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Dylan Wilder Quinn

Dylan.Wilder.Quinn@gmail.com

Seattle, WA

Herbs for Resistance

July 27, 2017

 

 

I go to doctors because I have to. Because I'm in constant pain and anytime a treatment hasn't worked, a doctor has suggested that I go to this other person to try “this one last treatment” and I buy into it because I still have hope that my body will function like it used to. Because “passing” as a trans person is a social construct created by rich cis people that want trans people in danger, and even though my ancestors indigenous to the Czech Republic, Norway, and Wales did not have to think about passing as transgender shamans and warriors, I do. I have to choose a gender that is familiar to cis people to avoid violence and so that I can still get hired and make money. And so I go to doctors.

 

I know and am grateful for all of the people I know in western/allopathic medicine who are fighting to make this system less violent. I really am. Midwives who teach consent culture to the doctors, midwives who are bringing indigenous traditions and latinx brujería to POC birthparents everywhere, midwives who are creating trans care for fathers and nonbinary parents to become pregnant and have safe and beautiful births. OK, most of the decent people I know in healthcare are QTPOC and trans white midwives, which means even in standard healthcare, the revolutionary people I know are the ones providing healthcare alternative to the status quo.

 

I struggle every day to find care for myself that is not violent. A few weeks ago I argued with a medical resident who I desperately needed an ativan prescription from when my traumatized body was first getting used to testosterone and was throwing me panic attacks right and left, and she argued that I needed to be in therapy and exercising before I did that because I would develop a dependency on the drug. Explaining to her that I've been in therapy weekly for the last three years, exercise daily, and have had an ativan prescription for the last three years and have only used 10-20 pills a year, she pauses, fumbles, looks at her records. “Well I've never prescribed it to you.” Yes, because you are a medical resident that Apple Health sent me to, and I've only been seeing you for 9 months. And I only get this prescription filled around once a year because I too care about chemical addictions in my body, not just a doctor that barely knows me, and I'm very careful. And despite the precious care I take to manage my emotions and trauma daily, occasionally, panic attacks ensue, and ativan helps end the panic attacks and help me go to sleep in a way that allows me to go to the work next day and participate in capitalism so that I can survive. “Well, it's not exactly part of my care philosophy. I think exercise and therapy are the way to go.” And why isn't patient autonomy and trusting that your patients have some concept of how to care for and manage their own health part of your philosophy? I hung up the phone.

 

I was kicked off of Apple Health recently, more to do with some birth family abuse than any institutional cause, so I'll leave details unsaid, but my doctor providing trans healthcare initially seemed very supportive. “That's so messed up! :(“ he sent to me over a secure server. Unfortunately, frownie emojis aren't nearly as helpful as affordable health care, and when I started to face complications transitioning while uninsured, he insisted that I come in so that he could give me a prescription that we both agreed I most likely needed to solve this issue. But that would cost me $200, plus the medication cost. “Well, try some over-the-counter treatments until you can get your insurance back.” I stopped messaging him.

 

And this is just the last two conversations I had with healthcare providers, ignoring the other several years of gatekeeping procedures and treatments and healthcare, ignoring the violence of the insurance system itself, ignoring that quality affordable insurance is only easily and readily available if you have an able body that can work 40 hours a week for a single company. (And yes, Apple Health is incredible, and has saved my life, allowed me to get trans health care - from the provider above - and has saved the lives of many of my other poor and working class friends affected by oppression in so many different ways, but it is also in danger of disappearing quickly, so I am not counting on it here.)

 

So yes, my herbs are my resistance. Herbs have allowed me to have control over my care, to treat my pain in ways that I can deeply consent to and learn about. Herbs counteract the side effects of allopathic medications that I have to take. Herbs have entered my body from my ancestors that used them before a violent healthcare system took over and was presented as the only option to white working class folks like myself who had lost my connection with my ancestral roots. My ancestors are healing me every moment that I learn about their medicine and invite them to heal my body and mind in some way that is untouched, or at least less touched, by this violent system called healthcare.

 

All that said, I take teas daily. And I wanted to provide a space for other transmasculine people to have access to the tea that I use to help me transition daily. I am not a doctor or a trained herbalist, so please don't take this as medical advice or sue the shit out of me because you took something and it didn't work for you. We're all surviving this capitalist shitstorm in our own way and I am no exception. I just wanted to provide this labor and information for free because I care about my trans siblings.

 

I mostly stuck to herbs that I can find in the Seattle area, either in bulk sections of local co-ops or at the Cunning Crow Apothecary, which is run by an incredible trans witch – please support her and her work before going to any other place, at least until there is a POC apothecary in the city. The Cunning Crow seeks to be anti-colonial, environmentally responsible, and sacred in all of its purchasing decisions, which means you're less likely to buy an endangered herb or herb that is sacred to people indigenous to this landmass (Native Americans) and over-harvested by its colonizers (white people). Below the recipe is a list of resources I suggest learning to use more about these effects. Some of these resources also include herbs for transfemme people – I did not include the recipe on here because I do not take it myself.

 

Some folks use these herbs when medical testosterone doesn't work for their system (which is becoming more and more widely true, in my observations), though it's thought that these herbal treatments will have about 1/100th the effect of medical-grade testosterone. In other words, drink up! (And check toxic dosage levels!)

 

I organized the tea by desired effects, so you can pick and choose based on what you're most effected by.

 

Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts, new information about herbs that I didn't know, and your experiences. 

 

 Transitioning is hard. Transitioning is fun. Enjoy these herbs 

as one form of your resistance. Love, a transmasc femme at your service.

 

 

Trans Healthcare Tea

 

Depression

  • Oregano

  • Jasmine Flower

  • Lemon Balm

  • Thistle

Anxiety

  • Sage – do not take for more than a week at a time, sage in the body can be toxic in large (very large) doses

  • Marjoram

  • Lemon Balm

Liver - synthetic testosterone is processed through the liver, so support long-term liver health with these herbs. 

  • Dandelion Root

  • Licorice (also has feminizing effects – effects that simulate estrogen I think – so feel free to skip over this one. I do.)

  • Milk Thistle

Androgens

  • Damiana – a fun herb for many reasons – it is a deep relaxant, uplifts moods, and is also an aphrodisiac.

  • Ashwagandha – an adaptogen – put it in your body, and this miracle herb will adapt to many different beneficial effects custom to your body's needs! It is also an excellent restorative after having sex.

  • Sarsaparilla – this is the one herb I couldn't find locally and had to order online. Purchase from environmentally and ethically sustainable stores.

  • Pine Pollen – Pine pollen should be every transmasculine person's dream who is not allergic to pine pollen. It is the transmasculine soy – that is, it actually contents the plant-derived equivalent of testosterone. You can harvest this yourself each spring (I will be doing this this coming spring and will write an article about what I find out – but there are plenty of other resources online about this) or order online.

  • Vitex Chaste Tree Berry – helps regulate and normalize the endocrine system. Also great for cis femmes with menstrual cramps.

  • Prickly Ash – helps make the voice transition go more smoothly and is even thought to help lower the voice.  It also is a very “hot” herb, so careful about using it if you also experience long-term chronic inflammation. I do not use this herb or only use it for short periods of time. 

  • Raw Garlic – I'd suggest only taking this at night AFTER any make outs that you may want to have. Not a daytime thing. Take in capsules or as tincture.

  • Ginseng – I use Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) for its stronger effects, and it is recommended for older people. American Ginseng works for younger people just fine, I hear, but I prefer Eleuthero. Do NOT take while on testosterone.

  • Yohimbe – supports higher testosterone levels, increases sex drive.

 

Sore Throat:

  • Calamus – this has a strong bitter taste (as in, vomit-inducing level of bitterness, proven experientially – sorry, dear roommates!) so be very careful with dosage. It is very soothing to a throat and set of vocal chords that are suddenly changing and in a lot of pain from talking.

  • Prickly Ash – helps make the voice transition go more smoothly and is even thought to help lower the voice.  It also is a very “hot” herb, so careful about using it if you also experience long-term chronic inflammation. I do not use this herb or only use it for short periods of time. 


For taste: because you gotta offset that calamus and yohimbe with SOMETHING. #herbaljokes

  • Hibsicus

  • Sarsaparilla (also androgenizing)

  • Vanilla (also a euphoric nervine, which helps with relaxation and sexual pleasure)

 

Other trans herbal and natural healthcare resources

“Holistic Care Through Gender Transition” by Jacoby Ballard. Thorough and includes herbal and nutrition guidelines as well as other helpful and necessary tips like binding and posture. Covers both feminizing and masculinizing. Supports a trans person. http://jacobyballard.com/product/holistic-care-gender-transition-zine/


 

“Holistic Health for Transgender and Gender Variant Folks” by Dori Midnight.  Also includes trans nutrition for similar masculinizing effects. Covers both feminizing and masculinizing folks. http://www.sfherbalist.com/holistic-health-for-transgender-gender-variant-folks/


 

“Herbs for Transitioning: The Basics” by Prism Integrative Acupuncture. Also has more in-depth articles on masculinizing and feminizing herbs and nutrition. A really great in-depth resource including herbs to use while taking synthetic testosterone and to help alleviate the side effects of synthetic testosterone, like acne. https://prismintegrativeacupuncture.com/2015/01/14/herbs-for-transitioning-masculinizing-herbs/

 

Sick of white folks writing stuff about herbs?  Http://queeringherbalism.blogspot.com  is not trans specific but is wonderful and showcases POC-centric herbalism.

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