The MF Therapy Blog

Unblocking Myself as an Anti-Racist

If you’re anything like me, as a white person you know that femme is a political identity. You know that we wouldn’t be anywhere without the activism of trans femmes of color who we have to thank for Pride because they fought back against police who continually harassed them as they were trying to survive through sex work. You know that to only credit white working class lesbian femmes of the 1950s for building up our identity erases the femmes of color who have been integral, too, and for whom femme is an identity of decolonized femininity.

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Being Seen is More Than Self-Work

We all envision people being seen for who they are. Being seen means that not only is it okay for people to be who they are, they’re celebrated as unique and beautiful. It’s true that if you know who you are and are confident, you’re able to see yourself. This self-work makes how you’re seen by others insignificant. When validation comes from where it really counts -within- it opens up people’s potential to thrive.

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Month 5: Taking Up Rest

With taking up space comes taking up rest. The two aren’t mutually exclusive and for some, they are one in the same. Rest can be simply enjoyable or truly radical. Often it’s truly radical because it’s simply enjoyable. We are taught that our pleasure doesn’t matter, that we don’t matter, and that our worth is based on what we produce. Because of this rest can trigger tremendous guilt and enjoying it can be challenging.

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Month 4: Creativity

I’m a firm believer of using adulthood to embody the dream of your younger self. Quite simply, the early activities in which we felt most in our bodies and most free to express ourselves can continue to give us the most sense of meaning. What do you remember being praised for? What do you remember being good at? What did you create for yourself because you didn’t see yourself in what was around you? What helps you get your emotions out so that you feel better afterwards? What brings you joy? What did you do to feel more connected to loved ones? What memories are these things (making music, cooking, knitting, sewing) tied to?

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A Proposed Intention Setting Ritual for the New Year

Over the years I’ve gradually developed an intention setting ritual around the New Years that does a lot to support my growth as a bold, goal-achieving, and happy femme. I frame them as intentions rather than resolutions because I’m not trying to resolve anything. Rather, I intend to focus my energy on what’s most meaningful to me. Focusing in this way allows me to pursue what’s important with my limited time while still having gentle stakes if I don’t reach them fully.

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Month 3: Chosen Holidays

There are no easy answers to the many complex decisions that we must make this time of year. You may still be figuring out your own options, and they may change annually. If you relate to the scenario I’m describing, that your family has expectations that weigh on you heavily despite being toxic, just know that it’s a nearly impossible one to solve. Someone will always lose, so let go of pleasing everyone and that warm, cheery family holidays are realistic.

Let go, too, of that you have to be the one that loses.

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Taking Time Off: A Harm Reduction Approach to Femme Labor

For many femmes, though, quitting as an emotional laborer is daunting, scary, and feels nearly impossible. You don’t know any other way of functioning. Even if it’s causing harm, perhaps through a loss of sense of self or disconnection from your needs or autonomy over your time and energy, the thought of changing how you relate to others causes tension in your body and jumbles your mind. Femmes’ conditioning as emotional laborers often starts from a very young age, after all. You’re stressed and tired and sometimes you feel so upset because it seems like you’re doing everything and it’s unfair, yes, but how do you do differently?

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Month 2: Femme Labor

I recently laid in my apartment catching up on the quarterly print magazine Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture from Bitch Media when I came across a citation for the origin of the term “emotional labor.” It struck me. As someone who thinks and talks about emotional labor frequently I’d never thought about where the concept came from…

The citation was The Managed Heart by sociologist and academic Arlie Russell Hochschild (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1983). Fast forward a few weeks and an interlibrary loan later, and I was back to laying in my apartment, this time reading The Managed Heart to see what I could learn about emotional labor from an academic and historical perspective.

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Can Femme Invisibility Be a Superpower?

Sometimes, we bypass fighting the villain altogether. We’re above exerting any energy that isn’t spent fostering each other’s femme glory. We’re not even invisible on the bus, at school, or at the bar; we’re off having our own party, eating delicious food, dancing, singing, and praising each other’s highly developed femme aesthetics where they can’t touch us. We use our heightened superpower to build our collective strength.

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Month 1: Femme Visibility

There is no one femme experience of invisibility. Invisibility shifts depending on our gender identity, gender expression, “passing” privilege, size, disabilities, age, culture, race, religion, and location among other factors. Hyper-visiblity, including for some trans and nonbinary femmes, creates its own safety risks. While many femmes face invisibility within and beyond queer community based on people assuming they’re straight, to reduce femmes into queer women who “look” straight creates further invisibility around the complex, expansive identity which is femme.

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Walking The Walk: The MF Therapy Blog

This is me walking the walk: taking up space, using our voices, and leaning into our passions and our creativity. Not waiting until we have everything just so (although I have put a good amount of thought into this). Believing in ourselves. Being gentle with ourselves. Taking the body with us. Working through what comes up in place of pushing through. Centering our whole self rather than outcomes or output.

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