Hi, hello, and welcome to the gender forest!
What the heck is a gender forest you ask?
Well I still don't know... but whatever it is, it has blossomed from my own wanderings around gender expression and identity. I was (and still continue to be) quite lost and overwhelmed trying to navigate the world as someone with no intention of fitting nicely into the gender constraints that this world has to offer.
So I drew a map to help me find my way. And I wrote a book that I wanted to read. And I share them with you in the hopes that they help, in some way or another, to keep you company as you wander and find your way.
I'm so grateful you found this page and hope you enjoy spending time with it. Be sure to check back every once in a while, I'll try to keep adding things as I'm able to.
Sending all my love in the meantime,
About The Map
Oh, how I love the map.
Please please, use the map however you want to, as long as it's kind. You can download and look around mine, or you can download a blank one and put your own words and marks on it. Or heck, you could scrap mine altogether and draw your own. The goal of the map is to show that the gender forest is EXPANSIVE and contains A LOT-- but also that it's possible to take it one piece at a time and use some metaphor, wit and alliteration to make complicated topics feel a bit more approachable.
As I've worked on the map, there have been some core metaphors on my mind that you may find helpful as you engage with it:
the gender forest is a place to wander-- you can explore new trails, re-visit paths you've been on a million times or just sit on a sunny rock and take a nap. Some parts may be more wild and difficult to move through than others. You can wander alone, with a friend, or hey, bring your dog. the gender forest is a place to settle into a posture of exploration and learning and newness. There is no destination, only an infinite number of things to be curious about.
the gender forest is... a forest. It's alive and organic and changing every moment. The health of a forest depends on its ability to foster wild and unrelenting diversity and mutuality (sharing of resources). There are as many ways to be a tree as there are trees in the forest.
This is a map. Not a handbook, not a how-to guide-- just a charting of a landscape to help you expand how you think about all the places you might explore. Remember too that while parts of this terrain may feel new to you, others have been wandering and exploring since the beginning of all human existence. Create your own trails and also remember there are footsteps you can follow in if you'd like
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 THINGS 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.