5th Annual AltSex NYC Conference 2020


9:15 to 10:15AM — Kate Bornstein
Trans, Just for the Fun of It: The Compassionate Practice of Gender in Four Dimensions

Gender—broadly considered a two dimensional phenomenon described as male-or-female—is both the site of and cause of great personal and cultural suffering. The reason for this is that multi-dimensional understanding of gender by an increasing number of people has reached a cultural tipping point resulting in a painful clash of belief systems. The resolution lies in the analysis and compassionate application of the complementary wisdoms of postmodern theory, Mahayana Buddhism, and quantum mechanics: three fields which, in a Venn diagram, overlap at slapstick comedy.

Dulcinea Alex Pitagora will briefly discussed the implications of gender constraints applied from birth, then will introduce Kate Bornstein, who will discuss her current work on gender theory as elaborated in four dimensions. Kate invites you to join in the conversation!

Since 1989, trans trailblazer Kate Bornstein has—with humor and spunk—ushered us into a world of limitless possibility through a daring re-envisionment of the gender system as we know it. Today, Kate identifies as nonbinary: not a man, and not a woman—and she’s been writing about nonbinary gender identity for nearly thirty years. Kate’s work is taught in five languages, in over 300 high schools, colleges, and universities around the world. The titles of her books say a lot about who she is, and how she views things: Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (now in its 2nd edition); My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity (now in its 2nd edition); Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws; and A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She Is Today. Currently, you can see Kate onscreen as Joan, the church lady, in the film, Saturday Church. In 2016, she was a regular cast member of the second season of E! TV’s “I Am Cait,” with Caitlyn Jenner. Kate is the subject of Sam Feder’s award-winning documentary, “Kate Bornstein Is a Queer and Pleasant Danger.” Kate’s work on suicide prevention, and her advocacy for marginalized and at-risk youth has earned her two citations of outstanding citizenship from the New York City Council. Kate has been on the road lecturing and performing for over 25 years, at colleges, high schools, and anywhere people gather to talk about gender. She’s now writing a new book: Trans! Just For the Fun Of It: Compassionate Gender Strategies for Divisive Times.

10:15 to 10:45AM — Smitty Buckler
Queer and Trans Porn Embody Sexual Self-Reclamation through Objectification of the Self as Other

Queer and Trans [qt] Porn embodies the symbolization of sexual self-reclamation through objectification of the self as subject-object, as other. We will explore some current qt porn makers and T4T as a self-fetishization/objectification, as it embodies reclamation, self-love and community-love that is healing. The empowerment of disabled qt individuals in sex work as a means to economic liberation as well as overcoming stigma associated with being disabled is undeniable. When additional intersectional identities are added the impacts increase. For a queer, trans, disabled, indigenous, and/or black person of color sex work could be life saving. In order for it to not be exploitative though the subject-object must have autonomy as well as empowered control over the content. As enthusiastic consent is important in our interpersonal relationships, it is even more important in these professional relationships. We will also discuss how to vet for ethical consumption.

Smitty Buckler is an amalgamation of grey area politicized identities expressing themselves through the intersections of being an artist, organizer, writer, performer, dancer, researcher, healer, and advocate. They have been creating opportunities for qtpoc artists since 2005 through the Conspiracy of Geniuses (CoG). CoG is now working to bridge the gap between art, social change and healing with the project Rad Care. Enthusiasts of Smitty say among their other qualities, one is phlebotomizing the patriarchy of all its evil blood, replacing it with liquid glitter. Smitty’s next project is to embody this exploration by starting a porn production house.

10:45 to 11:15AM — Cyndi Darnell
Reclaiming Shame—When Porn Informs Therapy

For most of us, sex is a subjective, lived experience that is as unique as our genetic make-up, our upbringing, our thoughts, values, feelings, beliefs and ideas. It is through our erotic interactions, or the absence thereof, that we form aspects of our fluid and mutable erotic paths and identities. Despite the abundance sexually explicit material (SEM) around us, many of us still struggle with what sex means to us, what we do, how we experience it and what that says about who we are as people. Some who struggle with this may seek help in making sense of their sexuality with a professional. This presentation aims to provide a compassionate case for the use of SEM in clinical contexts and will showcase several case studies of how this can work to facilitate pride, pleasure, erotisim and wellbeing.

Cyndi Darnell is an Australian sexologist now based in NYC. Her clinical publications include using sexually explicit media in sex therapy and integrating narrative therapy into sex therapy contexts. She’s presently an affiliate on the advisory board University of Wisconsin – Stout Graduate Certificate in Sex Therapy Program and faculty on Pink Therapy’s (UK) Foundation Certificate in Gender, Sexuality & Relationship Diversity Therapy. Her most recent academic publication was a contribution to the collected works #Metoo and The Politics of Social Change by Palgrave Macmillan.

12:15 to 12:45PM —  Debby Herbenick
Diverse Sexual Behaviors in the United States

Convenience samples, social media, and anecdotes suggest that sexual behaviors sometimes described as rough sex have become more common in the United States. However, little has been known about these behaviors at the population level. In a US nationally representative probability survey of Americans ages 14 to 40, we examined the prevalence of diverse sexual behaviors. We also examined the age at first pornography exposure as well as prevalence, range, and frequency of pornography use. In this talk, we will explore changing sexual behaviors in the United States with a focus on so-called “rough sex” behaviors. We will explore potential associations between these behaviors and pornography use as well as the extent to which people find certain rough sex and related behaviors appealing. Throughout we will consider the complexities of sexual consent and communication; how to educate and engage with others (especially young people) related to these sexual behaviors; as well as potential influences on these behaviors. Click to view PDFs of slides and article.

Debby Herbenick, MPH, PhD is a Professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health and Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion. Since 2009, she has been leading the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, the longest running US nationally representative probability survey of sexuality. The NSSHB tracks trends in sexual behavior, sexual attitudes, sexual pleasure, and use of sexual enhancement products. Dr. Herbenick is an AASECT-certified sexuality educator as well as the author of six bestselling books.

12:45 to 1:15PM — Alex Snell
Bate On, Bros: A Safe Space to Heal Sexual Shame for Men Who Like to Masturbate

In an era of “toxic masculinity,” sex panic, social isolation, and the eradication of safe spaces for men, it’s all the more critical that we identify and create opportunities for men to connect and heal from sexual repression. Bate culture, centered on the social network Bateworld, offers men a community grounded in mutual affirmation and encouragement of sexual pleasure. Based on interviews with Bateworld members, as well as Alex’s personal experiences, this session will explore how a community of “chronically addicted masturbators” subverts stereotypes, nurtures intimacy, and shatters barriers of sexual identity, age, physical appearance, ethnicity, class, and gender assignment at birth.

Alex Snell, LMSW earned his Master of Social Work degree from Hunter College in 2017. Currently, he is a geriatric care manager in private practice who works primarily with older gay men. Alex has been exploring the therapeutic potential of bate culture since becoming an active member of the Bateworld community in 2017. Prior to becoming a social worker, Alex worked in digital media and technology for 15 years. He collects zines and other publications about men’s sexuality, and is a perpetually aspiring DJ.

1:15 to 1:45PM — Britta Love
Healing through Whoredom: From Patriarchy to Embodiment

Can sex work be a healing modality? What does hands-on sexual healing look like? In my own life, unprocessed trauma both led me to sex work and was healed by it. Sex work was a place where I could re-learn bodily autonomy and boundaries and overcome body dysmorphia – while being financially rewarded for the constant emotional labor I was already accustomed to doing for free. I soon noticed the impact my presence and total acceptance of my clients was having on their lives as well. Eventually my decade as an escort brought me to the profession of somatic sex education, another kind of sex work that built on the skills I’d already developed in the industry. Somatic sex education brought me full circle in my own healing – to a better understanding of the lack of choice and voice I had before I started working and why. I’ll collapse the whore/healer dichotomy and explain why all whores are healers if they choose to be.

Britta Love is a somatic sex educator, writer and healer currently completing a research-based memoir about healing and awakening through conscious sexual practice and psychedelic ritual, based on her Consciousness Studies thesis completed at Goddard College. She became an advocate for sex worker’s rights as an undergraduate at the London School of Economics in 2007 and has been a writer and activist pushing for the decriminalization of drugs and sex work ever since. Britta has spoken at the Psymposia Conference at Amherst College, Breaking Convention at the University of Greenwich, and Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics as well as presented or facilitated workshops at the New School, the Assemblage, Tarot Society, Catland Books and the Alchemist’s Kitchen in New York City. Her writing has been featured on Medium, Alternet, The Raw Story, Reality Sandwich, and Chacruna and she has been interviewed for WGDR as well as podcasts like Psychedelics Today.

1:45 to 2:15PM —  Danielle Blunt and Ariel Wolf
ERASED – The Impact of Fosta-Sesta and the Removal of Backpage 2020

A few days after Backpage was shut down by federal authorities, Public Law 115-164, better known as FOSTA-SESTA, became US law in 2017. The stated goal of this law was to reduce human trafficking by amending section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. What the law has actually done is put increased pressure on Internet platforms to censor their users. While the law has been lauded by its supporters, the communities that it directly impacts claim that it has increased their exposure to violence and left those who rely on sex work as their primary form of income without many of the tools they had used to keep themselves safe. In this sex worker-led study, Hacking//Hustling used a participatory action research model to gather quantitative and qualitative data regarding the impact of the removal of Backpage and the passage of FOSTA-SESTA on two groups of sex workers: those who work online, and primarily street-based sex workers who have limited access to technology. The results of our online survey (98 participants) and street-based survey (38 participants) indicate that the removal of Backpage and FOSTA-SESTA have had detrimental effects on online workers’ financial stability, safety, access to community, and health outcomes. Click to view PDF of report.

Danielle Blunt (she/her) is a Systems Hustler + Social Engineer. She is a New York City-based Dominatrix, a full-spectrum doula and sex worker rights activist. She has a Masters in Public Health and researches the intersection of public health, sex work and equitable access to tech. She served as the former care coordinator to Persist Health Project. She is a co-author of Hacking//Hustling’s ongoing study on the effects of FOSTA-SESTA and the Removal of Backpage. She enjoys watching her community thrive and making men cry.

Ariel Wolf (she/her) is a researcher, data analyst, writer, and former sex worker from New York City. She previously served as the community organizer for the Red Umbrella Project a nonprofit organization that amplified the voices of those in the sex trades, and as a research assistant for the Center for Court Innovation where she has worked on studies on sex work, human trafficking, gun violence, and procedural justice. Her first solo academic paper entitled Stigma in the Sex Trades was published earlier this year in the journal of Sexuality and Relationship Therapy. She was the lead data analyst for Hacking//Hustling’s study on the effects of FOSTA-SESTA and the Removal of Backpage.

2:45 to 3:15PM — Tatyannah King
Can You Be Demisexual and Still Swipe Right?

We live in a technology-driven and fast pace age in which we are constantly one swipe away from our next relationship and flooded with options upon options for hookups. But what about the people who have a different way of you’ve ever found yourself to be one of those people who rarely develop crushes, can’t imagine taking online dating apps seriously, can’t help but move at a slow pace in relationships, or just plain wondering what it means to be demisexual.

Tatyannah King is a sex educator and blogger for Swoon, The Odyssey’s only published content channel for dating & relationships, and Tabú, a website that advocates for comprehensive information about sexual and mental he with two bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Spanish. She will be attending graduate school at Widener University in summer 2020 to study social work and human sexuality. During her free time, she spends her time travelin workshops. Her focus on sexuality education includes female pleasure, kink and alternative sexualities.

3:15 to 3:45PM — Lydia Hamel
Relationship Anarchy as a Tool for Empowerment

Relationship Anarchy works to relate to others in a way that is less defined by expectations, assumptions, rules, and obligations. It is a philosophy and practice grounded in respect for autonomy, authentic co-willing, consent, and anti-authoritarianism. It questions the conventional social norms, beliefs, and customs around relationships such as ownership, scarcity and entitlement. Relationship Anarchy has become a hot topic, especially in the non-monogamous communities. But what does Relationship Anarchy mean exactly? And how can principles of Relationship Anarchy be applied to all types of relationships (including monogamous ones) in ways that help us reclaim our individuality and sexuality within relationships and in our lives.

Lydia Hamel works as a Sex Educator and Therapist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has recently completed the Intensive Sex Therapy course at Guelph University and the Sexual Attitude Reassessment course at the Sex Down South Conference in Atlanta. She collaborates with individuals and partners to unpack relational and sexual concerns from a systemic standpoint, working to understand how they intersect with social norms implemented by colonial, patriarchal and capitalist domination. Lydia has worked for the Gender and Sexual Health Initiative in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. In Montreal, she worked as a Sexual Health Educator for Aids Community Care Montreal (ACCM), facilitating workshops for youth on sexual health, consent, harm reduction and healthy relationships. Click to view PDF of slides.

3:45 to 4:45PM — James Wadley
“I Love You but You Need to Take Yo’ Ass Home”—
Boundary Formation, Maintenance, and Severance in Polyamorous Relationships

In some poly relationships, individuals believe that they should invest more time in relational building and maintenance and they have difficulty negotiating and navigating appropriate boundaries with forming attachments with partner(s). In these relationships, partner(s) may want time or space in order to take care of themselves differently than they would if their partner is not around. Thus, it seems advantageous for sexuality clinicians and educators to consider concepts of co- dependence/enmeshment and differentiation while working with individuals from poly (consensual nonmonogamy) communities in order to clearly define and describe guidelines for courtship, relational maintenance, and intimacy negotiation.

Dr. James Wadley is Professor and Chair of the Counseling and Human Services Department at Lincoln University. As an AASECT certified sex therapist and supervisor, he maintains a private practice in the States of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. His research and advocacy interests are in sexuality leadership, self-care in poly relationships, and relational decision making. James is the founding editor of the scholarly, interdisciplinary journal, the Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships (University of Nebraska Press). Finally, in 2018, Dr. Wadley co-edited The Art of Sex Therapy Supervision (Routledge) which won AASECT’s 2019 Book of the Year. Click to view PDF of slides.

5 to 5:30PM — Panel Discussion: Alt Sex and Sexual Self-Reclamation

The 5th Annual AltSex NYC Conference was produced by
Dulcinea Pitagora, PhD and Michael Aaron, PhD

See you next year!

Registration Is Now Open
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