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Our sincere thanks to: Jacqueline, RW Painter, Mashbooq, Estevanny, Kenna, Galactic Fay, Angel, Brianne, Winnie, Theresa, Anne, Cee, Megan, Shilo, Valerie, Katrina, Margie, Bobbi Sue, Laura, David, Melissa, Teresa, Laura, Me, Allison, Andrea, Michael, Reginaluna, Gabrielle, Caroline, Kensie, Stephanie, Arielle, and all of our other patrons.
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- Learn more about Bowie on Linktree and follow them on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook .
- Bowie mentions Sonya Renee Taylor’s work, especially The Body Is Not An Apology (Buy on Amazon | Bookshop)
- Bowie also mentions Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Buy on Amazon | Bookshop)
Rainbow is a neurodivergent support coach and gender doula, supporting people who are stepping into the next stage of their identity and authenticity. They run Rainbow Chrysalis Coaching.
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Communal Care and Neurodivergent Liberation with Rainbow Winnike
DANIELLE: Hello, my friends, and welcome back to the Neurodiverging podcast. My name’s Danielle Sullivan and I am your host. Thank you so much for tuning in today! On today’s podcast, we’re welcoming a guest, Bowie Winnike, and we’ll be talking a bit about the huge intersection between autistic-neurodivergent individuals and gender-diverse individuals. We know that there are a huge number of folks who fall under the queer or trans umbrellas who are autistic or otherwise neurodivergent, we also know that kind of conversely, there are a huge number of trans, queer, and other gender-diverse people who are identified as autistic and neurodivergent.
So, both of these populations, there’s a lot of crossover and a lot of intersectionality, and a lot of us are living with multiple layers of identity that we’re trying to dig through, right? In terms of what our internal gender is, what our gender presentation is, what our sexuality or sexual interests are like, and all these other things. So, today, we’re digging into that just a little bit with guest Bowie Winnike.
Before we get into all that, I just want to say a huge thank you to our patrons over at patreon.com/neurodiverging. Patrons throw a couple of bucks into the pot every month to keep this podcast going; it is hugely appreciated. We use those funds to support our low-income, sliding-scale clients, and also to pay our transcriptionist, and to keep this podcast just moving. If you are interested in supporting the podcast and getting some great perks like ad-free episodes delivered right to you, please go check us out on patreon.com/neurodiverging, and thank you so much.
Our guest today is Rainbow Winnike, who also goes by Bowie. They are the owner of Rainbow Chrysalis Coaching. They are a neurodivergent support coach and gender doula, supporting people who are stepping into the next stage of their identity and authenticity. Bowie and I have a pretty wide-ranging conversation, but some of the stuff we cover are the links between trans liberation and neurodivergent liberation. Since there are so many neurodivergent people who are also trans and gender expansive, especially in the autistic population, we want to reach out and explain what some of us are experiencing in terms of understanding our own identities and finding more self-acceptance, and also to think about the systems of power that are in place, especially in the United States right now, and how we can start to to think about where we have power within these systems.
We’re also talking a lot about community care and disability justice today, which is a tricky conversation especially to have in, like, a 40-minute window, but we’re just starting the conversation about what are some ways that we could work towards more community care, especially for neurodivergent and trans folks.
I also just want to give a huge shout-out to Bowie: when we had this interview, my household was kind of in disarray that day. There were multiple interruptions on my end from the cats, from the children, from just various things kind of going wrong. Any weird gaps or weird, like, transitions in this podcast are absolutely on my end. Bowie was an amazing guest, so generous with their time and energy, and I really appreciate them working with me on what ended up being a very challenging day to record. So, now without further ado, please enjoy my interview with Bowie.
Well welcome to the podcast, Rainbow. I’m really happy you’re here. Thanks for joining us!
BOWIE: Yes, thank you so much for having me.
DANIELLE: Just to start off, would you mind just giving a little bit of a blurb (laughs softly) to the audience about who you are, what you’re working on right now, what’s got you really excited or enthused or feeling energetic right this moment?
BOWIE: Yeah, I am Rainbow Winnike, I also go by Bowie for short, I like both names, and my pronouns are they/them or really any non-gendered — Well, I guess they’re all gendered.
BOWIE: Any, like, non-binary pronoun (laughs), and, of course, everything else — I am like, “Well, any pronoun could be nonbinary.” So, I’m a gender doula and ADHD/neurodivergent support coach, so yeah, a lot of my work is with folks who want to find ways of, kind of, coming back to a more authentic expression and support on their journey, whether that’s unmasking, or coming out, or going through gender-affirming surgeries. So, yeah, like I work with folks who are kind of going through those journeys and figuring out, like, what type of support we need along the way, ‘cause sometimes we have these goals for how we want to be, but breaking it down into actionable little steps and getting the support we need along the way is also very important.
DANIELLE: I love how you started out with the pronouns and they’re gendered, they’re not gendered, because I think a lot of us who are — As you know, I’m autistic-ADHD, a lot of us who are neurodivergent and/or queer/trans, you know, have these multiple identities that intersect, but can also sometimes be different. And I have thought a lot about autistic masking of sort of trying to fit in and look more neurotypical and then passing from the trans side of trying to, quote-unquote, “pass” as whatever sex you’re supposed to be or gender presentation you’re supposed to be and how they have things in common and things not in common and it gets very complex really quickly. And that there’s sort of a layer of gender on top of (laughs weakly) everything we do, just like there’s a layer of neurotype on top of everything we do. So, I guess I would love if we — If you’re willing, could we talk a little bit about what are some things that your folks, your clients, are kind of coming in with that they’re trying to work through or figure out in terms of the intersection of identity?
BOWIE: Yeah, I definitely feel there’s the overlap and I think some folks come in and want support with, like, their work, for example. If they’re also someone who is trans, you kind of have the multiple layers of how do I advocate for myself and my needs in the workforce and then also how do I advocate for myself and my needs with how I wanna be gendered and talked to and how I wanna present in the workforce. And then, of course, you know, everything is intersectional, like there’s layers of race and class and other forms of ability, so it all ties together, but I think that in the culture that we’re in now, there’s a lot of pressure to fit into this system of supremacy in a way and to kind of shape ourselves into being people who are worthy of having rights and (laughs weakly) being respected and all of those things.
I know Sonya Renee Taylor talks about like — I think she calls it the ladder of bodily hierarchy, where we have this supremacy culture where it’s like some people are perceived as being more worthy and other people are perceived as being less, and at the same time I think we need to hold like the complexity of the culture we’re in and the layers of that. But then also how do we find our own unique power within that?
DANIELLE: So, sometimes when we talk specifically about disability on the podcast, a lot of times we’re talking about how every human being has worth, inherent worth, but that that isn’t always recognized by our society and as you said, the kind of cultures that we live in, which are supremacist, colonial, capitalist, all these things that they want to reduce human value down to our body size, our gender presentation, our neurotype, right? I think that can be really complex for clients, you know, when we talk about autistic masking, for example, many folks have diminished themselves down, like squished themselves down to try to fit into a mold that isn’t a good space for them. And the work we do with neurodivergent folks — So my practice is more like neurodivergence with some gender attached (laughs), you know, mostly is the folks who tend to come in who are always looking at, well, how do we unmask? How do we — As safe, right? Within this culture we’re in, how do we advocate for ourselves and support ourselves, and develop our sense of self-worth in a way that is safe for our bodies in this environment, especially if there’s race and class and other kinds of concerns?
And something that we lean into is, well, how do I feel good? How do I feel happy? How do I feel pleasure? How do I have fun? How do I play, right? And it seemed like some of your work as a gender doula might tie in there, that even though these are separate distinct issues of unmasking versus finding your, kind of, happy place in terms of gender expression and identity, that there might be some overlap in like actually how we do that, like the practical of it might not that be that different? And I just wondered if that is an accurate (laughs softly) read or what you think about that.
BOWIE: Yeah, I definitely think that there’s a big overlap because, yeah, I mean, at the root of it, it’s, yeah, what makes me feel good? How do I want to be in the world? What are things that I don’t like and I want to say no to and finding our own internal yes, our own internal no? And I think play can be a really great way to kind of explore and tap into those things, ‘cause I feel like a lot of dominant culture can be very, like, serious when it comes to, like, gender and presentation and all of these things, but sometimes we kind of tap into our inner children and like a flow state where we can try out different things whether that’s like playing with different outfits and gender expression or trying out different names or even like what type of stimming do I like and, you know. So, there is, yeah, there can be differences in how it plays out but I also think there’s a lot of overlap in just tapping into our truths and what feels good.
I’ve had some events in the past where we do gender play and people will come and we’ll play with gender in different ways, so either through making art or dressing up in different outfits, and that’s been really fun to just do that with other folks who are also exploring their own gender expression. So, I think tying in a lot of, like, art and flow states can be really fun.
I think some folks already know what they want and have more of a clear idea of, like, how they want to be, how they want to express, and then we might get more into the practical of what would you need to be able to do that? Like, for someone who might want to come out at work, maybe you need to have supportive friends or community, maybe you need some nervous system regulating tools, and then we can practice coming up together what this person might want to say or even do a role play, so I like to bring in just different interactive elements and —
Yeah, and I think also for coming up with, like, neurodivergent accommodations I think it can be helpful too to get into that interested and curious almost kind of playful state too. It can feel really stressful when we don’t have systems that work for us if we’re feeling really behind, but I think if we’re able to tap into a little bit more playfulness we can say, okay, maybe using this visual timer helps me – And maybe it doesn’t help every day, but I can try it out, and maybe it helps if I use it once a week for this one thing or whatever.
So, yeah, I try to work with people to adapt things to what works for them. And then there’s also the level of, like — I do talk a lot about systems because I think we have a lot of internalized shame about multiple levels of identity. So, some people might feel like, oh, there’s something wrong with me that I get overstimulated. And I think the combination of learning, like, oh, maybe there’s just accommodations you need to help support that. Maybe sometimes it does happen where you get overstimulated and you have a meltdown but know that you’re not alone, and actually, it’s not uncommon. And just because we don’t always hear those stories being told, and we’re kind of told that there’s a right and wrong way to be doesn’t mean that’s actually true.
DANIELLE: When we talk about clients who come in with a level of shame around one, at least one piece of their identity, right, which happens a lot in my coaching practice, too, that there’s a way you, quote-unquote, “should” do the thing, and you’re not doing it that way and so it’s somehow your fault, and there’s this internalized shame, guilt, sometimes anger around your, quote-unquote, “inability” to do the thing. And in, say, autism profiles, ADHD profiles, as diverse as those things are, there are some kinds of patterns in at least the types of places people are getting stuck, and I guess I wondered if you noticed any patterns among queer folks and where queer folks get stuck when trying to work on undoing some of that shame?
I know that’s, like, a hugely broad question, and I just want to say (laughs) to you and the audience that it’s a hugely diverse spectrum, right? But as a starting place anyway to sort of talk about some of that internalized stuff that comes up. Yeah.
BOWIE: Yeah, I think there, I guess what’s coming to mind — Yeah, I feel like we could go in so many different directions with that, but what’s coming to mind right now is just thinking about how — And I hope this is changing, but I do feel like right now a lot of adult queer folks have experienced some level of disconnect from family or community, and then if you add on autism, ADHD, or other types of neurodivergence there can be a lot of feelings of not fitting in and, yeah, like low self-worth, which can impact how we advocate for ourselves or set boundaries or move through life.
So, yeah, it’s not only as adults that we feel this pressure to conform to certain normative expectations, and it does start very young and it’s a big part of our culture. And there are these specific examples of ABA and also even conversion therapy where these adults have set up these behavioralist systems of trying to change young people, children, or teens, and make them into someone who’s, quote-unquote, “more acceptable” by society, and I think that more and more we’re finding out how trying to force someone to change can have really negative impacts on them.
You know, there’s, with conversion therapy — I mean, I don’t even wanna (pauses) talk — There’s just some really scary and sad impacts (speech overlaps with Danielle) —
BOWIE: … of conversion therapy that —
DANIELLE: (speech overlaps with Bowie) People can Google, yeah.
BOWIE: …I don’t even feel — Yeah, like, if you really don’t know, you can research, it’s not good. And I also have heard people who’ve gone through ABA also talk about — I mean, I feel like it’s one thing to provide people tools and resources and support. I think it’s another thing to create systems where people feel like who they are is not okay, especially to, like, adults in their lives, and that they need to change themselves to be acceptable.
So, yeah, and I think that even outside of those systems, like, a lot of us have felt pressure to fit in one way or another, whether or not we are — Even people who are neurotypical and even people who are cis and straight, like, I think pretty much anyone can think of a time when maybe they did something that people thought was weird and got either bullied or, like, an adult in their life kind of came at them and told them like, “That was not okay,” or a time when we didn’t fit into a certain gender expectation, like, you know, people who were raised as boys being yelled at for crying or people who were raised as girls being told to not take up so much space or to make themselves smaller.
So, I think that sometimes people don’t realize how kind of violent these systems are, especially, like, I know in those conversations with trans kids, I think some people don’t realize that the way things are has been hurting people. And there’s a lot of people who have to deal with that inner shame and —
And, so, yeah, I think that that feeling of self-worth is something that I think there’s different approaches to kind of address that, but one of them that can be helpful is also just learning about other folks, other ways of being, who throughout history, there’s always been queer people, there’s always been trans people, there’s always been neurodivergent people, even though we would use different words in different cultures and different times, but, actually, it’s only until more recently in history that we have this very narrow idea of what a gender binary needs to look like, or the nuclear family, or even this idea of individualist productivity that you need to do everything on your own.
Throughout most of history, we were living in collectivist small cultures where it’s like if one person’s not succeeding that impacts everybody, so we all need to work together to survive. So, I think that’s something that’s been really helpful for me to think about the fact that, okay, we’re in a culture that works in a very specific way, even though it’s changing and there’s other, still, Indigenous people that are living in different ways. And so I always think about like, how can we create a different way of being within this culture that we’re in now, in our own communities, in ourselves, in our families?
DANIELLE: Yeah. Something I really loved in what you were talking about is, well, first the recognition that, like, all these structures that we have sort of somehow internalized as being eternal structures of like you said, you mentioned specifically the nuclear family and some of those ideas about how people should function, that they are very recent historically. Gender norms, right? Biological sex norms, how bodies should look, size, sizeism is like — All those kinds of things.
Not that stigmas have never existed in the past, but just that the structures that are enclosing us are in many cases like 200 years old or something, which is not that old.
DANIELLE: And then the other thing I kind of heard that I’d love to talk about more specifically is the idea that the norms that are sort of enclosing us in many ways today are actually dysfunctional because historically, like you said, we’ve been working in collectivist ways, right? And so if you had a human, person who couldn’t work, quote-unquote, “the way they’re supposed to work,” then the whole community would kind of fall apart, right? So, you needed to adjust your tactics to support the individual humans that are in your group so that everybody could get by. And so this kind of advent of everybody should do it the same is actually — Well, I would say, I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, I would say (laughs) that that’s an untenable system, that because we’re not supporting individuals we can’t support collectives in communities.
BOWIE: Yeah, another thing I think a lot about too is like in this colonial capitalist culture that we’re in — Or at least that I’m in, I can’t guarantee all the listeners are in that exact space, but many of us are impacted by it in one way or another —
DANIELLE: The majority of our listeners are in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ottawa, and those are largely colonized spaces, yeah.
BOWIE: Yeah, so, yeah — I also think a lot about too like our relationship with the earth and the land and I’ve seen other people write about this and talk about this too but, yeah, just for those of us who are very sensitive and can be like sensory overwhelmed — I don’t know, I just wonder it’s like okay if we’re living more in relationship with the earth and eating foods that were, you know, more local if we were, like, had these systems of composting and drinking water that was alive and like (laughs) how that would impact our nervous systems and our sensory systems and I don’t know. Like I think there’s a way where even just with the land we try to shape and form the land to be what we want it to be with disregard for how it already is and how the ecosystems flow and the needs of the spaces we’re in, and I think that does tie to how we treat humans and try to make humans into, you know, these people that are, quote-unquote, “acceptable”, and all of that so, yeah, I just —
But, so it’s like I think about the problems and all these things but then I also like okay how do I flip that on its head, like how do we imagine a world where we are in better relationship with the land and with ourselves and each other and that is more accessible, that is more sensory soothing, where there’s less violence, like less unnecessary violence, you know? Like, it’s one thing out in the forest where animals will eat each other, ’cause they have to eat, but humans are kind of unique in the way that we just destroy entire ecosystems, you know?
DANIELLE: There’s a lot of us and we’re big and we have a big footprint, and so it’s like, yeah, there’s other animals that hunt and cats, you know, kill birds for fun and that sucks, but also it’s like, well, there are so many cats ’cause humans (laughs) messed it up, you know? So, I feel like it does always come back to our kind of outsize impact on — You know, I’m not a biologist or an ecologist, but I think it’s accurate that there aren’t any other species that have had such a huge kind of outsize-to-our-population impact on literally everybody else on the (laughs) planet, you know?
BOWIE: Yeah, yeah.
DANIELLE: So, yeah. I think about a lot, as somebody who is at home a lot, who works from home, who takes care of the kids, it’s basically my primary vocation, and also likes my house and doesn’t always want to leave my house (laughs), I think about the impact of, like, industrialization a lot on our nervous systems, and I’m not — Like, there are some really great things that happened in industrialization, at least from, you know, public health standpoints and, you know, running water and all these things, but also, I think about what it must have been like before electricity, and I think about how much the noise of electricity impacts my nervous system, which is not to say I don’t use electricity, but just that, like, that and water running through the pipes and the air going through our ventilation systems. And all these things are positive, right? Like, I like my electricity and my ventilation system, but also those are, I think it’s safe to argue things that I was not necessarily evolved to deal with (laughs), you know? Like evolution isn’t that fast. We’ve only also had these things for 200 years and that’s hardly a blink, and it is interesting to think through what our nervous systems were sort of, I don’t want to say designed because I don’t think they were designed, but what the forces of evolution created our nervous systems for versus what they’re up against now, I guess, is the best way I can put that. Yeah, so I really liked and appreciate your point about that.
BOWIE: Yeah, I see all your lovely plants in your background too.
DANIELLE: It’s fake! It’s a green screen, everyone!
BOWIE: Oh, it’s fake (laughs)! I wasn’t sure if that was true or not (laughs)!
DANIELLE: I appreciate it! I need to, like, find a green screen that’s not quite so lying, but the thing is, and I’ll tell you, is I really like plants and I like gardening and I grew up with a set of parents who had these huge farms, and my executive dysfunction is such that I just kill plants immediately. I have no awareness of time, and so I set timers to, like, feed myself, but even if I set timers with plants I get confused, I can’t remember, you know, whatever, and I can’t keep them alive and it’s really frustrating (laughs softly) to me.
So, at least in my Zoom background, I’m allowed to be a person — This is like my aspirational background. It’s like one day I will be in a place where I’m not so dysregulated that I can’t keep at least one plant alive. I have a pothos now that’s been alive for like four months and I’m like, “Please, please stay alive.” We’ll see if it makes it through (speaks softly).
BOWIE: Yeah, I hope so!
DANIELLE: (speech overlaps with Bowie) So, yeah. Yeah.
BOWIE: Yeah, I mean, well also, like, I know I’ve been, like, kind of trash-talking technology itself — ‘Cause I do think, I think for me, I’m like, well, how can we use — how can we create and do things in a way that we’re taking into account, like, the well-being of all living things, you know? And, like, and even with technology it’s like, okay, maybe I have a green screen or you have a green screen that has these beautiful plants in the background and maybe that feels good.
BOWIE: And that’s okay (laughs).
DANIELLE: At least I get to look at the plants instead of looking at dead plants that I’ve tried to keep alive and, yeah. I am always trying to weigh — I mean and I was born in ‘85, so we got the whole — We were like one of the first generations that’s reduce, reuse, recycle, right? And then we come to 2020 and realize actually recycling plastic is not like — You can’t do it, it’s not sustainable, et cetera, et cetera, and a lot of the clients I talk to when we’re talking about basic, like, “What could you do to make things easier for yourself and, like, enjoy your better life?” and it’s like maybe buying (laughs softly) — I’m trying to think of an example — a plastic fidget toy would actually increase your energy and your ability to go forth and do like by 500% and folks are still stuck on the this-is-gonna-damage-the-earth-because-I’ve-bought-this-plastic thing and I do think it’s important to think about our personal responsibility and also to think about if you bought the plastic thing would you be more effective in fighting against the companies that are throwing 10 million times your plastic things waste into the oceans or the —
DANIELLE: You know? And it’s so hard — So, I guess my point is that it’s just so hard to balance that and I really feel for a lot of folks who are highly conscious and want to do sort of whatever the ethically correct thing is — My cat is now going to come over and get in the way —
BOWIE: Oh, I just wanted to respond to what you’re saying because I totally get it. Like, I so relate to that feeling —
DANIELLE: Yes! Me too (laughs).
BOWIE: …of like, like, yeah, like, having autism, like, being autistic and being ADHD, and then also like, okay, I need to feed myself and sometimes, you know, I’m fortunate enough that I have a friend, like, we meal prep together, and it’s amazing.
DANIELLE: That’s so great. Community care (laughs).
BOWIE: Yes! And also other days, like, I need frozen foods, like, you know? And it’s just like, it depends on the day, and I think, especially for folks who like, have kids and have, like, a lot of responsibilities that adds on, like, even more executive functioning stress I guess I could call it. So, yeah, I mean, I don’t think there’s necessarily like a right — I don’t think it’s as simple as, like, there’s a right or wrong answer. And we’re trying to survive, you know, and trying to feed ourselves and take care of ourselves and doing the best we can, and there are a lot of things kind of set up against us living sustainably, unfortunately, and I would like to see that change, and I would like to be a part of that change in the world too.
So yeah, I definitely — And I think that a lot of us who are neurodivergent can really feel this, like, you know — We talk about, like, that sense of justice.
DANIELLE: And I also think it speaks to your earlier point about, you know, if we were in a community, if we were collectivized, you wouldn’t need to use the frozen meal every night, right? Because people would be trading off, right? A lot of our — Well, I would argue anyway, that a lot of our executive dysfunction, some of us do, I’m pointing at myself, have, like, really poor executive dysfunction, but if I lived in a community, people would be prompting me for things, people would be saying, “Hey, did you remember?” “Hey, could you carry this to?” You know, “Hey, did you put the salt in?” and I would be doing the same for the people, right? There would be a reciprocal — We’d all have the executive function or dysfunction together.
And I think in a lot of ways that our individualization and the way that we’ve sort of been segmented off into either individuals or nuclear families, or sometimes just two-people partnerships which is the norm, at least where I live, it works to create an individualized sense of guilt and shame instead of us being able to put that guilt and shame where it belongs, which is on these forces that have separated us out, you know?
I think specifically in my line of work, I work with a lot of parents and many solo parents who feel like they should be able to serve their kid 100%, and often their kids are neurodivergent in some way too. And it’s like, you know, you do have to deal with the hand you were dealt, and that kind of sucks, but also, realistically, no one should have to do this (laughs). There should be support networks in place in the community, right? And the fact that this happens is not something that we’re doing wrong individually, right? And it’s more push I think to push for other forms of networking and justice and community building than what is existing right here. So.
BOWIE: Exactly. Yeah, it can be — I mean, we live in a really stressful time. Like, I’m just thinking about everything happening in the world and like being aware of all of these systems, all of the violence. So, I just don’t think that more criticism and judgment is really the answer, and in a lot of ways I think that the shame, like, the shame that we feel and the guilt that we feel about, like, not being enough personally is kind of part of upholding these systems. And I’m not blaming people for feeling that way because, like, this is how we’re raised but, yeah, if I’m just focusing on what I’m doing wrong then it’s easier for these people who are dumping so much into the oceans or whatever to just get away with it because they’re like, “Oh, well, you recycle,” or, you know, “Never use plastic!” It’s like well how are you — To not use plastic, at least in America right now, is a feat.
BOWIE: You know?
DANIELLE: It’s not a reasonable ask for humans, right? But I would argue it is a reasonable ask for certain corporations who have more privilege, more funding, more, you know, resources to put towards that goal. So, I think, I also think, like, the flip of what you say, like, if we internalizing and processing that guilt and shame individually ourselves gives them more space to do their thing, I think part of the work of liberating ourselves from that cycle of self-doubt and shame gives us the energy to kind of push back at them, or whoever the them is in this (laughs) situation, right? Whether you’re working on whatever kind of social justice issue or stigma advocacy work you’re doing, that part of doing work on your own is that you stop upholding this to some degree, right? And you show other people, you’re modeling to your community or your kids or whoever that, hey, actually we don’t need to do all this self-shame stuff. Hey, we could — Maybe we could (laughs) — Maybe we could work on one of these big world problems instead, even just a little bit. Which I think is really, could be really powerful. So, I like how you linked those two.
BOWIE: Yeah, yeah, I totally agree, like — And yeah, thank you for saying that.
DANIELLE: You said a little earlier that part of what your, kind of, work is is to do the visioning, right? Thinking through what could be some different ways we could live and I wondered — I guess I wondered if you have anything about your thoughts there that you would like to share, like, have you — What would you consider a more successful model or — Not like people have to copy you model, but just some ideas for what would be better? It sounds like community collectivism in some sense, right?
BOWIE: Yeah. Yeah. I definitely think that — I mean, there’s just so many people that feel lonely and such a need for community, I think that there’s a lot of potential there. And it’s hard ’cause like we said, a lot of us have wounds around community so it can feel really vulnerable or scary to try to build that. But, yeah, I think that — I think there’s layers. It’s like we work on ourselves as much as we can, we work on our boundaries and practicing asking for what we need, being clear about that, you know, and all of that ties into being able to build community, and I think that, yeah, community care is really important.
Yeah, I’m also someone who’s polyamorous, so I just love to view — Like, there’s just so many infinite possibilities for how we can be in relationship, even if you are only romantic with one other person or zero other people, like, you can still have partnerships where you take care of each other and relationships where you’re taking care of each other. And, yeah, like co-meal prepping or co-working, and then even just as far as, like, our consumption, our usage, like what if we — Like, I know there’s buy nothing groups in different spaces where people can give things away and share with each other. I think it also would be hard to have that fully replace, you know, buying things, but, I think there are ways where we can engage in a way that feels good. Yeah, I try to shape, to change it from, like, everything’s bad, everything I do is bad. It’s, like, okay, well, what would feel good to do and what would feel possible? And even if it’s just something you may perceive as being small, I think that still matters —
BOWIE: …and has an impact. Yeah, so I definitely would love to see more community care. I think that we are at a time in history when a lot of us are starting to question certain systems and structures. And, yeah, I guess I’m thinking about like things I’ve learned from adrienne maree brown and other authors. It’s like, okay, well, how do we create new systems within the structure that we’re in as much as possible and build alternate ways of being? Even like with work and business, like, I’m working for myself right now, but I love the idea of like cooperative, like worker-owned cooperatives and non-hierarchical ways of being. I mean, I dream of a world where we don’t really have — Where everyone has their needs met, you don’t have to, like, work to (laughs) get your needs met. We all, like, have a role in taking care of each other, I think that’d be beautiful.
Like, I’m thinking about Robin Wall Kimmerer talks about the gift economy in “Braiding Sweetgrass” —
DANIELLE: “Braiding Sweetgrass”, yeah.
BOWIE: Yeah, so, I don’t know. I think about, like, my dream for how would I love my descendants, like — Even though I don’t have my own kids, but our collective, like, great-great-great grandkids, you know, how would I love for them to live and how can I live that as much as possible now in my own life and my own community?
DANIELLE: Thank you. I really appreciate how it seemed like your first thought with this question of, like, “Well, how do we create this sort of from the ground up?” are these, kind of, personal choices. This, well, what do I do, right? Like, I can join the Buy Nothing group, I can, you know, form more partnerships, get to know myself better, and you gesture towards that self-work, right? Working through our own trauma responses, working on, like, communication and how to, you know, just this sort of listening practice of getting to know people, and I really like that, because I think a lot of folks, when they think of, like, well, how do I change the world, they think, oh, we have to do this big thing, right? Like, we have to get some huge legal precedent signed, or we have to, I don’t know, go out and — Even just build a community garden, which is, in some ways, a very small thing, but is a big undertaking.
But actually, you know, you can totally go out and build a community garden and that’s amazing, but also you can do little things that as you do them you can make these huge changes in our landscape.
BOWIE: I think it’s important to just be aware of why things are the way they are, to understand why it is so, like, important to create spaces where people can be themselves, and unmask, and maybe sometimes it may seem weird or extreme to some people to, like, do things differently if they’re not aware of the truth of, like, what’s actually happening, if that makes sense.
DANIELLE: Yeah, ‘cause I think that, as we were sort of talking about before, the systems that a lot of us are sort of entrenched in are not that old and we’re now at this point where we can see that they’re not working. And it might feel scary to try something else, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.
It’s, like, as a much smaller example than upheaving all of society, I work with a lot of parents of neurodivergent kids who have been thinking of homeschooling or taking their kids out of public school because of usually some kind of, like, push towards conformity that’s harming their kids and are scared to do it, like reasonably scared to do it, ‘cause there’s no support for them. But also, often once you do it it’s like, oh, everything’s better now. I have more energy, the kid has more energy, everyone feels better. And it’s like yeah it was really scary and yeah you had to push hard to make it happen, to make this big change to your household and your dynamics, but also it’s better now! It just felt like it couldn’t be better because it was hard to envision the new way.
And so I feel like there’s always this, like — I always want to encourage folks that just ‘cause it feels hard to think about a new way of doing things doesn’t mean it’s actually wrong, it’s just — You know, a lot of us are used to fear being a sign that we shouldn’t do a thing and sometimes it’s totally that, but sometimes it’s like it’s just new. It’s just new. And as an autistic person I am, like, one of those stereotypical I-don’t-like-new-things people, which many folks are not but — So, I’ve had to teach that to myself, is like just because it’s scary doesn’t mean (laughs softly) we have to avoid it, it might be fine. So, yeah. So, I just really appreciate you kind of framing that, framing that out as we don’t have to do it the way we’ve been doing, you know? And it’s not even been around that long anyway (laughs), so.
BOWIE: Yeah. And I love what you said about, yeah, sometimes actually the things that are the most beneficial and may feel a little hard and a little scary, and then also we can see, like, well what type of support again, like, what are the things that we actually do have access to that can help us through that and how can we help each other through that and create a culture where we support each other through that?
DANIELLE: Yeah! You shouldn’t have to do it by yourself and probably you don’t have to, it’s just finding help, finding the resources like you said, so yeah, thank you so much!
Thank you so much for joining us on the Neurodiverging podcast today, I hope you found the content helpful. We’ll be talking a lot more about gender, sexuality, and power structures in the United States intersectionality in a bunch of upcoming podcasts so I hope you’ll stay tuned for that. Hit the like or the subscribe if you’re in a place where you can do so. And a quick ask: if you are enjoying the podcast and you feel like it would help other people, would you please take a moment and leave a rating on Apple Podcasts or wherever you’re listening to your podcasts? It really helps us find new audiences and helps people find us who might benefit from this podcast. So, please consider it if you have time, we really appreciate it.
Thank you to Bowie for being the guest today. Please go check out their links. They are @rainbowchrysaliscoaching on basically all the platforms, and also there will be links below in the show notes. Thank you so much for being here, and thank you to the patrons for making this podcast go. You can become a patron at your leisure at patreon.com/neurordiverging. And please remember, we are all in this together.
Whatever the ethically correct thing is — My cat is now gonna come over and get in the way.
Yeah, do you wanna come sit?
BOWIE: Oh, hi!
DANIELLE: The door’s open ’cause the kids came in, so this is just the least professional podcast we’ve ever recorded, isn’t it?
DANIELLE: But that’s okay! That’s where we are right now —
BOWIE: (laughs) It’s okay! We can celebrate it! It’s, you know —
DANIELLE: No, we have to!
BOWIE: It’s a beautiful thing (laughs).
DANIELLE: I really — You know, the point is to be humans, right? And what’s more human than the Orbeez fell down and the YouTube won’t log in and your cat needs cuddles?
BOWIE: Yeah (laughs).
DANIELLE: Nothing. He had to go to the vet this morning.