About the Authors:
Tiffani Kittilstved, M.S., CCC-SLP is a Ph.D. student at Idaho State University as well as a private practice Speech-Language Pathologist based out of Seattle, Washington. Clinically, Tiffani specializes in evaluating and treating children and adults who stutter. These experiences, along with her own personal experiences as a person who stutters, have motivated her current research interests, which include covert stuttering; the application of trauma-informed counseling approaches into therapy; and the intersectionality of identities among people who stutter. Tiffani is also actively involved in the stuttering community, holding leadership positions within the National Stuttering Association and the International Stuttering Awareness Day Conference and organizing One-Day Conferences through Friends, an Association of Young People who Stutter. She is excited to be a part of the ISAD conference for the 4th year, with this year’s submission regarding intersectional identities being significant to her personally as an asexual woman who stutters.
Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, PWS; Associate Professor of CSD at Idaho State University; PhD in Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences Assistant Director; ASHA SIG 4, Fluency Disorders, Coordinating-Committee Member; and NWCFD Founding Director (http://www.northwestfluency.org/), which offers interprofessional intensive stuttering clinics with SLPs and Counselors collaboratively using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Research interests include examining intersectional/lived experiences of PWS across communities, interprofessional collaborations with Counselors, bio/psychophysiological responses to speech, and neuroscience of stuttering through high-density EEG. My intersections are: straight Caucasian male, PWS, SLP/Faculty member, and ally/advocate for many disenfranchised communities, including LGBTQIA+. I’ve had many disenfranchising experiences from being denied from the military / graduate program, kicked out of clinic, and hearing that I represented a failure of the profession all due to stuttering. Unique intersections should be acknowledged, understood, and valued, while our common humanity should transcend to support each others’ unique experiences.
Christian D. Chan (he, him, his), PhD, NCC is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Development at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, President of the Association for Adult Development and Aging (AADA), and a proud Queer Person of Color. As a scholar-activist, his interests revolve around intersectionality; multiculturalism in counseling practice, supervision, and counselor education; social justice and activism; career development; critical research methodologies; and couple, family, and group modalities with socialization/communication of cultural factors. Dedicated to mentorship for leaders and scholars, he has actively contributed to over 43 peer-reviewed publications in journals, books, and edited volumes and has conducted over 120 refereed presentations at the national, regional, and state levels. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Counseling & Development, Counselor Education and Supervision, Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, Adultspan, Journal of Counseling Sexology & Sexual Wellness: Research, Practice, and Education, and Asia Pacific Career Development Journal.
Matt Maxion, M.S., CCC-SLP is a school-based speech-language pathologist based in Oakland, California. He has been serving San Leandro Unified School District and works with children with speech and language needs from preschool to elementary school. He is a Bay Area native who specializes in childhood language and fluency. He is a queer stutterer who is actively involved in the stuttering community for the past decade. He is currently a chapter leader for the East Bay chapter of the National Stuttering Association and has helped lead workshops for Passing Twice, an informal network of LGBTQIA+ youth and adults who stutter.
Derek E. Daniels, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Wayne State University, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. He received a 2018 Excellence in Teaching Award from Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Derek has been a certified speech-language pathologist since 2002. He also serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Fluency Disorders. Derek is a person who stutters, provides clinical services for people who stutter, and supervises graduate student training in stuttering. He has participated in many self-help events, workshops, and clinical training programs for people who stutter, including Camp Shout Out. Derek’s research focuses on public perceptions of people who stutter, identity construction, psychosocial experiences, and intersectionality. He is the current President-Elect of the Michigan Speech, Language, and Hearing Association.
Using personal narratives demonstrates positive effects for instilling resilience to reflect on strengths, experiences with community and society, and cultural and social identities. Intersectionality has served as a critical approach for resilience to cultivate consciousness around different forms of oppression by linking personal, interpersonal, and societal experiences. Additionally, intersectionality reinforces this lens for historically marginalized communities (e.g., persons living with disabilities; persons who stutter; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; LGBTQIA+ communities; women, etc.) to intentionally reflect on the ways that they might have faced oppression or potentially face oppression.
However, intersectionality does not draw exclusively from a deficit approach because it illuminates opportunities to instill resilience. As individuals navigate through the world with a multitude of social identities (e.g., race, ethnicity, ability status, disability, sexual identity, affectional identity, spirituality), they begin to draw from these aspects with authenticity that helps individuals make meaning of their experiences. With this lens in mind, this presentation focuses on five narratives that integrate personal and professional experiences in light of intersectionality as a means of cultivating resilience.
Derek’s Thoughts on Changing the Narrative: the Power of Identity
As a Black man, and a person who stutters (PWS), most of my life has been about learning resilience. From the time I first learned to talk, I had to be resilient. From the time I first learned that my skin color mattered socially, I had to be resilient. Whenever I found myself on the receiving end of racism, ableism, and homophobia, I had to be resilient. I didn’t know what resiliency meant when I was growing up, but over time, I learned ways to navigate oppressive situations, and develop healthy responses.
Now, as a speech-language pathologist who works clinically with people who stutter, resiliency is at the cornerstone of my work. As a scholar and college professor who does a lot of public speaking, resiliency allows me to center myself when speaking situations fall short of my expectations. An experience I often tell is where I was on an airplane en route to a National Stuttering Association conference. The flight attendant was coming down the aisle to ask about our preference for snacks and drinks. When he came to my row, he asked the person next to the window, then the person in the middle seat, and then me, on the aisle seat. Everything happened in a lock-step sequence, question then response. I blocked on the “c” in cookies, as I knew I probably would. I tried again, and the block continued. I tried inserting a carrier phrase, by saying, “I will have …” and I still blocked. So finally I said, “I’ll have the Biscoff.” Even though this wasn’t initially what I wanted to say (I wanted to say cookies), I got the cookies, and the flight attendant moved on, and so did life on the plane. But my mind did not move on. I said to myself, for all that I know about stuttering, why was that so hard? And why am I feeling defeated? I allowed myself to have that self-talk and feel those emotions, and then said to myself, it’s okay. That happens sometimes. Part of what it means to stutter, and be a person who stutters, is having moments where you block. That’s fine and I will be okay.
So a big piece of resiliency for me is allowing myself to be present, feel an emotion, and say an affirmation — tell myself something different when no one else can. I am often the minority in several situations with respect to my race, speech, and sexuality. Together, all three have been sources of deep loneliness, but also sources of power. As one who has been disadvantaged by these social identities, I have also found strength, solidarity, and creativity. The pendulum swings back and forth, and some days are different than others, but ultimately I get to decide how I choose to present myself. As a therapist who is mindful of the different identities and discriminations that clients may experience, I see my role as learning what life is like for them, helping them navigate difficulties in ways that make sense for them, and working with them to foster a self that they value.
Tiffani’s Journey to be Seen and Understood: The Benefit of Cultivating a Community
Throughout most of my life I have struggled to find my voice. I have felt silenced due to not only my stuttering but the intersectionality of being an asexual woman who stutters. One aspect of living with multiple marginalized identities is the experience of feeling marginalized even with “safe spaces”. The stuttering community – a space where most find comfort, understanding, and safety – can still be plagued by oppression. Many women and female-presenting PWS still experience the effects of sexism via silencing, sexual harassment, and general predatory behavior (e.g. having men who stutter send random requests and messages on social media, sometimes even including inappropriate content). Despite the best attempts of leaders, facilitators, and support communities, the silencing of women who stutter can still be seen within even the stuttering community, with women who stutter being talked over, interrupted, and generally not being given the space to share. This can be difficult to imagine or understand as there are many opportunities in which PWS can share openly, but the self-stigmatization and internalized sexism that woman often experience can make these experiences difficult, especially amidst many men who stutter, whose silencing has now been reduced to some degree by an opportunity and open invitation to share. In this scenario, being socialized as a woman and a PWS can lead to a compounding of this silencing effect.
Throughout my life, I have tried to cope with these experiences and others by attempting to hide my identities, when possible, and present myself in the most socially expected manner. I’ve blamed myself for my negative experiences, deciding that what I had to contribute to the discussion was unintelligent or uninteresting; using asexuality to rationalize my discomfort with sexual harassment; and justifying the predatory messages I receive on social media because I “put myself out there too much”. This narrative changed when I found a community of other women and LGBTQIA+ PWS. Hearing from others with shared experiences allowed me to understand and validate my experiences. This has given me the strength to be more accepting of myself and become resilient, challenging sexism, heterosexism, and ableism when given the opportunity.
Matt’s Insight on Representation:
In order for SLPs to tailor our treatment according to each child’s needs, we need to first acknowledge unique sociocultural backgrounds, including family, race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, class, religion, and ability that impact every student’s access to their learning. All of these cultural and social markers compose a person’s life and how they interact and move through life in this world. Applying intersectionality, including racial and cultural representation in our work, fosters empathy that is born from shared experiences. As a first-generation Filipino-American who identifies as queer and a stutterer, it would have saved me so much mental anguish to see myself represented in the books that we share in our classrooms. This is why it is pivotal to treat beyond the disorder and why we have the personal and societal obligation to examine our own implicit biases and how they may inhibit our students’ abilities. So, when we write goals on reducing stuttering for PWS or write articulation goals to correct an interdental lisp for queer folks, ask yourself: Is this the dysfunction of the client, or is this the dysfunction of society?
Christian’s Call to Action: Using Intersectionality to Dismantle Oppression:
Growing up across multiple heritages, I have found myself over and over again in the complexities of social identity and multiple dimensions of culture. I wrestled with them. I found them. I grasped them with a way of finding hope and making sense of my world. This process across my own personal and professional development led me to my own agenda of extending research and scholarship on intersectionality as an interdisciplinary project, primarily through my connection to multiculturalism and social justice. Illuminated by the women of color and queer women of color who shaped this movement, I found myself continuously struggling to make sense of the world as I awakened to my own lived experiences with oppression. Dealing with racism, heterosexism, and colonialism, these forces shaped internalized beliefs about myself. Once I became more conscious of these forces in my life and how they characterize insidious and internalized norms, I grew to understand the importance of inquiring and dismantling multiple forms of oppression in my own personal life and professional practice. Dismantling also meant that I responsibly and systematically attended to other forms of oppression (e.g., classism, ableism) that I perpetuate. As a queer person of color, I understood this simultaneous interaction among my own experiences with oppression, the surfacing of my privileges, and the opportunities to highlight both oppression and resilience among my clients and students. Through my reflections and action, I use my motivation as a catalyst to institutionalize intersectionality across disciplines to acknowledge the professional practice of acknowledging oppression, privilege, and cultural capital. As I reflect on this combination in my own life as a cisgender male, an able-bodied person, and a person with access to education and career opportunities, I can form these coalitions with colleagues to dismantle ableism and its intersecting forms of oppression and to instill empowerment in the communities we serve.
Dan’s Perspective on Using Empathy to Improve Allyship:
Introspection of my own experiences and identities, and unpacking and challenging the relative privilege given to me by structural racism and heterosexism, has allowed me to hear, sit with, and amplify the unique experiences of minoritized groups. While distinctly different, my experiences with ableism as a PWS have allowed me to empathize with others and know the benefit that comes from being heard.
Stuttering has majorly influenced my life. Although I frequently experienced ableism and societal barriers (negative social interactions/thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about myself, being hung up on by many people including 911 operators, denied from the military, etc) it wasn’t until near the end of my undergraduate program, when I received a letter of denial from the graduate program director stating “communication skills not sufficient”, that it really hit me. From then on I was made to face my disillusion directly. The negative thoughts and emotions that I had about myself exponentially increased as did my concrete beliefs about what I thought others expected of me, especially as a SLP/Faculty member. I believed that I had to be fluent and no longer struggle with my stuttering, which was reinforced by several university clinical supervisors resulting in me being kicked out of my on-campus clinical placements, twice, until I “got my stuttering under control”. As a faculty member, I’ve heard that one program administrator at a university I interviewed at even stated that I “represented a failure of the profession”, 40 in-coming SLP graduate students openly laugh at me for stuttering during an orientation introduction, and I’ve experienced judgmental evaluations for my stuttering from some SLPs during my conference presentations. Despite these difficult experiences, through allyship and support from others I have rebounded and have rediscovered resilience.
Although I will never fully understand the unique experiences from living with multiple marginalized identities, I attempt to empathize with, and learn from, them allowing our common humanity to prevail throughout our resilient journeys.
Intersectionality can be used to help us navigate adverse experiences, improving our ability to bounce back. Here we have briefly outlined some of the ways in which intersectionality can be used to enhance our resilience including: embracing our identities, finding a community with shared experiences, promoting diverse representation, dismantling oppression, and improving allyship. We hope that the experiences and ideas shared here give some insight into how we can use intersectionality to create a community and world where it is safe – and beautiful – to be who we are.
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