few more couples to complete her research. If you’re engaged and planning a marriage/wedding/commitment ceremony/celebration of LOVE in the next 12 months, please drop this researcher a line and help her out.

-Shanna

Engaged volunteers needed!

I am looking for volunteers for a study of attitudes towards marriage and parenthood among engaged couples. The study consists of a 25-30 minute online survey. To qualify for the study, you must be 20-35 years old, live in the U.S., and plan to marry or have a commitment ceremony within the next 365 days. You and your romantic partner must not have children, and this must be the first marriage for both of you.

You can:

-Help a doctoral candidate;

-Increase the pool of scientific knowledge;

-Support research on marriage and families; and

-Spend some time thinking about your relationship!

I am working with Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. This study has been approved by the University of Virginia Institutional Review Board #2009025800.

If you and/or your romantic partner are interested in participating or want further information, please email me at survey.couples@gmail.com. I will send you a link that you can use to access the study.

Thanks!

Cristina Reitz-Krueger

Doctoral Student

University of Virginia

(434) 243-8558

survey.couples@gmail.com

Oct 242010
 

This is not my study, I’m just happy to pass it along for anyone who feels it applies to them, and would like to participate. Feel free to repost!

-Shanna

I am currently looking for participants to be interviewed for my research study on Transmen who are parents and what methods they chose to use to become parents. It doesn’t matter when your child was born (before or after transition) or if you’re the biological parent; this is a study on transmen who are parents in general. This study will be confidential so none of your or your families information will be given out at any time for any reason. There has been very little research conducted on this topic so it is a very important area to learn and understand. This is a test trial for a sociological research class at the University of New Mexico. If the test trial goes well though I plan to fine tune it to use it as my dissertation.

Thank you,
Seth Kazmar

Youth Coordinator
Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico
505.922.5162
Sep 072010
 

Another call for submissions, this one for an anthology on disability (different than the ones I’m working one). Please pass this along. I, of all people, know how hard it can be to get submissions.

Shanna

Ari Ne’eman and Stacey Milbern, Co-Editors

Deadline: January 15, 2011

This year, the disability community is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), civil rights law that protects the rights of disabled people.
Growing up in a post-ADA America has meant that many of us have had access to more opportunities than previous generations. We know if we had been born in 1967 instead of 1987 our lives would look completely different. We know the history of our people is tainted by eugenics, ableism, lack of access and the sting of low expectations. We recognize the work that has been done by disability movements over the last century to make the current lives we live possible. We are proud to be members of this vibrant, breathing, community.

Although the struggle continues, we recognize that the realities of disabled people look vastly different in many ways. With this in mind, we are requesting proposals for chapters in a book-length anthology to document this legacy and record the stories of disabled young people
talking about what it is to grow up with a disability in this day and age.

Part One of our anthology will attempt to explore how a new generation experiences these age old challenges, affording a chance to assess how far we have really come. Part Two of our anthology asks disabled young people to identify what our struggle looks like now.

We’re seeking a diversity of perspectives and topics. A few questions we pose as food for thought:
What does it look like to navigate the medical system?
What is it like trying to find and keep a job as a young person with a disability today?
How are mental health challenges and psychiatric impairments approached by family members?
Do students still have to choose between support and inclusion?
What is the impact of pity and charity?
How do we survive the traumas we experience by people who say they are helping us, whether this is in schools, in doctor’s offices, our places of worship, or within our support systems?
How do people with less visible disabilities choose whether or not to disclose?
How has the nature of “passing” changed or not changed?
How do we fight eugenics, with its many faces?
How do we work with personal assistant services and our support systems?
How is disability portrayed differently in American society?
How are media, and pop culture representations of disability viewed by the new generation of young people with disabilities?
What do our relationships and sex lives look like?
How do we find community?

We are seeking creative non-fiction essays from young people with disabilities ages 13-30 (some flexibility will be available for compelling submissions from individuals slightly outside our preferred age range). People with all types of disabilities are welcome to submit. Speaking from personal experience is strongly encouraged. The intent of this project is to use personal voices to capture the experience of the new generation of young people with disabilities.

Submissions should range from 2,000 to 5,000 words. Please include your address, phone number, e-mail address and a short bio on the manuscript.

Proposals are due by e-mail to voicesoftheadageneration@gmail.com to January 15, 2011 but we encourage and will consider for approval early submissions. Please e-mail co-editors Stacey Milbern and Ari Ne’eman at voicesoftheadageneration@gmail.com with questions.

Jun 082010
 

Who’d have thunk?

According to this recent study done by Dr. Nanette Gartrell and published in the Journal Of Pediatrics purports that children of lesbian parents are better behaved.

Now, one would think that they’d be fairly on par with straight parents, or single parents, but according to this research, using Child Behavior Checklist, and going on for 25 years, the children of lesbian parents were better adapted, and behaved better than those of other oriented parents.

I wonder what this study would look like in another 25 years?  I mean, 25 years ago, how many lesbians were parenting, and how “unusual” was it for kids to grow up with two moms (or two dads)? As someone who is in her mid 20s, I remember that my private elementary/middle school was one of the few in my area that welcomed LGBTQ families.  I wonder if lesbian parents were over-trying on their kids, encouraging model behavior even more, because of the immense scrutiny on them. Perhaps the study, redone with today’s parents, would show all kids to be more in the middle of the behvior. Or maybe there really is something to be said for lesbian parenting — who knows?

I can say that our cats, growing up with queer parents, are pretty much in the middle; sometimes, they’re little angels, and sometimes, the destroyers of cities (well, not that bad).

Thoughts?

-Shanna

May 312010
 

There is a new lube study out there, that the media has really picked up on.  According to it, and the media, water-based lube used during anal sex is dangerous, and IF one is to use lube at all, they should use silicone.

I think that this study, and the hype around it, is dangerous itself.  I see a backlash of people choosing to not use lube during anal, which is dangerous. I see people using silicone lube with silicone toys, not know that this is a bad plan. I see doctors telling patients not to use silicone toys because they aren’t silicone lube compatible. I see a lot of issues. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to post something about this.

In the mean time, Dr. Charlie Glickman recently wrote a great blog post about it this whole subject, and I really think you should read it until I’m ready to post about my thoughts. He has a lot of similar views as I do regarding this, and is an over all sex education rock star.

So for now, I believe that people should still use water-based and/or silicone-based lubes for anal sex, because there are better quality lubes out there than KY and Astroglide that weren’t done as part of the research. Because Maximus, and Sliquid Organics and other great lubes out there are still great lubes. Because not using lube during anal play can tear the anal tissue and increases the risk of infections and STI transmission in and of itself.

Is the research possibly valid? Yes. Does there need to be a LOT more research on this and the interpretation of what said research means before I think people should stop using water-based lubes before anal sex.

More to come (no pun intended)…

-Shanna

May 092010
 

Hey all!

As you may remember, I was working (and still am) on an anthology about sexuality and disability, tentatively titled Sexual Ability. I posted a Call for Submissions, I had people repost it, but got very few essays.

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. Similar anthology calls were getting dozens if not more pieces submitted. I’d made sure to mirror mine in a very professional, academic way, covering many of the topics, and all of the requirements.

And a few months back, a message I got on FetLife answered my question. And I feel so stupid for having not realized this.

Because of the subject matter, I was screwing myself over. I wanted people who had disabilites to write about their struggles with them, and how it was sometimes difficult fitting sexuality into their lives…in an academic way, with lots of thoughts and edits and _____.

There are many problems with this. First of all, it was a classist call. Why? Because not everyone has the background and/or ability to write an academically styled essay. If you didn’t have the opportunity to go to college (none the less grad school), how would you even know where to get started?

And secondly, I’m asking people for who (in some case) they may get completely drained just getting to the kitchen to put forth a huge amount of thought and effort. How unfair is that?

So I re-examined, re-looked at my concept, and have decided to do a survey of people with disabilities and their partners, where they can just fill in a sheet of questions when they feel up to it, as much or as little in the way of answers as they’d like. And then I will put this information I gather in this informal qualitative survey and put it together into a book celebrating sexuality and dis/ability. Thank you to Tristan Taormino for her suggestions on survey length, approaching people, etc.

So without any more rigamorale, here is the Sexually Able Call for Participants. Please feel free to re-post anywhere and everywhere. I’d love to get not only a large number of responses, but also a very diverse one.

-Shanna

Call for Participants: Sexually Able

Sexually Able aims to bring light upon sexuality and dis/ability, and create a path for peoples’ voices to be heard.

What is it? It’s a large scale survey of self identified people with disabilities and their partners.  Eventually, it’ll be turned into a book for people to read, enjoy and see the rich and diverse sexuality that is within the disability community.

Why is this needed? As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, there is still a large gap in people’s minds when they think about sexuality as it relates to people with disabilities, whether cognitively or physically. While some studies have been performed regarding the potential for differently-able people to lead satisfying sexual lives, in which satisfying seems to center around the ability to orgasm, very little has been written about the experiences involving the sexualities and experiences of people who identify as people with disabilities/ handicapped/disabled/differently-able, as well as their partners.

People of all ability levels are sexual beings. Sex is hard enough to navigate and negotiate when one fits in with society’s notions of what a sexual being is, but once you add in the concept of ability, it can become quite challenge. This book, through these surveys, seeks to bring forward the stories, challenges and experiences of people of various ability levels and their partners, putting a face on the trials that so many valuable members of our society must face and the positive experiences as well. By sharing the experiences of the dis/ability community in relation to sexuality, Sexually Able hopes to challenge people’s viewpoints, foster discussion and conversation, and open doors towards a shift in the social constructions surrounding sexuality and disability.

What does it involve?

Just fill out one of the surveys (for people with disabilities or for partners of PWD), send it in, and have your voice and experiences heard. You’re welcome to take your time, and fill in as much or as little information as you’d like. If you need assistance in completing your survey, please let us know. Please feel free to pass this site/these surveys on to your friends, lovers, support groups, therapists, doctors, caregivers, and anyone else that may identify as having a disability or as a partner of someone with a disability.

For more information and/or to fill out the surveys, please visit http://sexuallyable.wordpress.com. Questions? Email SexuallyAbleBook@gmail.com.

Who is behind Sexually Able?

Shanna Katz M.Ed is a full spectrum sexuality educator with a Master’s of Human Sexuality Education from Widener University. She is currently based in Phoenix, AZ, is the resident sexuality educator for Fascinations, and a member of AASECT (the American Association of Sexuality Educator, Counselors and Therapists). As a sexuality educator, she travels the country teaching workshops at colleges, sex toy stores, dungeons, sexuality conferences and more.

Shanna has a special interest in working in sexuality and dis/ability, and runs workshops and discussions about the intersection of these identities, how to build sex positivity in communities of PWD, negotiating disability in a BDSM context and more.  She’s also working on an anthology regarding sexuality and dis/ability, entitled Sexual Ability.  Please see the call for submissions to submit an essay.

Note on definitions of disability (or the lack of): This survey is for those who identify as someone with a disability, someone who is disable, someone who is differently able, any other such identity and the partners of the former. There is no hierarchy of disability, nor is there any exact definition. If you identify as one of the aforementioned, please feel free to take the survey.