My conversation with Kai Cheng Thom left my heart full and my commitment to my integrity during the COVID19 crisis galvanized. I am so grateful for her time and energy sharing her personal and professional reflections about the end of the world as we know it.
Kai Cheng Thom is a Canadian writer and former social worker who has dual master's degrees in social work and couple and family therapy from McGill University. She has published four books to date: the novel “Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir in 2016 (which Emma Watson named for her feminist book club), the poetry collection “a place called No Homeland in 2017, a children's book, “From the Stars in The Sky to the Fish in the Sea” in 2017 and “I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World” in 2019, a book of essays centred on transformative justice. She is a storyteller in the lineage of change-makers, and her message is simple: we need to discover a revolutionary love. She speaks this message in poetry, in song and movement, in words delivered straight from my soul.
Kai Cheng is also a facilitator, consultant, and sensitivity reader and has been featured in Teen Vogue, the CBC, and The New York Times, CTV and the Social. She offers DEEP LOVE, not tough love advice in her Daily Xtra Column, “Ask Kai: Advice for the Apocalypse” to help you survive and thrive in a challenging world.
Find Kai Cheng:
A list of her books with purchase links
Ask Kai: Advice for the Apocalypse
Jane Clapp: 0:00
Welcome to clap with Jane with Jang Clap. I know some of the most interesting and inspiring humans that are helping to keep humanity afloat in their own unique ways, even in the middle of a crisis. I want you to meet them, too. Hi, everybody. Welcome Thio clap with Jane. I am so excited and up in somewhat nervous for hours because my guest today just has been blowing the mine. My mind. The more I dig into her work, the more I amazed at the breath in depth of her work. And if you met her in person, you would see that she lives and breathes everything that she talks about and writes about perform. So I have kind of changed Tom here. She's a Canadian writer and former social worker who was dual master's degrees in social work and couple and family therapy. Wrong McGill University. She has published four books, two dates, the novel Fierce Thumbs and a Tory Flyers, A dangerous Trans Girls Can fabulous memoir in 2016 which Emma what's a name for her feminist of clubs. The poetry collection, a place called No Homeland in 2017 Children spoke from the stars in the sky to the Fish in the Sea in 2017 and I Hope We Choose Love. The Trans Girls Notes From the End of the World in 2019 a book of essays centered on transfer formative justice. She's a storyteller in the lineage of change makers, and her message is simple. We need to discover a revolutionary love. She speaks this message and poetry and song and movement words Dover delivered straight from the soul. Chi Cheng is also facilitator, consultant and sensitivity reader and has been featured in Teen Vogue, the CBC, The New York Times, the TV on the Social. She offers Deep Love, not tough love advice in her daily extra column. Ask I've advice for the apocalypse. Let me help you survive and thrive in a challenging world. She is currently focusing her attention on the work of strengthening leftist and laboratory movements by addressing the waste that trauma and oppression prevent people from building strong loving relationships, which in turn stops activist movements from creating sustainable into a personal change. Her latest book, collection of essays, titled I Hope We Choose Love, dives deeply into the topics of transformative justice, Prison abolition, trauma, informed activism and building queer and trans futures. Her aim is to participate in a paradigm shift that moves beyond the simple politics of identity and diversity. She dreams of the movement that radically re envisions the way that we relate to one another. Thank you so much for being online today in the middle of Kobe. 19 crisis. Hi.
Kai Cheng Thom: 3:18
Hi, Jane. It's so nice to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me to speak on this podcast. There's really nothing I'd rather be doing. I think in the middle of, you know, the beginning of the middle of the beginning of covert 19 and the crisis it's bringing, ah, allover the world and then to us here in Janitor Turtle Island. So yeah, Thank you so much. I'm super grateful.
Jane Clapp: 3:39
Thank you so much. Um, it's one of the questions I ask the people who come on the podcast the 1st 1 so we can get to know you a little bit better from the inside is what are you listening into right now?
Kai Cheng Thom: 3:52
Oh, my goodness. So I love this question. Um, because it brings up this, like, really weird part of myself. That I never share with anyone, but always gonna want to. You know, I'm like, does anyone else out there relate to this? I have always had, like, this kind of strange thing where, um I very rarely, um, put anything in my ears unless, like, I'm, you know, recording a podcast or, um, talking to someone on the phone. I almost never listened to music unless its ambiance or I've gone to a concert or performance. Um, and I very rarely listen to podcasts unless, you know, there are friends or something like this. Something I have to listen to, like the radio. But yeah, I don't I don't make a practice of putting an ambient noise. And partly, I think it's like, just like a sensory thing. I struggle. Ah tau have focused until it landed on my body when there's background noise. Um, but also because of this, whenever I go jogging or you know whether when whenever I'm out in the world of the subway or whatever, whatever now I'm thinking about when the next time will be on the subway is Yeah, I, um I've learned to really value. Um, like just the noise of the world the sound of the world out there. And when I'm alone, the sound of silence This is the way this is really the only way. I think that I can hear myself thinking where that I can hear myself breathing here. You're my own heart beach. Um, it's in these moments when I'm by myself and hearing this the internal sounds of my thoughts of my body that I really start to get kind of interesting ideas or that I start to feel connected to, um, like something something bigger than myself. Um, and the kind of the amazing thing I I don't want to say a silver lining because I don't think there is a silver lining of covert 19 weeks. There aren't like silver linings are upsides to tragedies, right? Um but ah, but an interesting opportunity that comes through it is, um I've had so much downtime to listen to nothing except you know something and accept what's inside myself. And, you know, the sound of the cars outside the wind. And, um, you know, just getting deeper and deeper into that connectedness, which is bizarre and so necessary right now for me, at least when you know, we can't see your touch. Anyone in person?
Jane Clapp: 6:19
And are you comfortable sharing anything that you're noticing come up to your consciousness that you didn't know What's there?
Kai Cheng Thom: 6:27
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, um, I think, like a visceral sense of, um, what it's like to feel afraid without feeling anxiety. You know, I think you know, it would be very difficult for anyone, I think, to not feel fear in this moment. Whether that's like the dissociated fear of disconnection or denial or, you know, the really intense fear panic. Um, and you know what? Someone who's lived through a lot of just really intense, kind of dangerous situations in my life. Um, I felt a lot of anxiety in the past on dhe. Something really interesting. Something I think that you know, has potential. That I'm noticing now is I have fear. Like I'm I'm scared. Like I have a few symptoms now, you know, like hopefully they won't develop into anything. I'm particularly scared, Um, you know, about my left lens and, you know, for the for the planet in general. But I'm not anxious. Um, I'm really landing in this like, okay, It's possible to be connected to our fear without being lost in the chatter of anxiety. Um, so I super yeah, super. But I'm super valuing this tryingto trying to follow that thread.
Jane Clapp: 7:39
Yeah. Can you tell what the difference between fear and anxiety feels like in your body?
Kai Cheng Thom: 7:45
Oh, I love this. Yeah, let's let's see. Let me let me let me try and connect if it now, huh? You know what it is this, you know, anxiety for me, because, like, um, like a non stop racing like, um, tightness. Ah, all over the body and this kind of like, you know, kind of crawling and stealing. I don't know if other people have this, that this, like, sensation that worry is like crawling all over my skin. Um, and then there's fear inside that, but without it, to me, the fear feels like, um a little bit like an electric current, you know, like, I'm aware, but I'm studying it. Um, And, um, you know what a feeling to have, right? Like an acceptance, um, and accepted acceptance of the possibility of loss and death. Um, without running toward loss or death. Um, and that's been something I've been really aiming for it. And that's something I really kind of came together a bit for me in your course movement for trauma. Jane, if I if I could just, like, fell that two people a little bit, so you definitely didn't ask me to do, But I just want everyone to know about the day's work. What you do when you bring it, especially in level two of your movement. Which arm, of course, is that, um is the sense of being able to move inside or like to move through? Um, earthquake architecture? Er is a word that stands out from that course of me from the I think from the fighting monkey a fuse that you brought a cz. Well, um, this is this, um really a kind of something valuable crystallized for me in that workshop around the world is falling apart. It's always been falling apart. Some of us, you know, have experienced more than others. We're all experiencing it now, but in the falling, we confined, balanced through movement, literal and metaphorical. Right? And that, for me, is that kind of steadiness like that electric current of I'm afraid. And because you know this danger out there. But I'm not having this kind of like crawling feeling of like I'm all over the place. I can't do anything. I'm helpless. I'm not helpless, you know, I covert 19. It's so much more powerful than any of us individually, but individually and collectively, we can still move inside it. We can still find a balance in the falling. Does that make sense?
Jane Clapp: 10:05
Yeah, I think sometimes I think of anxiety is and always telling the truths who, Um, But the fear that we fear feel is sort of representative of the truth. And reality versus anxiety is often, um, not necessarily ah, response to fax. But the fear, the fear we feel feels ah, different. And I love that you're saying this because I have noticed a different feeling. Thio fruit so ready. And my body when I think of the fear that feels ah, grounded at the same time. And yes, I wonder if there's something about the being with the collective conscious fear that mobile in on the planet, who that helps us ground and and a little bit more because we're not alone in it.
Kai Cheng Thom: 11:08
Mmm. Oh, I love that dream. Yeah, that like being that together in a in afraid, kneeling together in fear, feeling bringing us all into, like, a more ground in place. Yeah. I'm gonna think about this for a while.
Jane Clapp: 11:26
I feel like anxiety can be like propaganda, right?
Kai Cheng Thom: 11:30
Mm hmm. Well, what about that? Now, I'm not like, tell me more. Tell me everything.
Jane Clapp: 11:38
But if I can be propaganda, it could be, um, the past that is no longer present that is still living in our body. This or it could be us telling ourselves about things in the future that might happen that aren't actually based on are on sex. Right. But what we're feeling in terms of fear right now isn't really propagandize. It's the truth, right? The truth feels different in our bodies.
Kai Cheng Thom: 12:10
Yeah, it lands in this kind of core solid way, right? Like it it There's something you know, I've been thinking a lot about integrity. You know, all the different meanings of integrity on. I mean, we could talk about integrity. I think you know, for hours in the context of of a pandemic, right? Like, who has it? Who doesn't act. But you know what? You're what you're saying. makes me think of like that feeling of fear that, like non propaganda, you know, that truth that lands in our integrity, we should be afraid. Which doesn't mean we need to freak out, although that also reasonable response you know, it's some context, but ah, but it's just there were here together in it, and something about that actually feels really, really strong like t to stand in that truth. Um, there's a power in that.
Jane Clapp: 13:00
Absolutely, I think, to like the home I was reading a little bit about the stories that you grew up with. The stories, uh, the suffering that were woven into your childhoods. And I am wonder how that, like, impacts the way. If you mind saying something about that impacts the way that you relate thio What's happening now in a way that could be, uh, helpful for people to ground in a swell?
Kai Cheng Thom: 13:33
Yeah, you know, thank you for asking this. I think what's so lovely about hearing the question phrased this way is like, I think, you know, trends. People get asked all the time like, Oh, what about your childhood? And then that feels invasive. But because you know it's kind of this objectifying. But what you're asking is what I think people mean to ask, right? Is this like, how do you live in suffering? You know, like when we were exposed to suffering and child, which we all are, That's like, you know that to me. It's like, Oh, right, That's what all those interviewers trying to ask about actually is like, What can we share from, you know, our individual experience of suffering or terror? And, you know, um, that that connects us and, yeah, said to answer that question more literally, I think, like, you know, I, um, I was exposed to dangerous a kid, Um, kind of kind of through the fault of no one else is right. Like my parents, you know, bless their hearts. Um, you are a Chinese migrant and the daughter of Chinese migrants, respectively, lived through kind of incredible poverty and suffering too much about that for their privacy. But, um, you know, and when when I came into the world, I think they just had no context or how to raise kids in all in some case cases, and you were doing their best and made an amazing job in a lot of ways and certainly not like a trance kid, you know, like, uh, this sort of, like, extra challenge from the beyond, right? Like the prize your kid is is just so different from anything you've been taught. Um, she is normal in the child. Um, and because of all this, you know, uh, I was raised without, you know, um, without attunement, right? Like, how can apparent attuned to a child when they've never been taught that their child's you know, development is healthier. Normal. So, you know, my parents were seeing you grow up. Is this a eminent boy? Quote unquote. You know, reacting to that because they have been taught that was, you know, illness, mental illness, badge, a failure. Gonna put me in danger. Um, and so, you know, responding with all this kind of negative messaging around that, um, and what we know about young people growing up without attunement, right is that it breeds trauma like this, sort of, um, complex trauma or developmental trauma, which is kind of this, you know, for me, it's like a way of saying, um, living your life, Um, knowing that the world wasn't made for you. Um, there's there's so much pain and that for me still write like I can kind of feel that well of like, Oh, like the world wasn't made for me. And when people wonder why you know Miss Tendering, for example, is so hurtful for trans people. I don't think it's very often. It's not usually like the individual act of Miss Jen during at least it's not for me, right? Like what? What it does for me is that it taps into that well of suffering. The world wasn't made for you. You know, your body wasn't made to love. You weren't meant to survive. You know, in the words of the black, you know, lesbian, feminist and poetry. Lord, we were never meant to survive in this world. Those of us who you know are different. Racialized, queer, all that sort of stuff. Um, it it hurts so much sometimes, you know, thinking about like, what would life be like on all my weapon on my gifts be you know, to the world. You know, if if I have been born into a world that was made for me If I have been given to parents who were taught how to raise me with the attunement I needed. But the flip side of that is, you know, of course, we talk a lot these days about the trauma superpower. Um, we're leaving those of us, those of us in the field, right? And ah, now we're living in a world. Um, that was made for none of us, right? None of us were made to live in social distancing or isolation to have this kind of like invisible virus wandering around outside just choosing, you know, people to take, um that world wasn't meant for, but because I had that right, Because I think so many of us have a version of that that you know, that lack of attunement that non attunement you know, you're different. You're racialized in all by a town. You're a woman in an all boys club. That world wasn't made for you sense. If we can tap into the resilience of that feeling, which is but I will survive, I will survive. And inside of that I will find pleasure. I will find joy. Right and marginalized communities have so much of this right. I think so much about the ballroom culture of drag queens and trans women in the state that in Canada, right? Like these incredible celebrations of trance feminine beauty of gay dance of movements, Um, inside that, you know, we could make these little for these little worlds these foreign worlds that have made for us. And we could do that inside that self isolation in covert 19 right? Somehow, you know, in quarantine, there might be a way we can create a little bubble where it's still possible to be connected or joyful for free. Um, yeah. This'd
Jane Clapp: 18:44
is a quote of yours that, um, pulled out and teased out, and I think it's the sewer. But you just share with me and some suffering can either break you or it can teach you how to leave people toward their own greatness.
Kai Cheng Thom: 19:00
Mmm Mmm. Oh, yeah. That's from the support commercial. I know the film maker, um, who made the commercial in which that, uh, you know, is that is he did such an amazing job boiled down like a two hour interview into this incredible kind of like, uh, snapshot of like what I want to say thanks to him. Uh, yeah. And that this is This is it, you know, is those of us who are born into suffering, um, have the opportunity to bring that to others in a way that leads us toward. You know, I guess what I said was our own greatness. Another way of saying that is it allows us to be mentors on, you know, the hero's journey of others. The hero's journey. Of course, being this, like, archetypal I mean, you know all about this, of course, being a psychoanalyst, everything,
Jane Clapp: 19:56
um, uh, like
Kai Cheng Thom: 19:58
that journey toward the stuff which is, you know, sparked by, um, you know, sparks by the call to adventure starts by loss, all that sort of thing. Um, and you know, the gift of of the traumatized or the marginalized is that we go on that journey so many times, we've become used to it. And in that we have the capacity then to take others with us, um, which we can choose to do or not to butt in this time, I think we got to start choosing each other.
Jane Clapp: 20:27
I think there's a lot of this type of suffering, and fear isn't something many people have ever come across her face directly. And, uh, and I think the hero's journey is the perfect, ah, way to look at it. There's so many people have already traveled that it had to go through through the abyss, so to speak to her, that part of the hero's journey and come out. And when Chi Chang was in the two days of training with me, I'm all for civil before she came at a coalition. She's kind of training like, Do you know my work is like, um, that there's this love grounded, solid joy and love in you that has nothing to do with bypassing. There's no spiritual by casting you. You look, you look directly at reality, um, and the truth and its suffering. And there's this power in you that chooses relationship. The shoes is love and possibility, and on it's just even just hearing you speak. It's, um it's so powerful. Thank you. We need Thio. And I would hate to put anybody in the position of having to do more emotional labor, given what people lots of folks have already had to do. Yeah, that Catch 22
Kai Cheng Thom: 22:10
of Emotional Lever is so, you know, interesting. If I could just, like, catch on, fasten onto that for a second. You know this like, because it's true. I think you're so right. Like it's so hard for people who are always being asked and you explain yourself, Can you help me get some insight? Um, and that, you know, that's kind of the I think of that. It's kind of like a capitalist request, right? Like, can I somehow extract right? Uh, like a resource from you. Um, which Yeah, that's that's, um you know, um, I don't think it always has to be like that. And there's there's an element of, you know, choosing right, like choosing to teach when we're able choosing the boundary when we chanced, you know, to think to ask when it feels appropriate, choosing two knots when it's not appropriate. Right? Um, but you know, the moment of crisis particularly. I think a lot of the rules change right or the rules of engagement change. Not that we can't have boundary. We should. We have to have others who now, but, uh, but that we get it. We get a second chance to kind of, uh, to do to create the dynamic between marginalized and majority person right over time, dominant and ah, oppressed. And in that I think we have the capacity to be like, Well, okay, if someone is asking me to share about my experience of oppression or trauma, um, is, you know, I can always choose to say no or hopefully I can always choose to say no. But also, you know, how can this be a relationship, right? Like, how can I get something out of this telling of my story and for the person asking how can How can the asking the, uh, be an act of solidarity rather than like a, you know, a demand for service. Um, right. And, um because some things we want to tell our story, right? Like sometimes. Ah, sometimes we want to see that our words go into a person and change who they are. And then they become a better ally for us. Right? And sometimes when we ask someone to tell their story, it's not just Oh, give me insight so that I could be a better person. Sometimes it's like, really directly How can I support you better in this moment and that relation a ll kind of, um, exchange of knowledge and of support, I think is what allows us then to to get outside that catch 22 of like, Well, like, uh, you know, I don't want to educate because it's just not going to go anywhere. I don't want to educate because it's just endlessly emptying me out. It becomes in this feedback loop of my telling my story then, you know, brings the reward of, um, I get more supportive. I have a closer relationship with that person, and then together our relationship ripples outward into the world.
Jane Clapp: 24:51
There's a the interview you did with Peter Haldeman in The New York Times. Oh, yeah, enough That interview. And this is a quote I hold from that interview I had with with Peter Haldeman. There's a long tradition of trans people being confined to memoir this way. We have to narrate our lives for the titillation of CIS gender readers. When I was a child, I never fit in, and then I wanted this other genitalia. I thought that it would be fun to take that on. Um, and I think of when I think of the emotional labor that's going thio be needed when this is all done, I think of I think of it being so related. Thio our common humanity versus identity in many ways,
Kai Cheng Thom: 25:48
remembering that common humanity is the only way we're gonna get out of this. I think, you know, get out of it in a way that doesn't involve, um, you know, even more horror than is, you know, natural to a pandemic. Uh, which is, you know, what am I saying here? Really? Right, Like, um, I always struggle. I've always struggled with identity politics because they are useful in, like, kind of naming difference, which we kind of way really kind of have to in order to see inequity and oppression and violence. But, um, identity politics can also trap us. Um, in this politics of division, right? Like in fragmentation this way sometimes can get lost in this. I can never relate to you, or I can I could never, ever, you know, be, um, in a ah, you know, equitable or better relationship with you because you have more privileged than the or more power than you benefit from my suffering. Right? And that, to me, has a little bit of it the echo of trauma trauma thinking in it, right. This kind of black and whites, like you'll always be my enemy, right on that grief of like that, You know, that unshakable wall of grief I'll never get through it. You'll always always be separate from me. Um, and you know, in this moment around Kobe 19 what's encouraging? Actually, as we see so much of the memory of remembering common humanity, right, Like it for infinite, for on Facebook or social media. Looking at other mutual aid groups, people are posting all the time now, right with saying things like, Oh, I'm a trans person and I need this. I'm a sex worker and I need this. I mean, what's this person? And I need this right? Or I have this to offer and I could bring it to you. Um, you know, in the moment of crisis, we discover who we are beyond identity. Like that moment of forging of the self. It's our common values, Um, on this belief that you know, just because, you know, you know, because you know you, Jane, I like you don't share my experience, right. And I don't share yours um, we kind of pushed through that. It's true we don't share each other's experiences, But here we are, making a thing to put out in the world. That's gonna have to be enough. Right? And in this moment, you know, I don't think we need to feel like we're permanently or, you know, unshakably distant from one another. That, too, is like collective trauma, right? This, like severing of the link between individuals, Um, in the moment of crisis weekends, where sometimes inspired to reach out and be linked, you know, together in accumulate organism. And, uh, I'm seeing that everywhere, actually.
Jane Clapp: 28:32
Are you What are you? Is there anything that you have seen, um, recently that you found really no food?
Kai Cheng Thom: 28:40
Yeah, well, so it's funny, like everything. Everything is so kind of, like, mediated through, um, like the lens of, like, capitalism, social media all like the difficult things in our world. Right. But one thing I'm really inspired. I've never thought I'd say this, but by Facebook right now, not the company, but like my people's behavior on Facebook. Yeah, well, I don't know, like him. It might be just the echo chamber that I'm you know kind of inn in social media. But, um, I'm so impressed by the mutual aid organizing I'm seeing on the shift away from, you know, I never thought space book was going to be anything except this sort of like landscape of self promotion and arguing and then, you know, kind of endlessly shared news articles in this sort of dissociated way. That's how I experience and use Facebook anyway, But, um, but now I'm seeing so much connectedness and so much material, like, you know, Rhea World, um, assistance on exchange, happening. So, you know, and people just saying stuff that, like I never thought would be possible. Like people you know, I have a lot of connections to this expert community, being a former worker myself and knowing so many Trans women who have used sex works to survive and to get through the world. And I never thought that it would be possible to just go in on Facebook and say, Oh, you know, I'm a sex worker and all of my business has dried up because of Copan 19. Um and I need food right now. I need money right now and see, you know the general population. You know, uh, you know, like, uh, office workers stay at home parents, right? Respond to that with completely. Sort of like, Yes, Absolutely. Um oh,
Jane Clapp: 30:24
my God. It's amazing. Yeah, it's really, really cool. Wow. Uh, so you've mentioned that you've noticed people coming together and Facebook and stepping up and being there for people who are marginalized and needing support. That's happening. And then what are you also noticing in in terms of the shadows? I've inhumanity.
Kai Cheng Thom: 30:52
Mmm. I'm so grateful you asked this this, Jane, because you know something I've been meditating on a lot. Is this phrase that's coming to him? I'm not sure if I heard it somewhere else or read it somewhere else. There for just kind of bubbled up. But, you know, over and over again, I keep thinking in our darkest moments, we discover who we are. Um, and some of that is this glorious kind of like coming togetherness, right? We discover who we are as a group, and as individuals, we discover this generosity and courage. And sometimes we also discover our violence, right? Sometimes we discover our cravenness instead of our courage, and our agreed instead of our generosity. Um, that shadow side of the self, Um, that says I'll survive the cost of others because there is no choice. And I think we're seeing this, You know, a lot right now, um, particularly kind of in the day to day stuff like, um, like the grocery stores, for example, Internment. Not a shortage of food at this time in Canada's major urban centers. But you wouldn't know that to look at the state of the shelves in a lot of the bigger stores where at the state of how people are sometimes, you know, behaving went together. There's something about being around food and groups particularly. I think that brings up this kind of intense, um, you know, hoarding, grabbing, seizing mentality. We're seeing it in people who are also, you know, hoarding sanitation supplies and then reselling them, um or, you know, a huge markup. We're seeing the shadow side of, um, racism, right, like all this kind of hatred that was just under the surface and I was bubbling up, particularly toward East Asian folks, but also every migrant, right, um, or every person perceived to be a migrant in the settler colonial society. Um, we're seeing, you know, the government closed the board or two quote irregular migrants. Which means turning back asylum seekers people who are trying to save themselves from intense danger in their countries of origin. Um, so yes. Unfortunately, in our darkest moments, we will also discover that who we are sometimes not who we might wish to be among the people around us or not who we hoped that they were. Um And I think the only you know, the only response I've come to around that in this moment is Okay, so that's their right. And maybe I've had the dubious benefit of having seen that before. You know him as a trans women of color. As a former sex worker, I've experienced a lot of hatred and violence, and so my eyes are open like a lot of my community's eyes are open to what people can be, Um and you know, because of that, I think we I mean, this is what you know I think inspires me to do transformative justice. If we believe that people can choose, you know, with support, they can choose their better Selves. Um, they can choose their careers yourselves instead of their create themselves. Then we can put that message out there, right? We can look to our loved ones and say, Hey, uh, this crisis is not about racism. I'm not going to accept that from you because you're better than this. Hey, you know, to my family, we're gonna take the food we need and just the amount that we need, and we're gonna share it. You know, um, we can hold each other to that standard. We can co regulate each other ethnically. Um, then I think we can get through that, but it will be touch and go. It depends on each of our kind of individual choices. And you know how how, um how brave we can be with one another. So, yeah, Thank you for asking that, because it is not my mind a lot too.
Jane Clapp: 34:41
Thank you for that. And I hope I wish the world were different. I were wishing the nature was better than it can be sometimes. And I I appreciate you sharing that. It's really important.
Kai Cheng Thom: 34:57
Mm. Think dream.
Jane Clapp: 35:00
I mean, I know that we're stuck inside, and it's not the time to necessarily drive ahead um, with work. But given that how your work is evolved and is continually evolving, um, to let me see if we can find another one of your beautiful quote, there is a better way to live. There's a better way to love. Let's find it together. Mmm. Um, how would you say your work is going to shift in response to this crisis? Are after this crisis early. Just both study to where you're going because it seems to be exactly what's gonna be needed.
Kai Cheng Thom: 35:41
Uh oh. I was just thinking about this yesterday. J you're like, right? You're right in my Yeah, well, it's funny. You know, I, um Hi, Lo Kee have been preparing for the end of the world for several years Now. You can go to track that, right? If, um, if we look at even like the title, like the titling of the written work I've been doing right, like, you know, my my essay collection a transpose notes from the end of the world or my advice? Well, im advice for the apocalypse. Um, it's been on my mind. And here's something maybe, you know, we haven't talked about yet, is when I came to movement for trauma. I was really It was part of this ongoing self development. I was doing over 2019 and early 2020. Prick over 20. Took 20 for North America, I guess, um, of like, I'm trying to in my head. I was calling it, um like, um, like apocalypse training or like Survivor training for the end of the world. Um, you know, and I think there's always I don't know. I mean, it's weird. I just I've had dreams of the end of the world for a few years now. Um, not not to say that Cove in 19 at the end of the world and entirely, but it's the end of the world as we know it. I think it would be naive. Thio said to think that we're gonna we're just gonna go back to business as usual when in fact, I hope we don't write like we're seeing the exposure of so many social inequities because of the virus. Really? Who can stay inside? Who has to go out and work? Um, who has helped our insurance? Who doesn't You know what's happening in prisons where people are just so vulnerable and can't get out. And, you know, because of that, then you know they're infections are also a danger to All of us were also connected. So, you know, I hope we don't go back to this as usual. But all this just a You know, I came to your training because I was looking for body mind, You know, where somatic practices that would help me. Honestly, uh, like, wrap my head around this. I believe the end of the world is coming. And whenever you know, whenever I would watch, um, like the survivalist like the Prepper TV series. I don't know if you've seen those training, but, like
Jane Clapp: 38:01
Oh, yes, I have. Oh, I could only watch to it. Oh, my God. From, like I'm doing nothing to survive right now. I'm not ready. Like these people who can live for two years on dry food and oh, my goodness. Okay,
Kai Cheng Thom: 38:19
but here's the thing, Jane, I think that you are so much more ready for the end of the world than stuff people because you knowing you and having experienced your courses um, my belief is that, uh, like what we really mean for the end of the world is this ability to move through crisis to connect in crisis in the midst of trauma, to be with our trauma as it's happening and unfolding. And I mean, that's so present in all of the work you do in the I noticed that you were doing, like, co regulation, you know, practices, you know, online. This is what we need, right? Like that most of the preppers not not all of them to give them credit. But a lot of the preppers on TV are like, Yeah, I'm gonna build my bunker. I'm gonna buy my guns. I'm gonna, um I'm so sorry. I'm going to bug in my computer one second, please. Get a hold of puppets out. Right?
Jane Clapp: 39:14
Huh? Yeah, no problem. We can cut it out.
Kai Cheng Thom: 39:18
Let's Or, you know, we also don't have to, but yeah, What was where was right? Like on television? The preppers. So many of them are saying I'm gonna build my bunker. I'm going thio, um, can all my beans, all this stuff which which, you know, like that, That, too is trauma thinking the thinking. Oh, well, I'm gonna isolate and see no one. Um, and then shoot anyone who comes near me Who wants, you know who wants to partake of my food were That's not surviving. Like even if those people live, which you know, I hope they do. But what is that surviving as does the spirit survive? When we fall into this mind set up, I'll kill anyone who comes near me and I all my food is for myself and my family. No, we don't. That's not survival. Or it's not the survival I want anyway. And the work that you do. On the other hand, Shane is so much about connecting right And, you know, like this the workshops I was in any way. I was like, Oh, yeah, this is how we rise to challenge is this is how we solve problems. This is how we use our individual bodies. Also different. All such different abilities, um, to come together and, um, survive and celebrate on dso you know? Anyway, I think you're ready. I think I think you can do it
Jane Clapp: 40:30
well. I feel safer when I feel connected. And I think that's the message that has thio become truth. But for everyone wear safer when we're connected we're safer, Um, when their social cohesion and I've been very lucky and it's not. Everybody has experienced safe social connection. In fact, a lot of folks have learned that it's it's safer to isolate because the harm that they've experienced either through system of oppression, our families and I saw hope. Somehow the people have need own connection of belonging, and support can somehow get it to them. Now, I don't know how, but I think the message is that you bring to your work into the world of the groups that you work with people that your books rage and the spirit and integrity that you bring to your work. I just I just think it's absolutely essential. And I'm just really glad we had a chance to talk today, and I could talk to you for so love. But I want to be respectful of your time and your energy.
Kai Cheng Thom: 41:47
Thank you. I just I'm loving this, though,
Jane Clapp: 41:52
So if you could send yourself a message four weeks from now, like a little envelope that you could put in the mail and you received in a month, what would you want it? What would you want to tell yourself.
Kai Cheng Thom: 42:09
Oh, wow. This question is challenging, but I also love it. Um, So it's like, what would I have you think to myself or brings in the future? Yeah, Yeah. I'm also wishing, like I wish by four weeks from now itself could tell me what's gonna happen, E. I think. I think acknowledging that whatever happens both in my personal life and in the world at large is going to be challenging, right? Um, you know, scary difficulty, perhaps tragic. You know, I think what I want to say to myself is Remember who you are. Remember where you come from. Remember who you come from. Remember who brought you here, right? All of that, for me is like said to say, it is a way of saying you come from brave people who tried their best. They had values, you know, um, and lived them. This I can say for my parents or the queer and trans people who helped me survive my adolescence and young adult hood, my mentors in sex work, who taught me how to survive in the value of myself. Um, all my mentors in psychotherapy and social working community organizing all the people I've worked with, Um, they were brave, right? Um, they tried their best. They gave me gifts like, um, you know, the gift of the gifts of knowing what other people in what connection are worth even one of relationships weren't always safe. They had such power in such potential. And these values are the ones that have kept me going, um, for so long. But I would say to, you know, future me. Remember that. Remember where you come from. Remember what you've survived. Be the person you want to be as best you can and forgive yourself for imperfection. We don't have to be perfect. We don't have to be fearless, but we must be strong. We must be brave. And you are.
Jane Clapp: 44:27
I feel that I feel that so deep in my stomach and my heart and edges of my skin. And it's, um, bringing me to tears, hearing you say that. And so I'm gonna take that. I'm gonna remember that when you know, a month from now, when the landscape looks different when I don't want to lose that core of integrity. Unease, Speaker. So thank you for that. That, um really, That's like nourishment for my soul today. Thank you.
Kai Cheng Thom: 45:09
Oh, I'm so glad to hear it. And thank you for giving me the space and the questions toe. Think that all out with you. I really Yeah, I'm just feeling this warmth in this connection. Um, so appreciative of the work you do. I can't wait to listen to the podcast. Not not Just in truth, it will be difficult for me to listen to the podcast because it always like catching your own voice. Your own words. What is this thing your other guests Do you think they're so much like those of you listening you're in for, um such such amazing insight and wisdom? Jane gave me a bit of a sneak peek of what's ahead. I won't tell you. You're in for some amazing stuff, though. Yeah. I can't wait to see where this goes.
Jane Clapp: 45:58
Thank you for for being in my life and being available. And you take care of yourself. Be well, Jane. Okay. Bye. Thank you so much to Chi Chiang for being my second guessed on clap with Jane. I'm so honored that you'd spent that time with us. Your message needs to reach other people please share with your friends if you feel it would help them and know that the podcast is now live on iTunes and Spotify. And, of course, thank you to my daughter Chase for spending many hours editing this podcast. Take care of yourself over the next little while. There'll be another podcast in a week. Stay safe, Stay.