Let’s Create Safe Spaces for Transgender and Nonbinary Yogis

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For years, I stood behind the desk of a well-known yoga chain, watching as students hurried through the doors. They’d drop their canvas bags and jangling keys on the counter and exhale their names to me, eager as kids at a pool party to hop into class.

It was my job to tell new arrivals where the water fountain and studios were and direct them to the locker rooms—“men’s” or “women’s.” As a trans person and longtime yoga student and teacher, my stomach lurched each time someone was gendered. I asked one of my nonbinary (an umbrella term for genders other than male and female) students, Mel, to reflect on this experience: “I felt misunderstood and embarrassed,” they told me. “As an adult, I know how to find the correct locker room.”

The gender binary’s presence in contemporary yoga is based in the white, patriarchal norms of…

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