4th Annual AltSex NYC Conference 2019

9 to 10AM — Robin Wilson-Beattie
When Your Existence is Resistance: Sexual Expression as an
Empowerment Tool for People With Disabilities

People with disabilities (PWD) advocate daily for access and inclusion in their communities and society. When PWD express and explore sexuality, it is an act of resistance against the able-bodied culturally-influenced and accepted sexual expressive norms. The development of the elements of resilience in individuals and communities can help protect and promote the sexual health and well-being for PWD, and lead to sexual empowerment. Using research and current examples of existing programs, Ms. Wilson-Beattie discussed various ways teaching resilience has been used to combat and resist ableist practices, rhetoric, and views, and how we can utilise these concepts for recognizing and supporting the sexuality of PWD. Click to view PDFs of slides.

Robin Wilson-Beattie is a disability and sexuality health educator and writer who has spent her entire adult life teaching the world to embrace and explore their sexuality, regardless of ability. She is a member of the Association of American Sexual Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), the Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN), and a certified graduate and member of the San Francisco Sexuality Information Training (SFSI). After acquiring a physical disability in 2008, she began focusing on the intersection of sexuality and disability in her talks. She now also consults with individuals and organizations on issues of adaptive sexual support, has written articles and curriculum on the subject, and is a nationally recognized self and systems disability advocate. Robin identifies as a deep-fried Southern girl, Sex Geek, comic book nerd, mid-century buff, and proud mother of an amazing transgender son. Follow Robin on Twitter @SexAbled, or like sexAbled on Facebook.


10:15 to 10:45AM — Elizabeth Wood
Domination after Dialysis

This workshop focused on ways that people managing chronic illness can use BDSM relationships as a source of resilience, confidence and strength during the adjustment period that necessarily follows major changes to the body. Dr. Wood used the transformative power of personal story telling and centers the story of her mother, whose late-life awakening as a domme was followed quickly by kidney cancer, surgery, and then complete kidney failure. Her mother’s use of peritoneal dialysis and her connections to the local kink community helped her take control over her body and see its changes in empowering ways. Key to being able to do this was her relationship with a caregiver who was open to the role that BDSM played in her life. Dr. Wood provided tips for discussing alternative sexuality with caregivers, mindful that these caregivers are frequently family members. Click to view PDFs of slides.

Elizabeth Anne Wood, Ph.D., is a SUNY Chancellor’s award winning professor of sociology at Nassau Community College, where she has taught since 2000. She earned her Ph.D. at Brandeis University in 1999 for a study of gender, power, and interaction in strip clubs. In addition to her academic work, Elizabeth is Senior Strategist for Woodhull Freedom Foundation, the nation’s only human rights organization working full time to protect sexuality and gender freedoms. Her first book, Bound: A Daughter, a Domme, and an End-of-Life Story, will be published by She Writes Press in August 2019.


10:45 to 11:15AM — Ali Walensky
BDSM and the Onset of a Chronic Physical Illness

What do you do when you’re a masochist, but don’t consent to the physical pain brought on by your own body? How can you feel comfortable in your submissive role when you feel like you can’t serve to the best of your ability? Or dominate when you’re in too much pain to move? Developing a chronic physical illness can be challenging for anybody, but it may be especially challenging in our context. Ms. Walensky’s talk focused on what it is like to have a chronic physical illness while in the kink community, and she discussed how limits/negotiation might change, how to fulfill your kinky needs, and learning how to accept this new part of you and integrate it into new or existing dynamics. Click to view PDF of slides.

Ms. Ali Walensky is a 27-year-old breast cancer survivor and women’s health advocate who has been an active member of the New York kink and poly scene. She is the co-founder of the Society of Switches (SOS) and the Switch Munch in New York City. Ms. Walensky has taught classes on non-monogamy and has been on panels for subjects such as bratting, ethical non-monogamy, and running a munch. In the past two years, Ms. Walensky has had six surgeries on various part of her body and six rounds of chemotherapy.


11:30AM to 12PM —  Alex Bove
“I Don’t Think You Can Have Alpha Males in Poly”:
Polyamory’s Changing Face of Masculinity

Polyamorous men’s platonic relationships with their male metamours (partners’ partners) often defy gender norms about men’s intimacy. A series of in-depth, qualitative interviews with two dozen polyamorous men of varying backgrounds revealed the process of social learning polyamorous men underwent as they developed their polymasculinities, all in the context of our larger societal norms and expectations. Dr. Bove described that process and discussed its implications for educators, therapists, and counsellors working with men. Click to view PDF of slides.

Dr. Alex Bove teaches at the Community College of Philadelphia and holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality Education, specializing in Men and Masculinities. His research focuses on men’s relationships, intimacy, and the social construction of masculinity. He also curates the Talk Like a Man Project, a social media conversation about masculinity in the 21st Century.


12 to 12:30PM — Kimia Sharifi
Barriers to Coming Out in Immigrant Communities

As an immigrant from Iran and someone who identifies as polyamorous, queer and kinky, I have noticed different challenges in coming out to family than some of my peers who identify as white and were born in the United States. Most of the barriers I experienced felt personal until I noticed clients and other immigrant-identified peers reporting similar barriers. Most of the books, podcasts and articles I have read and listened to are created by folks who identify as white. As I read and listened to the books and podcasts, I felt a disconnect between the experiences described and the experiences I had and heard about. There is a strong duty to biological family (specifically parents), work and education in most immigrant communities. These duties take up time and money and can prevent a person from engaging in meet ups and parties. Additionally, most immigrant cultures are much older than American culture and traditions and expectations can sometimes be much harder to resist against. Folks who have left their countries of origin to start a new life in a new country are often resilient and curious but often struggle with the tension between tradition and new. Click to view PDF of slides.

I graduated from Columbia University School of Social Work in 2010 and obtained my LCSW in 2014. I worked at Bellevue Hospital’s Victim Services Program from 2010-2013 and provided crisis intervention and therapeutic services to victims of crime. Additionally, I worked within the Gender-Based Misconduct Office at Columbia University and provided support to complainants and respondents who were involved in complaints of gender-based misconduct. Most recently, I started a full-time private practice specializing in working with adults who identify at LGBTQ, kinky or are engaged in non traditional relationship structures.


12:30 to 1PM — Daniel Copulsky
The Flux and Nuance of Sexual Orientation

Is sexual orientation just about gender? Can a sexual orientation change? What parts of sexuality are actually fixed? So what counts as a sexual orientation? Identities like pansexual, sapiosexual, asexual, and demisexual reflect shifts in how we conceive of sexual orientation. We can also apply an orientation model to other aspects of our sexual identities, like kink and polyamory. These changing understandings could have far reaching social and legal implications. Click to view PDF of slides.

Daniel Copulsky is a sex educator and researcher with the Center for Positive Sexuality, a non-profit educational and research association with the mission of addressing social issues through sex positive research and education. Dan specializes in research on non-monogamy, sexual orientation, and queer identities, and presents regularly at conferences and colleges on these topics. Dan also creates comics about sex and relationships at SexEdPlus.com.


2:30 to 3PM —  Rhoda Lipscomb
The Influence of ABDL Behaviors on Negative Emotions

Age play—also known as ABDL, or Adult Baby/Diaper Lover, in the community—is an umbrella term for those who identify as adult babies, diaper fetishists, littles, middles, and age players. Research shows that while many from this community recommend others seek help from the mental health community, few take their own advice. This is influenced by their fears that therapists will judge, misdiagnose or misunderstand the needs of this population. Dr. Lipscomb deconstructed this dynamic, and educated attendees on these unique sexual practices as well as personas that many from this community identify. While often there is shame about these unique practices, there is a level of resilience when those behaviors are used to improve negative emotions . Dr. Lipscomb taught participants to recognize the difference. In her talk, she contrasted the gender differences for those in age play, discussed the theories related to how this may develop in individuals, and reviewed the most recent research. Click to view PDF of slides.

Dr. Rhoda Lipscomb has been counseling individuals and couples in the area of human sexuality for over 25 years. She received her PhD in clinical sexology from the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists in Orlando, Florida. She is an AASECT certified sex therapist in private practice specializing in alternative sexualities and relationships, including consensual non-monogamy, ABDL, LGBTQ, BDSM, kink, and fetishes. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on the mental health experience of ABDL individuals, specializes in therapy for this community and speaks on the subject to help promote better understanding for individuals and their families.


3:15 to 4:15PM — Kate D’Adamo and Dulcinea Pitagora
Sex Work after SESTA

In April of 2018, Congress passed one of the most sweeping blows to the health, safety and human rights of people who trade sex in recent memory. In a vast expansion of civil liability through imprecise language and hyperbolic public rhetoric, Congress made it almost impossible for websites which offered some of the most essential and life-saving harm reduction tool to sex workers to operate. Since the bill’s passage, the sex worker community has faced loss of income, increased vulnerability to violence and exploitation, and death. But this bill did not create vulnerability for sex workers – it greatly exacerbated the stigma, violence and abuse that sex workers face every day. This talk will delve into the bill, both its rhetoric and its impact, as well as how it is just the most recent in a long story of sex workers voices and community being silenced, and the harm that results. Following Kate D’Adamo’s discussion on the intricacies and implications of the bill, Dr. Pitagora tied in the clinical impact that this legislation has had on their sex worker clients.

Kate D’Adamo is a sex workers’ rights advocate focused on economic justice, anti-policing and public health. Kate has been the National Policy Advocate at the Sex Workers Project, policy co-chair at the Freedom Network, and an organizer behind Survivors Against SESTA. Kate began as a community organizer with the Sex Workers Outreach Project promoting community building, peer support and political advocacy in NYC. These days you can find her upending systems and refusing to learn astrology at Reframe Health and Justice, a QTPOC collective working at the intersections of harm reduction, healing justice and criminal legal reform. Dr. Dulcinea Alex Pitagora is a former sex worker, a current psychotherapist and sex therapist, and an AltSex NYC Conference co-organizer.


4:30 to 5:30PM — Cecilia Gentili
Influences on Trans Desire and Sexual Expression

This talk combined personal narrative storytelling with a presentation of data and photographs illustrating resiliency factors in transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) communities. As a transgender person, I experienced so many pivotal moments that shaped my sexuality, not only due to being trans, but also related to the realities associated with having been a sex worker, a person incarcerated as an addict, and homeless. My perspectives on how the sexuality of a trans person changes through their existential realities is only my view, and does not generalize to all trans people, but my story and and interpretations of my processes give you an opportunity to think about both sex as a TGNC person, and TGNC existential realities.

Cecilia Gentili recently left her position as Managing Director of Policy and Public Affairs at GMHC—the world’s first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and advocacy—to start her own consulting company, Transgender Equality Consulting. Originally from Argentina, Cecilia found her passion for advocacy and community service when she started working as an intern at the LGBT Community Center in New York City several years ago. From 2012 to 2016, she managed the Transgender Health Program at the Apicha Community Health Center. Cecilia is also a contributor to Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community, and a board member at Transcend Legal and Translatina Network. For fun, she loves performing at storytelling and stand-up comedy events where she talks about her life experiences. Cecilia is very passionate about advocating for her community, especially Latina transgender women who may have a history of sex work, drug use and incarceration.


5:30 to 6PM — Panel Discussion: Alt Sex and Resilience


The 4th Annual AltSex NYC Conference was produced by
Michael Aaron, PhD and Dulcinea Pitagora, PhD

See you next year!

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