Work It! Femmily: Youth Worker, Consent Activist, Fashionista!

Femmily loves hippos, and has this tattoo on her arm!

I first met Femmily at Clarisse Thorn’s SEX+++  documentary series, and again at Slut Walk Chicago last summer. She is a truly inspiring human being who works with at-risk youth as a full time career, is an activist promoting consent education as a means of ending rape, and still has time to throw body-positive dance parties, and rock her unique brand of style through many fierce “lqqks.” Read on…

Photo by Glitter Guts

Name: Femmily

Age: 24

Location: Ukrainian Village, Chicago

What do you do, in your own words, and how long have you been doing it?
I try to help facilitate the things that help people feel good and liberated from the systems and assumptions that harm us. Whether that means talking about the hard things like violence or trauma, or exploring safer ways to do the fun stuff like sex & play time, I am into it. I’ve been doing variations of this for a few years.

What was your first job?
I gave people homemade pasta at a local pasta shop.

What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
I worked in a call center that scheduled golf tee times all around the country 24/hrs a day. It was very weird. I had to pretend I was at golf courses in Hawaii, Georgia, and all over. Talk about a lack of transparency!

What led to you pursuing your current work? What sparked your interest, and what training or mentorship did you pursue?
I have experienced violence.. My family has… Friends… The list goes on. These things can be devastating. I’ve also been part of beautiful moments of sitting with the harm, excitement, fear, doubt, trauma, with folks and those moments have brought me ripple effects of newfound, self determined pleasure & healing. Those moments inspire me to do the work.

I had access to college and internships in Chicago. I got bachelors degrees, worked in research settings, done state trainings on domestic & sexual violence, participated in community based healing circles, collective based skill shares, workshops around alternatives to policing and state violence, justice, oppression, privilege, sexuality, and more.

Tell me more about your involvement with SHEER Collective, and your involvement with Body Positive Chicago, and the Heavy Rotation dance parties.
SHEER is sexuality health education to end rape. It’s a volunteer collective of folks interested in promoting pleasure and clarifying consent. It has acted as a call to rape crisis workers to affirm and celebrate all peoples sexual agency, and sex educators to bring conversations around violence to the table. Sheer creates spaces to talk about power, pleasure, sex, and consent. I am a founding member of this group.

Heavy rotation is a 3rd wed of the month dance party at Parlour on Clark all about celebrating bodies. It was created by queers thinking about how racism, fat phobia, trans phobia, classism, and more oppression affect us and how we’ve got to get liberated from it all. It’s lots of fun and people bring lqqk realness! I organize for this party.

I am a youth worker right now and work with many queer young people experiencing homelessness. I do HIV and STD testing with them and facilitate support groups. It’s all so super cute.

Photo by Glitter Guts

You are well known in the Chicago scene for your warm personality and fierce looks. Tell me about your style philosophy, your favorite beauty products, accessories, and clothing items, and what it means to embrace “Non Gender Conforming Femme” style.
I love to feel good. My looks are all about embracing my shapes and giving my beauty to the world. I am interested in celebrating bodies, and people can do this in so many personal and public ways. My looks are very public and visible ways for me to say no to the harmful beauty standards. Wearing clothes that are considered “too small” in particular is really exciting for me- my belly hangs out, my rolls are visible, my asymmetry is visible, and it’s liberating. I am always told to hide these things, and right now I do what I want with them.
I live for hair bows, lots of patterns, cut off denim shorts, crop tops, garter belts, ripped tights, heels, vans sneakers. I like glitter and bold colors for make up.

As for gender non confirming femme style, to me it means that I create my own version of femininity. It feels more complicated, fluid, and consensual than the versions imposed upon me and that I’ve internalized. I hold my masculine layers, feminine layers, and the rest all at once. I try not to shame myself. My gender feels different from that assigned to me at birth, and i explore that with the things I put on my body.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of learning and growing from my mistakes. I’ve said and done some offensive things and people have pointed them out to me. Those moments are really important to own and learn from.
What do you love about what you do?
I love building relationships with young people. We share moments and get to talk about things that we like, love, don’t like about sex, relationships, gender, sexuality, and more. It’s a privilege to hear them share their frustrations and dreams and be part of their journeys.

What do you dislike?
I don’t like the urge to never stop working. It’s a struggle to find a sustainable balance.

What do you like to do in your free time to keep your life in balance?
I have a beautiful family (of choice) I’ve created, that I spend time with. We kick it at our homes, dinners, beaches, or wherever. I love to dance! I write stories and poetry. SNACKS. Sex and power play is everything. Crying is important.

What are some of the most memorable moments with your work?
It’s always amazing when a young person wears a look they want to, uses a name they identify with, or work towards a goal they dream of, and share these moments with me.

What triumphs and challenges have you faced as in your career, and what advice would you give to others pursuing a career off the beaten path?
It’s a struggle every day. Finding those people that can hold those moments with me and support me is super important. It feels really exciting when I take care of myself, probably one of the most radical parts of the work. I suppose my advice is to love yourself in whatever way that means to you.

What future projects do you have planned, and what are your long term goals?
I’d like to find a way for the work I do now to be sustainable. I’ve also been dreaming about mortuary school. A bike tour would be fun!
Check out Femmily’s Fierce Closet Tour if you haven’t yet:
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Comments

  1. Femmily, you’re fabulous. I love the way your own your own self. Took me years older than you are to do it 🙂 Keep on being a shining example (rather than a terrible warning)…

Trackbacks

  1. […] Craving more fashion inspiration? Meet fellow MsBehaved Style Icons  Shaun and A.J. Durand (aka Tranroid) and find out what’s in Femmily’s closet. […]

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