I f*cked up. (CW: Racism, responding to call-outs)

Y’all, I fucked up and I want to own that.

I’ve taken a long time to write this because this is a conversation that deserves time and attention.

It is extremely important to me to build a business that clients feel safe coming to-a business that acknowledges that structural racism and implicit bias exist. A business that is a resource for Queer and Trans BIPOC, both in the Chicago community and nationally. To that end, I’m actively working to create a business that combats racism structurally and personally.

Most of you know that I have a free facebook group for trans/non-binary/questioning folks that I created and moderate. A few weeks ago, a person of color in the group commented on a post I made about a media figure, giving me feedback about past racist actions they had taken.

This is what I should have said to that feedback:

Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me this! I completely agree that the racist actions pointed out are not ok.Thank you for highlighting that there is more than one side to this conversation and this person. I apologize for the impact that had on you and other people of color in this group. I wasn’t aware of the past missteps from this person. I’ll read the resources you suggested and work to do more research in the future ahead of time.

Instead I:

  • Got defensive instead of curious

  • Didn’t fully acknowledge what this person was saying

  • Didn’t immediately and fully acknowledge that the racism pointed out was not ok

  • Responded quickly without checking in about my own implicit bias, limiting conversation to my experience only and not to how other people in the group are experiencing this person

  • Asked for the conversation to be paused until I got back from a conference, which had the impact of silencing the conversation

I’m sorry for any harm I’ve caused folks of color in this group, and in my larger community, through my actions. I want you to know that I care deeply about BIPOC TGNC visibility and voices and I know that there is work to be done on my part to make sure that Practical Audacity and I center and celebrate those voices. I can see now how I could have responded differently throughout the thread to make that abundantly clear. 
This is so important to me and I am working to take steps to repair and learn.

Here are some of the actions I have taken and am continuing to take:

  • Opening the conversation about what else can I do to repair any harm caused to POC folx in the facebook group and in my Chicago community. I invite you to let me know how I can repair trust with you if you feel like you’ve been harmed.

  • Processing with a number of trusted advisors who are professionals in the mental health and community organizing fields from day one

  • Entering into a formal consultation process with a queer, POC diversity consultant, in order to respond appropriately and make sure that I’m able to hold myself accountable for the places that I made missteps along the way and to intentionally build a business that consistently addresses racism, whiteness, and implicit bias

  • Prioritizing POC guest moderators in the facebook group

  • Working to rebuild trust with POC folks harmed by this interaction, understanding that it takes time

  • Continuing to do my own work to root out any implicit bias that I may not be currently aware of

  • Doing work to make sure that the values (and how we live out those values) at Practical Audacity and in the facebook group are clear

  • Doing work to make sure that conversations, learnings, and practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion are front and center at Practical Audacity, especially as a mostly white staff

I’m writing this on Tuesday, July 2nd. The day of the total solar eclipse in Cancer. This will probably not be sent today, but it feels significant to add that context. As a long-time Chani Nicholas fan, this really stood out to me as Chani talks about the eclipse, “Being afraid is no excuse for not trying. Being inexperienced is no reason not to go to the lengths we must to get a little time in the saddle. Being green and growing is far more powerful than sitting on the sidelines, choking with envy. “

When I was taking classes as a baby Chicagoan at Second City, one phase that was repeated over and over again (that I now repeat in every workshop I give) is to “fail bigger.” What this meant was that, in order to be a good improv performer (cough, good at life, cough), you have to be willing to start before you feel ready, put yourself out there, and take risks. And some of these risks are going to be colossal failures. And that when you fail, it’s your job to pick yourself up and do it all over again. Otherwise, you’re just going to stay on the sidelines your whole life, safely making no impact good or bad.

As Practical Audacity builds and become more of a public platform and voice, we will inevitably “fail bigger” and more publically. Fuck, y’all. That’s hard! And also, I’m here for it as a leader.

We are committed to continually learning and doing better. My doors and ears are open to discuss any feelings, thoughts, or ideas you have. Thanks so much for holding space for these important conversations. And thank you to my community, for being willing to call me on my sh*t. It’s important and I value your voice.


Meet the Therapist: Xochitl Sandoval

I’m excited to introduce the newest therapist at Practical Audacity, Xochitl Sandoval, AM (he/him). As a trans person of color, Xochitl works from a trauma-informed, anti-oppressive lens. His work is grounded in the belief that healing can occur when people are able to establish safe and empowering connections with others. To this end, he is committed to listening to your needs and acknowledges that you are the expert of your own life and experiences. Xochitl is flexible, and has a wide range of clinical tools to choose from to find an approach that fits you just right.

Xochitl’s specializations include working with folks with PTSD and C-PTSD, folks who have experienced oppression-based trauma, folks who struggle with addictions, LGBTQIA+ folks, BDSM lovers and explorers, and folks who feel like their problems are "too much" or "too scary" to share with others & have felt they had to hide their feelings and experiences.

Xochitl received his Masters degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. His work has served his community in several ways over the years, as a guardian ad litem, a therapist & case manager for adults with serious mental illness, a youth empowerment specialist at a youth shelter, and most recently, a volunteer at the Kovler Center for Victims of Torture.

Check out this short intro video to get to know Xochitl a little better.

I've been terrified to launch this program and here's why

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve been a bit more active on my newsletter and in my Practical Audacity facebook group. It has been on my heart for a long time to take my work with trans/genderqueer/questioning folks past one-on-one and group therapy work to a larger audience and creating these forever-free resources and seeing the amazing response, as well as the support folks in the group are giving to each other, is really filling me with warm fuzzies.

I also created a program that I am incredibly excited about but I’ve been really scared to put out there.

It’s called GenderFck and it’s a one-of-a-kind, research-based, 10-week online group coaching program that is designed to help you tap into a sense of play, pleasure, and possibility while exploring your gender. This program is designed to provide folks with a ton of support from me, as well as other coaches and peers.

One of the most consistent things I hear from my clients is that they feel alone in the process of transition, especially at the beginning. We also know that research strongly supports that having an affirming community around you as a part of a marginalized population is a HUGE factor that supports resilience and mental health. I want to create a space that addresses that need at its core.

This is what I want to help people accomplish:

  • Learn and apply research-based skills to help you transition with more ease. Not love-and-light/just-be-you toxic positivity, but real skills and the support to apply them in a small, personalized setting.

  • Make decisions that feel right for you about coming out, hormones, and any other medical or social transitions you are interested in with the support of experienced professionals and your peers.

  • Explore what feels good in sex, dating, and relationships while your body, identity, and/or gender expression is shifting. Address the limiting beliefs and fraudy feelings that are holding you back and find ways to experience pleasure in your body right. now.

  • Find confidence to be yourself in whatever spaces you choose to be, knowing that you have a community of people who have your back.

GenderFck combines personalized coaching, worksheets and homework assignments, and a built-in community to provide you with the support and tools you need to be you in new and more authentic ways. It addresses a lot of needs that I see coming up again and again with my clients and provides an intensive experience that is designed to get folks results fast.

But here’s the thing,

I’m terrified to launch this program.

I’m terrified because the reality is that I have to charge for it. The story I’m telling myself is that all of you are going to rise up in unison at the audacity of me trying to charge money for a program that is meant to serve a marginalized population that often is already struggling to find funds for things like name changes and medical transition. I’m telling myself the story that you’ll think the community I’ve been working so hard to build is just about personal gain.

Pretty much like this (RIP GOT):

But, as a Brene Brown-ism, I’m choosing to step into the arena anyway and risk getting some scrapes and bruises because I really believe in this work.

I did a lot of soul-searching about what to charge for this program and, after talking with lots of friends, coaches, and my own therapist (fraudy feelings anyone?), I came to a number that allows me to have a small enough cohort size that me and my team can give each participant the personal attention and care that I believe they need to get the result they want. I’m keeping the program small in order to be able to truly go deep with folks in the way I want in a way that is also sustainable for me as a therapist and a coach. I’m committed to bringing my best self to the work which means that I’m budgeting in what I need to create a business model that allows time for learning, rest, self-care, and growth. It also accounts for the price of tech, support staff, and additional coaches.

I’ve also committed to offering 10% of program spots as a scholarship position at a 75% discount, available via application only.

It’s true that this program isn’t for everybody. It’s a significant time and money investment, which I understand is not in the realm of possibility for some folks at this point in their lives. GenderFck is for folks who are actively exploring their gender identity and/or expression and love the idea of spectrums of identity and expression. It’s for folks who are currently ready and willing to make changes in their lives and are open to taking some risks to do so. It’s designed to create space for deep internal work in a supportive community.

If GenderFck resonates with you and you want to know more, I invite you to schedule an exploratory call and fill out an application We will talk about what’s going on for you right now and decide together if GenderFck is a good fit for you and your needs.