195: LGBTQ Awareness for Yoga Teachers with Tristan Katz

We can all agree that we want our yoga classes to be safe places for everybody. However, one group of marginalized people who are often not taken into consideration is the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ community has historically been persecuted and has experienced violence, at the provincial or state, national, institutional and personal levels, which makes it all the more important for us to create and maintain safe and inclusive spaces for them in our classes. How can we bring awareness about them to our yoga spaces, and create inclusive safe spaces for them? 

Tristan Katz (they/them) has some insights to give us a better understanding of the LGBTQ community, based on their personal lived experience and their work in the space of equity-inclusion. 

Tristan is a business and marketing coach-consultant, web and graphic designer based in Portland, OR. Part of Tristan’s intention in their work is to support teachers, practitioners, studios, and spiritual communities seeking to facilitate safer, braver spaces. To this end, Tristan is currently studying with experts in the field to expand their equity-inclusion facilitation and education offerings, in addition to teaching workshops and trainings centered around queer identity and LGBTQ+ awareness with an anti-oppression and intersectional lens.

Conversations around creating such inclusive spaces for people in the LGBTQ community can be uncomfortable, and we may not always know how to approach this topic. Tristan speaks openly and honestly to share more about the experiences people in this community have, and how we can do better. They give us a breakdown of common terms, cues and language; what we as yoga teachers can do to be more aware and inclusive in our classes, and what to do when we mess up, which is something that will inevitably happen.

For anyone looking to learn more about how to create more inclusive spaces in their yoga classes, this episode is a must-listen.

Key Takeaways:

[10:18] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Tristan Katz.

[12:28] Where did Tristan’s yoga journey begin and how did it lead them to the work that they do now?

[18:28] Tristan defines some terms they have used as well as appropriate language to use to create inclusive spaces.

[25:26] What is Tristan’s response to yoga teachers who may be worried that introducing pronouns in their yoga classes may cause their students discomfort?

[29:45] Tristan explains a little more about trans identity and the gender binary.

“Gender is a much more nuanced conversation than we’ve all been taught.” ~ Tristan Katz

[31:51] When asking for someone’s pronouns, avoid saying “preferred pronouns”. Tristan shares why.

[34:20] Shannon and Tristan discuss how to approach people who have multiple pronouns e.g. she/ they.

[38:52] Grammar is not an issue when using they/them pronouns for individuals! It is an argument that is rooted in transphobia. 

[40:49] Some cues and language in yoga classes tend to be gendered. How does Tristan help yoga teachers navigate this?

[44:31] Tristan shares how they consciously and intentionally focus on acknowledging that everyone’s experiences are different and being sensitive to that.

“We can’t just make these vast assumptions and generalizations. We’re potentially putting people into sympathetic arousal when we do.” ~ Tristan Katz

[46:34] How do niches that focus exclusively on one particular gender feel to non-binary people?

[51:02] If you offer inclusivity trainings, or have taken one that you appreciated, please share it in the comments.

[52:02] What are Tristan’s thoughts on how to express ourselves such that everyone feels included and safe?

“Anytime you gender something, you’re excluding some people in the room, you’re potentially triggering other people in the room.” ~ Tristan Katz

[57:01] Societal systems and structures impact all of us differently, depending on our identities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all be part of different movements to dismantle these toxic structures.

“There is this level of toxicity that’s in dominant culture that we often can bring into this yoga space unconsciously or consciously.” ~ Tristan Katz

[59:17] Shannon shares some of her experiences with creating inclusive spaces in the world.

[1:01:21] Apart from their work with equity-inclusion, Tristan is also a digital strategist who supports yoga teachers in their businesses.

[1:03:18] Shannon shares her key takeaways from this interview with Tristan.


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