Certification with Yoga Alliance, 200 hr Yoga Teacher

I am officially certified as a Yoga Instructor!

In 2017, I was awarded the Yoga Alliance Foundation Aspiring Yoga Teacher Scholarship. These competitive awards are given to yoga practitioners with ample leadership and/or community service experience, and who want to deepen their practice by teaching yoga in underserved communities.

This scholarship facilitated a big step towards my dream of teaching trauma-informed yoga to queer and transgender communities. In August I traveled to Nosara, Costa Rica to become a certified yoga insturctor (RYT 200) with Alchemy of Yoga and Silvia Mordini.

Be sure to stay in touch for updates on my class offerings in Toronto and yoga trainings. In the meantime, check out these incredible photos of the training taken by Alana Lundt at Earthbound Images.

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March 2019 Transgender Mental Health Symposium NY, presenting “Psychoanalytic Dreams of Polymorphous Sleep: Lacan’s Perversion and Clinical Transphobia”

pcgs.pngIn March of 2019, I will be returning to New York for an event organized by the Psychotherapy Center for Gender and Sexuality, a division of the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy. This bi-annual symposium explores the psychodynamics of psychotherapeutic theory and practice in the context of transgender identities.

“Our 6th biannual conference, March 29th and 30th of 2019, will focus on the interplay of clinical practice and theories of development. Presenters will explore issues such as; how are clinicians approaching psychotherapy and psychoanalysis while engaging with traditional and emerging developmental theories? Although this is a clinical conference, we encourage clinicians and academics across disciplines to broaden the dialogue on these topics, both as presenters and as attendees.”

I will be presenting a paper which takes up some of the central questions in my dissertation, namely, Lacan’s perverse structure in relation to clinical transphobia.

Psychoanalytic Dreams of Polymorphous Sleep: Lacan’s Perversion and Clinical Transphobia

This workshop draws upon Lacan’s idiosyncratic thinking on “perversion” – that is, as a structural response to encountering lack in the other – as a way to conceptualize clinical anxiety surrounding transgender subjects. Lacan’s thinking uniquely puts perversion into conversation with castration, and further, presents an arguably queered, non-linear development of the subject.

Beginning with an close investigation of Lacan’s threefold model of diagnosis, we will explore the meanings he assigns to neurotic, perverse, and psychotic structures. This primer in Lacanian theories of subjectivity will provide a robust framework for understanding why all those with a neurotic structure (the most common psychical structure) unconsciously fantasize about being a pervert. This fundamental fantasy can further illuminate one of the factors contributing to clinical transphobia – a projection of the analyst’s desire for unlimited access to a lost jouissance.

To elucidate, this talk will make creative use of the popular science fiction novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Phillip K Dick to consider how fantasies about androids mirror fantasies surrounding transgender patients. In both cases, the neurotic subject dreams that “there is no there there” (Stein 1937) (no castration), a wish that can be managed when applied to something outside the self. Thus in considering the analyst’s dream of non-human perversion, we will gain an understanding into the lingering resonances of this instantiating loss, as it appears in the clinic between analysts and their transgender patients.

Updated FTM and AFAB Surgery Resource List (Toronto and GTA)

The FTM and AFAB Surgical Support Groups at the Sherbourne Health Centre are three peer-to-peer groups that provide surgical support (pre-bottom, post-bottom & top) for trans men and AFAB* identified people.

A list of resources is actively being compiled through these groups. We have started to include client testimonials from the various services. If you would like to add a resource or confidentially record your experience (positive or negative) on the document, please send me an email at shc.transsurgerygroups@gmail.com. You can also reach me there for more information about the groups or to sign up.

FTM and AFAB Surgery Resource List (Toronto and GTA)

Table of Contents

Academic Research

Binders

Clothing

Electrolysis

Important Surgical Forms

Infirmary

Peeing

Metoidioplasty and Pre-op

Physiotherapy

Sex

Post-Phallo

Surgeons (bottom)

Meeting with your Surgeon

Surgical Supplies

Therapists

Travel

General Surgery Guides

Urologists

Upcoming presentation: “Healing Psychoanalysis: A Perspective on Intergenerational Trans Mental Health” at the University of Victoria

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I’m excited to announce that I will be presenting at the Moving Trans History Forward Conference, at the University of Vitoria, BC. which takes place from March 22nd – 25th 2018.

The theme they have selected for this year is “From Generation to Generation,” and I will be presenting along with Isaiah Bartlett, LCSW on

Healing Psychoanalysis: A Perspective on Intergenerational Trans Mental Health

Panel: Saturday March 24, 2018 at 10:45 am
Session 19, “Upper Lounge” in the Student Union Building

Presentation abstract:

Psychoanalysis has a long and notorious history of pathologizing gender variance. Many contemporary practitioners still write of transgender people’s inherent psychosis or delusion, and queer people have been prohibited from undergoing analytic training.  As a result, clinical psychoanalysis has become an increasingly rare and unpopular form of therapy for many queer and trans-identified clients.

This presentation emerges from Wiggins’ and Bartlett’s unique shared experience of undergoing a psychoanalytic psychotherapy as trans-identified clients, with trans and queer identified analysts. We explore notions of the political unconscious, how psychoanalysis can provide a unique type of psychological healing for gender variant clients, and how our past experience of “laying on the couch” informs our community-based mental health work, today. We further question what forms of healing can be passed, both consciously and not, between generations of queer and trans identified mental health providers.

Summer presentation at the “Accessible Yoga Conference,” Toronto, June 22-24

I am excited to announce that this summer I will be leading a workshop on topics related to consent, gender identity, and yoga at the Accessible Yoga Conference, in Toronto Ontario. Check out the event on Facebook.

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Moving with Intention: Consent and Gender in Yoga

With Tobias Wiggins
Sunday, June 24th, from 1:30 – 3:30

To have “intention” means to be mindful, to be attentive in our actions and to plot our course with a gentle deliberation. We often begin our yoga practice by setting intent – a simple thought to guide our movement, and to return to as a foundation. Interestingly, in medicine the word intention carries a different meaning. It is the process of closing a wound, and the restoration of health.

In this workshop, we will explore this double meaning of intention in discussions surrounding the key topics of consent and gender, as they relate to yoga. Broadly, we will consider how trauma-informed feminist consent politics can deepen our practice and transform studio spaces, by using mindful touch to promote community healing.

People who experience gender marginalization – such as women, transgender people, and non-binary people – may have complex or difficult experience of navigating yoga spaces because of sexism, transphobia, and other intersecting systems of oppression. These hierarchical systems are typically enacted and reinforced in subtle ways, often going unchallenged despite even the best intentions. In this session, we will unpack issues of gender identity and expression as they relate to consent culture, developing tangible tools for safer yoga spaces. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences of touch and consent in yoga, and in particular, how their gender identity has shaped their experience. All gender identities welcome!

 

 

You are welcome to make use of my code “Tobias” to get 10% off registration. Scholarships are also available.

Early Bird Pricing-Level I – $290 (C$375) by February 28th
Early Bird Pricing-Level 2 – $350 (C$450) by April 30th
Full price: $390 (C$500)

 

Tobias Wiggins

FTM & AFAB Surgical Groups host “Physiotherapy for FTM and AFAB people” with Michelle Fraser on February 28th, 6:00 – 9:00 pm

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Please share widely! This public workshop is open to all those who identify as FTM, transmasculine, or AFAB (assigned female at birth) trans people.
For more information, please contact Tobias at the Sherbourne Health Center

 

Physiotherapy for FTM and AFAB people
with Michelle Fraser 
February 28th, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
at the Sherbourne Health Center, room 4066
 

Workshop Summary 

Have you ever wondered how physiotherapy might support your overall health, or aspects of your gender transition, but were unsure of where to start?  In this dynamic workshop, we will build the foundation for knowledge surrounding mobility, function, and quality of life for FTM and AFAB trans people. Topics will include effects of hormones on the body, binding and the body, anatomy and function of your pelvic floor, the connection between emotions and your pelvic floor, what you can do to promote health both before and after potential surgery/surgeries, and how to recognize post-surgical complications. Familiarize yourself with different aspects of bodily health with Fraser through lecture, discussion, and embodied movement.

Important content information: This workshop will have content that could be triggering to some. Please read over this list closely, to make sure you would feel comfortable attending. This workshop will contain:

– anatomical drawings of genitals (to illustrate the location of the pelvic floor muscles, for example)
– gendered anatomical language (when possible Fraser will use gender-neutral language to refer to genitals, however, she might occasionally, if necessary, use some anatomical language)

– physical breathing and muscular activities (which you can elect not to participate in!)
– discussion of internal aspects of genitals (as the pelvic floor muscles are located internally)

Accessibility information:
– The Sherbourne is physically accessible with elevators and accessible washrooms
– If you need ASL or childcare please contact Tobias shc.transsurgerygroups@gmail.com
– More access information, including accessibility policy http://sherbourne.on.ca/clients-visitors/accessibility/

 
About Fraser
 

Fraser is a physiotherapist, pelvic health and queer advocate and educator who works with persons of all gender identities experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction or interested in understanding the complexities of pelvic health.  She is on a mission to empower people in Canada and internationally to take charge of their pelvic health, which can often be a life changing experience for anyone who has suffered pelvic health dysfunction. She is also a certified yoga instructor, has earned her Masters of Education at OISE specializing in global health education, and has been involved with teaching physiotherapists pelvic health and advanced orthopedic skills both in Canada and in Nicaragua. She is an associate instructor with Pelvic Health Solutions, where she helps physiotherapists understand how to evolve towards LGBTQ-informed practice.

New Publication: Encountering Inheritance in Vivek Shraya’s I want to kill myself

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Very excited to share my 2017 article “Encountering Inheritance in
Vivek Shraya’s I want to kill myself” special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly “Transpsychoanalytics,” edited by Sheila Cavanagh. A big thank you to Vivek Shraya for her support on this piece and to the Arts and Culture section editor Eliza Steinbock for soliciting my work.

You can access the article here:
https://www.academia.edu/35479116/Encountering_Inheritance_in_Vivek_Shrayas_I_want_to_kill_myself

The full TSQ issue here: https://read.dukeupress.edu/tsq/issue/4/3-4

A Devil Wears Prada Smackdown Analogy

Ive been researching the history of clinical psychoanalytic writing on transvestism, and for some reason a scene from the Devil Wears Prada keeps coming into my mind – where Miranda lays out the history of Andy’s cerulean top in a total unapologetic and evenhanded smack down. Arguably, one of the best scenes.

 

I’ve come up with some associations to share.

I think what Maranda does here, is trace an invisibilized genealogy and shows us how even the colour blue has a history that is welded to power. And I guess as I work on my dissertation research, can’t help but think about this in relation to knowledge production surrounding trans people and the discourse of the university. Some white rich guy like Robert Stoller (in this metaphor Oscar De La Renta) comes up with a psychoanalytic explanation for gender identity or sexual pathology (cerulean dresses), the idea floats around, is picked up and remoulded, passed through the hands of many other thinkers, and eventually comes out many other ends – found in the “casual corner store clearance bin,” which could perhaps be homonormativity or homonationalism. Really if we are creating a hierarchy of ideas we could end up at any point, as hierarchy is relative. Let’s not invite Jordan Peterson into this conversation.

But what Miranda leaves out is that Stoller and De La Renta often take these “designs” from somewhere else – and in particular from those minoritarian communities who form ideas or resistances seen as overly radical, unwieldy, aberrant, perverse, repackaged and made digestible for those with social status lends authority. These ideas are often seen as a part of their own genius, their capacity to think outside of the box, and imagine something novel. This one way that colonization and racism function seamlessly too – ideas, culture, knowledge that is considered backwards in the hands of people of colour and indigenous people is held in high regard when appropriated by white folks. And in Robert Stoller’s case, these ideas were borrowed from his patients – trans & intersex folks who stories and dreams (actual dreams!) can be found in the psychoanalytic studies used to condemn them.

So these were our ideas, bodies, and experiences to begin with – keep refinding and rewriting.

meryl-streep-that's-all

 

FTM & AFAB Surgical Groups host “Holistic Healing from Top Surgery” with Lauren Pragg

Holistic Healing from Top Surgery: Navigating Pathways to Health for Trans Men and AFAB people

with Lauren Pragg

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What: Holistic Healing from Top Surgery
part of the FTM and AFAB Surgical Support Groups (see below for more info about the top surgery support group)*

For Who: Trans Men and AFAB* people who have had, or who are considering top surgery

When: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Where: Room 2008 at Sherbourne Health Centre, 333 Sherbourne St, Toronto.

Contact: shc.transsurgerygroups@gmail.com

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/235364750312920/

Workshop Description 

This workshop will seek to demonstrate the ways holistic nutritional healing can help trans men and AFAB people prepare for & recover from top surgery. Many of the issues addressed will encompass physical, emotional, and mental health. The workshop will focus on providing whole food recommendations but will also incorporate supplement and herbal recommendations, along with lifestyle guidelines (both pre and post operatively). Ideally these recommendations could be used in conjunction with western medicine to offer a variety of options for healing, and the greatest opportunity for long-term health.

Lauren Pragg is the child of Trinidadian immigrants. They grew up in Scarborough and still live in East Toronto. Lauren has spent over ten years in graduate school studying identity, gender and sexuality. They have most recently begun training as a Holistic Nutritionist at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. They believe that food is energy and medicine we integrate into our bodies every day, and that understanding how it can heal and harm us is a foundational aspect of health. They hope to collaborate with health care practitioners across all spectrums to offer truly holistic care and research.

*******

this workshop is a part of the AFAB & FTM surgical support groups run through the Sherbourne

Top Surgical Discussion (“pre-op”) & Post-Operative Group

When: Last Tuesday of the month

This group is open to trans men and AFAB people who are considering top surgery, and to those who have undergone top surgery. Through peer-to-peer support, the meetings aim to provide information about surgery options, surgical processes, navigating Ontario health care systems, trans resources, mental health, and sexuality. The discussion aims to help participants create a lasting support network of trans people from a range of social locations and experiences. The group will also host guest speakers on a variety of issues, dependent upon the participants’ interests and needs. Pre-registration is not required.

Contact Tobias for more information – shc.transsurgerygroups@gmail.com

 

*AFAB stands for “assigned female at birth,” and is an umbrella term that encompasses those who identify as gender variant, Two-Spirit, genderqueer, male, trans man/masculine, transgender, transsexual, and non-binary etc, who have been assigned female at birth. Not all those listed under this umbrella may identify with AFAB terminology.

Trans art (therapy) in 1948

During today’s research on this history of clinical psychoanalytic opinions on transgender people, I stumbled across a fascinating article from 1948. Martin Grotjahn’s “Transvestite Fantasy Expressed in a Drawing” (Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 17:340-345) is not unique in its analysis of his patient’s “perversion” – Grotjahn argues that this image is a representation of the trans person’s disavowal of castration through the creation of a fetish (cross-dressing). For example, on left side of the drawing, you can discern the depiction of a scrotum without a penis, on the right, a life-like vagina bloodied and lacking a hymn. He states:

“It is noteworthy in the drawing that the castration is symbolized, but that it is clearly conceived as a literal castration denoted by the bleeding vagina, and testes without a penis. In typical transvestite fashion, the symbolic denial of castration is already implied: the testes may be found behind the curtain (under the clothes). The woman’s clothing becomes a substitute for the missing penis.”

His interpretations aside, what I actually find most captivating about this find, is the drawing itself, that has been preserved through the psychiatrist’s pathologizing clinical report. As Susan Stryker has articulated in the introduction to the first Transgender Studies Reader, it is up to trans studies scholars to return to these histories, combing over their records to uncover and rewrite stories of trans experience. This “Renarration” allows trans people to treat sexologist’s “immense body of clinical work as its archive” (Stryker 14).

 

 

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1948, artist unknown

 

This sketch, clearly influenced by surrealism (and it also reminds me of Sybil Lamb’s work), reflects the balance of dream states and reality; fantasy and desire. Broadly, I see negotiations between polarized gendered embodiments, the struggle of the path this “patient” walks, of being observed, of feeling stuck, the shame of being seen or seeing, interiorities and exteriorities (holes and poles), and violence. Yet any analysis of the piece, without a conversation with the artist themselves, will also do much to reflect both the psyche of the one doing the analysis and their particular socio-political context. This is another reason why the medicalized archive to trans people could be of significant use for uncovering the resonant anxieties that have lubricated clinical transphobia. In other words, can we look at medical reports to determine cis people’s defensive responses to gender variance?

The kind of shame surrounding genitals and their medical documentation has always captured my attention. During the early 1990s, all psychiatric reports were accompanied by detailed measurements of the body, and exhaustive descriptions of privileged body parts (forehead, skull, pelvis, clitoris). The truth of mental illness was to be found in the flesh, as biological positivism had a weighty hold.

Trans and intersex people’s anatomies were documented through image and text that measured and compared their corporeal deviations to a measured norm – an all-encompassing phallometrics, obsessively filed and registered.

And despite the undisputable violence of this history, I can’t help but find such profoundly beautiful queer aesthetic in the kinds of sublime mutations captured through scientific record.

That said, I’ll leave you with the final image I found today, a watercolour depiction of a vulva from 1892, housed at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Archives & Museum. The genitals have been scarred by ulceration – which can be the result of any number of factors including STIs, sexual trauma, psoriasis, and fixed drug eruptions. The cause is not documented.

by Leonard Portal Mark, 1892

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