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interviews

Alyssa Teixeira

Alyssa Texeira. she/her. @AlyssaTex and www.alyssateixeira.com

Emma: Alright! Well thank you so much for joining me today, I am excited to hear more about your practice and so why don’t we start there. Tell me about you and the work that you’re already doing, and, yeah, projects you’ve got going on.


Alyssa: So, like I kind of mentioned earlier, I started off doing sex education work, and I still do sex education work but it’s always been a passion and a dream of mine to kind of work in birth spaces. The weird thing about my life is I end up watching a documentary and it changes the course of my life, and I remember watching the documentary about birth monopolies and I was really taken aback by the fact that in our society today, there’s so much that falls through the cracks. So many people who fall through the cracks of birth work and there’s no need for that if we can support our own communities. The center of what I do is supporting my community. I love the community that I was raised in, it taught me everything that I know, and I just feel like it’s really important to give back to it. I think that something that I live by is: sexuality is everywhere. It’s in everything we do. No matter what you can think about, at the end of the day, it kind of ties back to sexuality somehow. Which is kind of a weird philosophy, which most people don’t necessarily identify with – like, what? I don’t understand. But sex and sexuality… sex isn’t just like, ‘doin’ the dirty’ y’know – it’s in lots of part of our lives. I think specifically, with my doula practice, as a queer person, I know people who had these really awful birth experiences. Something I always want to do is take the ‘othering’ effect out of healthcare and health education for queer people. Those are the two things that are my biggest goals for my doula practice – just center it around a community of folks who were able to share information, and then also take the othering factor out of care for queer people. We’re just like everyone else – we don’t need you to make it seem like, “ok, there’s this healthcare and then there’s your healthcare. There’s this birth experience, and then there’s your birth experience.” It’s kind of a long rambling rant, but those are two things that are important to me in my practice. 

Emma: That’s awesome, yeah, thanks for sharing that. I love hearing about being really rooted in a local community and at the same time reaching a larger audience online. I’ll ask you where people can find you later on. So on that note – uhh, what are you queering right now?

Alyssa: What am I queering right now? Well, let’s see… what am I not queering right now… I feel like every day of my life I’m just a big ole queer. One thing I’ve been really trying to do in my local community around some advocacy for healthcare in the queer community is trying to make a standardization across our local community clinics. Basically, when you have a chart, you typically have someone’s dead name, and their incorrect pronouns, right? Something I’ve been trying to work on with our county resources is creating some sort of system in our current systems where we can have on someone’s chart their correct name and their correct pronouns. Which is something that I feel very passionate about – making sure, at the basic level of care that you give someone is calling them by their right name and their right pronouns. In so many medical spaces, it’s traumatizing. It’s traumatizing to be in a medical space and just constantly have people get it wrong, y’know? At the end of the day, I think that no one should have to deal with that and no one should have to be their own advocate for that. That should be some behind the scenes stuff that someone else is doing or figuring out. You shouldn’t have to know about all the crazy BS that has taken to get there, but yeah. I’m currently trying to queer my community health clinics, is what I’m doing. 

Emma: That’s awesome. Queering institutional paperwork is necessary work, but obviously not everyone wants to do that. So that’s amazing – thank you. I hope that it can work out – let us know. If you figure out how to make that happen, and that’s just some kind of system we can put in place in all of the other counties…

Alyssa: Yeah! I’m working on trying to figure out a way to standardize it. Mainly, I have this issue where I constantly — it’s not an issue, it’s just me as a person — where I just knock on people’s doors and show up to people’s offices and cold call them all the time and they’re like, “Who are you?” and I’m like, I need to find a way to make sure I can standardize it so it’s not just a back door that I was able to get through, y’know?

Emma: Sure, yeah. But that’s… any way to get in. That’s really awesome. So I know we talked a little about this earlier, but what originally inspired you to do the work that you do today?

Alyssa: Like I mentioned before, documentaries have been a very persistent thing in my life. I watch a documentary, I get really upset, and I’m like, how can I change this? Birth work specifically – what called me to get involved is I’ve always been interested in care work. I think femme people are kind of always, even if they don’t want to be, called to do a lot of care work. Unfortunately, a lot of times, for free or low cost – right? Something that I was really really passionate about was providing care work in the realm of a reproductive sphere. That is something I was really passionate about, and something I felt was lacking in a lot of reproductive health outcomes. Whether that’s birth – whether thats abortion, whether that’s miscarriage. Whether that’s taking a pregnancy test, right? Something that was really a call to action for me was when I learned about the crazy disparity of maternal mortality rate in this country. Realizing that there’s no need for that, kind of was like, I have to be a part of the solution somehow. Combining my desire to be there and support people through whatever reproductive decision and also wanting to be a solution to the problem of maternal mortality rates kind of called me together, I think. It’s a combination of my own wanting to hold people’s hands and my own desire to be involved in some sort of activism. Something that is cool, but also sometimes a little disappointing, about working in reproductive health spaces is that – at the end of the day, it’s all kind of tied to activism. People with uteruses have for the longest time, been under the control of whoever wants to decide how your reproductive system is used. That is something that calls me to do the work. 

Emma: That’s awesome. And I know you touched on this a little earlier, thinking about the sex in everything – but what’s your support philosophy, that aside. Worldview, philosophy that’s included… y’know, what kind of lens do you bring to that support work?

Alyssa: The first and foremost philosophy I have for support work is that support work should be given to anyone and everyone who asks for it or needs it. If I’m not particularly the doula for you, or there’s someone who can advocate for you better, I will definitely help you figure that out. At the end of the day, I don’t ever want to turn someone away because they can’t pay for it or because they are in a situation where maybe their family doesn’t support their decisions. Whatever it might be. I think care work is a human right. Having someone to advocate for you and having someone to hold space for you is a human right, I feel like. Even though, it’s not really … people will argue with that, but I think it is. Having someone to just hold your hand through things is just something that humans need. So that’s at the base of everything, I’m like – no matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter how things turn out for this pregnancy or for whatever reproductive decision you’re making – I wanna support you. I wanna be here for you. The other lens of that is, like I mentioned, the whole politicising of reproductive justice. What’s really important to me is bringing back the autonomy of a person in my practice. Making sure that I have the tools to support someone through understanding our own autonomy. Like I said, we live in a world where there’s a lot of situations where femmes or people with uteruses don’t have autonomy over their bodies or over their decisions in life. That’s the second tenant of my sort of practice philosophy – I really want to be able to give people the tools they need to …  I don’t like the word empower, because I feel like “empower” kind of implies that I’m giving you the power, when you already have the power. This is a whole ‘nother rant, but something that’s damaging and I don’t really like, is when specifically white women tend to try to say “I’m going to empower you” or “We’re going to empower you to do this this or that” to People of Color. Whatever it might be – I think what’s important is that you have a set of tools, let’s share a set of tools, and then let’s figure out how we can make the best outcome. I think, sharing knowledge is the other part there. I don’t ever feel like, we should protect a secret of like, “Oh, well this provider, y’know, said this this or this…” I just feel like sharing knowledge is really, really important. I think if we did more of that, you know what I mean, then some of the problems we have in the reproductive health sphere wouldn’t be so bad. There’s a lot of gatekeeping. I feel like this is a little rambly. (laughs)

Emma: Great! You covered so many good things! I think it’s great to have the breakdown “empowerment” conversation – what does it mean? What does it mean when you’re doing it for someone? And that gatekeeping of information – it’s so interesting to toe that line when chatting with clients about, “Oh, well do you know that hospital you’re choosing has xyz statistics of this.” or “I’ve seen that provider xyz.” It can be hard to share that stuff, but it is also life saving. And trauma preventing, and all that. So it’s just so important to bring those things up in these worlds. 

Alyssa: Especially when it’s like, the “mystery” around birth has forever been — ever since it got really medicalized, back in the 1900s, there’s this idea that birth is a secret and what happens in birth, no one really knows. You see this picture of it on TV where a woman is screaming, and she gets into the labor room and the baby pops out, right? I’ve met so many people who come to birth or come to their experiences like, “I’m just scared. I don’t know what happens. I don’t know what the process is.” Demystifying that is really important to just let people be able to support themselves best by having that information. 

Emma: Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing that. Well, we’ve heard a little bit about your natal work and your sex education work, I’m curious about your natal chart. So tell me your sun/moon and rising?

Alyssa: OK. So. If I tell everyone my sun, you guys have to promise not to think I’m the worst person ever. Because I am a Gemini. 

Emma: That’s alright- I’m a Gemini rising! It’s fine. 

Alyssa: You’re a Gemini rising? Okay.. Well, I am a Gemini. And everyone hates us. But I promise I’m not the worst. I am a Gemini sun, but my moon is Pisces, so I’m very emotional. I feel my feels. And my ascendent is a Capricorn, which I don’t really identify with particularly. That’s the one part of… My chart, every time I look at it, I’m like, “Yes. That’s it. That’s me.” But my ascendent? I just don’t relate with Capricorn vibes at all. 

Emma: Give it some time, we’ve had some lovely Capricorns, actually, that we’ve chatted with. Maybe you’ll get it through the queer realm.

Alyssa: I’ll be able to figure out the Capricorn vibe a little better. 

Emma: Note on Geminis though, I had a client once who was a Gemini, and was also a twin. And her baby was a Gemini also, due around that time. It was a single baby, but when the baby was born, her placenta had – it was two lobed, she had this beautiful, like the letter B or a heart, very much two placentas. She was like, “It’s my Gemini placenta.” and I was like, “You’re blowing my miiiiind.”

Alyssa: (laughs) The power of the Gemini, man. 

Emma: On all levels that day, for sure. 

Alyssa: I have a theory… people seem to think that Geminis are two faced, My theory is Geminis aren’t two-faced. Geminis are socially and emotionally intelligent, so they can adapt to different social situations. So that’s when people think, “Oh you’re one person with this person and you’re another person with this person.” No Karen, I’m just socially, emotionally, adept, alright??

Emma: I get it! You gotta read your audience, I gotta say.. Perfect. I love that. Thanks so much for going there with me. What is your favorite thing about being a queer support person and/or working with LGBTQ++ families? 

Alyssa: Maybe it’s because I am queer, and I just have this bias… Queer people.. They genuinely, just 100% full humans. They just embody what being a human is like, cause there’s so many varied…  people say, “the LGBTQ rainbow,” but I get why we call it a rainbow! When you look at the queer community, there are just so many beautiful colors. I think my favorite part about working with LGBTQ folks or queer communities is .. at the end of the day, while we all have wildly different stories and wildly different experiences, and we come from different places, there’s always… every time I have a conversation with a queer person, there’s always that one thing that we can connect on. Whether it’s that we talk about astrology, or we talk about Queer Eye, whatever it might be, there’s one thing that I can always find with people in my queer community to talk about. There’s a safety being in these communities, knowing we’ve all faced something. Trying to support other people through a collective trauma that queer people have experienced, there’s a bonding part there. I also really love working with queer youth, cause they’re so smart. They know so much more than I did when I was their age. They come up with all these new words and they’re always innovating things. I’m just like, “Y’all are cool. Y’all are really awesome.” I love working with queer youth, specifically. 

Emma: I love it. Thank you so much. Speaking of queer youth, maybe we can go there, I’m curious: If you could improve one thing about the conception, pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum process for queer and trans people, including maybe teens, what would it be? 

Alyssa: OK, one of my pet projects, like I said, is to one day live in a world where no one gets dead named on their chart. It’s something that’s pretty simple, I think. I think we can solve that issue. My pet project, my pet peeve in the world is like, I think we can live in a world where that doesn’t have to happen. We need to try. Something that’s really important to be is normalizing the process of getting pregnant. The different processes of getting pregnant. Often, people think there’s one way to create a family. I think it’s really important for us to change our mindset about how families are created and to normalize that maybe I adopt a child, maybe I do in vitro fertilization. Whatever it is, to normalize that and make it more accessible so that people know what their options are. Support those different outcomes and options. Something that’s important to me is giving .. part of education for young people, talking about how hormones, how top surgery, bottom surgery, whatever kind of medical transition you might be going through might affect your fertility in the future. Something that I’ve been trying to navigate while also towing the line is: when you’re a young person, you’re probably not thinking about if you want to get pregnant 20 years down the line. Unfortunately, for young trans people, it’s kind of something that you gotta keep in mind when you’re doing transition, right? First off, I think there should be sex education and health education that’s incluisve of trans young people, to begin with. In those rare educations that do exist, I think what’s really important is to talk about the different options that people might have growing up to create families. Tying that back in to being able to create a more open conversation about how families are made and created. 

Emma: Similar to what you were saying before about birth, like, you don’t SEE it happening. People aren’t involved – it’s not a community event. With these conception stories, they very much ARE for queer and trans people, involving many friend families and different care prodivers, and approval with therapists, and a whole community of people involved. There’s still that air of mystery about it, so, yeah.

Alyssa: I think that’s a super important thing to note on. The idea of making, creating communities again. I think, especially in these corona times, the emphasis on individuality in America has always been super up there. We could learn a lot from cultures and communities that really focus on supporting their communities. I think it would help a lot of the things happening in the world (laughs). 

Emma: I like your to do list, we’ll get on that this week. Get over our individualism. Love it. Well, for new or aspiring queer and trans sex educators, medical systems coordinators, birth doulas, do you have any advice? 

Alyssa: Well, as a newer doula, I would say, something I’ve always tried my best to do is not be afraid of “doing the wrong thing.” Because you’re going to do the wrong thing. So just knowing, it’s OK to mess up because that’s how we learn. It’s OK to take things slow. It’s OK to figure it out on your own time. The great thing about birth work and work around how our bodies work and how we operate in the world is that no one owns that information. No one is the one authority who can tell you, “This is how you do this.” or “This is how you do that.” Just trusting your intuition as a person in the world, knowing, “what’s right for me, what’s right for my clients, what’s right for my community?” How can we all be more comfortable with that. I think, my ultimate lesson takeaway would be to trust your own intuition because intuition is powerful. We often get these messages like, “Ah don’t listen to this voice in your head.” NO! Listen to the voice in your head. 

Emma: That’s awesome, thanks for that. I’d love to know something not necessarily sex or reproduction-related about you that you want to share. 

Alyssa: Let’s see. You probably can deduct this from my spazzy personality.. Up until very recently, like my entire life, I’ve done musical theatre. I loved doing musical theatre, I definitely will still continue to do musical theatre til I’m old. I wanna be that crotchety old woman who’s like in your community theatre, you know what I mean?

Emma: (laughs) I do know what you mean.

Alyssa: That’s like, my goal. But yeah, I did musical theatre my whole life and I’m very passionate about singin’ songs and dancin’ dances. I actually originally went to college to do musical theater and was like, I’m gonna be on broadway and all that jazz. Then life took a very different turn, and I was like, “Okay! We’re gonna do this instead.” Ope – skirt! The great thing about theatre is that you don’t have to be on broadway to do it. You can literally just be in your neighborhood Nativity scene, y’know?

Emma: Absolutely. I’m totally a theatre kid. I never took it past high school, but very much have a lot of very close, very favorite, queer friends from musical theatre summer camp. So shout out. (laughs)

Alyssa: That’s my favorite thing about looking back at my high school theatre department – we were all so queer. We were all so gay. You know what I mean, we just didn’t all know it at the time. 

Emma: Yeah, you knew it. Amazing. Well, awesome. Thanks so much for sharing all about you and your practice. If folks wanna follow you or learn more about you and your sex ed offerings and your doula offerings, where can they find you on the Internet? 

Alyssa: Yeah! So my Instagram is kind of where I post daily stuff, and updates about what I’m doing. That is @AlyssaTex and I also have my fancy website that I’m really proud that I made, cause I’m really bad with technology. www.alyssateixeira.com – my last name is kind of complicated Teixeira, it’s Portuguese. I’m sure you can just pop it into Google.

Emma: We’ll make sure people have a real link, too! Awesome, thank you so much Alyssa.

Alyssa: Yeah! Thank you!

Categories
interviews

Luar Wolf

Luar Adonis Wolf, they/she, ella/elle, Little Moonlight Doula

Katie: Alright, thank you so much. It’s so exciting to talk to you. To just get right into it, could you tell us a little bit about you and your practice?

Luar: Sure. So, my name is Luar Adonis Wolf, my pronouns are they/them, she/hers, and in Spanish I also go by ella and elle – the feminine and gender neutral pronouns in Spanish. I’m 29 years old, and I live in New York City on occupied Lenape Haki-nk land, and I’m also intersex, queer, nonbinary. Also identify as trans, and I am a non-Black person of color, specifically Dominican and Puerto Rican. Wooh! A multitude of identities that are just part of my every day my lived experience.

In terms of my practice, my practice/my business, whatever I’m gonna call it – is called Little Moonlight Doula and the reason why it’s called Little Moonlight Doula, is because it’s actually named after my first name. My first name means Luar, which is Portuguese for moonlight. So, in Portuguese, little moonlight would be luarzinho – it was a nickname given to me by some of my Brazilian friends. And my first birth is actually a moon-named baby, after Jupiter’s moon Isle. SO, putting those one and one together, I have Little Moonlight Doula, so a moon helping bring a moon earthside (laughs). What also makes the name unique is that my first birth was a Black nonbinary person, giving birth to a moon-named baby. So, that is where the name of my practice comes from, and I think I’m just gonna keep it forever cause it literally marks who I am.

My practice is basically a full-spectrum reproductive service. I do birth and postpartum, I also do the full-spectrum of doula services. I’m also a reproductive care worker, aka “essential healthcare worker.” I work with Planned Parenthood currently, and I also am part of other full-spectrum doula collectives. And my practice is very rooted in being gender inclusive and queer/trans, gender non-conforming and nonbinary affirming, especially for queer/trans BIPOC people. It’s also rooted in reproductive justice, in decolonization, and so many different types of frameworks that I try to continue striving, not only in my work, but in myself and in my communities. I think that can sum the logistics of my practice. Oh- and I’m also a Certified Bodyfeeding Counselor and a Certified Childbirth Educator. That’s it! (laughs) It’s really hard to name every specific of what you do, because you’re like, “Oh, I gotta throw this, I gotta throw this…” so, I’m just a multitude of things that I can actually use to give back to my community and uplift my community and give my community access to specific things that they don’t generally get access to. 

Katie: Yeah, absolutely, I totally hear how tricky it is to try to put all of the things you do into boxes, when you are someone who is serving your community in ways that may not actually fit into any those roles, or exclusively into any of those roles. 

Luar: Yes, I’d rather put it on paper rather than speaking about it because I’m like, “Oh! I forgot about pointing out that specific thing and that identity” so I try to put it all out there. But yeah, that’s what my practice does. My practice is just me, myself and I, so it’s just very solo work, and doing everything (laughs)

Katie: The little moon helping other moons!!!

Luar: Yes!

Katie: I love it so much. It’s also one of the queerest things I’ve ever heard. 

Luar: I had to. I had to do it. I had to make it queer as fuck. 

Katie: You did, and it is! Ughhh, and on that note, what are you queering right now? Or what are some of the things you’re queering right now?

Luar: So, in general I queer everything that I touch, and step on. Whether it was the spaces that were designed for me, I’m going to queer it and (trans)cend it. Putting the parentheses around (trans) around transcending, with a little wordplay there. I touch everything and my intention is to make sure that queer people and trans people and trans people and everyone with a gender expansive identity can exist in spaces safely. And specifically now, I am queering what doula means, in terms of the full-spectrum to include and re-define the doula role to do gender affirming support. Specifically, gender affirming surgeries and hormone care and how we can be a doula for that. Especially for a community that goes through these things alone and have no support and no care and very isolated. And the support that they technically do get is literally the closest other trans friends and chosen family. I think those types of surgeries, especially in the recovery period, they need a lot of support. They need support that is intimate, they need support that comes from loved ones and chosen family, and they also need support that comes from a professional role. In terms of like, “What can I do for you? How can I help in your recovery? How can I show up for you to make sure you’re being advocated for and taken care of in the hospital, during the surgery and after surgery?” How do we turn this role to show up for members of our community that literally go through these things the majority of the time alone?

Katie: Fuck yeah, oh that’s so important. What inspired you to get into reproductive support work?

Luar: So before I even knew the word existed, it’s always been there in my heart and in my waves and in my mind. I can trace it all the way back to when I was a little adolescent. I was spending a week with my aunt and she was actually going through a divorce and she also had gotten pregnant at that time. It was a very complicated situation without going into much detail. And for some reason, my aunt was going into the hospital really late at night, trying to evade the family from knowing so she was just making sure that me, my brother, my little cousins were all in bed and we were taken care of, so that she could sneak out and go to the hospital. But I was up, and I was hyper-aware, I was like a little adult. I was like, “Where are you going?” and she was like, “I’m going to the hospital” and I was like, “Nobody should go to the hospital by themselves!” So even as a little kid, I was already speaking from a doula intentions and doula heart. I was like, “you shouldn’t go to the hospital by yourself, let me come with you” she said, no, and I said, “Nobody should have to go to the hospital by themselves, you need someone to be with you.” I was very adamant that she ended up taking me. And the memories that I have are very vivid and clear, which was just me being there with her, when we got called into the OR she was just lying in this weird examination room and we were literally in there for hours. Hours. And it was overnight, so I told my aunt, “I’m going to turn off the light and you just get some sleep that you can,” and I just stayed vigil(?) over her until the doctors came so she could get some rest. And then there was a part where I couldn’t go with her. Then, hours later, by myself I was in the waiting room, she finally comes back and she had her own room and they had put a bed for me. And years later, when I have a conversation with her about that, especially getting into this role, and learning about miscarriages and abortions, I have a conversation with her, I’m like, “Did I support… did I help you? Did I give you support through something no one else knew at the time?” and she said, “Yes, I was having a miscarriage, I had to do a D&C.” and that just blew my mind, I was like, “oh my god I’ve been an abortion doula all my life.” So, when I look back at that memory, everything just touches, like, oh my gosh, she was going through an abortion and she was going to do that with the intention of doing that by herself. I was just like, “No, you shouldn’t go by yourself, you need help, you need support, let me go with you.” So that was my first memory of getting into this work and beyond that, I was present for many of my cousins’ births or postpartum. Watching bodyfeeding and pumping and all this stuff, so I’ve been around all this, especially in a family that’s majority single mothers and just women, women of colors, so I was very raised around that matriarch energy. And witnessing the matriarch give birth to the next generation of me and my cousins and witnessing that as an older person compared to the other cousins. Then, fast forwarding, just specifically the actions brought me to work is.. I got into doula work in an “nontraditional” “nontypical” way which is through abortion. Most of the doulas I meet usually do birth and postpartum certifications first, and that’s usually what you hear the doula role for. I actually started as an abortion doula, leading into the rest. I remember my first day of being accepted into The Doula Project, and being trained and I was like, “This is amazing, this is so needed” and also in collaboration with actually starting to work for Planned Parenthood. Just exposing myself to the reproductive healthcare space and how important it is to have access to abrotions. Making sure that everybody, and not just ciswomen, but everybody across the gender expansive identities have that same access to these services. So that’s what brought me to my journey today!

Kaite: I love little baby Luar as an abortion support person, this is – ohh its so beautiful! I also got my start in doing support work in abortion support…

Luar: Yes. You did the backward route.

Katie: I feel like, I honestly forget that’s not how a lot of people do it. (laughs) It just made a lot of sense to me at the time. And maybe you’ve already answered this question in your story of like no one should have to go to the hospital alone, but um – How do you describe your support philosophy?

Luar: It’s weird, because I don’t ascribe to forming core values, or missions and stuff like that because I see that a lot with nonprofits and a lot with capitalist spaces where they just make these philosophies and missions and values and it’s just for marketing and branding and there’s not acutely heart to it. My support philosophy is simple, everybody needs support. Everybody across the gender spectrum needs support. Everybody in a violent oppressive marginalized system needs support. So, just give it. Give it freely, openly, and make sure everyone has access to support. So that’s why a lot of my work, as much as I want to create something that’s “profitable” or sustainable – that’s the better way, sustainable. I was raised in and come from a background and a culture that is very community centered, and if I go back into that: we were not really concerned about “how much money I can make by supporting you as a community member?” Yes, be sustainable for yourself, but at the end of the day: one of the ways we dismantle white supremacy is by returning back to our communities and uplifting and centering our communities and giving them access to things that they typically don’t get, which is support. So that is literally my philosophy if you want to call it that, but it’s just like.. Give support. Don’t try to commercialize support. Don’t try to commodify support. Don’t try to capitalize support. Support is something that we as human beings should be doing for other human beings, and showing up for other human beings. And that is the way we are allies, essentially to other community members.

Katie: Yeah, ugh! The privatization of care just feels like one of the biggest scams to communities from the settler colonial state.

Luar: Exactly! Honestly, like, in a better and more perfect world we wouldn’t need doulas. If medical racism didn’t exist, or the violation of so many peoples’ bodies and consent and bodily autonomy didn’t exist, doulas wouldn’t be here. Because of what they have done to support and what they have done to care. 

Katie: Yeah, oh, preach it, oh! So, I’ve asked you about your natal work, I also need to know about your natal chart. What’s your sun/moon/rising, and whatever else I need to know? 

Luar: The number one queer question, it’s like the first date question when you date other queers and trans folks, right? My sun is in Aries, I was born on April 7th. My rising is Leo, and my moon is in Capricorn. I (laughs), so everybody’s always asking me, “Oh my god” because of me being a doula, “I need to know your chart so I can know what made you a doula!” It’s more like the fiery, passionate, impulsive nature of showing up for people from my Aries and my Leo. There’s a reason why I became a doula, and that’s my activism energy which pours down into my doula. I think, what maybe essentially touches my doula in my chart is my Venus is in Taurus cause a lot of people that I have in my life that are Taurus, they are very caregiving, loving, showing up for everyone around them (besides themselves). So I would give credit to the Venus in Taurus for being the reason why I’m a doula. 

Katie: Oh, love, I love that. And, not to turn this into an astrology interview, but I feel like that Venus/Taurus energy’s so beautiful, when I think about both that very giving, very caring but like, it’s an earth sign, it’s a very grounded, – it’s not just a like “I’m just giving of myself without knowing who I am or what I’m doing” It’s not that savior complex mindset, there is that real groundedness of “this is coming from who I am.” 

Luar: So many of my – one of my best friends is a Taurus. Even a lot of Taurus like a call, so they’re like “What do you need, Luar? You want something? What can I do for you?” Like, y’all just live for caring! 

Katie: And what’s your favorite thing about being a queer support person or about working with queer and trans folks and families?

Luar: There’s so many things. The one thing I can really touch upon is being in space with  people like me, or people that belong in the same spectrum of gender expansive identities like me. We don’t get that. When you talk to a lot of queer/trans or gender non-conforming and nonbinary people, we’re very isolated. Or we’re in very small communities that for me is not enough. Ideally, I want a community in terms of- arms distance, the way we can touch things. But one of my favorite things about doing this work, in terms of me being a queer, nonbinary femme, is showing up for others that are like me. It’s such a different feeling because we can actually take a lot of burden off our shoulders. We can take down that thick skin that we put up to protect ourselves in a lot of cis spaces. Seeing that easy breath, that fresh air that goes into our lungs when we’re in good space and community with others like ourselves is one of those things that just brings me joy. Even outside of reproductive spaces, when I show up in very sacred safe space with my trans besties or other trans kin, it’s just amazing, being in community. Actual, authentic community. Not just a community that is just built on trauma bonding– yes, cause it’s a lot of that! As a community, I don’t want that. I don’t want our community to be built on trauma bonding or oppression olympics and titles and this and that. When we get together and find others like ourselves, it’s just the authentic and unconditional love and support that we give to each other is just amazing. That is just one of my favorite things, seeing, when I as a full-spectrum worker show up with somebody or a client that has those same identities, they’re like “Oh my god, I don’t have to educate you. I don’t have to explain what a pronoun is. I don’t have to do this free labor. I can just exist and be me and I don’t have to explain myself.” That’s just one of the most beautiful things to see, because I can take that off your shoulder and do that for you. I think that’s one of the things that keeps me going – just the amount of queer/trans, gender nonconforming, gender non-binary people that exist that are giving birth, that are just getting surgeries, or doing hormone support just need community members to show up for them for care. It’s just beautiful to witness and experience and be able to offer that so that is one of my favorite things –  among so many reasons.

Katie: That good queer and trans magic. 

Luar: Yes. Hella. Queer. Trans magic.

Katie: If you could improve one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth for queer and trans folks, what’s one thing that you would want to see?

Luar: Sigh. Everything, everything! I just want to see us enter medical spaces or healthcare spaces and not having to experience transphobia from its individual to its systemic levels. Seeing that, for our communities – for them to just enter healthcare and not worry about being misgendered or using the wrong pronouns or being dead-named. Actually just giving them care that they have a right to and deserve and is centered in their identities is something that I wish to see. If that answers the question. 

Katie: Oh, yeah, it sure does. Yeah.

Luar: Because it’s really hard to pinpoint one exact thing, when the future that most of us see for ourselves and for our community is EVERYTHING. Everything. If I have to do one specific thing: end all corrective surgeries for intersex children and babies. That its not the first thought for a medical doctor or MD to be like, “We need to correct this.” That would be one thing, as a start – end corrective surgeries for intersex babies.

Katie: Yes! And on the flip side of that, what’s a pice of advice you have for aspiring queer and trans birth workers?

Luar: I think you’ve heard this before, and a lot of others who know me have heard me say: Fuck imposter syndrome. Besdies dysphoria for those of us who expreiene dysphoria, the other next thing would be fuck imposter syndrome. Don’t doubt. Don’t question. It’s hard – but the moment we allow confidence to take hold of us in this specific work, in this specific space, by just repeating that mantra and having others who instill confidence into you and support and just inject that into you. That’s gonna be my mantra for new folks: fuck imposter syndrome. We can do this work, we have a right to do this work, we have the right to stand up for ourselves and others who are like us so we can show up for those people, too. Don’t question your ability. A certification or a training does not give you the doula title – that’s always been inside of us. As human beings, as people that have come from a community centered background and cultures and traditions (laughs) Nothing can give you the doula heart, nothing can give you the doula role. No training or certification is gonna give you that.  Because that’s not something they can instill, that’s something that’s always existed. It’s just being awakened through a training. And you can exist totally outside of that, but don’t expect that a training or certification is gonna give you what you’re looking for. It’s just going to give you the tools and the resources and the foundations for doing the work. The role and the work itself has always existed inside of you because it’s essentially and fundamentally: You as a human being showing up for another human being. 

Katie: Oh! So good. So good. I also, I want a classic looking cross stitch that I can frame somewhere that says, “Fuck imposter syndrome”

Luar: I need something like that, or I need a t-shirt. (laughs) With a big ole trans flag on it. 

Katie: Ahhh, I love, I love. Wow. Aside from making that t shirt, are there any projects that you want help cross pollinating with others in the community: stuff you’re thinking about stuff youre building?

Luar: Yes, so: one of the main things I haven’t announced yet… I’m working quietly behind the scenes on creating something, a support circle, called The Lavender Tent. It’s basically sacred safe space for queer, trans, gender nonconfirming, gender nonbinary people to come together to do sacred story telling. Basically share our lived experiences, like through different parts of our transition. Whether it’s just medically or non-medically. An example like that would be having one of those spaces, one of the modules or coming together or getting onto the Zoom call virtual space will be talking about metaphorical death. That’s an example, coming together as queer/trans people to talk about metaphorical death and the multiple metaphorical deaths we go through. What does honoring and grieving and mourning, individually and collectively, over our past self- our former selves, our former selves, our former dead names, look like? How do we give a personal eulogy for that? How do we just go through the process of grieving and mourning, that so we can make space for the new and affirming identities in order to root ourselves within ourselves? Honoring the decay. So that’s an example of one of the support circles – it’s going to be called The Lavender Tent and I’m going to announce, hopefully soon, in terms of getting sacred safe space for us as a community to come together as a community to talk about stuff like that, through sacred storytelling. 

Katie: Ohh, so amazing. So important. So needed. Ohh, I love that so much. And what’s something that’s not reproductive related about you and your life that you want to share?

Luar: One of the things about me is my practices in Afro-caribbean traditions that I’m a part of. I’m also a witch, I practice witchcraft so those are very fundamental in terms of medicine for being medicine for me, its also cultural and ancestral for me. Keeps me together and sane. Outside of that, I also do spoken word and I do a lot of writings and poems. I’m also an artist but I keep my artwork to myself because I’m very weird and sensitive with showing my artwork. Outside of reproductive healthcare spaces, those are a lot of the big parts of me that others might not know about. 

Katie: Finally, where can people find you on the internet?

Luar: Everywhere! (laughs) I’m on Facebook as Little Moonlight Doula, I’m also on Instagram as Little Moonlight Doula. I also have a website: Little Moonlight Doula dot com! I made sure that name was grabbed across the spectrum of social media platforms – so facebook, instagram and my website is literally just Little Moonlight Doula! 

Katie: Awesome, thank you so much, this has been a treat! 

Luar: Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity, I appreciate it!