Gender Stories

Romance beyond the binary

September 04, 2019 Alex Iantaffi Season 2 Episode 25
Gender Stories
Romance beyond the binary
Show Notes Transcript

Dr Alex Iantaffi interviews Lex Pulice-Farrow about their research on the experiences of nonbinary people in romantic relationships. They discuss the opposite of microaggressions, that is microaffirmations of nonbinary identities and experiences in romantic relationships, as well as the joys and challenges of dating as a nonbinary person. Lex Pulice-Farrow is a second-year graduate student in the Counseling Psychology doctoral program at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville. They work with Dr. Kirsten Gonzalez, and, presently, their work focuses on positive psychology of transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming individuals and their experiences of community connection and belongingness. Lex hopes to someday become a professor, and use their research to advocate for policy changes of gender and sexual minority individuals. Outside of research, Lex competes in short-course triathlons, enjoys cooking, video games, reading, and hiking in East Tennessee, as well as spending time with their fiancee, dog, and cat. You can find Lex's publications at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lex_Pulice-Farrow and follow them on twitter @LexPuliceFarrow

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Hosted by Alex Iantaffi
Music by Maxwell von Raven
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Intro:

Intro Music Everyone has a relationship with gender. What's your story? Hello, and welcome to Gender Stories with your host, Dr. Alex

Alex Iantaffi:

Hello gender stories, listeners. This is your Iantaffi. host Dr. Alex Iantaffi. And I am so thrilled to be interviewing Lex Pulice-Farrow who is a doctoral student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. They're a gender and sexuality researcher and I actually met Lex. I think it's about a year ago or is it a little bit longer was that the cordapps conference in Montreal, the Society for the scientific study of sexuality, right?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yeah, it was just just over a year ago, I guess. Yeah.

Alex Iantaffi:

So it was really wonderful and I stay connected with them on social media. And a little while ago, I saw that they done some wonderful research on romantic relationship and non binary folks and the experiences that non binary people have around dating and romantic relationship in a very binary world. And so I thought that that would be great research to bring to your gender stories listeners. So that's why we're here today. Lex, so anything else that you want to say about yourself apart from my introduction?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

I think that's pretty solid, I just want to say thank you so much for having me on and I really appreciate the opportunity to describe my research, it means a lot. Thank you so much.

Alex Iantaffi:

I'm always super appreciative of all my guests. So you get all the gratitude back from me, because I love being able to bring really great content to my listeners and your research is so wonderful, and I can't wait to talk about it more. So thank you for making the time on a Sunday. All right, let's get going. So this research about romantic relationship and dating and non binary folks, and you can say more about what the focus actually was, was part of your master's degree, actually. So kind of your previous course of study with Dr. Pascale Lupo, who I also have met at the same conference I've met you at and who's a wonderful colleague. So tell me a little bit more about what was the actual focus of

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yeah, definitely. So like you had your research? And we'll go from there. said, I worked with Dr. Paz Guillebeau at Towson University, this was the focus of my master's thesis. So really, what we were doing initially was looking at the microaggressions that trans folks experience from their romantic partners. There's a good amount of, you know, things that aren't super excellent or understood by cis folks or other trans folks who share different identities than you do. Within the romantic research, romantic relationship literature and so I really wanted to know about like microaggressions that are those small, brief everyday interactions that can really break down relationships with folks. And that can be between like, friends, or colleagues, or romantic partners, and especially as romantic partners are some of the most important relationships that a person might have, if they choose to engage in a romantic relationship, then I really wanted to see how those relationships were being impacted by these microaggressions. And so what we did was we asked a few questions, we asked for the microaggressions that folks were experiencing. And then we also kind of wanted to flip it on its head, because so much of the research about trans folks is negative, right?

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

And there's so much more to our lives, then the negative.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yes.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

And so we also looked at the micro affirmations that trans folks experience from their romantic partners, and specifically, those micro affirmations, we were trying to kind of find a converse right to the micro aggressions. And so four different studies ended up coming out of those two questions.

Alex Iantaffi:

That's amazing. Tell me a little bit more about micro affirmations because I was more familiar with the concept of micro aggressions, but like you said, there's so much research that focuses on you know, our pain and trauma which is very real, as transgender or non binary folks, but it's also really great to kind of look at the kind of flip the concept on its head and see what are those moments of kind of joy and connection. So, can you give me an example what would be considered a micro affirmation in your study?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Definitely. So like I had said, we were trying to kind of flip microaggression right. So these could have been brief, small interpersonal interactions that sought to affirm someone's gender instead of sought to question or tear it down. And so an example of this could have been something as small as maybe if someone wasn't fully out in public, the partner making sure to in private using their correct name and pronouns. It could have been something that's small, or it could have been something as large as romantic partners actively defending their trans partners from family members who are dead naming them or misgendering them. And so it could have been brief or small, or it could have been really overt. We also had stories about folks who their partners taught them how to administer hormones. We had someone who I believe their partner was a diabetic and so understood how to give like intramuscular injections, and so help them with their testosterone shots. And things like that, that are kind of brief, everyday interactions that might not necessarily be seen as life changing, can be small enough that they offset the kind of stigma and minority stress the trans folks experience on a day to day basis.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. Sounds like those are not very micro, they can be pretty big in a person's life kind of those moments, right?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Exactly, yeah.

Alex Iantaffi:

Really wonderful and I want to go back to micro affirmations in a moment, but I was curious about why choose this topic of research. And of course, it could be as simple as there was a gap in the literature. As a scholar, I understand that sometimes as simple as what is not been researched yet. But in my experience, sometimes, there's so much more that drives our own research generally and if you felt okay to share it, I was curious about why you chose this topic?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yeah, that's definitely okay. I think that one, there was definitely a gap in the literature, right. And so that was super helpful in order of thinking of publication, and how that would work. But also, I feel really, really lucky to have a romantic partner who affirms the crap out of me. She has really kind of... we started dating just before my master's program, and we're now engaged. And it was, it was the shift between someone previous that I had dated, who kind of didn't accept my identity, and I wasn't even fully out but even when I was exploring it a little bit was very dismissive of it, versus someone who, even as a sis woman, she brought me literature, and she connected me with resources. And she gave me language that I didn't know I needed, or was even available. And so I kind of wanted to, I love romantic relationships in terms of research. I think that they are, like I had said previously some of the most important aspects and relationships that a person can have. But I also was a little bit selfish in looking at those affirmations and trying to see if how else people were affirming their partners.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. I love it. I love the trajectory right there. That is the trajectory in your research for kind of micro aggression, to micro affirmation. And also in your own life to kind of going from maybe not such a supportive relationship to a very supportive relationship by the sound of it and congratulations on your engagement as well.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Thank you so much.

Alex Iantaffi:

Oh, you're so welcome. So tell me a little bit about you know, what are the main differences for somebody who's a non binary person and say, when they're dating or when they're new romantic relationship, compared to maybe kind of folks who are the more binary identity, whether they're trans folks or cis folks even?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Definitely. So I think, like you've said previously, we live in a very binary world, right? There are so many boxes in which male or female are the only two available and we know that there's more than that, I think that it can be a little bit different in terms of that dating aspect with an even if we just shrink it down to trans folks, right? Like dating, maybe a binary trans man versus a non binary person. There are ways that are kind of intuitive in affirming a binary trans man, right, like, use his pronouns in his name, and you call him handsome, and your boyfriend or your husband, and there are all these really like, kind of boxes that are already set. And I'm not saying it's easy, but I'm saying that it's kind of we know what to do.

Alex Iantaffi:

There's a trajectory. You go from one box to another. Exactly and with non binary folks.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yeah. Yeah. And with non binary folks, there could be a, a difference there. Right? So it's not necessarily that linear trajectory, it could be a mix, maybe of affirmations. We had participants acknowledge that they felt good when their partner switched pronouns for them, maybe moving between, you know, he and they or she and they, or even he and she, when they had a mix of kind of verbal affirmations, so beautiful versus handsome versus good looking. Right. And also really understanding that we're non binary, right? So having this experience of not, oh, you're my boyfriend or you're my girlfriend, but have no you're my partner or no, you're my date mate or joy friend is one I've heard recently because they really enjoy it right? It's super cute a friend.

Alex Iantaffi:

That's so cute. Yeah, I think that might be my new favorite. I like sweetie because that has that sweetness but joy friend, it's even better, I think. Absolutely and I know for myself as a non binary person,

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yeah. But so there's also there's, there's a little more gray area, right? It's not as fixed. And so I think that that can be a difference that folks are acknowledging. Is it they feel really good when their partners sometimes, you know, when I'm dating or I'm in a new acknowledge that they might be neither gender or a blend of genders, or they might fluctuate?Yeah, and that might not be as intuitive for folks, especially if they are either relationship, there's always that kind of question like, for like, you know, binary, whether they're cis or trans, or whether they're just as folks. So I think that it takes a little work, but I think it's super doable. the other person, like, do you see me? Do you really get me? Do you really understand kind of who I am and all aspects of me, not just certain aspects, right? And I don't know if you found Yeah, absolutely. It's actually really interesting. I love the that with your research participants. And that's title of our non binary affirmations piece, because it's a quote from a participant that they said their partner had said to them, and it's I love you as both, and I love you as neither. something that talked about kind of really feeling you know, how, And I think that that really just captures that like, Yeah, you see me, you see that maybe I fluctuate. Or maybe I'm neither gender but that expression of No, I don't care. I love you, I as humans, we want to feel kind of seen and affirmed that we think is. Yeah, like, I think a lot of folks did acknowledge that being seen. I think it's also really interesting. Because the micro aggressions and micro affirmations articles come from the same people. So like, people were answering both questions need to feel like the person that's close to us gets us kind within the dataset. And we asked them to think of one partner throughout the question. So they weren't saying, you know, my ex did this, and my other ex did this. But one of the things of thing, or people who are close to us get us? that's really interesting, and kind of intuitive, right, but it's one of those waters wet, but we need a citation for it.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Is that like, no relationship is perfect. While in our microaggressions piece, there were folks who acknowledged 'Hey, my partner did this once and it really made me not trust him for a minute'. These were the same people who were saying, 'No, my partner really deeply affirms me in these ways'. And sometimes a lot of those micro affirmations or even micro aggressions were time dependent. So folks could have said, 'hey, when we first started dating, she wasn't really great at this'. But now after a year, 'she's really gotten it down, and is amazing'. And so it really talks to one the importance of like, open communication, which I will always push for in romantic relationships, and being transparent and telling your partner or partners what you want. But also just that like, room for growth. I think that that was one of my favorite things to see between the two articles was that acknowledgement of like, yeah, in the past, my partner wasn't as good as I wanted them to be. But now like, now, they're great. And so it's really, yeah, it's just something that I really enjoyed between the two articles. And they feel very, very polarized. And like, if you read them in isolation, they look very polarized. But it's also we worked really hard to try and make sure that we acknowledged that not all relationships were all good or

Alex Iantaffi:

I love that. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, as a all bad. family therapist, I really feel that because I think there are so many messages in dominant discourse, that relationships are either good or bad, you know, that polarizing, which often then, you know, when some of us also deal maybe with a history of trauma, it can be even really easy to fall into good or bad, this person gets hurt, they don't get it, right. And it's so important to acknowledge that, you know, we're all human and sometimes it takes a moment to kind of grow into a new understanding or a new relationship and the relationships actually take work, you know, the take commitment, they take work to take patience, they take listening, they take good boundaries, you know, great communication over things. You know, that relationship stake, which could be the topic of a whole other podcast episode, but I'm curious about. Yes. What else do you find out about kind of relationships, especially in terms of non binary folks and romantic relationships and kind of the work they take and the kinds of things that make the relationionships work?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Definitely, I think at the very, very baseline acknowledging and a non binary identity is like, that's, that's like the first thing that's baseline. That's the, you know, food, water shelter on Maslow's hierarchy. And so having that acknowledgement and having

Alex Iantaffi:

Yup. that know, I see you and I know who you are, even if, even if they don't fully get it right away that verbal acknowledgment of 'No, okay, like this is who you are', is incredibly important. I know that a lot of our participants acknowledged or non binary participants explicitly acknowledged, like, hey, and having that identity erased, doesn't feel good, and that hurts our relationship romantically. But on the flip side, there's also the little things, I know that a lot of our folks described feeling really protected by their romantic partners, especially when I'm thinking specifically about there was an active defense piece to these affirmations. And that's when romantic partners would go out of their ways to correct people, even if it was at their own, like loss, right. So even if it was somebody who had a little bit more power, or like, if they risked losing a position within a friend group, they would still insert themselves so that the trans person didn't have to do the emotional labor of continuing to correct someone's on their gender, or on their name or on their pronouns. There's also a piece of like active learning, and really understanding going above and beyond to say, 'hey, I have researched your identity, and I see that you are a gender flux person and this is what the internet says, and is, does this fit for you'. And so not necessarily making the their partner have to, like bear the entire burden of educating them, but really like taking that onus upon themselves. There's even a really cute quote, where somebody was like, 'Oh, my partner researched and wrote a song about non binary identities', like, so it's little stuff like that, that really show that the partner is making a really active, you know, really active effort to learn about identities and to not put that onus on their partner. Absolutely. I wonder if participants also felt like that meant their partners really cared, right? They went that extra mile, you know, do find an article to find something to read, to kind of learn something that they didn't have to kind of teach them directly. Absolutely. I think it's a, it's an act of care. In a way, it's a gift.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Exactly. And especially when conversely, for micro aggressions, it was folks who was basically like, Oh, by gender is just a Tumblr thing. Like, oh, you're not really non binary, there are only men and women look at science. And honestly, even if we do look at science, like, folks are intersex, like there's, you know, so much more than just XX and XY out there that a lot of folks don't choose to acknowledge, but are super real and exist and are within the biological literature.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah, I mean, gender is so much more complicated. I know, one of the episodes I want to do when scheduled down the line is with a feminist scientist to bring in this aspect. Yes. What about science? Let's absolutely talk about that. Because actually, science tells us that gender is so much bigger than, than the binary, even as the effects of birth is so much bigger, but gender itself as well. So again, that would be another really wonderful topic. Kind of going back to this idea that micro aggressions of micro micro affirmations, were coming from the same people, because you asked your participants to focus on the same relationship, if you had to kind of pull out some kind of dating advice for non binary folks and even maybe for the people who want to date non binary folks or in relationship with non binary folks from your research. What kind of advice do you think you would give?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Oh, gosh.

Alex Iantaffi:

I know, sorry, I didn't say I was gonna read it.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

It's hard, because part of me wants to give like my own personal advice, and I'm also trying to base it in the research. So it's going to be a little bit of a mix here. I'd say really pulling back on that, like, going and searching for answers that don't put all the emotional labor. So if I'm, if I'm talking to cis people here, don't put the emotional labor on your partner to have to explain every single thing non binary to you. For the most part, I know that I love to talk about myself. It's part of why I'm on a podcast, let's be real. But there's also a level of, hey, you shouldn't like. I shouldn't have to explain to you eight times why using my pronouns is important. I shouldn't have to explain to you, you know, over and over and over again that my name is really important to me. Especially if there are folks who are together. Like pre transition. I know that that can be a growth area and a learning curve. And I totally want to respect that. But there's also a level of, 'hey, if you are the person who is, you know, intimately close to someone who is telling you about their gender', which is so, so important and close to them, then you need to respect it, and you need to get on board with it. There's always room for grace, and there's always room for growth, but showing that you're making an effort is huge. And then I guess my advice to non binary folks is a little bit more personal, but it's be with someone who deeply values you. I think that we are told by the media and at this point by the political spectrum and sphere right now that we aren't real, and that we don't exist, and that we don't deserve to take up space, and that our gender is fake. And that, you know, gender equals sex equals biology equals that will always be who you are, and what you what you will be. And I think that we internalize a lot of that. And I think that's specifically going where we're valued. And being with people who value us and who we don't have to uphill battle for every day, in terms of just having basic respect of our names, pronouns and identities, is huge. So, my baseline advice is, be with someone who values you, and they will show you they value you through respect of you.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely, I think that's beautiful advice because even working with trans youth, one of the main fears that families have is who's gonna love my child, which always breaks my heart, right? When this, this comes up, there's always this fear of like, you know, and of course, that comes from cisgenderism and transphobia. And even the most well, meaning of parents and families have this fear of what's going to happen. All I hear about is violence, you know, and the terrible things that happen to trans people, because those are the things that make the news, right. But they don't hear about all the trans people who have beautiful relationships and partners and children and Beloved's and friends and great colleagues, right, and really affirming beautiful, thriving lives. And, and it's so sad to me. So that's why one of the reasons why I was so excited about your research was this aspect of the affirmation, right. Of course, let's not ignore the fact that it's still challenging to have relationships, when the world hasn't quite fully grasped once more that binary identities and experiences exist, have always existed and are valid, and were raised, you know, through the ongoing settler colonial project. But, you know, let's really lift up that that can be beautiful relationship, that that can be those moments of affirmation that there are plenty of people who are having really complex and human and good relationships, right.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yeah, exactly.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah. And it's interesting that some of your participants were saying things like, 'oh, you know, my partner said, that's, that's not a real gender. That's, that's a Tumblr thing, right?' Because one of the thing we hear around non binary identities, it's there for young people, right. And I think the discourse is shifting a little bit. And I'm 48 years old myself, and I remember how excited a young person was. Actually, this was years ago, I was still in my 30s, when they met me, and they were like, you're in your 50s. And you're a non binary. I don't think we even use non binary at the time, it was more like a transgender, queer person, and you're not like 20. You know, I think there's still this idea that non binary folks are young or it's phase or it's a more fluid thing that it's, you know, it's okay, when you're in school, or it's okay, when you're in college, but not when you're a full grown adult, like myself say, so is that something that came up in your research at all that age, or other aspects, maybe of identities and experience, kind of, you know, maybe class or race or culture kind of made a difference to relationships?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yeah, so I'll definitely say that our sample, especially for our non binary participants was super young. I don't know it off the top of my head, but I believe it was like, under between 20 and 25. So that was, and that was the mean, that was the average age. So yeah, we definitely got a little more skew for younger folks. And then our sample was also like, it was an online sample, right? So we collected it via social media and online sampling. So within all online research, you're gonna get a sample that's disproportionately white, this of course, disproportionately educated and disproportionately, like, upper ish class. And so we also did find that and though while we know that trans folks are historically marginalized in terms of their class and in terms of their earning potential, we also know that our methodology kind of set us up to get those a little bit higher class and a little bit more educated and more white folks. So I didn't see anything, especially in our non binary papers that were very distinct across race or class. But I think that there are definitely still narratives out there that I've heard anecdotally, in terms of genderqueer as a white people thing, or non binary as a white people thing. And it really takes away the agency from folks of color in determining their own identities, especially when you think about the indigenous identities from the US and the native cultures here. That we're really erasing that. And while we live in a white supremacist society, we can't just erase that, like we can't just erase Two Spirit folks, we can't erase folks who are from cultures other than ours that are genderqueer, or are non binary and hold those identities. And that's a huge part of their racial background. And so while anecdotally, I have heard that I think that I mean, I personally think it's a wrong assumption. In terms of in terms of class too, I haven't necessarily heard it in terms of class, but I will say that it is harder to get jobs that are considered lower class such as like retail food service, industry jobs to respect any pronouns other than binary ones. Again, that's just kind of from anecdotal experience, but I know that I have an easier time in academia than I did when I was working retail.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah, that's real. So and, of course, you know, yours was like a master's project, there's so so it's such wonderful data. But I also really want to acknowledge that you had very, probably limited resources in terms of how you could sample your, you know, time constraints, you know, financial constraints of how you could sample your focus. So it's yes, it's good to acknowledge they was pretty homogeneous, but that there are experiences that are beyond the kind of homogeneous.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yes, definitely.

Alex Iantaffi:

So if you could do the research again, what would you change, and you had all resources available to you, let's go to fantasyland for a minute. It's not how it works. But I'm gonna wave that magic wand and ask the miracle question. If you could do this, again, with all the resources, what would you change, if anything?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

So I would specifically target a few different populations, for example, I would target folks of color, I could have done a better job of that, and the research that I had, but also time constraints. So I would target folks of color, I would try really hard to not just colonize that space, either just really be intentional about going in and creating relationships within the community before administering a survey. And I would also try really hard to find non binary elders, I think that I hear my own feelings echoed and what you had shared earlier with someone being excited to meet you when you were in your 30s. Because, you know, just just recently meeting folks who are a good amount older than me, and I'm, I'll be 28 In a few weeks, but knowing that I get to grow up was huge. And so and so really seeing, really being intentional about focusing on recruiting and identifying and hearing the stories of folks who are much older than what the average age of the sample was really being intentional about finding folks who are in their 40s 50s 60s and 70s. And even older, would, for me feel really impactful.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. That sounds really like a wonderful project, whether you get to do it or not.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Right.

Alex Iantaffi:

That's the dream that you get to do whatever you want. It's not our works, listeners. But that's the dream. Tell me a little bit about what what are your hopes for your research. So it's some of the papers that are out there, there's been some news media interest, which is always great. But what are your hopes for your research?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

I hope that this finds people who need it, I know that there's a little bit of an ivory tower. And by a little bit, I mean a lot of a bit of an ivory tower in academia where we feel so siloed that were in an echo chamber, just giving this research to other people who maybe have a, you know, an account with a university to allow them to access this. So I work really hard to try and make my full text available to anyone who asks for them. Those are available through my research date, which I will link to you. And so all you have to do is contact me and I will immediately turn around and send you a copy of that. But I really want folks who are in their young 20s Or even in their late teens to find this and realize especially the affirmations article, that our lives aren't just discrimination and stigma and violence and death. That we can have beautiful, meaningful, intentional relationships with people who adore us exactly as we are. And who wouldn't change us who don't wish we were cis or who don't love us even though we're trans, who deeply love us to our core for exactly the people we are. So I think that that would be my hope is that it reaches folks who who need to read it and who need a little bit of hope or their parents to show that no, your child is fine, you're fine, just the way you are, and you're lovable just the way you are. And if someone doesn't love you, then maybe it's not because you're trans. Maybe it's just because they're not a great person.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah, and it's okay to walk away.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yeah.

Alex Iantaffi:

And you know, it's okay to walk away from people don't value or don't affirm your identity. Absolutely. Because there will be people who do. And that's, you know, that doesn't have to be the sphere of scarcity. Yeah, well, and then you carried on studying after your masters, and you're now a doctoral student. And I know you're thinking probably about the focus of your doctoral research. So what's next for you?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yeah, great questions. I'm a big nerd. So I decided I wasn't done after masters. And I wanted to get all the I wanted to get the not real doctor behind my name. So I was excited for that.

Alex Iantaffi:

I have The not real doctor, I love it. Love it.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

I'm really excited about looking at positive aspects of trans identity. So right now, I'm working with Dr. Kearson Gonzalez at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and we're focusing on the positive aspects of trans identity. So right now we're looking at connection to community as well as feelings of belongingness for trans folks, and how that's different for trans folks, specifically, then within the larger LGBTQ community, and how those feelings are distinct and lead to experiences of mental, physical and spiritual health and well being. In the future, I'm kind of looking ahead towards my disc research. And this isn't set in stone. But I would really love to create an intervention with folks who are providing reproductive resources towards trans masculine folks and masculine of center folks. Because right now, I know where I am in Knoxville, they do a lot of really good, like, lip service for trans folks, there's a good amount of, 'Hey, check this box if you identify as trans and list your pronouns'. But then if you are a trans masculine person, and you're still walking into the women's reproductive health center, there's a whole lot of environmental microaggressions that are going on there based on even just like the pictures on the wall, or how folks might talk about body parts, or talk about you in general. And so I really would deeply love to create an intervention in order to make that space a little bit safer for us as non binary and trans masculine folks who might not might not super vibe with all the pink and all of the black and white pictures of pregnant bellies. So

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely, I Yes, I think that that would be really great as somebody who is a parent, and you know, was that their biological child and is now going, you know, maybe oversharing. But you know, this is life. And I think there's a lot of stigma, like going from perimenopause and menopause, and then having to negotiate all those environments. What strikes me is also the more I talk to people is, it's not just because I'm trans masculine, that those things don't vibe with me. I've talked to cis women who feel very alienated by those environments, too, you know, pink is not really their thing. Or maybe they have never been able to have a child and the wanting to have a child. And so walking into environments, they're very much set up with this idea that having a uterus means that you're going to reproduce in a certain way, and that your uterus is going to work in a certain way. It's just this huge weight of expectation. So it's really crashing. I mean, I think transmasculine muscular center folks are particularly impacted by what strikes me as I talk to more and more people who use this kind of reproductive services is that actually they're alienating for all a broad range of people? Because like you said, it's a very small box, right? That yeah, that those services are operating? And if that makes sense.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Yeah.

Alex Iantaffi:

That work serves all everybody. But you know, that's the premise of a lot of my work that, you know, as transgender or non binary, folks, we get to do a lot of work around gender liberation, that actually serves all of us.

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Exactly. What is it, none of us are free until all of us are free.

Alex Iantaffi:

Exactly. Exactly. And it's, you know, the work we do. Sure, I do a lot of this work for my own communities. But also, I'm still in this broader community, right of like my neighbors, and my partner and my kids, and you know, and so we all have different gender identities. And I want that, that space to breathe, kind of for all of us. So what a great idea for an intervention. I hope you get to do that. And what's the longer term term dream for you once you have the doctor non doctor title which is also wonderful, nonbinary title. I love it. What's the longer term dream goal for you?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

I mean, really, the goal was to have a gender neutral prefix, and Dr just hits it. So there it is. But I would have to say, I am hoping to become a professor, I'm not really sure at what level of institution yet. Our ones like research, one top research universities, definitely have their draw. I love research. It's what energizes me, it allows me to fuel my activism in a way that feels not just important in the moment in the way that maybe like protestor marches feel important. But in the long term, both of my folks are lawyers. And so one of the things that they always remind me is that legal precedent sits on the shoulders of good research. And I hope to make a long term impact and better the lives for trans non binary, gender and sexual minorities. Whoever needs it. I would love to.... So I'm hoping my work comes across in that kind of way. Yeah, not super sure at what level I'd like to teach at and work at. But if I have the opportunity to continue doing research that I love, and to continue working hard for trans folks, and for queer folks, then I think that, personally, I would feel like that had a lot of meaning for me, and would give me a very meaningful life. And, yeah, I also, work life balance is important, too. So I guess another long term goal is to cook a lot of good food and go on a lot of fun adventures.

Alex Iantaffi:

That sounds like a like a good thing to aim for, especially in academia, work life balance, yes. It's a bit like the micro aggression, micro affirmations, you know, find the place where there can be growth and a good balance and plenty of affirmation of that good goal of life work balance. That's great. So my last question usually is, is there anything that I have not asked you about that you were really hoping to talk about? When you agreed to come on to the show?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

I think we hit on just about everything. I think the only thing that I really want to underscore is to, especially younger folks who are who might be listening. They're going to be tough times. And a lot of people are going to tell you, it gets better no matter what. It does get better. You have to keep working, you have to keep moving forward, whatever darkness that is happening will pass. And you will, you will see light. And I know that sounds a little cheesy, but those are words that I really needed to hear when I was a teenager. And so I hope that I hope that that hits somebody else the way I needed it to hit me.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. Thank you for sharing that. And one of the wonderful things that I mean, you said many wonderful things, but one of the wonderful things you said was that you really want your research not to be locked behind a paywall, and you want it to make it accessible. So I will put this in the episode description as well. But if people want to find out more about your work or want to read your research, where should they go?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Definitely. So my name is a little bit long. So I will say it and then it'll be spelled out in the episode description. But really, my name is Lex Pulice Farrow. And if you Google me, I think one of the first things that pops up is my research scholar or my Research Gate. And feel free to request any publication. Feel free to just message me with questions. And I'm super, super responsive. I love connecting with other folks. I'm an extrovert. So please ask me questions. I will definitely respond. And if you are curious about any of my research, ask for it. And I will send it to you as soon as possible.

Alex Iantaffi:

Oh my god, I'm so grateful for extroverts. I'm not one. So I'm always very grateful for extroverts, I'm like, Yes, you have so much more energy socially. I love it. So listeners, don't be afraid to reach out to Lex, they made a very explicit invitation. So if you want to read their research, please do so. And if people want to follow you on social media, do you have a preferred kind of social media channel that people can follow your research at?

Lex Pulice-Farrow:

Definitely. So my Twitter is at @lexpulicefarrow. And I will also link that to you as well.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. Well, I'll add that in the episode description as well. That's great. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. I am so grateful for you making the time to make your research even more accessible. I think this is one way to kind of bring research to a broader audience as to talk about it. And I love talking about research as a recovering independent scholar. So thank you so much and I hope we get to talk about future research project and for your listeners. Thank you for listening. As always, please feel free to support gender Stories on Patreon if you want to. And if you want to find out more about non binary issues, you might want to read the latest book The Mac John Barker and I have written Life Isn't Binary. And also of course you can always read How To Understand Your Gender if you have questions related to gender. Thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting the show and if you have any questions and in fact, please do reach out, and let me know if you have any questions, comments or episodes or topics that you want me to cover. You can reach me at genderstoriespodcast@gmail.com Thank you so much.