Harnaam was just 11 years old when the beard started appearing and she spent her teenage years desperately trying to remove it. She would try to remove it by waxing twice a week.
The primary school teaching assistant endured vile abuse at school and would be stared at in the street. She became so self conscious she refused to leave her house, except to go to lessons. At her lowest point she began self harming and even considered taking her own life.
But at the age of 16, she found the courage to accept her facial hair after being baptised as a Sikh. The religion dictates that the body should be left in its natural state and body hair must be left to grow.
Harnaam was determined to show that she was beautiful no matter what she looked like.
What is the greatest danger sex workers face? Or what is the most important thing sex workers need? Or are those the wrong questions?
They’re impossible questions to answer because people’s needs are diverse and people’s experiences are diverse. So I think that’s the first place to start. There is no one solution, there is no one project, there is no one political point of view that can possibly speak to every single person who has experience in the sex trade.
Today I was feeling especially shitty about gender binary, and how it’s acceptable to be androgynous only if you’re young, thin and pretty. I hear people talking shit about old “men” who wear makeup and “look ridiculous”, and I feel like they’re talking about me because one day I’ll be old and wrinkly and maybe finally brave enough to wear whatever the fuck I want. So I doodled these to cheer myself up, as a kind of a “fuck you” to assholes and a “love you” to fellow genderqueer people. Let’s grow old together and be awesome. <3
REFUGE restrooms is now live on the web at http://www.refugerestrooms.org. It is viewable on any browser.
REFUGE seeks to provide safe bathroom access for transgender, intersex, and other gender nonconformist individuals. A few months back the valuable safe2pee database stopped working. We present Refuge as a replacement. Starting with the existing database of listings from Safe2Pee, refuge makes the database easily searchable and mappable to allow folks to find the nearest safe restroom.This is very much in its alpha stage and had a lot of growing to do. I started learning how to code not that long ago so I’m still learning how I can make the app better and better. The app is open source so please contribute to the project on github @http://www.github.com/tkwidmer/refugerestroomsstay tuned both here and on twitter @refugerestrooms.
You might find this hard to believe but I’ve considered writing a book entitled: “Go Fuck Yourself: Self lov’n when you can’t get any.” I know, you’re probably thinking, “WTF!” Yes, in October I went on my “Farewell to My Uterus Tour,” wherein I proclaimed I’d have all kinds of sex before my uterus was taken out. Oh and yes, after my 6 weeks of recovery, decided to go on my unofficial “Welcome to My Orgasms Tour” where I vowed to have as many orgasms as I desired so I could reconnect with them in my some-what new body. Don’t get me wrong, I went, I concurred and I came…and came… and came…
…Now here’s the big BUT…
I’ve realized that lately, the sex I have, although quite wonderful, I have because of certain factors–myself, my chosen family, play parties or kinky events. These are the things and people that make me getting laid possible. I practice a lot of self-love. Thank goodness for that. My chosen family is always there to lend a helping hand in that department and play party/ kinky events are created for such happenings. What has been deficient, is the flirt, the “dating” for lack of a better term, and the excitement of a new interaction that’s not a one-night stand. These things have been absent for the most part. I mean it’s happened sporadically but if I had to put a percentage on it, it’d be very, very low.
I either get people talking to me, responding to me, and touching me in non-consensual ways because they think they know me. I’m a sex educator, a sex worker, and I talk about sex. Therefore, I should be down for it any time any place with anyone. WRONG! Then on the other end, I have people (who I’m attracted to and vise versa) that never flirt with me or try to initiate contact. I’m either bombarded by unwanted advances or essentially “neglected” by people who shy away from me.
“Well, how can this be?” you ask. Let me break it down for you.
I totally understand this reasoning for not coming up to me, flirting and picking me up. What most people don’t know is that, I’m afraid too. Who isn’t? The difference is I stopped letting fear dictate sex/love actually happening in my life. I go for it and see what happens. In approaching someone, I check the energy between us, am respectful, communicate openly, and am clear about my intentions. I’d like the same for me. I’m not sure if the fear is based on assumption about the kind of person I am, that I’m a public person or that I might say no. Either way, you’ll never find out. I like a good flirt even if nothing ever comes of it.
Put on a pedestal
Quite opposite of being seen as a piece of meat due to my work, I’m put way way up on a pedestal. I’m not a fan of either. I’m flattered and happy that people admire the work I’ve done, whether in porn, at a workshop, a lecture or something I wrote. I’m so delighted that people get it, get me and find truth in my work. When that truth is turned into me being an untouchable super star, it defeats the purpose. I often speak of the importance of communication, negotiation and understanding power in sex. When I’m placed hi up, I’m essentially being placed in a position of power that deters others from having the confidence to even have a conversation with me. That power also gives me the upper hand when I approach people. I’d rather have an equal footing with people, especially if we are to negotiate some hot play. I also want people to have the power to turn me down. Putting me high up can grey those lines and I wouldn’t want that. Another down side to this high pedestal is that it doesn’t allow me to “fuck up.” I’m seen as an expert in all things sex and therefore have no room to be human. I’d have to be perfect in bed and live up to that dream. Totally not fair people.
Independent Polyamorous status
I’m not only polyamorous, I’m and independent poly person. For me this means that my primary relationship is to myself and to my daughter. At this time in my life, I do not want to live with anyone romantically. I do not desire a primary relationship. I do not subscribe to forever. I live each moment with people. I just like to be. We like each other, we can have a fling, form an emotional bond that incorporates sex, does not incorporate sex. We can have intimate connections once a month or every couple of months.
It flows as we flow. This is how I do relationships. Thus some people wouldn’t touch me with a ten-foot pole. Some people have referred to me as a “Playa.” This, I am not. I don’t use people to get sex. I expect people to be an equal participant in the negotiating and the getting/having sex with me. For other folks, my Indy-poly identity equals “no real relationship.” I guess we have different definitions of relationships. I think people feel comfortable knowing what the “next steps” are when dating. There are no steps in my process, just waves. People often think that I have no longevity in my relationships and that I do not have the capacity to love. That is so very far from the truth. Although using time to validate my relationships is something I don’t’ really do but only when proving to others my love capabilities, I have had long loving connections with people. I do love. I do care. I do need love. I am worth loving. I just don’t want it wrapped in a traditional monogamous package. It’s not for me. My way of doing relationships is seen as limited, too complicated or invalid.
I prefer the pronoun “they, them and theirs.” I accept “he” if I have to and I’m referred to as she by some of my family members. I’m trans identified. I’m also gender queer, gender fluid and two-spirit identified. My gender flows. It has manifested itself in different
ways throughout the years. Currently, I’m being seen more as male. I’ve been on testosterone for the past several months. I’m getting used to this new image in the mirror and how my body works. In deciding to take testosterone, it’s solidified my decision NOT have top surgery. I don’t think I’ve ever really considered it. I think there have been moments of wonder. Mostly due to people invalidating my transness because I have them. My gender queerness is true to me. I don’t see myself or identify as a man. I don’t see myself or identify currently as a woman. I am both and neither. I am femininity and masculinity rolled up into one. I am a trans entity. I am a trans entity that is starting to grow a mustache, is husky, loves glitter, paints my toe nails, has a deepening voice, I switch when I walk and I have breasts. “Say What?!!!” Yes I do! I want to work up the courage to choose not to bind at times. Currently, this is what gender queerness looks like for me. My gender presentation makes me elated but worries some people and confuses others. Going back to the “fear.” My gender queerness can be frightening, worrisome, even to people who are interested in me. I think some people are just genuinely afraid to make assumptions, ask the wrong questions or mis-gender me in any way. The confused want me to choose. It perplexes them sexually. Some gay men, trans women and lesbians want me to be a “real” trans man. Some trans guys don’t do other trans guys or if they do, try to put me in a “feminine” position. As if femmes have one position. Ha!! People make assumptions about what I want/do in bed or who turns me on.
They’re just not that into me
Everyone doesn’t have to like me and that is reason enough. There’s no spark, I’m not their type, or they’re just not interested. Understandable. I get it. Valid excuse. Lets move on shall we?
…So, these are some of the reasons I’ve come up with that I think deter people from participating in some good ole flirting and “courtship” practices with me. Then of course there is my own self-doubt. It can be a vicious cycle. People don’t approach me (for insert reason here) and I at times hold back. I think, “they’re not into me,” “they want more than I can offer,” or “they won’t get my gender.” Thereby creating these moments in my life where I have no sexual energy exchange, flirting, sex, kinky play or pick-ups outside of myself, chosen family, play parties or kink events
I teach people about sex, relationship, desire and how to make it all happen. Publicly I’ve advocated for trans and gender queer rights and diversity. I have fought for validation of diverse relationship structures outside of marriage. I strive for sexual liberation. I have been called radical. I have been told over and over again that my work is important. I have been praised for all these things and yet (I assume) that these are the very things that keep others from getting close to me. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?
16 ways to talk about consent
- 1. "Do you like when I...?"
- 2. "I like when you..."
- 3. "Will you...?"
- 4. "How does this feel?"
- 5. "Do you want me to...?"
- 6. "Do you want to...?"
- 7. "Is there anything you want to try?"
- 8. "Show me what you like."
- 9. "Do you want to go further?"
- 10. "Do you want to stop?"
- 11. "Can I...?"
- 12. "Does this feel good?"
- 13. "Are you happy?"
- 14. "Are you comfortable?"
- 15. "Are you having a good time?"
- 16. "Is this good for you?"
- this list from billie is brilliant but i think even more important is being open to hearing the answer "no" to any of these questions and how yr tone of voice, words, and body language convey how you feel about that "no."