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.

Shallow Roots have Immense Strength

Family is such a complicated topic for queer/trans/non-binary folks.

I love hearing stories about families who are super amazing and supportive and emotionally intelligent. AND this is often not the story I hear. It's not the story I have.

As a latently queer kid growing up in the South who only wore black and band shirts, I never felt like I 100% fit into my family of conservative Christian, camo-wearing folks.

Once I came out as queer, the feeling of not fitting in became blatant hostility or toxic positivity (We're not rejecting you! Just don't talk about your life/your partner(s)/or anything you believe in and we're totally welcoming. Love you!) Ummmmm.....this version of love didn't quite make sense to me. I know my parents and relatives are doing the best they can given the current resources they are accessing, but there isn't a lot of room left for developing any sort of mutually supportive and affirming relationship.

This is a pretty common story that I hear from both friends and client's alike. The unit that is supposed to have your back and support you no matter what doesn't always live up to that bargain. It can leave you feeling lost and alone in the world.

I was visiting San Francisco recently and went for a walk in a Redwood forest. The giant trees felt spiritual to me. Old. Wise. Substantial in the way that makes me feel small in the best way. Like Mountains or the Milky Way. A good friend told me that Giant Sequoia tree's have widespread, shallow roots that intertwine and fuse together with the roots of the trees around them, clustering around a "mother tree" in what is called a Fairy Circle. (Yall, A. FAIRY. CIRCLE. If that isn't a clear indication that this metaphor is meant for the queer and trans community, I don't know what it.) This is what creates their immense strength and resiliency against both nature and time that has let many of live and thrive since the fucking dinosaurs.

If the family that you grew up with isn't providing you with the deep roots you need to thrive, you're not alone. It sucks and it's hard.

And you have more options for strength and resilience than you think.

Find your fairy circle. Let your roots go wide and intertwine them with the people in your life who truly see you. If you don't have that yet, that's ok. I haven't always had that either. But I PROMISE that there are people out there (whether or not they are geographically close to you right now) who can really see you and, with time and energy, can become that shallow-rooted and strong #chosenfam.

What is one action you can take today to either widen your roots to find your people or intertwine more intentionally with the people already in your corner? 

Cheers to my fairy circle. I love you. And thanks, Karin, for giving me that beautiful metaphor.