What Is Queering Trauma?


This space is one that seeks to disrupt and expand the mainstream conversation and discourse around trauma that pathologizes the individual who suffers rather than the culture that imposes the suffering.

⇒ This space is one that recognizes that much of what I have named, Mainstream Trauma Culture (MTC), imposes very limiting and sometimes false narratives around both trauma and “help”, offers support and help only via formalized systems of care that demand conformity and assimilation as proof of “mental health” as determined only by those in positions of authority and that which is defined by our culture as “help” is not always experienced as helpful and what is experienced as helpful is not universal and certainly not accessible to all.

This space is one that clearly recognizes that much of the public discourse, theory and languaging around trauma, mental health and psychology has been developed and continues to be developed by privileged academics, namely white men. This is reflected in MTC, in those who invest in it, uphold it and perpetuate its tenets. Much like the many other formalized systems and structures of “care” that exist within our society, those in the highest positions of privilege within our society and who are often the ones responsible for the trauma and oppression of others, also control the discourse, research, dialogue, scripts and narratives and, therefore, the culture around trauma, mental health and psychology and are regarded as both the authority on the subjects as well as the standard or default against which what is considered normative or “healthy” is measured. This also places those in a place of privilege and therefore perceived to be “mentally healthy” in the position of savior over those who are perceived as in need of “help”, healing or redemption.

⇒ This space is one that recognizes the role of religion as both a primary and secondary source of trauma and oppression in the lives of many. That many have been harmed directly by involvement religious fundamentalism, religious cults, organizations and churches and the humans in positions of authority within those structures and indirectly by immersion and indoctrination into a culture that promotes the performance of conservative Christian values, morals and demands for purity as normative. Many have also sought help from religious organizations, faith-based programs, gurus, etc. that resulted in further trauma and harm. All discussion of harm related to religion and religious experiences is welcome here including that which may be perceived by some as irreverent, blasphemous, transgressive, sacrilegious, or profane.

⇒ This space is one that views trauma itself as, at once, a violently dehumanizing and a deeply humanizing experience. And as such, one that often disrupts the trance and performance of “good” humaning that much of existing within a culture of whiteness and colonization demands.

⇒ This space is one that views trauma as an experience of abjection. As one that blurs the lines between self and that which has always been tightly held as “other”, as horrifying, as rejectable, as disgusting, wrong, immoral, against the law or dirty. These things are often held in the category of that which is unthinkable or unspeakable, and all that falls into these categories is welcome to be spoken of here, in this space.

⇒ This space is one that recognizes the lived experience of various forms of oppression and marginalization as traumatic It also recognizes the reverse in that trauma itself can be a marginalizing factor in the life of human beings and that, in the very least, the ways in which marginalizations intersect and interplay can contribute to the access one has to resources that mitigate the effects of both trauma and marginalization.  

⇒ This space is one that recognizes that MTC and “help” and helping professionals ,as defined by MTC, has very little to no framework for the role of oppression and structural harm in the perpetual trauma of existing within a white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist culture and focuses almost solely on the “healing” of individual incidents of personal trauma that have occurred in the past to the exclusion of what it means to live in an oppressive and ,therefore, traumatic culture.

⇒ This space is one that recognizes that, like other aspects of human life, much of the experience of trauma has been reduced to a single or a few dominant narratives which are “allowed” into the collective awareness and that there are those of us whose stories are simply too confronting and costly to be granted space within the discourse for examination lest they reveal implications from which the culture, society and it’s relentless need to maintain the status quo cannot be absolved.  

⇒ This space is one that recognizes that most trauma and all complex trauma takes place within relationship. This is especially true for those of us who have experienced abuse at the hands of our parents and caregivers and without the benefit of other, mitigating relationships and attachments. However, we live in a society that shuns the collective and community, worships the nuclear family and exalts and demands  “personal responsibility ” and therefore relegates the processing of trauma and deep witnessing to private spaces that are not always experienced as helpful, nor are they accessible to all while shaming the need for such spaces. It essentially insists that those of us who struggle in relationship and with connection and attachment “fix” ourselves, in isolation, what can only be repaired in relationship, before being perceived as worthy of love or “healthy” enough for relationship. This is a space which recognizes and names this as gaslighting and victim blaming.

⇒ This space is one that recognizes that the choice to share personal stories of trauma is an individual one and that one is both allowed to speak of one’s own traumatic experiences in whatever way feels best AND that one is never required to speak of them.  This space also recognizes that we live in a culture that both exploits the stories of those who survive traumatic experiences as a kind of “inspiration porn,” while also often rejecting the messy, human, costly and confronting content of such stories and the abjection they impose. This often results in a kind of shunning of the very people who survive (or don’t) and that choosing to share can often result in a sense of being used, marginalized and othered due to the listener’s inability be with abjection and to be present in reality with the one who shares. Personal stories of trauma are welcome to be spoken in this space and and will be held with great dignity and care and all of the space that such stories are worthy of AND speaking personal stories of trauma is never the expectation nor required here. And those seeking inspirational stories of triumph over adversity and trauma will need to find that in one of the many other spaces that exist for that purpose.

⇒ This space is one that is, above all things, an experimental and transgressive container and space that will be allowed to shift, change and evolve over time and in whatever ways feel true to it’s purpose. 

⇒ This is a space in which curiosity, questioning, close examination and critique of culture, deconstruction of language and alternate explanation, lived experience and points of view and the multiple and often shifting stories and narratives that make up a life, an event or an experience are centered and highly valued.

⇒ This is a space in which that which is culturally considered taboo, forbidden, controversial, unspeakable, transgressive, subversive and abject is welcome and will be openly and unapologetically spoken of in plain language and not the often sanitized, loaded, binaristic, gaslighting and pathologizing language and tone of MTC and psychology.

This space will not be one that claims to know anything with certainty, any one way of doing things, getting better, recovering, healing, nor “the answers” as though those things exist as fixed, universal, desired by and accessible to all. And while ideas and experiences of “help” or healing are welcome to be spoken of here, stating that something is universally true or helpful for all is not.

This space is not and does not pretend to be an academic space. This is a space that centers the voices of those who identify as having survived and/or are surviving or, perhaps identify as having not survived/are not surviving, the effects of serious, long-term, complex, relational and  developmental trauma and is intended as something that may expand and evolve into a collective or community solely for those who have known the reality of this kind of trauma.  

⇒ This space is one that recognizes each human being, their stories, their choices and their lives as belonging to themselves and resists MTC and the culture-at-large’s definitions of and demands for “recovery”, containment and clean and clearly defined narratives of healing and redemption. This space recognizes that the work of the honest examination of trauma, oppression and systemic harm and their tremendous and profound effects is a messy one that can sometimes result in a kind of falling apart, of coming undone, of unravelling, of sometimes even reckoning or a series of any and all of these things and that one is not required to then put everything back together, clean up the mess, reconstruct, have an epiphany or deeper insight and know the meaning or the point of anything before being seen as someone worthy of speaking or contributing to the conversation. Nor is it a requirement that any human choose to “do the work” at all to be worthy of showing up, of being heard, of being seen in whatever way feels best.

⇒ This space does not exist for the purpose of the education nor the inspiration of those who do not know the reality of this kind of trauma and what is written here is not written for those who do not know what it means to live a life marked or affected by serious, complex trauma. Those who have not experienced or do not identify as having experienced this type of trauma and who choose to come here to read and learn will need to find engagement outside of this space for further discourse and/or explanation.

[Photo by Oleksii Hlembotskyi on Unsplash]