A private practice located at Brave Space, LLC
My life’s work is devoted to supporting those individuals who are forced to know themselves in the face of being ‘othered’ by dominant culture and systems of oppression and the work is always informed by my own identities, struggles, and experience of overcoming. In the spirit of transparency, I would like to share with you more about me so you can understand the lens through which I engage in clinical practice and in particular how my own journeys have come to inform my work in affirming gender and identity for others.
I grew up in Salem, Oregon and largely resisted my emerging same-sex orientation due to the absence of visibility and affirming messaging in my world. After some difficult attempts to prescribe to normative gender roles and attributions, I ‘came out’ and found my way to the Capitol Hill district of Seattle where I continued to explore my sexuality as well as other emerging identities. Around age 24, I moved to the Castro district of San Francisco and was first introduced to radical queer, trans, and gender non-conforming folk (including the drag community) and I became called to engage in social activism, community organizing, and spiritual exploration with a growing intentional or chosen family of individuals. After a few years, I began to identify as queer, largely because of the emerging intersections of my identities and experiences, including my sexuality, gender non-conformity, beliefs, and values but also because of the growing difference I was starting to feel between myself and other more homonormative gay men. Over the next 10 years, I spent much of my time engaged in various helping services and living within these communities and in 2012 I returned to school to answer my calling to become a therapist.
In 2015, while attending Lewis & Clark, I was offered an internship at TransActive Gender Center where I worked solely with trans, non-binary, and questioning children, adolescents, and their families. My heart was opened up the unique developmental challenges that young people have as they try to locate themselves in their gender in an all-to-often uncertain and invalidating world. I also saw how important it was to support parents and families to gain insight and competency in being able to meet their children where they are and really affirm their experience. As a result, I converted that internship into my private practice in 2016. Over the following 1 1/2 years, I was also working primarily with adult transgender and queer-identified clients in community mental health. Many of my trans clients were struggling through their transition, while others were wanting to work on other mental health concerns now that their gender felt more secure. In October of 2017, I left community mental health and expanded my private practice here at In Context. I currently see individuals, couples and families (child, adolescent, and adult) and that work is always informed by my life of personal exploration and identity formation, my overcoming, my formalized clinical background, and my social justice and advocacy work. I'm now also training and providing clinical consultation for those who are also looking to provide gender affirming care to the communities we know and love.
I identify as a queer, gender questioning person. I am starting to use they/them more often as I explore a non-binary identity for myself. I’m white and I’m educated. ‘Queer’ for me has become a nuanced psycho/social/spiritual framework that captures my sexual identity, my own gender non-conformity, socio-political views which include activism, and my spiritual beliefs. It continues to be the way by which I make the most meaning of myself as I move through the world and my varying intersections of identity. It is both expansive enough to capture many of my most salient parts while being narrow enough that I can feel myself in it. I have and continue count trans and queer folks as some of my closest friends, partners, and colleagues and I maintain a heartfelt connection to and am still deeply aligned with, gay men who are always welcome in my practice.
While I experience marginalization, I realize that I have certain privileges to present and be as I am and I continue to work on my own critical awareness of these as I strive to affirm my clients and community. I consistently seek feedback from those I'm in relationship with and strive to get feedback from those in the greater community as I continue to do my own work to deconstruct my participation and replication of systems of oppression and my own limiting beliefs and assumptions about others. I am aligned with gender work not only because of my own experience and my relationships with gender-expansive individuals but because advocating for those marginalized for being who they are and supporting others to be more of who they are lies at the heart of my values and drive for social activism. I find that because identity work has given me greater security and self-acceptance in an often uncertain and invalidating world, I am passionate about helping others find a more secure and authentic sense of self that is bolstered by being in relationship with others including an affirming therapist.
It is my hope that sharing part of myself helps you to know more about my own social and cultural location and orientation to this work. It is not a substitute for earned trust. That can only occur over time and in shared space together where each of us is resourced to risk being more authentic even if that means feeling uncertain. I have found that what is co-created by my clients and me is a space for inquiry and the unconditional welcoming of all parts and identities. The container for the work provides safety and movement towards more expansive experiences including hope, a growing sense of freedom, access to all emotions, self-compassion and self-acceptance, desire, and the capacity to reach out into the world to be in relationship with others.