We had the good fortune of connecting with Eli Lawliet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eli, what are you inspired by?
I am deeply inspired by the trans community and by the folks who have worked so hard to change so much in such a short time. I think of the people who had the courage to dress and live differently before the word “transgender” existed, and how they did what made sense for them regardless of their circumstances. I think of people like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major who were at Stonewall and fought for trans liberation, even when folks who were supposed to be in community with them hated them and fought against them. I think of the countless trans folks who have worked their way into positions of authority and power, despite all odds, and moved the needle for trans folks in the realm of policy and medical care even at great personal cost. Every bit of progress we’ve managed to achieve over the past hundred years has been because of our commitment to ourselves and one another. I am inspired by that, and also inspired by the need for our community to learn how to care for ourselves and one another, to spread these burdens more effectively, so that we can live longer and healthier lives, even in the face of extreme adversity. I believe that gender doula work is ultimately a part of a greater movement toward communal care.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Gender Doula is a full spectrum support service for people who are exploring, questioning, or transitioning their gender, as well as for loved ones, family members, and other allies. There are many folks who have offered similar services with different names, but when I first started The Gender Doula, there was no one I could find who was using that term to describe what they did! Shortly after, I found one person, and a few more have come along sense then. But there is no established path to being a gender doula or to making this business function.
Because of this, one of the biggest challenges of this work is thinking through logistics and forging a relatively unique path. I have always been strongly intrinsically motivated, and pretty poor at working underneath someone else or being told what to do, so for me this is perfect! Not easy, but deeply rewarding.
What I want the world to know most of all is that gender doula work is for everyone. I think everyone on earth would benefit from exploring and grappling with their gender – with how they show up in the world and with their values around that topic. Trans people have so much knowledge and beauty to offer, but I consistently see this ignored in favor of focusing on either tragedies that happen to our community, or sensationalized stories about members of our community. This saddens me deeply, and I hope that in the future, trans people are treated with the respect they deserve.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love Los Angeles deeply, and when folks visit, my first question is “What experience do you want to have?” Because Los Angeles contains multitudes.
With that said, here are a few of the highlights I try to get people to see and some of the food I love to share!
– Leo Carillo State Beach: it’s a bit of a drive, but it’s gorgeous and dog friendly!
– Hiking in Griffith Park (if its not too hot)
– Huntington Gardens
– The Academy Museum
– The Queer Mercado
– Han Bat Shul Lung Tang (Koreatown)
– Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea (Koreatown)
– Anarkali (Hollywood)
– Daichan (Studio City)
– Holy Basil (DTLA)
– Lacha Somtum (Thai Town)
– Little Tokyo
– Kirari West Gluten-Free Bakery (Redondo Beach)
– Pho Bà Cô (Irvine)
– Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach)
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout is to Erica Livingston and Laura Interlandi of Birdsong doulas. These two folks were my doula mentors and helped me bring The Gender Doula into the world in so many ways. They have held me through some incredibly tough times and gave me so much of the skill set I needed to bridge my academic work with my doula work. And actually, I had the idea for The Gender Doula from hearing Erica on a podcast! So I truly do not know where I would be without these incredible humans. I am so grateful to them both and to their doula mentorship program.