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98. The Transformation of Kink and Surrogate Partner Therapy Safety, Honesty, and Play with Brandon

Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast featuring real conversations with conscious objectors to the status quo.

I'm your host, Nicole. I tried to keep her hiding all strong hope. I tried to keep her quiet, but she's screaming outside of me. I tried to keep her hiding all short of hope.

I tried to keep her quiet, but she's a wild, wild woman. On today's episode, we have a sex educator and therapist, Brandon. Join us for a conversation about challenging the status quo to bring about sexual liberation. Together, we talk about the healing nature of kinky play, the human need for physical touch and intimacy, and navigating the complexities of fighting for truth. Dear listeners, this was such a special episode to record with Brandon and to edit back and then think about the importance of more expansive ways of play and intimacy in our sex lives. I'm always telling people that if you want to see the effects of patriarchy, look no further than your own sex lives.

I'll be the first to say that going through purity culture and all of that upbringing, I was taught such restrictive ways of embodiment, such restrictive ways of connecting with other people. And Brandon talked about people who feel like something is wrong with them for not enjoying the sex that they're having and people who find out that maybe they're a little kinky and that actually being the impetus to a whole sexual exploration. And I will say, I love vanilla, I do. But what I have found out is that I also love all 31 flavors of ice cream. And that those other flavors have actually made it much easier for multiple orgasms. And so, you know, when we look at the DSM, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and I had mentioned this in the podcast that there is a female orgasm disorder. And we're looking at high rates of prevalence of this disorder.

And it just makes me wonder, you know. Maybe there's nothing wrong with us. Maybe there is actually a lot wrong with the sex education that we've been given. Maybe we've only been given one flavor of ice cream and we want the whole 31 flavors, y'all, okay? I am going to keep talking about those 31 flavors because I think that when we look at the high rates of prevalence of female orgasm disorder, we know that if this was any other disorder, there would be so much research going into what is going on here. And so, y'all, I am passionate about bringing this out into the, you know, common discussion about what's going on.

If people are suffering, we need to be having conversations about this and opening up to different ways of intimacy and play with one another. So, y'all are going to continue to hear about my research in this and all. Y'all, I have some really fun guests coming up in the lineup. I couldn't promise you that. So, definitely stay tuned each week.

We're going to be diving into those 31 flavors more so. And also, I want to give a quick shout out to one of our newest Patreon members, Caril. I hope I pronounced your name right. Thank you for joining the Patreon and for supporting the long-term sustainability of the podcast and all of this research.

I appreciate you dearly. Y'all, I'm posting about my own lived experience with rope, with latex, with all that sort of stuff on Patreon. So, if you want more of a personal scoop on what I'm exploring right now, then you can check that out and the links are below. Y'all, I hope you enjoy today's conversation. And learn a little bit more about what your own flavor profile might be from today's conversation. Y'all, Tynan, do you have any questions for me before we start? I would just love to hear from you what the intention of this podcast is.

I'm so curious about it. This episode or the grand scheme of the podcast in general? The grand scheme. Like what started? Like how did you start it? What was the impetus?

Yeah. So the impetus was, I think, studying feminism and just so many ideas that I just wanted to get out in the world. And then there was specifically a situation, like the actual impetus was one of the person who had sexually assaulted me, had like contacted me after many years and it created such discontent. And I was so frustrated and I went to my mentor at the time and I was like, there's so many fucked up things about the society that really need to change.

Like what do I do? And she was like, you need to start having conversations with people. And I was like, yeah, I do.

And then so the podcast kind of like formed from that, but it kind of expanded too much more, I think, because I come from a conservative background. And so, you know, my mom and sister are Mormon. Like there's so many conversations to bridge our gap of connection of how I see the world to their world. So that's kind of what I started with first of like, let's have these conversations so people can hear like real voices, real humans that are talking about their experience. So it kind of started from that of trying to just cover like a wide breadth of things that I think a lot of people don't understand and don't feel connected to like my sister had never chatted with or talked to someone who was gay. Like just that alone.

I was like, okay, we need to get some conversations out there and like something accessible like the podcast could facilitate that. And plus it's fun, right? Like I'm a researcher. This is just like, this is just good to me.

Like I can talk to other theorists, other people in the field that are leading and challenging the status quo in ways that help me grow too. So that's awesome. Thank you for sure. I wasn't aware of how this arose out of your own experience and how it became really this creating these bridges and offering exposure because exposure really is key. And a lot of times we have so many resistances to it because it feels threatening and to create an opportunity for folks to be exposed at their own, at more of a comfort level, right?

At a distance. I think it's crucial. Yeah, yes, absolutely, absolutely. And there's something about, I think, a podcast that is unique in the connecting with a human experience and all the inflections, right, of that conversation and that dialogue compared to reading content. Obviously, that's important, but you don't get the same human connection in that of hearing the voice and hearing the, yeah, the emotionality in someone's writing and pieces. And that's how we become human to each other, right? It's through our stories.

Yep, exactly, right. So if I have someone who, you know, is completely transphobic and we have a trans person come on and talk about their experience and how, you know, how wonderful and how beautiful and how happy they are to be in their full body as they are, I hope that that can do more than just writing about it or hearing about it. Like that is a level of human connection that I think kind of like you're saying is just, it's very powerful. Yes. Yeah.

Yeah. And it's what lives underneath a lot of politicized conversations, which the person always political in so many senses. And also, we can sometimes if we're only talking about these topics at that political strata, it feels hard to connect to the human element underneath, becomes more of a game or a challenge or, you know, my side versus the side. Absolutely. It lives more in that power struggle rather than that, that restoration of empathy. Absolutely. And yeah, that's exactly, you know, like I want to bring the revolution, you know, right? I think we all do in some ways and like, how do you do that?

I think conversations, right? Like one at a time. Yes. Yeah.

Yeah. And especially for me too, as someone who's Polly, like so many of those ideas are just radical and can be a lot for people to digest. And so I liked the idea in terms of like having a podcast also that doesn't just talk about that, because then it brings people in and you get exposed to ideas that are maybe different that you would have never thought about, you know, in a way that would have been more isolated if I just made a podcast about polyamory, you know. Yeah, there tends to be more of a ceiling on that. And then, you know, that can still be wonderful, but it's much more susceptible to becoming an echo chamber, right?

And less of a, less of an influx of newer folks from different perspectives. So absolutely. Absolutely. Sounds great. I'm honored to be a part of it. And I'm curious what you're curious about and how I can be an agent in your revolution today.

Hell yeah. Well, you might not like that I'm about to push back on to you, because that's kind of how I do this is if I were to come in every time and have my own direction so directly and know what I want to talk about, the show would only ever be my lens of the world, right? That's also why I really like to let the guest or have the guest choose who comes next. So then it's not me, it's not me directing all this, you know, like you were nominated by someone and you will nominate someone.

And so in that, I take a step back and want to talk about what you want to talk about. Yeah. Great. I know.

Yeah. So I want to talk about the role of gender and sexual liberation in this revolution and, and, and the types of, of movements and also work and from my particular backgrounds, being coming from a clinical background and now doing the work that I do as a sex educator and as a surrogate partner, the role that I see that playing in public health and in sexual wellness and, and liberation. I'm ready. I'm ready. This sounds like a very fruitful conversation in my kind of Saturday morning, like truly I get excited about all of this.

I'm getting the same feelings right now, but I used to get about Saturday morning cartoons. Does that mean we're nerdy? I think so. I think it means we're on the right track. Absolutely.

Absolutely. Well, yeah, tell me where, where does that conversation start for you? It starts with the core themes of safety, honesty and play and the role that those have in restoration and transformation.

And that's why I do the work that I do. So a lot of people don't know or unfamiliar with surrogate partner therapy. In brief, it's a sex therapy more than a sex therapy. It's actually, it's an intimacy modality that works a triadic model.

So a surrogate partner is a trained and supervised professional who stands in as a relationship partner temporarily with a client who has extreme barriers to emotional and physical intimacy. And that could be due to a number of reasons that could be history of trauma, genital pain, sexual naivety, right? Never, some people have never had a debut, gender transitioning. So learning to be in their body in an intimate way or to negotiate from their authentic gendered experience when they've been socialized in a totally different way.

That's one of the cases that I'm working on right now. And, and they're therapists, right? So it's always the three of us work in tandem. And that, and that's for a number of reasons. One, this is, is work that takes on a lot of emotional vulnerability.

And there's risks with that, just like those risks with therapy, like anytime you go on to paperwork for therapy, there's always, there's, there should be a section that talks about the risks of engaging in the work because you're deliberately heading towards the, you know, your wounds into your work. And stuff's going to kind of come up. Yeah.

Sometimes it's going to be super rough. Yeah. So we try to get out in front of that and name that from the very beginning. But with the three of us working together, it has a collaborative approach. It flattens some of the hierarchy of power that can sometimes exist even in, in just the dyad of the therapist's client, right?

Right. So, and we all consult with each other. So after I meet with a client, right, if I have a sort of partner therapy session with a client, I do a number of things. I have a meeting with a therapist who is also going to meet with them following our session. I have a meeting with my mentor who is a certified circuit partner. So there's a long-term experience to me. So I'm consulting two ways on that. And sometimes I might even have additional group supervision with my peers, just to add all those checks and balances and make sure that I have my own support for one.

Right. And also to make sure that this work really can deliver on its goal, you know, keeping me oriented towards the client goals, you know, because it's really tough. We are deliberately setting ourselves up into an extremely vulnerable and intimate situation. We are engaging in relationship to even further degrees. I mean, you've heard about, I'm sure, people, how they can form bonds and attachments with their therapists, right?

Yeah. And there's a lot of ethical protectors around that. There's still clinical distances there, right?

Even with really close bonds with therapists. But surrogates are taking a step further in, right? And one of the biggest differences is that we engage in touch. And it's all contextualized, clinically directed, touch activities when we get to those stages. But basically what we're focusing on is establishing communication skills, relaxation skills, mindfulness. And the whole idea behind story department therapy is that we learn in real time how to co-regulate our nose together. And in doing so, picking up tangible skills that can be remembered and practiced on their own, so that so then the client can develop self-regulation on top of that. And then when our work comes to an end, they have both a lived experience with another person who is also engaging in emotional physical intimacy with them and the skills that they've learned for regulating themselves and for communicating their experience and their needs with partners in the future, they can then teach how to be with them.

So that's in a nutshell, right? But it's the kind of thing when every time I feel like I describe it for the first time, I'm like, I wish I would have had that. I wish my young, even before my own sexual debut, I'm 41 years old, right?

And it took me, if I could have had access to something like this half my life ago, what would have been different? So I feel passionately about the work. And in terms of the liberation, I think sex education and skills for intimacy and wellness and learning how to have healthy relationships, communicate effectively, and to take care of oneself, that is liberatory work. Because if we do that and we generate more intimacy in our society, more skills for navigating conflict through vulnerability and less through gaining schemas, less through power struggles, non-consensual power struggles, I should say. Right, right, exactly. Because there are some real good power struggles that we should definitely be having. I think the better off will be.

And the less reliant on really unhealthy coping skills and unhealthy social models will be. And that little hint there is around also come from the kink-informed lens, being somebody who that's what a transformative experience in my own life. I want to hear the whole story on that too. And it continues to be. And it's very important to me. And I bring that approach, and not all surrogate partners do. We all come from different walks of life. So I should say it's also rare for a surrogate partner to come from a clinical background.

So I'm actually kind of a rarity in this world. Having been a therapist myself, surrogate partners come from all walks of life. Some of them are yoga teachers, some are engineers, some are have adjacent professions, those life coaches or something, you know, some such. Some are former sex workers themselves.

So they bring these very different lenses, which is incredible. And I come from a clinical background, which I think is a real boon in many respects. It's a challenge for me because I have to remind myself that I am not the therapist in a relationship. So I like that I get to bring all of my learning and my skill to it, but I have to remind myself that there's somebody else in that role. And if I can remember that, it actually frees me to be more present as the partner. So that's one thing I know that can be a challenge to come to my background, and not just shift into therapist mode. But I also bring a kink-informed lens. And I think that that's really crucial because, as we know, folks who are kink-aware or identify as kinky themselves, when we're exploring our sexuality, there's a lot that gets lumped into a normative trajectory of intimacy equating sexuality through a heteronormative cis lens.

Right? And the further along you get on that, the healthier you are. And that is true for a lot of people, but it certainly isn't true for everybody. And in fact, if we're going to do honest work, we're really openly exploring what turns us on and what we notice in our body when we're having different sensory experiences, different kind of consensual dynamics at play, many people have found that their sexuality, what they would define as a sexuality, actually lives outside of even genital contact. It lives within what we would call a kink context, which at the end of the day, I think all of that is the normal range of human sexuality. I am in agreement with you. Yes.

Yes. So that's a lens that I bring to this work too. Because what I don't want to do is, and I don't think most circumferences do this, but what I don't want to do is give a client the impression that I'm going to set them on some sort of prescriptive track, and we're going to get to, you know, penetrative heteronormative sex, and that's going to be their cure. Right? That's how they're going to know that they've made it. That's how they're going to know they're healthy. And that's what they should be able to do in a healthy relationship. I don't do that.

I don't front load any of that crap. Amazing. We explore in real time. We learn how to play together. You know, we learn, and that playfulness, that alone, the experience of play, which is like, I think from a nervous system standpoint, is activation without fear.

Right? So feeling the activation features in our body, similar to ones that might come online when we are, when we feel threatened, we feel afraid, but we feel them in an exhilarated way. We feel them in a playful way.

Right? Being able to re-experience that, which we take for granted as children, because we do it all the time. But as adults, it gets trained and squeezed out of us by the behaviors of having to perform adulthood in our society, and the pressures around that. And so just simply restoring play is a core feature of it, because then we can say, well, what lives in that state of play? What else is in there that might have been forgotten or marginalized?

What can we pick up in that place? And how does play allow us to explore? When we play, we feel safe.

Right? And when we feel safe, we feel open. We feel open. We feel adventurous.

Right? And so establishing a connection that has a secure base, right? Which we do through a lot of communication, negotiation, setting boundaries, right? Talking about limits, doing a lot of radical communication around that. You know, this is before we ever get to any touch.

Right. And then every tiny step along the way, we do consent games. We use somatic language to describe what's happening in our bodies. And we find a common language, because every relationship, every intimate relationship has its own language. And so learning that is part of the key. And that takes time to do that. So that's just, I feel like I could, I could just go on and on.

I know, I love it. But I'm wondering at this point, like what questions have come up for you already just so far? So many. I think immediately I'm thinking about the amount of like pushback that you probably get in the field of psychology. And even when I brought up conversations about recording with surrogate partner therapist, the amount of pushback I've gotten from my supervisors, even about that idea, right? And it just makes me sad, because I think that this work is so needed. And I appreciate your discussion of all these pieces and like the way that you're talking about, I think it's very necessary to have this conversation so that people can work on that bias, right, of this being problematic or outside of the lens of what can be healing, right?

I mean, talking about consent, learning how to build that and learning how to do play. I mean, these are necessary things for us. And I think people really need to slow down and ask themselves, what is it that they're so afraid of by this idea? And I think part of it comes back to the whole taboo of sexuality in general, right? And all of the pieces of like, Oh, can this therapist be aware enough of their own, you know, countertransference or transference, whatever people talk about in that language, which I don't necessarily believe in because I think that we are always having human responses to one another.

So I don't think putting it into that like language of countertransference and transference is just a way to like disconnect from the reality that no matter who you're with, they're going to have a relational dynamic with them, okay? And that's just being human. And so I appreciate you talking about like the different levels of supervision, that's part of, you know, what we do in therapy is sit with other people who can look and see the parts of ourselves kind of like, you know, rear view mirrors, being able to see the parts that maybe we don't see in our own lens. And so it just breaks my heart, I think at first of what I'm hearing of like, how beautifully this practice is intentional and healing and so necessary. And still even with all of that, I just feel like you and me sitting here facilitating this conversation, like we're fighting against an uphill battle here of like the whole world of psychology that is so restrictive to what can be healing. And that just frustrates me.

It is frustrating at times. One of the things that I do is I actually do trainings for therapists. And because there are understandable, unfortunate but understandable concerns that therapists have.

The three main ones are legality, liability, and client safety. I get it. I've been punishing myself and I understand that. The first one is that everybody asks, right, is it legal? And that's really interesting. That's an interesting question to ask. And I think people ask it because they feel like it ought to be illegal, which it isn't. But why do we assume that it is?

We assume that it is for a number of reasons. One, we live in a profoundly sex-negative culture, which is also profoundly hostile to sex work, right? And so, which makes most people, even very progressive people, even a lot of therapists, ill at ease, right? One of the things, when I was in clinical practice, is I worked at an explicitly sex work affirming practice on it, a number of clients who are former or current sex workers. And I co-facilitated monthly support groups with sex workers. And one of the things that I feel like is intentional or not, but an act of erasure, is the fact that sex workers have been doing therapeutic work since the beginning of time. Sex workers, before the practice of therapy was even a moat on the horizon. Sex workers were touching people, not only physically but emotionally, were hearing people's stories, were engaging in wound work, right? And yes, of course, there are lots of risks and there's a lot of fucked up stuff. I swear a lot, is that a problem? Not at all. Swear away, baby.

Swear away. There's a lot of fucked up stuff that happens around sex work. But a lot of it has to do with the fact that it's not a protected class of labor. It's not a recognized or protected class of labor, right? So there's no protections.

And it's easy to avoid in this country, right? Exactly. So the more exploitable you make people, the harder and the harder it is you make them to practice their work safely, the worse that should it's going to happen. And the more concessions they have to make about their own safety in order to live. I get really fired up about this.

This is exactly the space to bring that energy. And sex workers have been doing work that is therapeutic forever. And a lot of therapists don't know that. And the ones who might don't want to acknowledge it, because this is an uncomfortable feeling. And so this is not all circuits would describe this, but I think of SPT as brutally put as a merger between psychotherapy and sex work, into a real, a tangible, guided practice towards wellness and public health. Because the more the people know about their own bodies, first of all, which I don't know if you've had sex education in this country or what passes for it, the fam, it's abysmal.

Yes. You know how many people have never seen their genitals, like up close, have never seen anything, any part of their body below the waist, you know, or their own anus, any, I mean, just whole parts of our bodies that are both forbidden because they're taboo or they're seen as unclean. So just learning one's body, how to communicate about one's body, how to be in one's body, and then how to share one's body and share in another body.

These sound like very simple things, but there are so many barriers to this. And it liberates people, it makes people free to do this. And free people are harder to control.

They're also harder to sell shit to, because they're not trying to put out fires by consuming products. So there's a threat to a certain kind of status quo in sex work itself, and certainly in this practice. And my perspective is I recognize sex workers as my fucking peers. So I don't, I don't play the game where, because I'm in a practice that isn't illegal and is clinically recognized and is, and is within a modality that is therapy, and this is therapy, and I can call it that, that I then say, well, I'm not like those other sex workers.

Yeah. I'm not going to play that fucking game where because I get, I have certain kind of privileges and protections or recognitions, right, that I shunt others behind me and separate myself from them, just so I can hold on to the favor of a more normative society. I'm not going to do that. I've chosen a different line of work, and I will advocate for the rights and the safety of all kinds of sex workers.

And I said it's all atarity with that. And honestly, other somatic practitioners and therapists should do the same. Yes, completely. Yeah, the amount of sex workers that have come onto the podcast and talked exactly about what you're talking about of their work being so healing, and even people who have experienced healing by being a sex worker themselves, right? They're, I think at the core of everything we're talking about is increased intimacy, right, and all the layers of shame, particularly around sex and connection that are getting in the way of our ability to be intimate with other people, whether that be in relationships or through physical acts.

There's so many layers there that we're trying to break down that are getting in the way of us just being able to connect with other people. Yes. Yes. It also exposes at the same time the grand hypocrisy. Like we live in a culture that is malignant capitalism, and so, which means that property is equals worth, right? And so, owning things, owning property is a measure of your humanity. It's how you count in society. And so, if you're going to have a voice that says property equals power, it also equals your humanity, property equals your personhood, right? Because think about people who are experiencing houselessness, right, who have nothing to own, are literally ignored. It's like they don't exist, right?

Yeah. But if you're going to emphasize property, then one would say that the body is the first property. Oh, but wait, not everybody's body is their property. And also, certain types of uses of the body in order to survive or for enjoyment or for pleasure, right, that don't profit anyone else, we're not going to allow those. And also, certain gendered bodies aren't their own property. And so, their own health and wellness and what we're in reproductive and pleasure choices can't count for them. So, there's a challenge to the order of things in both the liberation of sex work and even just acknowledging it as legitimate work.

And certainly, my line of work too, right? It begs the same question. And it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. And people need to get uncomfortable because we don't learn otherwise.

Yeah, yes. And I don't understand quite literally the argument against it in many ways, right? If as someone who's a therapist, I am opening myself up to a relationship with a client, right, that is going to affect me. I think so many people in the psychology field are like, oh, there's so much harm for sex workers and the potential for that. And I mean, one, I think that's part of like what we said earlier of it not being a recognized profession that should be protected and have unions and other sorts of things that are there for that. But as a clinician, like I'm also also opening myself up to a lot of harm and putting my brain and my emotional capacity in relationship with another person.

And a sex worker is doing that and adding aspects of their body or other forms of energetic connection, right? Like, when we look at it that way, like, really, what is the difference under capitalism? We're both selling parts of ourselves. I'm selling my time, energy and emotional labor, and they're doing that and their bodies, right?

Like, or whatever form of connection. What's the difference there other than a societal judgment on sexuality, I just, I don't even get the argument, you know, like when we really sit with it, I just don't get it at this point. Yeah, there's some flimsy arguments around, you know, around public health, which is how a lot of laws were framed early on, right? And anti-constitutional laws were around, you know, outbreaks of like what used to be called venereal disease. You know what actually makes a difference with that?

Not making sex or illegal, but funding sex education and making safer sex practices funded and accessible to the public and free. That's how you do that. Yep, exactly, exactly. Yep, it's like the same thing with outlawing abortion, right? It's like if you don't want people to get pregnant, maybe we start to start with better sex education. We start with contraception. We start with other things, right? This they're not aiming at the right spot, or I guess they are with their own societal thinking.

But it's problematic that it just drives me nuts at this point. And the data doesn't support any of those platforms at the end of the day. Like no public health data supports any of those like moralistic agendas.

It doesn't, so it doesn't work. You know, the other core element of why SBT is important because it has a similar impact to sex work, which is we are creatures that are made for touch. It literally helps form our brains and our nervous systems when infants don't receive touch. They, their brains don't develop properly. They can even die. They can die, exactly, yep. Right?

Yep. We know that, and from a clinical standpoint too, the experience existentially and systematically the experience of isolation drives human beings literally insane and control out truly aberrant behavior, including suicide. We're not made to be isolated, right? And touch is a huge portion of our connection. We have magnificent capacities for language and technology that helps us see face to face. But there's no substitute for touch at the end of the day. And especially if we're working, if we're seeing each other as nervous systems that have old tracks for trying to survive horrific experiences and trauma. We have tracks that are well laid, right?

That was us doing our best as an animal to survive. If we wanna build new track, like that old track's not going anywhere, it's gonna stay there. We have to build new track and we need to be able to touch to complete that. I think talk therapy is a magnificent device. One thing that I noticed in the course of, and why I switched to becoming a CERCIP partner is that in the course of many of my cases, I saw limitations to talk therapy in certain cases because there was no substitute for touch.

And I wanted to look into a practice that was gonna be clinically guided, but included that. And there are many now, right? The sexological body work, other forms of body workers, right? That do either like self-guided or one-sided touch, right? But I wanted to live more squarely in that relational piece because it can also be so crucial for us, for a client to learn how another body experiences their touch, right? How to listen to another's desires and limitations to get that feedback as well. And to live in that dynamic, that fluid dynamic, right? Of active and passive giving and receiving, right?

Real time. And I wanted to go into that, to that level. Yeah, yeah, I think of pelvic floor work with physical therapists now who are starting to do that. It's very this accepted sort of physical touch practice that is being healing and within a medical model, right? And good, I'm glad we're getting to this place.

I'm glad we're starting to understand and expand and realize that there is healing through doing these touch-based practices. And kind of like you said, though, that is very limited in that it doesn't give you that dynamic of back and forth, of learning back and forth. And I think some people are really lucky that maybe they've had partners in their life who have demonstrated this type of communication. I think about what you were saying about Kink and at least my experience with stepping into the Kink community of having people who do kind of teach you in some ways how to communicate, how to step into that, how to name your desires. And the people who've had those sort of relationships are really lucky to have had those and learned and grown through those, but not everyone gets that opportunity. And some people need support in the same way that we need therapy, right? Because my parents weren't emotionally mature in that way and my community didn't have that. And I need a relationship, a therapist, right? Or to be able to facilitate that sort of discussion.

It's the same exact thing. We need someone to be able to help us to facilitate how to do that and how to step into that relationship. And so it's so beautiful that you're able to help people heal in that way by being in relationship with them.

Thank you, yeah. And that's essentially it. And so much of it too is just like, and this happens to degree in talk therapy, people come in feeling like they are broken, like something is wrong with them. And what they actually need, they don't even need that intensive of work. They just need to learn that their experience is actually pretty normal and what their interests might be is pretty normal. So, you know, going back to my kin clans, is that there might be some clients who have had extreme barriers to navigate them to intimacy because a lot of like normative touch and sexual trajectories haven't made sense to them. Or maybe they're on a spectrum of ACE, right? Sexuality or demisexuality. Maybe they're just fucking kinky.

And so we'll get to a point pretty early on where we realize that that's it. It's like, oh, you're actually, you're not broken, you're just kinky. So here's some communities, you can go, here's some resources, and here's a kink community.

You're actually fine. You just didn't know and you didn't have access to resources that reflected your experience, reflected your interests. And so a lot of times I like to put myself out of business by linking people to care, by normalizing their experience and linking them to resources, right?

We don't need to work together for a year. I'm doing, you know, I'm doing all these different kind of intensive practices, slow, titrated stuff because that's not actually where the issue lies. The issue lies is that we have PISPORSX education and a lot of resources are underfunded, unheard of and restricted.

So let me put you in touch. Yeah, and I think that's exactly what scares me is the amount of people who think and have internalized that something is wrong with them, when there is quite literally nothing wrong with them and they have a unique type of sexuality that is brought to life in a specific type of way within kink. And if they just knew that, all of this would expand in that way, but until you kind of know that that's an option for you, or until you figure that out, the amount of pain that you go through beforehand.

And I think that's where my heart breaks in all of this for those people right there that don't know. Yes, me too. Me too. And to see the wash of relief or almost disbelief at first and then relief and like, oh, I'm not right. There's nothing actually wrong with me.

I thought there was for years, I've been carrying this complex for years, right? Or this distorted belief for years. And it's not their fault.

Right, no. But I try to empower people to have the responsibility to show up to their own desires. Yeah, and dare I say, do you see them light up afterwards and feel alive and living? Yes. We all deserve to feel that way, right? And I think because of all this societal conditioning, there's just so many layers to unlocking what it is that you love, what it is that brings you light, especially within sexuality, right?

Because of all the taboo, all of the shaming around kink. I just behind all of this is our life and vitality, right? And feeling fully in our embodied experience and feeling fully able to express ourselves and be joyful in that. And I think that's why it's so important to be having these conversations because of that switch for that person and their whole life feeling radically different. And I think you kind of spoke to that in your own experience, maybe of if I would have had this when I was younger, what sort of life could I have been living? And if I can offer that to somebody, whether they're in their 20s or their 70s, that it's never too late.

And I think it's so important to deconstructing the narrative of what sex is, right? Like you said. 100%. Yeah. 100%.

Yeah, I can't believe it. And I feel like, especially as an AMAB masculine practitioner who works with a lot of FEM folks and a lot of AFAB folks, I also work with trans women, but I work with a lot of AFAB folks. Most surrogate partners are cis women. Just historically that's been the case. That's how this profession started. But now it's much more diverse. There's more trans practitioners as well and non-binary.

But being somebody from my socialized experience, right, and my gender experience, to be able to show up to somebody and de-center foul-centric sex, that alone is kind of revolutionary. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Yeah. Because it's no loaded answers. So it's a lot of unlearning and unloading a lot of the scripted answers about what sex is even in the first place. Therefore, if somebody feels like, well, I don't feel like I can't experience the sex, you're like, well, what is it you're talking about? Because you can experience something that's going to give you a gratifying and satisfying and connective experience. We're just going to figure out what that is.

And I might not look like anything that you've been told of sex before, but it is sex for you. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

Yes. And I think I did a presentation in one of my feminist classes about women's experience with sex. And I know this is very gendered, right? And that's kind of the language that we live in within the DSM and the world of psychology, at least currently. But the research on the DSM has, it's over there, that's what I'm looking. The DSM has specifically female orgasm disorder, which, okay. And when we look at that and the prevalence of it, I believe it said 40 to 60 % of women will experience this at some time in their life.

Okay. If we had a disease or some sort of diagnosis that 40 to 60 % of people were experiencing, I think we'd be doing a fuck ton more research on that to say what is going on there, right? And I think part of that is exactly what you're speaking to, which is a phallic centric understanding of sexuality.

Okay. And not everyone enjoys that, right? People have different pieces in that. But exactly like we said earlier, what is happening is something's wrong with me because the normal status quo of sex is not bringing me the joy or the orgasm, you know, that I want to experience. So something is wrong with me versus, no, something is wrong with the system. Something is wrong with the type of sex that you have been sold as pleasurable and being able to see that switch.

And, you know, the DSM is pathologizing the person who's experiencing that rather than understanding that this is a societal context that's really fucked up sexuality for all of us. And I'm just like, you know, crazy. I just can't go over that amount of statistic. And like if we knew 40 to 60%, like that's normal then at that point, right? Like 50 % of people experiencing that, that's normal. That's not abnormal anymore. And we really got to be asking questions about what that means.

Yeah, it's either an epidemic or it's normal. But we're not really responding to it in a way that asks the question, right? Ask the real question of, I wonder why this is so statistically high. Yeah, good question. Yeah, I wonder what's going on with women. I mean, well, that's the whole thing, right?

Originally, the whole context was there. So complicated and the female orgasm is so elusive, you know, like that whole thing when really I think we kind of like we started this conversation. We are still getting out of a heterosexual, phallic-centered understanding of sexuality. And I think all that, you know, less than 100 years ago, women were property.

Women, you know, marital rape wasn't considered rape, right? All of these pieces are why we are still suffering from this and even trying to get out of an understanding of gender and sexuality that's based specifically on these restrictive binaries. I mean, like this is how we got to this space. And I think a kink is a whole other added layer where within the psychology field, any sort of sexuality was supposed to be purely pleasurable and non-pain based, which I understand pain is pleasure, right?

But like any sort of time, I know, right? Any sort of time that there was pain, they were like, well, that's actually maladaptive, that's not normal, that's all this sort of stuff. So like we're still grappling with all that and the amount of therapists that are even enacting harm by judging their clients, even in those little microaggressions of how they respond to maybe a dynamic where someone brings up, oh, I really enjoyed, you know, having my throat choked with consent, right? And like the therapist going, what, you know, like those sort of little micro interactions are causing harm and all of it not to blame the therapist.

It's to blame this larger societal system that has got us to this place now that I think we're still healing from collectively. Yeah. Yeah. It brings it back to the other two concerns.

We talked, we talked a little bit about legality, right? But liability and client safety, right? A lot of therapists thought those two other concerns, right? They're licensed liability, which that's the one that I lend the most credence to. Because, you know, licensing boards that they don't reflect necessarily like federal, state laws, licensing boards, consent, they're on ethical standards, right? And so that is a risk that you undertake as a therapist, right? Is that licensing board hears about SBT and it's like, I doesn't know about it or, or, you know, feels squeaky about it.

Now, it has never happened. There, there isn't a documented case of any therapist first of all being prosecuted, therapist or, or a certain part of being prosecuted or anybody losing their license for being a collaborating therapist in SBT. And so the liability concern is really kind of a, it's tangible, but it's more, the fear is bigger than the actual reality of it. And I have to talk therapists through that. And obviously the more informed, if you take the time to educate yourself, the more informed you are, the better relationships you have as circuit partners and you can vet them, right? And supervisors, right? The better practitioner you're going to be and the more you reduce risk.

Right, right, right. And the same thing with client safety. If you learn about what to talk about, if you learn about SPT and you learn about what to talk about, you learn about how to talk to circuit partners, you learn how, you know, you learn the credible sources to go to for vetting, you reduce risk.

And also, if we want to talk about risk, and again, I come from being a therapist, what are, what are, I think the statistic might be out of date now, but a few years ago, what I learned are the two main ethical reaches in therapy. One is hippo violations because a lot of that happens and people don't even realize it, especially because of the, like the digital age of transferring information. People make all kinds of ethical violations or hippo breaches, right? That's one of, that's the number one issue for liability concerns and client information safety. And it's either the second or the third is therapists having inappropriate relationships with their clients. Yeah.

So, before you come for me, let's look at our own house, right? And also, no statistically, that happens, that happens more often with male identified therapists, right? Exploring power dynamics with vulnerable female clients, which again, is not, is not a femme problem. It's not a women's problem that is a men's problem, which we should be talking about in elevating. But what we don't do is look at another profession that is intentional and informed and deliberately modeled to assist with client goals and barriers to intimacy and say, well, we can't have, because we have this problem in our house here, we can't have you being loud and mucking about.

Now, we're part of the solution, right? And just like with therapists, there are, you get a range of practitioners and I don't know about you, but I know I have met plenty of therapists who ought not be doing what they're doing, but you know, really ought not to be doing what they're doing. That's going to be true in any profession, right? And I'm sure it's the case.

I'm sure it's also the case in SPT. You're right, it's humans, right? And we're working with intimacy, we're working with feelings, right?

So, we're working with bodies. So, but it's easier to look at a pronounced risk with us, A, because there's more taboo surrounding it, and we become the projection from what's already happening in the house of therapy. Right, right.

The projection of that, you know, of that risk or of that fear. Right, right. Yeah, yeah, I think when you were talking about the legalities, I think it's an important thing for all people to sit back and think as therapists and clinicians or anyone trying to do healing in the world, right? The point is healing. And very frequently, the laws are not in accordance with healing, okay?

And we know that, we know homosexuality, interracial marriage. I mean, all of the things were illegal, okay? Even psychedelics, right? So, I do, right now I'm training with psychedelic assisted psychotherapy with ketamine, but I'll do integration work with people who are doing substances that are illegal. So, someone can come in and bring their psilocybin experience in and talk to me about it and have a therapist integrate with them. That experience is illegal, right?

But the healing is outside of that legality and we have to be able to hold space for that and really ask deeper ethical questions that are much more complex than what's the law say on this. And I think that's part of the whole thing too where therapists get afraid and then they're like, and then I even want to push you more. So, I'm like, okay, so why did you come into this profession? I understand your own risks, but like at the heart of it is to help people heal, right? And there's going to be risks with that. And it just frustrates me for people to get locked up in their own safety rather than understanding that their client could benefit from something that is not yet approved by the system.

And I think eventually will be. And I had to read a Women in Madness for my feminist therapy class, which specifically talked, I had this whole section about male identified therapists that would have sex with their female clients and reading transcripts of their experience of what that was like. And I think you're not even comparing the same thing, like not even close. And so I'm glad we're having this conversation because what happens in those dynamics is a therapist who uses their power dynamic to for in a lot of different ways, you know, manipulate the client to think that they're the special one, to think that they're the only one doing this, to think that quite literally some of the transcripts I was reading was that this was their only way to healing is that they have to do this, right? And like that model is not even comparable to what you do of having consent from day one and voluntary consent rather than manipulating the power of that dynamic to trick and completely use these people. And it was horrible to read those things.

And so I think you're pointing out something that is so true. People are so afraid of it because it's happened in house. And then they're like, oh, we can't have this, but it's not even the same system because of all the things you've talked about of consent, discussion, a nonlinear progression to some sort of sexual eroticism, all these sorts of pieces, supervision, right? Oh my God, having another therapist in this dynamic, it is not even close.

I appreciate the concern that everyone has for this, but we really need to take a step back and sit with our discomfort and fear and take a moment to process that and expand ourselves to other types of healing. Yes. You know, I feel alone sometimes. I'm not going to lie because I say this stuff in my programs and with super sometimes the supervisors and they just look at me like I'm nuts and I'm just like, okay, you know, it's a paradigm shift. You know, it really is a paradigm shift. And I'd like to think that we are still, even with very alarming setbacks, especially in the larger political sphere that are very, very concerning.

The larger and slower movement, the arc is still moving towards decriminalization and openness and accepting because it's, how can we not? Yeah. The deeper wisdom at play is kind of irrefutable, you know, but because it challenges so many systems of power that have been in place for a long time, those will necessarily have to change in order to accommodate what I think is ultimately the truth. Yeah, I completely agree. So, but that's the tension between stability and liberty.

Right? Is that there has to be, there has to be a dynamism in there in order for, in order for changes to go, you know, a little more smoothly, but not all change needs to be smooth. So I guess we're going to find out how this goes.

Burn the system down. I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and, you know, working with clients and talking with therapists. And I also do, I also do intimacy coaching, which is much more like talk therapy.

And I teach consent workshops and I work alongside medical professionals to teach contraceptive workshops as well on college campuses. So I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. Yeah, good. You need you. And we need you to keep doing this.

These conversations are enlivening, you know, it can feel long, it can feel lonely doing this work like you just said, and it's good just to connect and have these conversations and feel kinship and community. You never know who's going to listen to this. You never know. I've been waiting to hear some of what is going on here or who will be challenged by some of what we're going to hear. And even if they don't address it now, it's going to plant something.

Oh, absolutely. That's all of this work is planting seeds, right? And waiting for them to blossom in their own time. And it might take years. It might be a cicada, right?

That gets planted into the ground and waits 17 years before popping up. And that's part of life is being able to sit with that discomfort and the patience. And I think that's our thing that we have to process too.

And I want change now, you know, that it's slow, but you're right, it's conversations like this that I think are going to bring about that change when people can sit with that discomfort to open themselves up. Yeah. Yeah. Well, then let me hold a little bit of space then. Is there anything you feel like before we come to the closing of our conversation that you felt like maybe we didn't hit today?

I like to hold a little bit of space towards the end in case there's something still lingering for you. There are a lot of other people who are saying this in much better ways than me and have written fantastic pieces about it. Pleasure is revolutionary, right?

It truly is. And what we're talking about when we talk about pleasure, I don't just mean instant gratification. I don't just mean the endorphin heads of consumerism.

I mean the pleasure that accompanies vulnerability and play and exploration and curiosity and exhilaration, that delicious inclusion of mystery and danger. Yes. Yes. In a way that still lives within a container that we have co-created, right? But within that container is a rich world. And the more that people know about themselves and how to share themselves and share in others, the more empowered and I think insightful, the more they make decisions from that place rather than from a place of ignorance and fear.

And that's how I see it to bring a full circle. Why I see this work in the role of broader liberation because when we feel more at peace within ourselves and expressive and sensuality and sexuality and our ability to nurture one another and to engage in the levels of emotional, physical intimacy that make us feel alive, that aliveness, that changes how we look at and feel the need to control other elements of society. It shapes the way that we look at decisions that we have to make around how we manage our resources, how we look at human rights, how we value education and access. It changes all those things and I think sexuality as individuality as it is is intrinsic to socially how we relate to how we relate to one another and the systems that guide our society, what their essential role and function is and to what end. Yeah, when you think about repressed desires and shame and the amount of aggression that that creates towards other people from that repression, absolutely. And when we think about how taboo and how repressed all of us are, at least in this country because of the social conditioning. Yeah, when I see aggression and other sorts of stuff like that, I do think it comes back to a lot of this is our own shame, the multiple layers of things that are getting in the way of intimacy at the end of the day, right?

And connection with other people and the ability to play. I love how you had mentioned that earlier, right? We always talk about that inner child and where does that inner child go? And there are a multitude of ways to play and one of the most beautiful is with other humans, right?

Right? And at the core of all of this is our ability to play with other people and to feel love and to feel connected to something larger than ourselves, all other people in that way. So I think absolutely connection to yourself, your eroticism, letting go of shame, all of that is related to a grander revolution in terms of all these other societal factors. So yes. Yes. Yeah, we're on the same page. We're on the same page. I'm with you, Comrade.

Yeah, we're in it together. Well, then let me ask you the one question that I ask everyone on the podcast, which is, what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal? Their sexuality.

I mean, I think inherently it's simply that it's one of the reasons why I love Emily Nogosky's book come as you are, is because that's one of the biggest messages in the book is that you're really normal and the diversity of our human sexuality is the normal range of human sexuality. That's really it. Yeah.

It's normal. And there are ways that we can live into that in respect to others and ourselves. And that alone, I think, like we said, would change everything to know that it's normal for you to be attracted to that thing that you think is so weird, right? It's normal, letting go of that shame and being able to have the space where we can talk about that sort of thing is radical.

And I think all that comes back to, yeah, a pleasure revolution, dare I say. Well, it was so lovely to have a conversation with you and to learn about, yeah, your experience and the beautiful healing work that you're doing. Is there anywhere you'd want to plug for your website resources for people who are connecting with you and want to learn more about your work? So you can find me on Instagram at surrogate therapy.

That's me. Some other organizations and groups of my colleagues that I would strongly recommend, especially if you're interested in SPT, you want to learn about it. There's also videos and trainings for clinicians and clients. Look at Ipsa, which is the International Professional Surrogates Association, That's the certifying body that I'm training with. There's the Surga Partner Collective, which has a number of great training modules now for clinicians and for layfolk, and Embrace SPT, which is a cooperative of practitioners. So those are three great resources. Get some good info, reach out to them, and I can be reached via my Instagram as well.

Lovely, lovely. Yeah, I'll have all of that linked below so people can go directly to those resources and connect with you. Yeah. Yeah, thank you for coming on the podcast today. If you enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast. And if you're a part of the Anarchist community, then follow us on Instagram or nominate a guest for the show by sending in a letter to .com. Otherwise, I'll see you next week.


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