Nonbinary and Intersex, Intentional Relationships, and Polyamory

Hello beautiful beings,

Whew! This past week was a rollercoaster! You heard the adventure lineup in last week’s newsletter, and thank you so much to all the folks that came out to Folsom Street Fair Online, my classes at Black ThornWicked GroundsAcademy of Fetish Arts, or were part of the two very tender topic’s conversations I hosted with Sam Savage at Nerd Somatics.

Those discussions were intense for me emotionally. Sam and I did a lot of processing work with each other prepping for the conversations on naming harmful behavior and abuse in polyamory metamour relationships. We each have had our own experiences with such harmful behavior… both as the receivers and/or as the givers. Or had folks in our webs be so to/for each other. It is a shadow topic for a reason, and something we will be discussing further in the next discussion on the series on October 19th – the details will be in next week’s newsletter.

The other piece I am processing a lot on right now is my unintentional behavior concerning leaving nonbinary individuals out of my discussions of trans experience. I often talk about nonbinary, gender fluid, and genderqueer people in my list of who exists in the trans umbrella, but attending a class by Dara Hofman-Fox at the Unraveling the Acronym conference, I really had it put forward how much I am not present to the actual experiences of nonbinary people. An example? I talk about transition being from one point to another, a binary story of female to male or male to female as being some sort of default. I have a habit of thinking of nonbinary people preferring the pronoun “they” rather than remembering that nonbinary people are across the pronoun spectrum and might use she, he, they, ze, want you to use their name instead of a pronoun, or switch between pronouns based on how they are presenting or feeling on a given day.

And this is as someone who experiences themselves as being fairly genderqueer!

Hoffman-Fox’s presentation also highlighted another thought for me on the topic of gender. I have a habit of breaking down gender into:

  • Sex (the body we have)
  • Gender Identity (how we think of ourselves)
  • Gender Expression (how we communicate our gender to others)
  • Perceived Gender (how others “read” us)
  • Legal Gender (what our government ID says)

And other such breakdowns… but it was pointed out that for agender people, who do not perceive themselves as having gender, that the notion of gender expression becomes a fallacy of language. Instead, they have taken to using “Self-Expression” and bam, it hit me. Yes. Plus, self-expression, acronyms, identity… I rationally know they are separate things but this hit me deeper on the fact that nonbinary people may be androgynous, or high femme, or hyper masculine, or blend multiple expressions, or have shifting identities, or… I have no way of knowing unless I ask.

It’s funny to notice that even as a gender educator, I still carry stuff on that front that needs untangled. Add to that attending a really powerful presentation on “Understanding Intersex” by Niki Khana and Sean Saifa Wall that helped me more deeply grasp the issues at hand and that no, modifying surgeries are still regularly ongoing in our country and being pushed by doctors and even those not surgically changed undergo so much medical trauma from being objectified and told their very existence is an issue to resolve – I’m so grateful they are out there doing the work.

Want to learn more about Intersex experience, have resources, and be an ally? Check out:

This week, come join me at: 

  • Intentional Relationship Design
    At Beyond Vanilla
    October 3, 2020 (1:30-2:30p Pacific, 3:30-4:30p Central, 4:30-5:30p Eastern)
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    Not all relationships begin with roses and chocolates – some begin with long dialogues and conscious construction. In this life-share and technique exploration, Lee will be discussing how he and Ms. Cenna created their relationship, from its unexpected start to where it stands today – two powerful individuals sharing layers of complex D/s and a romantic partnership as well. What tools might you find useful to borrow from? What tools have you used to consciously craft your relationship  dynamic? What are some things that Lee, and you, have learned from crafting both consciously designed relationships and those that we have stumbled into? Love comes in many forms, and sometimes it comes wrapped in pages upon pages of Google Docs, long analytical discussions, and some kinky and sexy play as well.
  • Open Hearts, Open Minds: Exploring “Alternative” Relationship Structures
    With Wicked Grounds
    October 6, 2020 (6-8p Pacific, 8-10p Central, 9-11p Eastern)
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    Modern romance dictates that a single individual should fulfill all of our needs – from sharing joys and fears, co-parenting and financial commitments, to sexual happiness, identity confirmation, and spiritual fulfillment. Is this fair? We will look into what relationships give us, then explore a wide variety of relationship structures that are being employed to have people fill all of their needs. Monogamy and serial monogamy are valid options, but what about polyamory, swinging, pre-arranged trysts, friends with benefits, or choosing to be our own life partner? How do we communicate in our relationships to make whatever structure we choose actually work, and we’ll look into issues like jealousy vs. envy, new relationship energy, and making each of our friends and partners feel like the unique person they are in our lives.
Image from @TheSexHealer on Instagram

There is no weekly Wednesday discussion series class on Wednesday, October 7th (I have a dental appointment).

I also have other classes and events coming up in the next few weeks that you may be interested in:

To check out other classes and intensives, visit my Upcoming Appearances page to learn more. From there you can sign up for my free newsletter as well. To enjoy further free material from me, consider joining me over on Patreon as well 🙂

Much love to you all and see you soon!

Yours in Passion and Soul,

Lee Harrington


Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.

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