S2E7: Celebrate and Affirm

Episode 7

May 15, 2021

This week's guest are here to talk to us about supporting trans folks, and what it means to be an ally in general. Kalyn and Ro of Get Your Joey are here to encourage us to move beyond "tolerance" or "acceptance" to truly celebrating and affirming the people in our lives for who they are, right now. ("What's a Joey?" you ask. Listen in to find out.)

Image for S2E7: Celebrate and Affirm


This week's guest are here to talk to us about supporting trans folks, and what it means to be an ally in general. Kalyn and Ro of Get Your Joey are here to encourage us to move beyond "tolerance" or "acceptance" to truly celebrating and affirming the people in our lives for who they are, right now. ("What's a Joey?" you ask. Listen in to find out.)

Get Your Joey website: getyourjoey.com

About Our Guests:

Ro Walker Mills and Kalyn Falk became friends 7 years ago and found they shared a common interest in creative problem solving, advocacy, and offering practical support to the trans community. They started a company together called Get Your Joey the following year, making a functional resource for transmasculine people and providing employment for trans and nonbinary people. Their Joey pouch is sold worldwide and Ro won the Entrepreneur of the Year award through the LGBT Chamber of Commerce in 2018.

Outside of Get Your Joey, Ro is a Cannabis consultant and Kalyn is a spiritual director and sessional lecturer at the University of Winnipeg.


Cal Cates 00:04 Hello, I'm Cal Cates

Cathy Ryan 00:05 and I am Cathy Ryan.

Cal Cates 00:06 Welcome to another episode of Interdisciplinary the Healwell healthcare podcast. In this podcast, massage therapy educators, practitioners and positive deviants Cathy Ryan, and me, Cal Cates will use research, science, experience, and humor to explore the broad landscape of what it means to be a human who cares for other humans. You'll always learn something you'll always laugh and you'll come away better informed and with real things you can do in your own community, and practice to create a more compassionate and collaborative system of care for all of the humans on the planet. Be sure to like us and share us and give us the stars and all the things tell your pets and your parents come and listen to the show and share it all over the place. Leave us a review. And thanks for listening. Here we are, the moment you've all been waiting for: our weekly pun, and I have a special pronoun related pun this week in honor of our guests. Why did the non binary prospectors head west? Cuz there's gold in them there hills. You're welcome. So Cathy, what's happening in British Columbia? 

Cathy Ryan Um, well, it's it's still COVID. And some people are getting vaccinated and some are not. And we're still working. Our numbers have started to stabilize a bit, they were escalating quite significantly there for a while. So our numbers are starting to stabilize a little bit. But everybody still be careful out there. That's pretty much where we're, we are at, Cal. 

Cal Cates Yeah, I almost feel like we could just sort of replay this, like 60 second discussion from the last three months, like, yes, it's getting better, but it's only going to get better if you keep being careful. We have one of the vaccines has been approved for use in 12 to 16 year olds here. And we're seeing the same resistance from parents and parents saying, you know, I'm not going to give my kid that vaccine. And I think, you know, I'm really glad that we're sort of already working on creative solutions to educate and encourage people to get vaccinated. And I hope that that takes hold with kids as well. But, you know, schools are looking like they're going to open in the fall, and kids are going to go back live. I think some schools are offering still a hybrid version, but I think it's going to be the humans are what's going to ruin it for us all. If, if that's the thing that can happen. That's the we're so good at that. So we'll just have to see what the humans decide to do in the next couple of months.

Cathy Ryan 01:22 Well, and again, you know, as we've been saying all along, to take this seriously, and you know, choice out there around vaccines, whether whether you want to or not, but at the very least wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your distance.

Cal Cates 02:21 Amen.

Cathy Ryan 02:21 Don't don't have maskless rodeos?

Cal Cates 02:24 That's right. That's right. Well, you know, I was at a chamber event, still virtual this morning. And one of the women there was from an organization, a company here called Top Golf that it's virtual you go to, it's like, lots of it's like a driving range, basically. But they have like, targets and you can like play for prizes, and whatever. And it's sort of an outdoor business, but they just got approved to allow gatherings of 250 people and, you know, the whole, like, everybody on the call cheered. And I was like, "Oh, that's such a bad idea." She's like "We'll we're outside." And I'm like, "Still a bad idea." But, you know, everybody's excited to get back to what we love to call normal, which wasn't normal before, but what we were doing before so yeah, there we go,

Cathy Ryan 03:42 Okay, there we are.

Cal Cates 03:46 Let's talk about other stuff.

Cathy Ryan 04:03 Let's definitely talk about some other stuff. I had the great pleasure of catching a presentation that our guest today delivered at the massage therapy of Manitoba, Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba had a conference awhile back. So without further ado, I'm going to turn it over to our fancy guests so they can let everybody know who they are and why they're so fancy and why we wanted them to come on the podcast to tell us awesome things. Take it away.

Kayln Falk 04:37 No big build up there at all. We're gonna introduce ourselves personally first, and then why we do this work together. So my name is Kayln Falk. I am a spiritual director and I also am a sessional lecturer at University of Winnipeg. One of the things that has shaped me a lot as a human are the humans that I live with. I am a parent to two adult children. One is autistic and functionally nonverbal, and one is non-binary femme.

Ro Walker Mills 05:14 My name is Ro. I'm a 31 year old trans man, I currently work as cannabis consultant. And about seven years ago, I met Kayln through her son, who- Noah- who has autism, working in an after school program with him. Soon after met Kayln, started a friendship. Then we started Get Your Joey, which is a business that helps trans men, trans men and trans masculine folks with uh with packing needs we, we created a packing pouch together, basically problem solving this, this need in the community. And we've been doing that for six years together. We employ trans people, we pay them fair wages. And it's been really fun and has allowed us to connect with a lot of people, just like y'all, and Yep, that's who we are.

Kayln Falk 06:18 So we're committed to making this one resource. And then we have some other things on our website as well. But we also really want to make sure that we are providing some communication and education for people both as allies because that's how I identify myself and for the population themselves. So that there's, we're just thinking pragmatically about support. So that's a really specific interest of ours of not just, you know, you go and we support you, but what are the practical things that we can do to show support. So if it's making a pouch for your needs, we will do that. Anything that we can do to make sure that people feel seen, and that they feel celebrated. So we want to move past tolerance or awareness into affirmation and celebration.

Cal Cates 07:07 Wow. And can you? Can you unpack packing a little bit because I think even people in the trans community, I think don't know what that is. And I'm sure that some of our listeners are going Wait, trans people pack differently? Why don't they just get like, you know, duffel bags, or whatever. So tell us tell us what packing is. You know, that's not our main topic today. But I'm sure our listeners are like, what is that? Huh?

Ro Walker Mills 07:32 Sure. So, um, some trans people, trans trans masculine folks, specifically, they might be experiencing some dysphoria or some discomfort with the bottom half of their body. And packing is a way for these, these guys or these folks to fill out their boxers in a more natural way to feel comfortable. And sometimes it's really to provide safety to that person. By using a silicone prosthetic, of a penis, you know, variety of sizes, and we provide the pouch or the mechanism that will allow it to stay attached to your boxers no matter what.

Kayln Falk 08:24 And nobody wants their prosthetic falling to the ground.

Ro Walker Mills 08:28 So no mistakes, no, nothing like that. And it really just makes you feel secure and comfortable. This is a very, like, specific personal need that we are fitting that not every trans man or every trans masculine person chooses to do. But if they do, we're there for you. And we've we've come up with a solution, a pragmatic solution to help you pack.

Kayln Falk 08:53 Yeah, we want to be careful when we talk about it. Is that there's no expectation that everyone needs to, it's really: if this makes your day better, then then we want to make it easy. And we want to make it fun to do so that you feel locked and loaded.

Cal Cates 09:09 Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, I think I love your your thing about sort of celebrating and affirming because I feel like particularly with issues that are so I guess blatantly about, or at least can be perceived as about sex, like packing. I think that people who are allies and for whom, dysphoria with your body is such a foreign concept. It's easy to stop at awareness. And we always invite people in the show. So think for a minute about what would inspire you to wear a prosthetic and that if you had a secure prosthetic like you guys are describing and your pouches look amazing, I was looking at your website, and I want to talk to your seamster about how that all happens, but that people rig things up that when you leave the house, it sort of maybe looks like you wanted to, but then as soon as you start to walk, or as soon as like anything happens, and then it actually winds up making you more nervous and more uncomfortable. And it's such an incredible service to be able to recognize what people feel like they need to be at home in their bodies. And that it's, this is social justice!

Kayln Falk 10:18 It is.

Ro Walker Mills 10:20 This is how the product even started, is- I had started packing very occasionally, and was using, like a sock, a sock version, a lot of trans people know how to DIY things we need. And so I was using an old sock as a pouch with a hole in it. Yeah. And, and since I started living with Kalyn, and the family and I was doing laundry and Kalyn was just like, what is this sock with a hole in it? And I was just like, that's for packing, like, don't worry about it. And then came the realization that like, I could have better than that, or that, like, I could have something that makes me feel even more confident, and comfortable with my packing and through the problem solving that we came out with, with the Joey itself. And so it's a very personal thing, it has nothing to do with sex, you know, often these silicone packers are, they are the soft form of the man, you know, of this private area. And so it's very much personal. It's just about comfort, and feeling secure. So

Kayln Falk 11:33 But it really is, so when we started it, I packed for a day just to see what that felt like. And I really noticed this isn't just a superficial thing, this changes my gait, it changes my posture, it changes the way that I inhabit the world. And so it's not like- this isn't the superficial fluff. This is really inherent to someone's identity and someone's feeling of being embodied in the way that they want to be embodied. So I think what Ro was saying about trans and non binary people being so DIY, and I think that that speaks of the resilience of the community. But I also think, and this is one of the reasons why we wanted to talk about the presentation we did at the massage association was so many times, there's a bunch of allies who are like, you know, you be you and will affirm you. But the, the the labor is all done by the trans community and non binary, they have to say, here are the needs. And here's how we're figuring it out. Here's how we go into a business and decide whether or not it feels like a safe place. And so we wanted to say, both in our business, but also how can you in your own organization, not have like, why don't you pave the path so that you're sending all of these signals of you are safe here. We've thought about your needs. And we've met those needs, instead of having people who are already marginalized, have to voice that or have to figure it out themselves. So an important part of social justice is, is doing some of the labor. Educating yourself.

Ro Walker Mills 13:11 Yeah.

Kayln Falk 13:11 Because there's tons of resources, even firsthand accounts from trans people on YouTube, if you really want to, to hear first hand- firsthand accounts that have been, you know, previously recorded when that person felt safe to share it. Often we're asked to be the educators on the spot, all the time to share our experiences. And sometimes that's awesome and fun. And sometimes it's laboring and not what you want to have to do. You know

Cal Cates 13:46 Yeah and downright traumatic.

Ro Walker Mills 13:49 Sometimes, yeah, yeah.

Cathy Ryan 13:52 Well, I think sometimes too, there's that expectation coming from folks that one individual is speaking for an entire community of individuals, you know, it would be like, it'd be like someone coming to me and having an expectation that I speak for all lesbians, which of course I don't, you know, so similar kind of pressure about "Look, I'm not speaking for everybody, I can speak about what my personal journey or my experience has been. But here are some things that would be helpful for you to know perhaps."

Cal Cates 14:22 Yeah.

Ro Walker Mills 14:22 Totally

Cal Cates 14:25 So when you're talking with healthcare providers, or just people in the community, what are the what kind of questions do you get? And how do you respond? Because I know that there I mean, there are questions that you're like, oh, man, we're still people are still wondering about this? Like, tell us the good, the bad and the ugly.

Kayln Falk 14:44 Oh, where do we start? Do you have a story to start with?

Ro Walker Mills 14:53 I mean, I have I have good examples that are coming to mind first, right. For example, When I was going to get my hysterectomy, I was having to go into, you know, go meet the surgeon one on one and talk about parts of the body in very scientific terms that were going to be triggering no matter what. And I felt like the surgeon did have an understanding that like, a trans man is coming for a hysterectomy. Like she knew that before I got there. We talked about it before we even started talking about it, like she was like, we're gonna talk about some stuff, I'm going to be using scientific terms. I just want you to know that we're just talking about this stuff. We're not I'm not, you know, she made it very clear that yes, I know, this is gonna be uncomfortable. Let's just talk about what the surgery is. And kind of move on from that and kind of go into some other conversation. Another thing I really appreciated was, there was two hospitals that I could have had the surgery done that and one was a Women's Hospital. And without even me asking, I was already put into the other hospital for the surgery, which was awesome. And even in the waiting room, it was interesting being one of the like, the only man in that waiting room, and they made me feel safe. It was it was as well it went as well as I could have expected it to go. But there are going to be times like that, where you're met with an uncomfortable situation, and you just have to kind of, you know, hope that these people have educated themselves a little bit to, to, you know, pick up on these things without you even having to say it, and hopefully you have it within yourself to speak up for yourself. If they're not picking up these cues. That's a it was a good example. But it was, you know, it was, it was it could have went left at any time.

Cal Cates 17:06 Definitely

Kayln Falk 17:07 Um, I can think of an example of- in my daily life, one thing that I find really difficult is, so when I'm out with my adult son, he's six foot three. And he's got a very deep voice, and he needs support in the bathroom. And so when we're out in public, especially after a movie or something that where we've had a lot of pop, and we will have to pee because it has been two and a half hours. The amount of I don't quite know what it is. But for me to give myself permission to break the rules and take him into the women's washroom with me, is a lot of effort. And I know some people have a lot more fire to them maybe and they're like, I'm gonna go and get my needs. But I feel like I know the rules. And I'm- I have a good reason. But I'm still I'm going to be here. And I know there was one time when we saw a movie and you know, like you can hear everyone peeing, right? And then No, my son goes "Happy," which means he's not happy. This booming voice says Happy and you could hear the tinkle, stop, right? There was a collective clench. In the bathroom. I was like, "it's okay, he's with me." And then everyone's fine. And then once they see him, they're like, Okay, we got context, we understand. But it still feels like what I really want to do is I'm managing this man, I want to make sure his needs are met, I want to be invisible, like I just want to, I just want to pee without having it be a production and get on with the rest of our day. But those moments where it becomes a big production makes it feel like it's hardly even worth going out. And that's actually when we met Ro. One of the great things about Ro is that he can take Noah to the men's bathroom, so we could go together to a movie. And automatically it's like, yeah, the two guys go in. But you know that gender neutral bathrooms and the need for them. There's lots of different reasons. We've partnered with other organizations too, there's also a lot of senior couples, where one person has a cognitive deficit, and they want to go in with their spouse, and for the heteros that someone of another gender and we want to make sure that those are things that where the primary focus is on respect and ease. So you don't have to think about it. You just know, here's a bathroom that's meant for me. And so that's an example. I think, I am just an ally, but I have some exposure to those times where it's like, oh, nobody was thinking about this situation. And I will have to make it okay, and I will have to be comfortable in it. And so that just you know, again, it's not a big thing. But all of these small things add up to a more exhausting day.

Cal Cates 20:00 Yeah, well, I mean, I feel like that that's one of the, there's so much sort of intersectionality as well talk about all these different things. And I feel like this is such a huge piece of what has to happen globally, certainly, and definitely in healthcare, but just, it's not just this one group who live better lives if we make this adjustment that's actually quite small. And I know that the plumbing of you know, gender neutral bathrooms, and if we're going to do one holders and whatever, but also, culturally, can we just get over the whole bathroom experience?

Kayln Falk 20:33 Totally.

Cal Cates 20:34 So it's like, how do we address the pressing issue of like needing separate rooms or whatever it is to make people comfortable, while also going upstream and saying like, so this is where we all go to do a superhuman, like thing that we all what's not superhuman? It's normal human. And can we just take the sex and the whatever it is out of part of us being naked so that we can void our bladders or empty our colons? Like I don't I don't know how those two got conflated, but it makes it difficult.

Kayln Falk 21:03 Yeah, you go to Folk Fest, and there's just a lineup of porta potties and a big line of people,

Ro Walker Mills 21:09 You know, even more normal than that you go to any gay bar, if you've gone to a gay bar,

Cal Cates 21:15 Totally

Ro Walker Mills 21:16 You know that there's not genders. You can go into any bathroom, and it doesn't matter. And usually, that's where half the fun is happening. You're like, why is there a party in the bathroom, it's lit, what is happening. Love it. You know, when, when I was in university, at the University of Winnipeg, we were starting initiative for gender neutral washrooms. And there was pragmatic way to do it for us was to just re-sign or put new signs up on existing one stall bathrooms, and to put a bit of education in those washrooms about why the the sign had been changed, and what it would take to maintain it as a positive space. And that was, you know, a little thing that made a huge difference to a lot of folks at the university and they still exist. So there's even more gender neutral washrooms there than when we started. So it's not that tough.

Kayln Falk 22:18 But then it's actually true, because the wheelchair accessible bathrooms, and the gender neutral bathrooms are not social spaces, and the other ones are. And so that's interesting that there's, it's still a place of that's where you go and you hang out, and you have more private conversations or whatever. And, and even that is, yeah, we still haven't gotten there.

Cathy Ryan 22:39 Yeah. Yeah.

Kayln Falk 22:42 I have another example. But it's an example from Ro. Do you mind if I talk about something that I've noticed with you?

Ro Walker Mills 22:50 I don't know.

Kayln Falk 22:51 Yes, there's no, we're not psychic, which is unfortunate.

Cal Cates 22:54 It's good to know that about yourself.

Kayln Falk 22:55 Yeah, that is true. One thing that I have noticed is, so both of us are quite out, as I make a point of either wearing a pin that or talking about my family that says, I celebrate these non binary and trans people and neurodivergent people in my life. And that has a lot of people then and so does my husband, my husband always wears a little lapel pin with the trans flag on it. And he goes into spaces that as a as a white, straight man, he wouldn't usually get because people come up to him and me on breaks and say, hey, my kid is also trans, or I didn't know you're allowed to talk about people that aren't fitting into the norms in just a typical training or typical class. And that has been really great. One thing I've noticed is when Ro is out, there seems to be a lot of people, especially parents coming to Ro and, saying my kid is trans. And what I have noticed is that he is fantastic with them. And what I hear is that they are wanting to get a little report card from him that they are a good ally. And, and can he mentored their children? It's like, one of those things of like, "Can I be out?" But to your point of not being a representative for everyone? Can it just be that he is a really good part of the team at work and that he has management potential? Rather than Is he the caregiver for your feelings as a parent? Or is he the fount of education like he's actually not getting paid to educate people at the time? Does that feel fair that I'm...?

Ro Walker Mills 24:43 I'm this is this is something that's coming up and I'm sure I'm not alone, like, because I work for a big company and big companies love policies. They're they're working on an inclusivity policy.

Cal Cates 24:56 Ah, yes.

Ro Walker Mills 24:57 And you know, they know I'm the only trans person I know of that works for the company. And in a way, you know, I'd love to be asked about it. And I was asked about it, but I was asked about it so informally, that there was no way for me to give a real answer. And, and I wasn't going to be paid for my energy or time, it was just like, let's check in with this person. Make sure we don't miss anything. You know. So we so when we do announce a policy, we can kind of say our bases are covered?

Kayln Falk 25:38 But he wasn't invited to the table, it was a side conversation. And that conversation, what I noticed is you left with holding a bunch of people's stories and a bunch of people's, am I doing a good enough job as a parent, when really they should have left with, Hey, there's someone that we should invite into this committee to talk about this, which would have been great for your resume, and it would have been putting you- you just were doing extra work.

Ro Walker Mills 26:04 Yeah.

Cal Cates 26:06 Well, and I think you make a good point about I mean, this is one of the things that we've been struggling in trying to educate people about that I'm sure we've made our own mistakes with, that you would be the paid person on that committee, because like it or not, you will be educating the non trans committee members. And it is sort of this, you know, we've been talking a bunch about what is reallocation of wealth, and that it's not actually that I go in your bank account and take your money, it's, I'm actually going to pay this person of color, this trans person, this whomever to educate- if this person is willing to participate, to elevate my whole organization, and that this is one of the many ways that we can reallocate wealth and resources that haven't been, historically. But we, we don't want the other people who were straight to get back into shape, because they're volunteering for this committee. And there's just such a lack of understanding that like, it's not like, I don't know, it's not like I got a bad haircut. And somebody made fun of me for a couple of weeks, like my whole life has been different.

Kayln Falk 27:09 Yeah.

Cal Cates 27:10 And I and I might be someone who's willing to share those experiences so that other people don't suffer those harms. But it didn't come to me for free. So it shouldn't come to you for free either.

Ro Walker Mills 27:21 Yeah, yeah. I think putting your money where your mouth is important, because, of course, I would love to see more companies have inclusivity policies. But if the means to getting them doesn't include, you know, people on that are the outliers, then what are you doing here? You're just kind of painting a pretty picture, and hoping people follow along with it.

Kayln Falk 27:49 Well and again, that someone is making that report, and someone is sitting on that committee and using that experience of "I helped develop this and I checked the boxes, I made sure we recovered by talking to a trans person, but then that person's career is advancing, instead of saying, and so I don't want to at all say like, I think it's great that they at least have an awareness. Yeah. Is it great that they're creating a policy? Yes. Is it great that they are asking and maybe keeping an eye out? Yes, that's all great. And then the one more step is, and now you're kind of using someone's personal lived experiences, you said, Cal that, that has been paid. And but it is fundamentally advancing your career and not the other person's career. And so that's just a little bit dicey. I've just noticed that he's coming home with lots of stories of parents, and he's become a caregiver, which he can do and it's it that's because skill,

Ro Walker Mills 28:44 We take it on whether you want to or not.

Kayln Falk 28:47 Yeah, absolutely.

Ro Walker Mills 28:48 Because overall, you want the experiences of other people to be better than yours were like, specifically, when I think about youth, or when I go talk to youth, I'm willing to bare at all, because that it's needed to to move to change the needle for the next generation. And they're already great. They're already they're miles ahead of anyone I, you know, I know who's, you know, my age 30 or older, we're just, we didn't, we didn't have the same culture, that that the youth is building with their social media and everything else. And it is-

Kayln Falk 29:30 Because the youth are looking and they're seeing faces like yours, and they're hearing your stories of, they have a template where you didn't really have that. And if there's some if, if Ro hears that there is a little trans person in the world that needs support he is, of course going to say, you know, give me a call, I will meet with you, because that's who Ro is. And that's wonderful. And there's just another dynamic there. So I don't want to discredit any of that. But I just want to point out that that's again, just where's the point of labor focused?

Cathy Ryan 30:04 Yeah. And I think that's a really good point, you know, a personal decision to to interact with another human that could benefit from the experience that you have is one thing. But when you have corporations who are creating policy, without inviting anyone to the table, who has lived that experience, and then putting the policy together, and then giving it to one person who has lived that experience, put the rubber stamp on it there, we did due diligence. No,

Kayln Falk 30:30 Yeah, yeah.

Cathy Ryan 30:32 Well, that has to stop.

Ro Walker Mills 30:34 Yeah, because whether they're doing it intentionally, or, by matter of ignorance, still not quite good enough. And it's not just because they can meet a standard to put maybe like a rainbow sticker on their door. Because they're a part of, you know, their provinces, LGBT Commerce Committee. That's not quite good enough, that doesn't scream inclusivity to me, but but at least they're asking, you know, it's like, at least they're trying, but I would love to see people being being paid for their lived experience and lived knowledge, because you just don't know what a person's been through. And if you go digging up things. For example, when people come to me and say they have a trans child, it's immediately gonna make me think about my relationship with my parents, and how I felt when I came out, and all the feelings of that. And so, and you don't know, they don't know what I've been through with that or anything like that. And so,

Kayln Falk 31:43 And they don't know, if Ro has just come to work. And that's the first interaction he's had, then he has to sit on for an eight hour shift, right?

Ro Walker Mills 31:51 When it's just like, let me live, let me just have like a normal, boring day at work. We'll call it even, you know,

Kayln Falk 32:01 Actually, that's a segue too, into one of the reasons why we wanted to put together the presentation about the business of- cause, now, trans people who've been so overlooked in the past are now kind of the new hot thing. And a friend of mine, her. Her kid was like, I'm starting out with doing this aesthetician project. And when I see that trans women are an untapped market. And so I'm going to advertise for them. And I'm, you know, anybody is a good body. And like, I'm all for it. I was like, Oh, that's great. And also, before you start mining, this new revenue, those are people like, Are you one of those people that says, "I'm not racist? I don't even see color?" The equivalent are like, have you actually, do you know, what- what might be involved? Have you become actually trans informed? So just what Ro said of like, yes, you can put a rainbow flag on your window. And then it's like, now I'm, I'm woke, and I've got that. But do you know the obligation that you have signed on for them? Of, you know, do your forms have a male/female box? Have you said, "you are welcome." But then actually, in some of your practices, not given welcome? And so that's why we're like, oh, here's a few things to think of, and actually, with my friend's, kid who is opening up the business, I said, I can hook you up with a trans woman or two, to offer them free services. And then because it's free, there's an there's a negotiated agreement of "in exchange for that I can ask you some questions." So then they're not doing free labor, they are getting that in exchange and the paving a path for them, they can say, yes, this person is safe. And they can go into the trans community and say, and legitimize that person,

Ro Walker Mills 33:57 Because word of mouth in our community

Kayln Falk 33:59 Oh, it's huge.

Ro Walker Mills 34:00 -reigns supreme.

Kayln Falk 34:01 Yeah, definitely.

Ro Walker Mills 34:02 That's when we talk we find ways, especially when we're looking for things like surgeons, doctors, or people who are going to interact with our bodies on a personal level, like a massage therapist, or someone who's doing electrolysis, you're going to be engaging with a trans person's body on an intimate level, if we don't trust you, you will not have the clientele, you just won't. And so, if your business wants to clientele, and you have something that you know, trans people in need or want towards a resource they they need to tap into as well. There has to be that symbiotic relationship where you've given some of your service in exchange for some, you know, some of your reputation within that community. Yeah, that's how you that's how you grow your business as a as an actual ally.

Cal Cates 34:54 Yeah. Well, and I wonder, you know, you were talking about your bigger company, and the policy that they're trying to write or policies. And we've encountered this quite a bit recently. And, you know, it's unfortunate that George Floyd had to be murdered for people to go, "Oh, this is really a problem." But people seem to be awake, and our job now is to keep them awake. You can't, you can't write a policy and expect it to just fix something that grew up in systemic oppression. And that's been our you know, there's such a sense of urgency about, we have to address this, there aren't enough black people, there aren't enough gay people, there aren't enough, whatever in our organization. And we want to really make it clear that we see that this is important. And I want more organizations and more companies to make it clear that they are working toward belonging, even I have an organization that I'm going to start working with that actually is thinking of changing their diversity, equity and inclusion committee name to diversity, equity and belonging, because they said, you know, inclusivity, is, is pretty white centric and pretty sort of norm centric. And it's like, No, you can be in our club. And it's like, no, it's this is you don't want to be in our club, our club sucks. Like the, the white male straight club is not the club that you want to like, earn your membership in, like, it's the human club that we want to really create, and, but that it doesn't happen fast. It didn't, it didn't happen fast, to get where we are now. And to dismantle it, is really going to take time, and money and discomfort. And nobody wants to talk about that.

Kayln Falk 36:36 We're actually we're finding that at the university too, because you're, you're exactly right of talking about like now, everyone, there's been a seismic change, which is fantastic. And everyone's talking about decolonizing and decentering. And looking around who are the profs, and we need to get more profs that are of color. And I mean, especially in Winnipeg, we there's a lot of need for indigenous professors. But the thing is, the university has hired a bunch of indigenous profs, and they can't keep them because being a sessional lecturer is terrible. Like, it's not a sustainable wage. And so indigenous people that are at that academic level are going, you know, I could teach several units of this intro course, where I'm encountering microaggressions all the time, or I could be part of this agency who are well paid, I have dental benefits. And I have and talking with people where we can go to a deeper place. Right. And so that, again, it's it's not just about getting the bums in spots, it's saying there's a structural reason why we are not diverse. And so it's asking these really big questions.

Cathy Ryan 37:50 Yeah, yeah, moving away from just checking a box to really advocating and pushing the needle for change.

Kayln Falk 37:58 Yeah. What would it look like? And instead of "can you fit into our system?" What would we need to do to make it feel like you would want to be here? And probably it would mean more than I would not be the only person of color? If it's agency, or, you know, there would be but but realizing that, that the institutions themselves have to have to be asking some big questions.

Ro Walker Mills 38:23 Yeah. Just thinking back to when I was asked about, like, how do you feel like your workplace is with inclusivity? And of course, I could speak from my personal point of view about being trans. But what is not my point of view, but was clear as day is that there was no there is not enough. Brown, Black, Asian people working at my workplace. There just isn't. And I verbalize that and was met with agreement but with no real solution. And that, obviously is not great. But it's specifically in the, in the industry that I'm in, which happens to the cannabis and which is now legal. And it's very interesting that many people are still of course in jail or, you know, you don't have charges and therefore could not even get a job in this industry, even though they have a wealth of experience. And so, that is a huge

Cathy Ryan 39:31 That's opening up a very large can.

Ro Walker Mills 39:34 Cloud that is over our industry that is like many people are very aware of and it's tough to get the even some of these basic, you know, corporations that are you know, have investors and have hundreds of employees to, you know, start a campaign or to to to help fund a campaign to help release people with cannabis charges from prison, which seems like it would be a great idea. And so there's just that disconnect. But I think things are changing, because people tend to want to support companies or corporations that they believe are ethical. Overall, the shift is kind of moving to that, where if you're not running your entire Corporation fairly, people don't really want to work with you or buy things from you if they can help it. Because we've seen the ultimate examples of that, like someone like Amazon, where, you know, there's thousands of people that are not being paid fairly, whether it's delivering or whatnot. And so, at what point is the bottom line more important than a well rounded and executed company that's in that is more than inclusive? There's a belonging, there's a culture of just do it.

Cal Cates 40:59 Yeah, well, and I, you know, I love that, particularly this season on the show, almost every episode has gotten what feels far afield from why we've invited the guests to come. And there's no such thing as far afield anymore, because you can't be a steward of this part of the community without paying attention to this part of the community, you can't just choose to be well, I'm going to be really inclusive of this particular group, but I don't care about the earth or, you know, like, like, sort of citizenship on our planet, is, is a very high engagement activity at this point, you can engage or not engaged, but I don't think you can partly engage. And I think your your point about business, and we're seeing this in philanthropy and health care, for sure is that, you know, even just in the last six to eight months, grant applications are highly prior- no matter what kind of money you're applying for, for what kind of program highly prioritizing, "Show us how you're engaging with diversity, equity, inclusion. What was the makeup of your staff?" What is your like- how do you support your community beyond even your specific mission, and that the companies and the nonprofits that are going to survive are the ones who are doing measurable programming and engagement that is impacting lives and sort of making those upstream and long term investments in what's going to make this a more sustainable world?

Kayln Falk 42:27 I think I think you're right and as people are seeing all of these intersections it can feel really overwhelming. of, "Look, look, I've got rid of plastic straws," isn't enough. And now you're saying trans rights. And now this and I'm usually, you know, the the big tuba at the party, that all these woke people don't really know what to do with people with cognitive disabilities, and and who are nonverbal? Right? Because they're, they're not the cool kind of person, a party right now. And so it's like, right, but how would this work in this way? And so it can become very overwhelming to think of all the things we have to do. And I think when we're still attached to the idea of perfection of "We have to get this right," we will all we will not survive, right? Because it's not about getting it right. But it is actually being fundamentally transformed, both in our institutions and our programs, but also our worldview of how, and I think that that's what we're kind of in the pangs of right now, like capitalism isn't, it's not gonna, it's gonna, it can't stretch and accommodate all of this. There has to be a seismic change to match all of these people who are now saying, I would like a place at the table. And it's so exciting, but it's also a wild chaotic time. Like, it will be very interesting to see what happens during this time, because it's asking for us even not just to do it, right. But it's asking us to be different people and to see the world differently.

Cal Cates 44:03 Yes. Yeah. And to create a world that's never existed.

Kayln Falk 44:07 Mm hmm.

Cal Cates 44:08 Yeah. We don't have like, Oh, if only it could be like, when

Kayln Falk 44:12 The good old days days.

Cal Cates 44:15 Right?

Kayln Falk 44:16 For whom?

Cal Cates 44:17 Yeah, well, that's I mean, that's always you know, we say, Oh, you know, I missed that I am reading this book right now called Confederates in the Attic. And I could do a whole episode just on the show, but on this book, but he, you know, he talks about going to he basically tours, the major battles of the Civil War, he goes through the US and goes to the cities, and he talks with people who are sort of under the impression that it's just halftime of the Civil War, essentially, and that, you know, are really keeping the Civil War alive in all kinds of different ways. And, you know, there are these women who go to these reenacting events and various things and, and many of them will say, you know, I, I want to go back to when men were men and women were women, and I'm like, why would we do that? And when was that ever? What you want to do is go back to the time when people who weren't men or women were marginalized and harmed and ignored, and you didn't notice it, because you happen to fit the acceptable. But I think when people say they want to go back to when things were simpler, what they want to go back to is when you could oppress without being pushed back against,

Kayln Falk 45:20 or I went back to the time where I didn't realize that this was oppression, and it didn't hurt. I wasn't responsible for it.

Ro Walker Mills 45:28 We're, we're actively calling people to be uncomfortable, and to address their cognitive dissonance between their own comfort and people's human needs right in their face. And we'll make progress, because we are, but it's going to take a lot of people being uncomfortable. And for all of us who have been uncomfortable for a while, that's not a whole lot to have. It's very, it's a spitting image of the times. Yeah, who's wearing a mask? Who's, who's not? Who's willing to embrace a little bit of discomfort for the majority? And who, who is flying in the face of that saying" I don't care. Yeah, I've In fact, don't care." It's making me you know, it's weird. It's it's bringing out something in us that I think is being called like,um-

Kayln Falk 46:30 I think at the beginning of COVID, I realized how much of like, I think, going through my son's diagnosis process, and then going, "Oh, I don't have as much control as I thought I did. And I'm not going to fit the storybook line." And, and I'm I want to be out with my friends. But in fact, I'm quite socially isolated, because it's just easier for us to be home most of the time. Those were a lot of griefs that I had when our family was forming, you know, when we were all young. And when COVID happened, and people were expressing their grief, it was actually very affirming for me like, "Yeah, it's so hard to give up the illusion of control." And it's so hard to not have everything that you want. And I feel that and I felt that there was something wrong with me when I was going through that of like, but look at how wonderful your family is, look at all of this is like, yes, I'm grateful for everyone. And I just need a moment to grieve that this isn't going. And I feel like culturally, we're going through that. But there's so many people, and they're in the throes of "But I really, really want to believe that I have control there." Yeah.

Ro Walker Mills 47:46 And resistant to the grief, resistant to the illusion of control. And, I don't know.

Kayln Falk 47:52 And that sense of well life, you know, you don't get to go out as much as you as you wanted to. How do you find beauty in this moment, and who is there to connect with, you know, your neighbors, like, you might not have anything to do with them. But like, you'll put your lawn chairs in the yard and have a conversation, just because they are there, they might not be your chosen people. So I found so much belonging in Special Olympics, and those are not the people I thought would be my friendship group. But they are very fast. We're in the track and field club. And we were before COVID, they've taught me how to run they are my buds just because those are the people that were available to me. And that's where I found friendship. And so I think that we're in the middle of that as a population, but it's just feels like that illusion is still so attainable. But if we can get over this hump and go oh, but we're being asked to live a different life and in the world will be different. How do we participate in that and say, there's still beauty though? Yeah. You get people like this to join your family..

Cal Cates 48:59 That's right.

Kayln Falk 48:59 I never would have if otherwise, I would have such a harder time when my other child came out as non binary. But I the gift of Noah for me was Oh, yeah, we don't know the playbook and and what does it mean to be human? or What does it mean to be in relationship? All of those things kind of, were just allowed me to receive the people that that I have and celebrate them. So yeah, he doesn't like it when I start talking about-

Ro Walker Mills 49:31 Well, no, it's true, the queer community is new. We're familiar with chosen family, the idea of loving family or loving those outside of your immediate circle. That's what we're being called to do right now. Like, you know, if you see someone on the street, I'm giving them a wave like the little human interactions, just like can't get enough of it, can't get enough of it. And learning to appreciate that. And I think that's, I think that's what we're being called to do at this time is to care for one another. And that this is bigger than ourselves, and that we need to collectively come together. But, again, the people that have been outliers have known that for a long time,

Kayln Falk 50:06 This is not new.

Ro Walker Mills 50:20 Not new. But

Kayln Falk 50:21 For anyone in this circle, probably

Ro Walker Mills 50:22 Yeah. Which is right. Makes sense that we've been spearheading kind of these conversations.

Cal Cates 50:29 Absolutely.

Ro Walker Mills 50:30 For the long term change to really happen. Yeah. Yeah.

Kayln Falk 50:34 Yeah. Because I recognize this is not new for either of you, either. And you have lived experience that takes you to the gives you a different viewpoint. And that viewpoint is so valuable. And it's, we are, we are poor when we lose those those other voices. Right? It's not it's a simpler time, but it's, we're lacking so much.

Cal Cates 50:57 2-D time. Yeah, we definitely we get where there are many more dimensions that will will reveal beauty we didn't even know was there.

Kayln Falk 51:06 Yeah, for sure.

Cal Cates 51:08 I think my biggest challenge and I imagine that everyone in this conversation, right now, shares the sense of I forget sometimes that I have so expanded my capacity for discomfort that it makes me impatient with people who want to move away from it. And I have to remember that if you are in the majority in any of the millions of categories, that it's harder to move into this place where you're in sort of steady discomfort and your your brain says something's wrong. And it's like, No, no, something is wrong, but not inside you. It's, you know, there's a lot wrong out, your discomfort says that you're headed in the right direction, just stay with it.

Kayln Falk 51:51 I think that's such a, that's such an insightful word of it's so easy to lose patience for people, but it's like they just started this journey, the last year. And, and we have been practicing this already for decades. And so of course, our muscles, our muscles are used to this, we know that there is a different way of holding these things of just like, right, it's not exactly what we thought. And and it's not bad. And so yeah, we need to, to, that just helps me remember that we need to give space for people to catch up.

Cal Cates 52:30 Yeah, yeah. And finding the balance between holding people accountable. Yeah. And being aware that, you know, they're, they're doing their best in most cases, they are doing their best.

Kayln Falk 52:41 Yeah. is sometimes that is sometimes a refrain that I have to repeat. This is a person who's doing their best. And it's like, I am shocked. I am shocked, but this is their best. But

Cathy Ryan 52:51 Wow, yeah, this is not a great best, I will say that. I understand how scary it is. I understand how much you want to feel powerful. I get it. But like, yeah, this is the awakening.

Cal Cates 53:14 Yes. Well, thank you guys so much for being with us what I mean, I'm sure you could share hours more of wisdom with us. What? What didn't you get to say that you feel like our listeners should hear before we part ways today?

Kayln Falk 53:29 Wow. I think I mean, I think that everyone listening to this probably already knows this. So I hope it's an affirmation for people that you know this and and so here's just more voices adding to it. And so my hope would be that there would be someone that's maybe sitting next to you that wouldn't have listened to it that is on part or just seeing that the people that are listening to this, the more that you give voice to your experience and your changing worldview, that really is a gift for the people around you.

Ro Walker Mills 54:08 Yeah, that's a good one.

Kayln Falk 54:14 Publicly affirmed by Ro I just want that on the record book.

Cal Cates 54:18 We will put it in your chart. Yes.

Kayln Falk 54:20 Give me a giant gold star.

Cal Cates 54:22 Okay. Word of wisdom from you.

Ro Walker Mills 54:32 There's a there's there's something that I I say often so, Kalyn addressed the people who are listening who probably already know the things we're talking about. Well, let's say that there's someone listening more, this is kind of newer. This is about retraining your brain. It's not gonna come overnight. It never does. Just like if you're using new pronouns for someone, you might make a mistake because it's so engrained in your brain that you need to retrain it. So be easy on yourself, know that it's going to take some time for you to maybe start learning some of this language, or just start moving into that uncomfortable space. That's okay. You're doing great. And I would say, educate yourself. We've been talking about that, too. You've already started educating yourself by listening to this podcast. And if you have any further questions or things that piqued your interest, go follow up, go find a trans woman online and hear her point of view. You know, go go listen to the the actual voices of the folks that you're you want to help. And then just continue to be the best ally, you can, I guess, and I think retraining your brain is just such a big part of that. For folks who feel like this is so new to them or so outside of their realm. It's possible. It is possible to get there, even on a personal level, you know, with with parents, right? If your parents, you come out to parents, and they're not, they're not on board right away. In time, and with practice, things will change. I'm proof of that it it will happen. So just got to keep at it.

Kayln Falk 56:28 Keep practicing without focusing on you don't have to get there. The there will keep moving. Yeah. So just keep practicing. Right.

Cal Cates 56:36 Yeah, just the there will keep moving. So

Cathy Ryan 56:38 It'll be in them there hills. Yeah.

Ro Walker Mills 56:43 As long as you're trying your best. No one's out here to cancel you. You know,

Kayln Falk 56:47 Well, some I mean, like,

Ro Walker Mills 56:49 Yeah, there's cancel culture, but also like I'm for improvement culture,

Cal Cates 56:54 Yes. Totally.

Ro Walker Mills 56:55 Like move it along progress culture. Not, you know, you only get canceled if I you know, you're not irredeemable.

Cal Cates 57:02 That's right. And that's tough to do. Here. Yeah. Yes. Yes. Well, thank you guys. So much. Absolutely. Cathy, any wisdom? Any questions? Any anything?

Cathy Ryan 57:16 No, I'm just always grateful to be a part of this podcast because it helps me to move it along.

Cal Cates 57:22 Absolutely.

Cathy Ryan 57:24 Well, and we will push that veil.

Cal Cates 57:26 That's right. That's right. We encourage you all to join Healwell in October for our Just Care, Social Justice and Healthcare conference, we'll have folks talking about incarceration as chronic illness, disability access, indigenous health care, health care for aging, lesbians, body positivity, and how it's a bunch of crap. All kinds of stuff. So come join us the link to registration will be in the show notes. Thanks so much for being with us for another episode of interdisciplinary, go like us and share us and leave us some comments and stars and whatnot. And we'll see you and your big hearts next week. Thanks so much for having us. Thank you.

Rebecca Sturgeon 58:15 Interdisciplinary is produced by Healwell. Our theme music is by Harry Pickens. You can send us feedback at info@healwell.org. That's info@healwell.org. New episodes will be posted weekly, via Apple podcasts, Spotify, and our Facebook page. Thank you