YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=_fH636-0Cyw
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View count:46,698
Likes:2,830
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Duration:05:22
Uploaded:2016-06-02
Last sync:2018-05-11 17:30
Bonus video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJP2Hdp0ZI0

Hala Ken Telar Juvenil, a youth organization in Tijuana invited me to teach their community about sexuality but I spent most of my trip learning instead. I couldn’t help it. There were so many new experiences to have, so many stories to hear, and people to love. It was one of the best weeks of my life!

This video may not encapsulate all of the magic, of course it doesn’t, hopefully though it conveys some of the incredible intimacy I had from participating in all aspects of self and place, because I looked beyond pretty stuff.

Many thanks to Hala Ken for the invite and revelations. If you’d like to reach out to them for your own awakenings they have a Facebook page and I’m sure they’d love your support!
https://www.facebook.com/HalaKenTJ/timeline
They also have a youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDFmqbpAAEfhztj-9_nDIcg

Ashanti Branch can be reached online through his organization Ever Forward.
https://www.facebook.com/EverForwardClubJr/?fref=ts
http://www.everforwardclub.org/team

And Tijuana, what can I say, take care of my heart until I return.

Here's the list of gender terms I included. Feel free to share additions:
Agender
Agénero
Agenderflux
Andrógine
Andrógino
Androgyne
Androgynous
Aporagender
Ashtime
Bigender
Bigénero
Burmesha
Butch
Cuirgénero
Cisgender
Cisgénero
Demiboy
Demigender
Demigirl
Enby
Fa’afafine
Female
Femenina
Femme
FTF
FTM
FTX
Gallae
Genderfluid
Genderflux
Genderless
Gender neutral
Género neutro
Género fluido
Genderqueer
Gendervague
Gendervoid
Hembra
Hermafrodita
Hijra
Hot boy
Intergender
Intergénero
Intersexual
Māhū
Macho
Male
Man
Maverique
Mezclada
MTF
MTM
MTX
Multigénero
Neutrois
Ninauposkitzipxpe
Nonbinary
Omnigender
Pangenger
Pangénero
Polygender
Poligénero
Quariwarmi
Queer
Queergénero
Sekhet
Semimujer
Semihombre
Tercer género
Third gender
Trans*
Transfeminine
Transgender
Transgénero
Transexual
Two-spirit
Undifferentiated
Vaguegender
Woman
X-gender
XTX
Yinyang ren

-- Intro Cut Scene --

Dr. Doe: Last week I flew to San Diego, where I was met by a driver from the US Consulate. While we drove across the border sin problemas, he told me about his job growing up in Mexico, and the cautionary sex education he received.

Essentially, the school dean told his class that the first time he had sex was with a prostitute, so afterward he smeared lemon on his penis like an antiseptic. I would think that this is not a good thing, but sure enough the National Institutes of Health promotes wiping the penis immediately after intercourse with lime or lemon juice to kill HIV before it has a chance to infect. But wear a condom!

We stopped at a restaurant for me to get breakfast and he ordered me this amazing fruit bowl. I told him how I was nervous to do my presentations in English with Spanish interpreters and he just reminded me to keep my train of thought. What was my train of thought? I'd been invited by a non-profit  called Hala Ken Telar Juvenil to speak about the harms of gender stereotypes. But I felt very uncomfortable as someone from the United States telling Mexico what it's doing wrong. So instead, I built a presentation about gender and sexuality about the ways that scientists and doctors and artists had gotten it wrong in the past, and the value in staying curious to get it right.

Nicté and Fernando, members of the group, found me in the lobby preparing, and asked me if I'd like to go with them on a tour of the city. This is el Mercado Hidalgo, where vendors sold fruit and vegetables, piñatas, candies, greens, honey, popsicles, cheeses and Viagra. Which in the States is $45 a pill, but in Tijuana, 5 for $20! This is yaca, or jackfruit, the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, which grows up to 3 ft long and 80 lbs. Because it is so drought and pest resistant, high in calories and nutrients, yaca is also called the miracle fruit. I tried one of the segments cut fresh - it's like a mixture of cantaloupe and mango. 


Here I am learning about another food - huitlacoche; in English "corn smut." Basically a fungus that has taken over the kernels and turned them into mushrooms. The vendor encouraged me to eat some raw, so I did, and then he explained this delicacy is usually served on a flour tortilla cooked with tomatoes and cheese. At which point my amazing hosts Nicté and Fernando took me into the man's restaurant for a taste of the dish and a cactus juice beverage. After  the market we headed to a historic site in Tijuana - Agua Caliente - or Hot Water Resort. During Prohibition, the United States' rich and famous would come here to soak in the hot springs, gamble, and party. Now it's a school system for thousands of students who attend in shifts. The morning, a second in the afternoon and a third in the evening. As we walked around the campus, I thought about these young people - were they too expected to stay celibate until marriage or lose their virginities to prostitutes like my driver's dean? Or were they better off now with internet access? I found out the following day after giving my presentation. 


Here I am sharing terminology: gender, gender expression and gender roles, with the assistance of an English to Spanish translator, and a Spanish sign language interpreter. I shared this list of genders and explained the story of David Reimer. How we'd viewed sex and gender as synonyms, but found through David's story that we were wrong.

The same with thinking the clitoris was just this little thing when indeed it has roots that surround the vagina!

I finished with a demonstration of hood hygiene, and a Q&A, then sat down in the audience for a film on intersexuality. Nicté sat beside me to whisper translations, and I began to cry. In summary, the school system would not admit this young boy into their system without a male or female designation on his birth certificate. And as an intersex child he wasn't recognized. No matter how many times they tried to enroll him, the school answered that he must have a penis to be a boy, and he must be a boy or girl in order to enroll. People don't know what intersex is. They fear the ambiguity and feel embarrassed to have intersex children, which leads to discrimination and even some of them being hidden from society.


1.7% of the world is intersex. Mexico's population is 128.6 million, which means the number of intersex people being operated on, rejected from schools and/or hidden from society is realistically 2.2  million.

Ashanti Branch, another speaker from the US, took the stage and shared his experiences working with young men in Oakland. The "tough guy" persona, the shame of being smart, the masks that we all wear to hide our full selves, our struggles, our differences and our realities.  He let the audience answer the question, "why?" And people knew! To protect ourselves, to be something else, to cover our faces. He encouraged us to think about what we hide from the world. And I would add for myself the question, "what do I hide from?"

This is the Mexico/US border where a very tall fence separates Mexicans from a camera-monitored, officer-guarded second fence in the United States. This is what I hide from. The physical boundary between who gets the human rights life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and who doesn't. This photograph, documenting one day of the year, where children born in the US left to access better lives, are permitted 5 minutes to hug their deported parents. And the actual gate itself, which reads, "this is where dreams bounce back."

Like Hala Ken's slogan "Tu Eres Otro Yo" - "You Are Another Me," it gives me all the feels because I know they are another us. Tijuana, Mexico is many things. It is amazing food, colorful dancing, great service, iconic art and ingenuity. It is a 360-degree theater with a film about Mars and the birthplace of Caesar salad. Tijuana is tuba on the beach, and it's tuba at a Nordic electronic concert at the Beerfest. It's amazing people and friends and friends and friends and friends. It is also hardships and barriers and incredible loss. Knowing both sides is intimacy. It's how you fall in love.

When the weekend ended and I crossed the border again - this time very carefully into the United States of America - I watched as hundred of pedestrians waited in line beside me and cars were stopped for a very slow and challenging entrance. The officer asked for the purpose of my trip into Mexico. I told her it was "to teach." But really, it was to learn. 

Stay Curious.