Hi, hello, and welcome to the gender forest!
This project is the result of my own (continual) wanderings and explorations of my queerness, gender expression and gender identity.
Someday I'll write more about the process of creating it, but for now, I just hope you enjoy spending time with it.
About The Map
This map is forever in progress and it started with maybe 3-5 things written on it. Please use it however you're drawn to. You can download and look around/reflect on mine, or you can download a blank one and put your own words and marks on it. You can also scrap the forest altogether and draw your own gender landscape.
As you poke around, keep in mind that there are a few things that are nice about maps and map-making:
Maps are not to-do lists: they are a tool for charting territory and identifying important features of a landscape. Adding something to your map is not a commitment to immediate or even eventual exploration of that terrain, it is just an acknowledgement that it is an important part of the ecosystem you're charting.
Maps help us identify the characteristics of particular terrain: some areas of the gender landscape will feel more approachable and easy for you to explore, others may take a more training or preparation to be ready for. The darker areas on my map are topics that have a more intense emotional charge for me, and I know I need to approach with extra support (a therapist, a good friend or some extra time to take care of myself.)
Everyone's map is different-- I added things to my map that felt important to my process. Your map will certainly have different summits and gulches and waterways and things that are key landmarks in your landscape.
You get to draw your own trails-- The wilderness is a place to explore and wander. You can try new trails, re-visit ones you've been on a million times or just sit on a sunny rock and take a nap. You can wander alone, with a group of friends, or with your dog. There is no ultimate destination, just an infinite number of things to be curious about.
About The Book
There is of course a book. Perhaps a series even... I am still working on it, but I promise it's great. Here are some teaser pages to hold you over until it's ready. If you know anyone who wants to publish the book, plz send them my way <3
SOME OTHER THEMES IN THE GENDER FOREST
The Rivers of Capitalism, White Supremacy and Patriarchy run through the gender forest. I am certain that they had other names in the past and will have other names in the future. But for now, these are the rivers that carve and water the landscape. Be sure to filter any water you drink from them and do not swim in them for longer than you have to.
The Mountains of Identity flank the gender forest on all sides. Race, class, ability, age, education, access to resources, etc. I used to think rock didn't change-- but then I remembered about earthquakes and landslides and eruptions and erosion. The rock shapes the forest and the forest shapes the rock.
Elevation and coverage vary as you look at the map. Some places are more gentle than others--- meadows or low hills that don't require much training. Other areas are steep and dense and HARD and may require the help of an experienced guide/therapist/elder to navigate.
TOOLS TO BRING WITH YOU
SOME HIKES (AKA REFLECTION PROMPTS) FOR YOU
I'm a sucker for a good reflection exercise. The exercises and worksheets below are designed for you to do on your own, with a trusted loved one or with a gender-affirming mental health professional.