Proud Business Project--Prism Integrative Acupuncture

Business Name: Prism Integrative Acupuncture

Website and Social Media: www.prismintegrativeacupuncture.com www.facebook.com/prismintegrativeacupuncture instagram: @prismclinic                             twitter: prismacupunctur

Location: currently subcontracting at The Wellness Principle on Saturday mornings, 330 41st St, Oakland, will be renting my own space hopefully in the next few months

Tell me about your business: Prism Integrative Acupuncture offers holistic hormone support for all of life's transitions: teens and puberty, fertility and reproduction (especially for queer and non-traditional families), transgender transition, menopause and mid-life transitions, as well as PCOS, endometriosis, and other hormonal conditions. I work with acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition to balance hormones, prepare for and recover after surgery, soothe anxiety and depression, and create a sense of balance and ease during times that can otherwise be very stressful and difficult. I developed this focus during the four year clinical internship of my acupuncture masters program and now am continuing it into my private practice.

How does your queer identity play a role in your work? As a lesbian with transgender and gender non-conforming loved ones, LGBTQ health and wellness feels especially pertinent. Even in the bay area, I see a deficit of options for holistic support during transition, especially for trans women. My personal connection to queer and lesbian communities has, and continues, to guide the focus of my practice.

What makes you most proud as a member of the LGBTQ community? Fighting to be who we are despite opposition, hatred, and violence. The amazing courage of our queer elders, coming out and supporting each other at a time when it was unsafe to be gay. The tenacity of visibly gender non-conforming people everywhere, the grit of queer folks who lost the support of their families by coming out, the fierceness of femmes who have to deal with not only homophobia and sexual harrassment, but also have to fight for their queer identities to be recognized. Our strength and bravery, even -and maybe especially- when we don't feel very brave, makes me so proud to be queer.

What does community mean to you? Community, to me, means a group of people who support each other, who depend upon each other, and who have some sort of commonality that connects them. For queers, this is especially wonderful and important: we don't have to know each other to see each other, to call each other 'family'. When I travel to small towns and run into queers there, we recognize and affirm each other. Simply by being out, being visibly queer, we are supporting each other. We don't have to know each other to fight to protect one another. When one of us takes on homophobia at work. or asks our conservative relatives to accept our queer relationships, or intentionally comes out when we're assumed straight, we are fighting for all of us to be accepted and safe.

What has been one of your biggest challenges getting to where you are? So far, the biggest challenge for my practice has been maintaining my focus on hormone regulation and transgender health while going through school, studying for boards, and learning how to start a business. This is already a lot to handle, and the addition of a speciality has been a lot of extra work. The importance of this work, though, has kept me motivated and focused on my goals.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur? I think that all of us start out thinking that we know what the queer community needs because we're a part of it. However, you can fall into a trap of only serving queers like you with this thinking. Do some research, talk to people, start broader intentions and see what works for the people you serve. This has been especially important for me as a cisgender person focusing on working with trans folks. I can't know from personal experience how best to serve that community, so I have to remain open to suggestions and criticism in order to be an effective provider. I started out thinking that I would be serving mainly other 20- or 30-something queer folks that I would be referred through community connections. In fact, I've ended up mostly reaching those who have not yet found queer community, especially trans teens and elders coming out later in life. By remaining open and flexible I've been able to serve people who need my services the most.

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".