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Context for this Letter
*Trigger Warning for Transphobia
I am sharing an open letter that I have written to J Brown following a podcast that he released this week.
To clarify, I am not a regular listener to his podcast, but I have been following the updates since a recent episode was called out for vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories. To hear a summary of that click here.
This week, I thought I would have a listen because I have been learning about transgender topics and gender-inclusive language. It’s an important topic and I want yoga students to have access to safe and inclusive spaces.
I was shocked and very disappointed to realize that the guest was a cisgender woman, who was sharing harmful and confusing information.
It is a long podcast episode and I have already heard from some in the transgender community that it was too much to even take in or listen to beyond a few minutes.
If you want to listen to only part of the interview — I suggest starting 1 hour in and listening to around the 1 hour and 15-minute mark. Click here to listen to the interview.
Below is my response that was emailed to J Brown. I am sharing this here in a public space because I feel like yoga teachers need access to correct, non-harming, up-to-date information.
Open Letter to J BrownMarch 23, 2021
I listened to your podcast this week and felt the need to reach out.
First, I want to clarify that I am not an expert in transgender competency and gender language. I am a cisgender yoga teacher trying to learn so that I can create brave, safe and inclusive spaces.
I feel like the podcast episode from this week was harmful in many ways to both yoga students and teachers. For example, your guest this week said, “trans women are not women”. If yoga teachers only listen to your podcast on this topic and don’t research other sources of information (from the transgender community), they could very well spread this misinformation in harmful ways in their communities, families and yoga spaces.
Yes, I believe the conversation of gender is relative to the yoga world. Just like topics of racism and oppression and cultural appropriation need to be talked about. To bring a guest on to start this conversation that is not transgender and to give voice to so many harmful statements and ideas — it goes against anything I understand as practicing yoga.
You could have opened up the conversation with someone from the transgender community first, who is out there educating others on this topic. That way you and your listeners would be able to formulate better questions for this week’s guest.
This episode is comparable to asking a white yoga teacher to come on the podcast to talk about and challenge the BIPOC community on anti-racism work.
As podcasters, we need to acknowledge the incredible responsibility and privilege that goes along with having a platform. I heard you deny that this was even a thing a few weeks back when it came to a discussion around vaccines and the conspiracy theories and misinformation you were sharing.
It’s totally fine to not know all the answers, but it is your responsibility to do the research and find the experts that are doing the work. Yoga teachers out there are listening to you and relying on you to bring them correct and up-to-date information AND/OR to ask a lot of questions when a guest is sharing a singular viewpoint.
I would like to request that you consider:
- Paying for transgender competency training.
- Having multiple guest experts from the Trans community on your podcast who can talk about gender language and transgender competency in yoga spaces.
- Acknowledging and addressing the harm caused and asking the Trans and non-binary community how to move forward, while paying for their time.
Let me know if you would like me to connect you with anyone in this field,
Shannon Crow (she/her)
A Public Statementco-created by Tristan Katz and Maygen Nicholson
A public statement regarding the J. Brown Yoga Podcast,
On March 22nd, @jbrownyoga released a podcast interview with a cis woman on the topic of “Gender Spectrum and Biological Sex.” The conversation is rooted in biological exceptionalism, trans* exclusionary feminism, and transphobia. We found it deeply hurtful and problematic and felt the need to address it publicly to stand in solidarity with our trans* and enby siblings.
When we give people like this a platform, we are supporting their work and messaging. We are telling the world (our audience) that we align with these principles, and it’s okay if they do, too.
This particular episode spreads false information without support of studies or facts, and is the very messaging that is used to discriminate against trans* folks, both overtly and covertly.
This causes harm in massive ways that cisgender people may not have a lens to fully understand. Spreading false information damages the lives of trans* people each and every day.
This conversation is not one that deserves to be promoted, supported, or condoned in any way.
The practice of yoga is rooted in awareness, in social justice, and in healing. This interview is 100% the opposite of that. It has no inkling of yogic principles within it at all, but rather spreads misinformation while supporting transphobic viewpoints.
With a platform comes a responsibility. When harm is caused, it must be repaired. In this case, unfortunately, the harm was extreme.
We are asking for J to remove the episode immediately, to issue a public apology for the harm caused, and to attend LGBTQIA+ inclusion trainings.
We are also asking that J promote LGBTQIA+ trainings on the podcast and to invite a trans*/non binary guest onto the show to have an accurate and affirming conversation on the topic.
Please feel free to contact J directly to make additional requests for repair.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to show up for the trans* and non-binary community, consider one of these upcoming offerings: