AUSTIN, Texas – Transforming Wellness was brought to life by “racially diverse queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming wellness practitioners + educators,” as their website describes. The five Austin trailblazers, four of whom share Pagan beliefs, have different backgrounds but share one common goal: to be a resource for those who are looking for aid, understanding, and education.
Twenty-eight year old, Kyra Thrillkill, is one of the advocates involved with Transforming Wellness. Thrillkill, identifying as trans feminine, experienced life at different ends of the spectrum. Her nationality is made up of a mix of white and Cherokee Native American.
Thrillkill goes through a daily routine of Hormone Replacement Therapy. She keeps these pills in a box that is primarily focused on honing in feminine energies. The vessel holds items such as rose, amethyst, jasmine, moonstone, and chamomile.
Similar practices have also been utilized with masculine energies. “I know trans masculine people who will draw sigils onto the inside of their binders (a device to bind down the chest) to help aid them in appearing more masculine or give off a masculine vibe,” Thrillkill explains.
Growing up in what had been known as a “sundown town” in the Southeastern part of Texas, Thrillkill recalls her family telling racist jokes and knowing members of the KKK, holding an overall conservative outlook on many subjects.
On a very different end of the spectrum was her Cherokee family in Oklahoma and San Antonio. Experiences with this part of the family granted the understanding of different traditions and offered additional viewpoints to the evolving person that Thrillkill was becoming.
“Indigenous people have up to three genders. One of them being the ‘Two-spirit’ concept,” Thrillkill said. The concept that Indigenous people often recognize more than two genders was knowledge had been handed down to her. Thrillkill went on to say, “Sweden is another example of a population acknowledging three genders. Gender can fluctuate.”
In addition to her Indigenous beliefs, she began to cultivate a relationship with a Greek deity. The Goddess Aphrodite vividly showed up in Thrillkill’s life stating, “I am the best thing since sliced bread and we are going to have a conversation.” The devotee recalled the exchange with a laugh.
Growing through a progression in her spiritual practice and in her sexuality is where Thrillkill is today: a person who has faced challenges involving people who are less than kind on a sometimes daily occurrence, battling bulimia, and gender dysphoria just to name a few challenges.
The advocate is not alone in facing these experiences. Thrillkill and the team she works with are here to provide context, knowledge, and support.Over the past few months, events such as Trans Allyship 101 and Transforming Wellness, Digital Workshop have been conducted virtually in the interest of safety during the current health crisis and pandemic.
“Trans Allyship 101” covers ground such as correct pronoun use and how to support transgender and gender non-conforming people. While the “Transforming Wellness, Digital Workshop” goes over a bit more with defining terms, like Polyvagal Theory, along with inclusive practices for wellness, such as yoga and trauma awareness.
“As a collective, we aim to create comprehensive wellness and health workshops and trainings focused on equipping practitioners and providers with the necessary skills and education to revolutionize and radicalize their private practices and public corporations to be culturally responsive to the needs of marginalized bodies and identities.
Health and wellness is a human right. We are committed to all human beings, human bodies and all human races having the resources, the access, and the ability to connect with educated and informed providers in order to receive care.”
Thrillkill walked TWH through an exercise that is used in class. For the exercise, participants are asked to close their eyes and then Thrillkill describes the following imagery. “Imagine you have a ketchup and glue bottle in front of you. Now, imagine that there is ketchup in the glue bottle and glue in the ketchup bottle. It really makes people uncomfortable seeing this image.” This is one of the avenues used to illustrate how someone would feel with body dysmorphia.
Looking to the near future, the educators of Transforming Wellness intend to continue to branch out with their curriculum, “We are looking forward to offering classes in corporate environments and as well as developing an anti-racism course.” Further community outreach is on their agenda as well to offer aid to shelters around the Austin area, and even talks of providing scholarship funds for transgender education.
As of July of 2020, 22 transgender or non-binary people have lost their lives to violent acts according to the Human Rights Campaign.
“In 47 states, the Trans Panic Defense is still a legal strategy when a violent crime, including murder, is committed against a transgender person,” Thrillkill stated. “So most trans people are a little dodgy when it comes to being completely out.”
There has been an outcry from many civil rights organizations and advocates working to eradicate this strategy. Dozens of murderers have been acquitted for their crimes through this defense. A defense that has been used as recently as 2018 where it was used to mitigate a murder charge.
The Transforming Wellness team hopes that the time spent with the public will make the community aware of the challenges and even opposition that transgender people face. With Thrillkill and her colleagues working together, they are taking on the challenges, holding space for people to talk, and just being there for others so they don’t have to be alone.