3. Trans Herbalism with Ayelet Adelman

An interview with trans herbalist and educator, Ayelet Adelman

In Margins I wrote about a herbal clinic run by trans and queer folk that forms part of a resistance movement against state oppression. In real life, my gorgeous sister Ayelet has created a herbal medicine clinic centering trans femmes and trans women in so-called New York City. In this episode, we talk about trans herbalism, Jewish connections, transmisogyny in holistic health care and choosing relationship with plants and life around us.

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Ayelet Adelman dreams of trans women thriving & schemes about ways that biomedicine, holistic medicine and plant magic can work in synergy towards this end. Ayelet is a proud anti-zionist Ashkenaziyah, a Jewish educator, ritualizer & language nerd. She is a clinical herbalist & a research loving herb yenta – gossiping & matchmaking her way towards full bodily autonomy & self determination, with the hopes of further solidifying relationships of reciprocity between marginalized communities, plants and the non-human world as a whole. Currently based in occupied Lenapehoking / Brooklyn, Ayelet is white, middle class, able bodied & neurodivergent. She believes in an abolitionist future of Indigenous sovereignty & the necessary work of restoring & remediating this earth.

Show notes

Ayelet’s instagram here

Ayelet’s shout outs:

Herbal Teachers – Formal & Informal 

Writing / Podcasts 


Kes Otter Lieffe:
Hi, I’m Kes Otter Lieffe and welcome to Margins and Murmurations, the podcast. If you enjoy the podcast please share it with your friends. I don’t have social media so this is the best way for people to find out about me. If you’d like to know more about my work, you can check out otterlieffe.com.

So in my novels, I wrote about a herbal clinic run by trans and queer folk that forms part of a resistance movement against state oppression. In real life, my gorgeous sister Ayelet has created a herbal medicine clinic centering trans femmes and trans women in so-called New York City. In this episode, we talk about trans herbalism, Jewish connections, transmisogyny in holistic health care and choosing relationship with plants and life around us.

Ayelet Adelman dreams of trans women thriving & schemes about ways that biomedicine, holistic medicine and plant magic can work in synergy towards this end. Ayelet is a proud anti-zionist Ashkenaziyah, a Jewish educator, ritualizer & language nerd. She is a clinical herbalist & a research loving herb yenta – gossiping & matchmaking her way towards full bodily autonomy & self determination, with the hopes of further solidifying relationships of reciprocity between marginalized communities, plants and the non-human world as a whole. Currently based in occupied Lenapehoking / Brooklyn, Ayelet is white, middle class, able bodied & neurodivergent. She believes in an abolitionist future of Indigenous sovereignty & the necessary work of restoring & remediating this earth.

Hi darling!

Hi. Oh, my goodness. We’re doing it. It’s happening.

I’m so “ang-xcited.” As you said before, I’m ang-xcited.

K: I’m ang-xcited too. Yeah. So I’m going to make this kind of a question that I ask everybody, which is to tell me something about the other-than-human, more-than-human nature around you at the moment. I know you’re in a big city, but are there any cute animals or plants or others around you? How about the nonhumans in your life at the moment?

A: Yeah, I love that question. Yeah. So I am here in Brooklyn, or what is colonially known as Brooklyn and is the historical lands of the Monsie, Lenape and Kanarcy nations. And I’m here in a neighborhood called Flat Bush, and it is a gentrified part of Flat Bush, which is called Ditmas Park. And I’m looking down the street, and these streets are known for these ginormous sycamore trees. And I don’t know, I just love these trees so much. Their bark is really, really unique. It’s like, is this bark peeling? Is it supposed to be that way? It just has this really unique kind of greenish side to it and brownish side to it. And it’s just like a glorious, glorious thick trunk tree, which kind of towers over these houses, which I really appreciate. And it’s this neighborhood where there are a lot of, I would say Victorian mansions and a lot of more rich, white, conservative people who I don’t know, who are a little bit more like, let’s call the cops for noise complaints or whatever, or let’s call the city to deal with just very kind of like, let’s use state violence to solve problems. Right? And what I like about these trees is they just like, they’re the bosses of these streets. Like, they tower over these Victorian mansions in really immense and very clear way. There’s no ambiguity. Like, they’re the boss. They are the literal boss. They control the weather of the streets. The sidewalks are all bumpy. Their roots are just like I would be surprised if people don’t have some kind of foundation issues. I mean, I don’t know how sycamore roots grow, but these trees are the boss of these streets.

K: Yeah. I can really imagine them. Yeah. That’s a gorgeous story about a plant. Thank you so much. Which brings us to plants! Oh, my gosh, I could listen to you talking about plants all day. So you’re running a herbal clinic in so called New York, and it’s centered on trans femmes, trans women and yeah, tell us more about the clinic, but also how did you get into that? Where did your passion for herbal medicine and herbs and plants come from?

A: Yeah, totally. So I feel like it’s funny. I’m always like I’m very active on Instagram, and I’ve had so many posts where it’s like, this latest project has motivated me to get my clinic together. And so stay tuned very soon for the grand opening. And it’s just like, I keep on putting out posts like that, and I think it’s actually going to happen soon. And that’s exciting because I think it feels very real to me. I’ve been seeing clients. I have a lot more infrastructure in place than I did in the past. And that has been key for me with my particular ADHD neurodivergence, just to like, be in this place of making the work easy for me and not like, adjusting myself too much or bending myself backwards to do things that are hard for me. So that’s been really key recently. So I’m excited about my budding clinic and I guess my story with herbalism. I love starting the story with something I told my dear friend névé, who is your friend as well, and part of our little cohort that we have and more on her later. But I think the first day I met her, I told her this thing where I was like it was around the time where me and my classmates at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, which is where I most recently went to school, we’re writing our bios to kind of attract clients. And everybody had these stories. Like, I started talking with plants since I was four years old, or like, growing up in the green pastures of the countryside. I always knew that I would be a plant person or a tree talker. And I’m saying this with no irony and no disrespect. This is amazing. This is fucking incredible that people had those kinds of relationships. And along with that, it made me think of like, oh, wait a second, we’re supposed to go back in time and say that we’ve always been something.

K: It sounds like a familiar narrative.

A: Sounds like a familiar narrative, exactly. And so I don’t know what’s there. I don’t know. I don’t know, as we say, what’s the Torah there? Or if there is any. But it did occur to me that just as narratives around transness are vast and abundant and contains multitudes, and there’s no one right trans narrative, it’s not that the further back in time you go with this particular relationship with this part of yourself, the more valid or the more legitimate it becomes. I mean, that is the way it is according to the gatekeepers, but we all know that that’s not true, and that’s a way to that is a form of suppression or violence.

K: And does that same gatekeeping apply to herbalism? Then? It’s like, if you weren’t raised by dandelions, you’re not a good herbalist.

A: Yeah, you know, I don’t want to say that there’s a parallel. I really want to be careful around that. I think it’s just like, kind of I think it’s more just like it’s a funny thing. I don’t think that there’s that parallel, honestly. So I think just as there are many ways to be trans or many temporal relationships with transness. I think that there are many temporal relationships with connecting to plants and plant medicine and plant magic and all these different realms.

K: And what’s yours? If you want to share.

A: Definitely I do want to share. Yeah. And so similar to, like, coming out as trans relatively late in life, I think that my connection with plants also started a little bit later in life. I grew up mostly in cities and industrial landscapes, and my mom is a medical doctor. And so I grew up with this approach, which was very kind of like any kind of ailments, any kind of, I don’t know, as we would say in herbalism, imbalance. There was a pharmaceutical remedy for it. And so I found myself as a young person on a lot of different medications, especially pharmaceutical medications. I’m not saying this as a way, like, as you may have mentioned in my bio, I strongly believe in the synergy between biomedicine or industrial medicine and herbal medicine. So I am not anti medication. I am not anti pharmaceuticals. I’m anti pharmaceutical industry in the medical industrial complex. But I think that there was a way in which growing up with so much medication as kind of like the solution to anything from allergies sore throat, acid reflux to things like, in my emotional world as well, medication became, like, the primary solution. And I think that coming from this place of just being extremely reliant on medications, which, again, I’m not against. I currently am reliant on medications, but I became very interested in finding other alternatives to that. Just like, this question of, like, there’s got to be some other way it can’t be that for every single elements I have, for every single feeling I feel, that I need to lean on pharmaceuticals. I think I grew up for a large portion of my life in occupied Palestine on the so called Israel side. And I began, there’s a culture there. There’s a lot of medicinal plants that grow around there, and there’s kind of more of a culture of kind of making tea from herbs. And so I would do that a lot. I worked at this community garden or I worked near this community garden, which you may or may not know about,

K: Where we in fact met.

A: Where we, in fact met.

K: A million years ago.

A: A million years ago, yeah. Beautiful connection. I would go to these meetings, working with kids, and my coordinator at the time would just pick herbs from the garden and make tea from them. And it was based, and it was anything from, like, mallow to nettles to thyme to zatar and things like that. And it was kind of funny. We were making it, we had boiling water, and then we would pour it into these plastic cups, which I’m just like I’m sure wasn’t like, I’m glad that City Sanitation, I don’t know, never visited that place. But yeah, was it just like, my first experience being like, oh, there is medicine growing around me.

K: I don’t know how great that soil was either, really.

A: What’s that? I don’t know how great that soil was either, really.

K: We just kind of squatted a very kind of slimy piece of city and grew a bunch of plants. It was beautiful, and probably better to have some beautiful plants, but oh, my gosh.

A: Yeah, totally. There were a lot of things, but there was like this. Even with that, it was like this. There are plants growing in the cracks of the pavement of this industrial city, whether that city was Yafa-Tel Aviv, or New York City- Lenapehoking. There are plants literally going in the cracks in the pavement that are medicinal. And I don’t know, it’s funny to say that are medicinal. I mean, everything is medicinal, both from a sense of, like, most plants that one stumbles across will have some kind of medicinal effect. And also, plants are medicine because they exist and plants are medicine because they exist in their environment, in their habitat, and they’re in a reciprocal connection with the other living and nonliving beings around them. So it’s funny to be like, oh, this is meant to have this kind of lens of like, oh, this is medicinal. But it’s just like, everything’s medicinal, everything contributes to our well being, whether we’re, like, picking them and making tea out of them or, like, chewing them and swallowing them or not.

K: It’s true. And I think there’s such a this is medicinal to humans in a specific way for specific things, in the way that we conceive it or something. It’s like, maybe it’s really great for nematode worms living in the soil next to the roots of this plant. And that’s absolutely medicine. Just we don’t care about.

A: Totally. Yeah. No, I’m really for this expansion of this very kind of, like, entropy centric lens. And I owe that desire for expansion to, among other things or among other people, you. I think this is something that these are conversations that we’ve had a lot of over the years. And so I just want to take a moment to just appreciate your wisdom around that.

K: I love you.

A: I love you. I want to say one more thing about my story and just like to connect this a little bit with transness. The first experience, I moved to New York city in 2010, 2011. This is kind of random, but I got diagnosed with latent tuberculosis, and I decided for the first time in my life to see an herbalist. And that herbalist was Jacoby Ballard, who is a wonderful transmasc nonbinary herbalist. Like a trans person was my first relationship with accessing herbal medicine. And a few years later it’s funny how it’s like, I got tuberculosis, and then I wanted to access plant medicine. A few years later, I broke my arm, and I was at -this is such a random story – I was at this rainbow gathering, not because I wanted to be there. But because I –

K: I forgot about that!

A: I know. Yeah, but because my friend’s brother, she was supposed to meet her brother there, and we were there. We couldn’t find her brother anywhere. That’s, like, besides the point. But I went to the medicine tent there, and the first person who I see in the medicine tent was this wonderful, gorgeous transfeminine person who’s now a dear friend of mine named Vilde Chaya Fenster-Ehrlich. And it was that encounter with Vilda. I remember walking away from the herb tents after having this really gorgeous conversation with Vilda, turning towards my friend Audrey and saying, I want to take an herbal medicine class. And I ended up taking an herbal medicine class with Jacoby Ballard, who was my first herb teacher. I took it with my friend Emiliano, who is also this wonderful trans herbalist. So it’s just like my initial connection to the world of plant medicine was with trans people. I would also just I don’t know, I’m – be prepared to just be showered with love throughout this talk, because, like, also, I feel like our connection was very important in that way. And so it’s just like, everybody I feel like most of the people who are kind of like my plant medicine doulas were other trans people.

K: It’s good that it’s an audio podcast. You can’t see me blushing. Your clinic, which you keep talking about is not existing. And I believe that it already is existing because you’re already seeing clients. It’s already fabulous. It’s totally real, but budding, as you call it, it’s centered on trans people, but specifically trans femmes. And yeah, I’m curious why you made that choice.

A: Yeah, well, in case you don’t know this, I am myself, trans feminine. I am a trans woman. I think that there is this way that definitely trans people as a whole, but I believe especially trans women and transfeminine people similar to the way that we’re often excluded from spaces in both mainstream and kind of like subculture radical spaces and queer spaces, whether overtly or covertly. I just have noticed the fact that I don’t see a lot of trans women in herbalism or in holistic health care spaces, or I didn’t many years ago. I’m seeing more and more of us there these days. But it was just like, I would go to these workshops and people would say, trans healthcare, and the person running it would be often a wonderful trans masculine person who would say really brilliant things. But I think on the one hand, there was a flattening of just like, being trans masc and being transformed are different materially, and we are often looking not to like, flatten experiences within those categories. Like, transfemmes amongst ourselves have vastly different experiences from each other, both desire dependent and positionality and health status dependent. So not to flatten those experiences, but as kind of a sweeping generalization, I think it’s safe to say that even in terms of what kind of care we’re seeking from holistic health spaces. I think that there are two layers at play. One is in terms of access and the other is in terms of substance. And I think in terms of access. I think if you go to a place and you either don’t see people like you there or the people who aren’t like you don’t know really how to deal with you, then I’m not going to go to that place. And even if it’s like holistic healthcare. Which I know in theory makes my body feel good or feel better. I think the combination of the fact that holistic health care is not subsidized. So we’re going to have to pay out of pocket or be reliant on, like, the generosity of the organizations offering this. The fact that we it’s going to be a conscious choice to access holistic health care. We’re not going to pay the relatively less money that we often not always have for a place that both doesn’t have a presence there, doesn’t know how to relate to us in a ways that feel respectful often. And even if those two categories are correct or are present, I think that there’s just there’s like a lack of like even just from a numbers perspective, the lower number of trans women who are able to access holistic health care or who are working in the holistic health care field. I think that people know a little bit less about what kind of care we’re seeking, both whether it’s like physical body modification, transition related, or if it’s psychospiritual related, if it’s how to do it. People often don’t even think about transmisogyny as a particular form of violence that is separate from transphobia. Or if they do, I think people are like, kind of can be a little less informed than I think is necessary for I can speak for myself, for me to feel comfortable.

K: Yeah, that’s a very polite way to put it.

A: Yeah. And I say this with some care and some like, tough love, gentle nudging, that like that. I think non trans women do need to do better in terms of being competent in all these ways. I think I mentioned three layers. It’s like there needs to be more of us in these positions, of these organizational permissions or positions as providers. And if there aren’t? If there aren’t, then I think people really need to raise question marks. Like, why aren’t there trans women in my holistic health care setting? Why are there certain kinds of identities and positionalities and not trans woman? And if there are trans women, then, like, are these I don’t know. Like, I feel like I can access these spaces. I am able bodied, I’m white, I’m financially privileged in certain ways or from a middle class background. I’m skinny, I’m not a sex worker. So it’s like people need to ask these questions and I think need to do more thorough questioning of why trans women, and specifically marginalized trans women aren’t in these spaces.

K: Yeah, it’s super important. Yeah, I definitely hear you with going into a place and knowing that somebody has some common experiences with you, or not even just the relevance, particularly when it’s about medical things and herbal medical things. Sometimes people just don’t have any idea what happens with transfemme bodies. I mean, as you say, we’re all over the map. But yes, there are just certain things where it’s like, yeah, there’s always access. Even if you can’t access it, is it safe? Even if you can access it and it’s safe, is it even relevant? And I think there’s something there’s always kind of more work to be done there’s. Yeah, I guess part of the solution then is training for people who are, for example, non trans women. And I know you’ve done that work as well, and then also supporting transfemme centered clinics like yours. I mean, how do you see those changes happening?

A: Yeah, I honestly think I think training is really important, and I have done that in the past. I honestly think it needs to be more of a bottom up approach. And it’s like so much trans women and trans have so much wisdom and so much intelligence, and in particular when it comes to caring for each other and caring for our bodies. And I think what often happens is I don’t know how to say this exactly, but just like, we don’t get the space to actually put time and attention into caring for each other because we’re so busy either trying to survive, trying to make a living, or caring for other people who are not transfemmes. And I think that the more that we can do the kind of work that we’re already doing and I think of holistic health care as really expansive. So in terms of, like, I think that there are trans woman herbalists. I have a dear friend who is in massage school, and you are a massage therapist, and I know trans women therapists. And I heard of this one trans girl in Portland, Oregon, who opened a sugar waxing clinic. And I have a dear friend named Zora Berman in Western Mass who is an electrology school. And I think that just like all these we’re already doing the work, and it’s just we need the resources we need to be able to channel our energy towards caring for each other in this particular way in order for that wisdom to be able to take hold and have a real material effect on our lives and our health and our bodies and our well being.

K: Yeah. So we talked a little bit about training, and I know that you’ve been moving more and more into the space of being a teacher, which I fucking love, and yeah, tell us more. What are the subjects you’ve been teaching about recently? What are you into? Tell me everything.

A: Okay. Then if I tell you everything. I also have to tell you that I have a dear friend, dear beloved friend, who one day took me into the woods outside of Bristol and taught me how to be a teacher, specifically a language teacher. But also on that walk, I remember we had this moment where we were talking about plants and you talked about your relationship with Mugwort, and it was very beautiful. Anyways, I just want to shout out to you again for being such a huge ever present teacher and cheerleader. I’m just like, if we’re going to talk about teaching, then we got to give credit where credit is due.

K: Thanks.

A: Yeah, but it’s true. I do love teaching. I have that a little bit in my biological family as well. My dad is a professor, my brother is a teacher, and then my other brother is a healthcare provider, and my mom is a healthcare provider. So I’m just like, what if I do like, Jewish teaching, health care? It’s just like, why don’t I integrate everything together?

K: Just makes sense.

A: Yeah. And my dad teaches about Judaism and that’s kind of a realm, which I feel really excited about. So I grew up very Jewish, and I kind of have had a few moments over the past, I would say seven to eight years of reconnecting with Judaism after many years of being estranged, mostly because of Jewish fundamentalism and Zionism and the meaning point between those two things. But I’ve had some profound moments of reconnection with Judaism. And what I have found especially potent is the way in which plants and plant medicine show up in various Jewish texts, whether they’re kind of more canonical religious texts or more recent, kind of like Ashkenazi or my own Ashkenazi folk medicine text. I’m also really interested in reading about different Sephardi and Arab Jewish folklore medicinal practices as well, although those are not my own, which I cannot claim. But all of that whole realm really interests me. I have felt very excited to teach about, I guess, like, most of my teaching has been in the realm of either Judaism and plants or the realm of transness and plants. And what I got to do very recently at this kind of radical, queer, Jewish land based gathering called [?], is I got to incubate this idea that I’ve been percolating on for a while, which is, what if I talk about Judaism and plants and transness? Which is like I’m like, yes. It’s like, how can I combine all three together? And that was an exciting thing for me. So it was a workshop that I really enjoyed and I’m really excited about working on more. Which is kind of like the relationship between body autonomy struggles. Both in the realm of abortion and contraception on the one hand. And trans bodies. And identity autonomy on the other hand. Through the lens of plants. And specifically through the lens of plants. As mentioned in this particular Jewish text called the Talmud and some subsequent other rabbinical works. But also I was able to sneak in some cool stuff about plants with hormonal activity or affinity in the non human animal world as well.

K: Which, when you told me about it, it just sounded like the funnest thing to research that I can possibly imagine.

A: So much fun reading. I had so much fun articles about that. Oh, my God. Yeah, I remember talking to you about it. And also that was inspired by your work around queer ecology and our mutual friends Anja’s, work around queer plants and shout out to your coloring book and Queer Plants zine

K: That I’ll be making next week, in fact, with all of Anja’s gorgeous illustrations.

A: Yeah, totally. So big shout out to that. So, yeah, I think I’ve just been really enjoying I enjoy a deep dive, and I’ve been enjoying asking myself these questions like, can plants be supportive in trans woman and transcends transition? Or wellbeing, have plants been used for hormonal, what we would now call hormonal related things in Jewish text? Do nonhuman animals, consume plants to regulate their own endocrine system? And so these are just like, different questions that I’ve been asking myself and different deep dives that I’ve been on, and it’s just been, like, so fun and so incredible that I’ve had some outlets to share that, and I’m looking forward to more.

K: You do love a deep dive.

A: I do love a deep dive, yeah.

K: I wanted to pull out the words bodily autonomy and agency because I feel like they’re like threads running through a lot of the work that you’re doing, and particularly with related to holistic health, plant medicines, plant magic, and transness. And I’m curious where the connection is there for you, like concretely, what does that look like? How do those things show up in the work that you’re doing?

A: Yeah, that’s such a good question. So there’s this way in which I feel like trans people are presented with this false binary that they have to choose in many ways, more ways than one. But the particular binary I’m thinking of is either do nothing or surrender yourself on the one hand, or surrender yourself to the medical industrial complex. There is already infinite space between those two binaries in ways that are already present. And I just really love the ways that plants can offer entry points into the kind of, like, vast expanse that is not even between those two binaries, because those two ends don’t really exist. But I’m just really interested as plants as an entry point, as a way of kind of disrupting this binary. And I’ll give you a few examples, which I think some might be a little bit more abstract and some might be a little bit more concrete. I just want to shout out to this wonderful trans woman herbalist named Josefine Parker or Voyager, who articulated part of this in this manuscript that she is writing or has written called Wild Transition. And she talks a lot about this space of this kind of, like, false idea that in order to just on the end of the spectrum of choosing kind of biomedical interventions, whether it’s pharmaceutical hormones or surgery, this false sense of, like, needing to totally surrender to that, which I think the biomedical establishment does a very good job of kind of driving that point home. And they do it in part for some reasons which I think are understandable. Like, if you’re going to have surgery, which is like this huge process that your body goes through, then there are certain risks that they don’t want you to take, especially with regards to things that have to do with blood and bleeding and things like that. And so there are herbs that kind of can increase bleeding or sin the blood and be anticlotting, which I think that’s totally reasonable. I would not recommend a client take a bunch of willow bark or other kind of blood thing herbs a few days before surgery. So I don’t want to like, disqualify all of that. But on the other hand, I think that there is this impression with the biomedical establishment in general and surgery in particular, that herbs are kind of like either inherently dangerous or we just don’t know anything about them or not enough research has been done. And of course, like hundreds and thousands of years of life documented and undocumented and clinical experience with people, whether in traditional medical settings or otherwise, using herbs and having this knowledge and having this wisdom and having this relationship does not count to them. I think that there are all these ways in which even in a situation such as surgery, where there is so much surrender involved, I mean, you’re literally like getting drugged. There’s trauma happening to your body. You wake up disoriented. You don’t have agency over yourself. So I’m really interested in the entry points where in what seems like kind of a sharp, like, swing to one end of this, like, do nothing or surrender to biomedical interventions, that there are entry points through herbs and that can grant some level of agency. And do I have time for one more example in that regard?

K: Absolutely.

A: Great. So I did a bunch of interviews for this transfer book that’s coming out. Shout out to the transfer book. I will name the editors at the end, but they are all dear Vilde, Emiliano Deshonna, but I’m writing a piece for the herb book about utilizing herbs and certain surgeries that trans women and transfemmes go through. And I interviewed a bunch of people who did use herbs, whether in the form of teas or oils or creams or multiple examples of using herbs in surgery recovery. And I was interviewing a few different people, and each one of them at some point talks about how, regardless of, like, the effect that the herbs were having, and sometimes the herbs were having this really healing effect, that the act of having this relationship with herbs, taking herbs, was huge for them in this moment where they had the least agency over their bodies, perhaps in their entire lives. And that was a thread that came up organically in ways that felt like really, by the time the third person started talking about it, I started to gleefully laugh. I was like, okay, this is the thing. I know what you’re about to say, but I think that those entry points are really, really potent even in a situation where there is so much surrender involved to the medical industrial complex. And in terms of the other side of things, in terms of people who choose not to take, not to utilize the medical industrial complex, I think that I’m very influenced by Vilda, who I’ve mentioned already with her framing of I want to pull this up for a second. She talks about in one of her presentations of gender affirming, herb magic. And this really struck me because I think it offers an expansion to what I think people often think about when we talk about trans herbalism. And I think that she talks about how, like, feelings around gender and experience are woven from many different layers, but don’t always have to do with, like, hormones, body modifications, but can have to do with things like emotional temperament, cultural meanings and associations. And there are many ways that herbs can kind of bring in what feels gender right to different people. And so just like if and I think that herbs can be potent allies in these realms. And so if part of my personal gender feeling is that I feel or I want to feel a lightness of being in an open heart, and Rose glyceride allows me to access that, then despite not having hormonal or direct body modifying actions, then Rose glyceride is a transherb because a trans person is using it to feel better in their bodies. And I think that that’s like another layer of agency that I think is really awesome because it’s not only about shifting physical appearance of our bodies. It’s about, I don’t know, for lack of better words, like feeling good. It’s about, I don’t know, like regulating our digestion. That’s a way of inviting agency.

L: And it’s about relationship, right? I think there’s something in there. It’s like if we’re reducing herbs to they have this component, it has this physical effect on some humans. And if we’re reducing transness to transition, I think both of those kind of those ways of reducing things can be complexified. I don’t know if that’s a word or unflattened, where in fact, there’s a lot more to a trans experience than just transition. There’s a lot more to herb relationship, to herb and healing and support sometimes. I mean, I think that really speaks to me. I just definitely will be going on I don’t know, a stressful medical visit or taking the underground or something. And I definitely have some herbs in my pocket. They’re not doing anything to me medically in that moment, but they’re in my pocket and they’re little friends who you can take with you. And I have a relationship with them and I grow them and I love them and I think there’s just so many layers to it and yeah, there’s such a danger in a way of it being very reduced. Yeah, I love that that is kind of on the table and something to talk about and they’re like, no, let’s make it really complex. Let’s deal with all the parts of being human and plant because we can.

A: Totally, absolutely. And I think especially with trans women, marginalized people in general, this way of cultivating that relationship is in itself, I think, really powerful medicine because I think so often, like, relationships in all forms are kept in a way from us, whether it’s through like transphobia transmisogyny or it’s about like having to work harder for survival or fight harder for survival depending on like positionality. But I think the fact that we can have relationships with plants and nonhuman beings around us I think is really, really, really powerful. So I really appreciate you bringing in this aspect of like plant medicine as one of many tools of relationship building.

K: I love that. Yeah, that’s really beautiful. For me that’s been some of the most healing stuff that happened was connection and relationship like that’s everything really.

A: Yeah.

K: And as you say, it’s so hard to access it. We’re not really allowed to and gatekeeping is a thing and there is an agency and just being like, well, I’m going to do it anyway.

A: Yeah, totally. And I just want to add another layer to that where I know from personal knowledge that your relationship definitely does not only go one way where you are tending land at the moment, you’re growing a lot of the plants that you have a relationship with. And I think it is really important that that’s another piece of it. That it’s not a one way relationship where it’s like we also have to continually ask the questions of like, how can I show up for plants and the non human world? I mean and the human the living world. I will say as a whole, this relationship of reciprocity. And I know you as somebody who is really I mean, you’ve always been in that relationship and I’m really excited for this current manifestation and solidification of that relationship of you like literally growing a lot of the medicine. And I think that that’s just another important piece of the relationship that it’s not one way. And I think that it’s also not only not one way, but I think the both ways aspect of it isn’t like okay, the plans gives me this thing, therefore I shall give them this thing. That’s not how friendships work. We just show up for each other and it’s like we love each other and we show up for each other. And I think that there is something really nourishing in the tending of our environment as a whole, which is not why we do it. Not for the nourishment. But it is part of the story. Yeah, totally.

K: Yeah. I have all the feels. How do people find out more about your work and then you can shout out to other people you’ve been meaning to shout out.

A: Yeah. So my website is still in the making, but you can find me on Instagram. If you can find me past the algorithm these days. Yeah. I am accepting clients. You can contact me if I don’t have a website by the time this podcast comes out. And knowing you, it’ll probably come out sooner than I have a website.

K: Tonight!

A: Yeah. Then you can contact me for consult at ayelet dot hashachar at protonmail dot com.

K: Perfect. Yeah. I don’t have social media, so I have to borrow people’s phones every now and then just so that I can look at your Instagram because it’s so gorgeous. And then people are like, Ayelet has a gorgeous new photo. I’m like, oh, I need to go and get a phone.

A: That’s so sweet. The website is budding. My practice exists. The website is budding.

K: Okay. All right. Yeah. Can’t wait. It’s just going to be full of gorgeous photos of you. Yeah, I think the world is ready for that. And maybe some plants.

A: Thank you. Yeah. Got to do some coworking days and get that shit together.

K: Can’t wait.

A: Yeah. So important projects that people should know about and support. I know you’ve mentioned a few, but anything else you’d like to mention, then I’ll put it in. There are so many important projects you can follow that also on Instagram. Trans Herb Book. The editors are wonderful people. Vilde Chaya Fenster-Ehrlich, Emiliano Lemus, Deshonna. Whose last time I’m forgetting. But they also go by Spirit Ryda in their practitioner life. Other projects I just taught at the Incredible Garden of Gender Euphoria, organized on this land project in so called Quebec, organized by Névé Dumas and Anya, whose name, last name I’m forgetting. Other projects I want to shout out or just like is this a moment to shout out? Like inspirations and things like that?

K: Yes, absolutely.

A: Yeah. So a lot of thinking around, like, reciprocity with land and things like that. I learned a lot from this author named Robin Wall Kimerer, and especially her book Braiding Sweet Grass. Yeah. Have you read it?

K: I have. So gorgeous.

A: Oh, yeah. It’s gorgeous, right?

K: The most.

A: Yeah, it’s incredible. So I feel just like, shout out to her work around that this is like, around I’m interested in exploring, but I listen to this podcast called For the Wild Sometimes, and there was this indigenous scientist named Dr. Max I don’t know how to pronounce this person’s last name, LiBoirn. And this scientist I don’t know what pronouns this person uses researches plastics and just. Like. Blew my mind in terms of talking about plastics and the plastic industry and the plastisphere and plastics as part of living organisms and just this way of thinking about plastics that I’m really interested in incorporating. I don’t know. As somebody who consumes and creates a lot of medical waste in the form of plastics. And thinking about plastic surgery. Which is not plastic. Which does often use. Like. Quote. Unquote. Plastic. I just like that analysis was very exciting for me to think about. Oh, my goodness. Who else do I want to shout out? There is other people in the trans herbal realm. There is this person named Tory Scott who I don’t know how to contact them, but I believe they’re based in Puerto Rico, but they used to put out a lot of resources specifically for BIPOC trans people on the realm of herbalism. Yeah, I want to shout out, I have many teachers, and some teachers who are especially dear to me are Janet Kent and Dave Meesters, Dori Midnight, who also put together an amazing I don’t want to say one of the first people, but one of the first people I know of who wrote about herbalism specifically for trans masculine people in 2008 or something like that. Yeah. And a lot of herbalists who have been doing the work for years. I live right next to this apothecary called Sacred Vibes apothecary run by Karen Rose. A lot of these people who I’m mentioning, I don’t know if they would identify as trans themselves, but I know that they have supported a lot of trans people with herbalism. Karen Sanders and Sarah Holmes of the Blue Otter School. Yeah, those are some people who I can think about at the moment. Oh, I wish I could shout out the whole advisory team of the transfer book. We’re about nine people, so I don’t think this is the moment to do that. But I just think everybody there is doing incredible work around us. Yeah, I’m going to keep it at that for now and maybe add more with your notes. But those are some people who I’ve learned from, whose work inspires me, I’m interested in making more connections with.

K: Thank you so much. What a gorgeous conversation. Thank you for bringing up so many memories as well of, like, stories that you’ve told me or stories that we’ve shared as well, and moments that we’ve been together. We spend so much time online, but we haven’t always. And yeah, it was just really gorgeous to recollect some of those moments. And I just feel like I’m just constantly learning from you. So thank you for constantly teaching me.

A: Same. I mean, shout out to you, Kes Otter Lieffe.

K: Stop…continue.

A: , and all the work you’re doing around this. And I’m looking forward to the Queer Plants book. The Queer Plants zine, your novels, which are really inspiring. I mean, babe, we met in a garden. We literally met in a garden.

K: On Tu B’Shevat.

A: On Tu B’Shevat. Exactly.

K: Gorgeous. Thank you so much love, thank you for your time. I love you.

A: Thank you so much. Much love to you. And thank you so much.