I am trained in Sharon Wheelers ScarWork® and offer this to queer and trans people for scars relating to gender-affirming surgery (including lower surgery) and self harm scars.
ScarWork® itself is a gentle, painless way of interacting with the scars and the surrounding tissues (over 20 different strokes), and on a physical level we are dealing with fascia, adhesions and tissues that have quickly formed to do a great job of protecting the integrity of the body, but now might be causing mobility problems and numbness and other issues.
Scars often change in appearance through this process, and the photos clients can take before and after often show these changes, in colour, depth, and shape. But more importantly, clients report a changing relationship with the scar both physically and emotionally. More mobility, more sensation coming back, less numbness or pain, and an increased sense of a connected (friendly, or erotically charged) relationship with the changed body part.
A fusion of embodied practice, Somatic Sex Education, Sexological Bodywork and ScarWork through the lens of a mindful, person centred, therapeutic framework.
Wanting to deliberately create a significant contrast to people’s experience of medical settings, I bring the careful and embodied consent, the quality communication, the use of meditative and down-regulated (safe/relaxed) states, creating a nurturing environment where people can experience a completely different way of being looked at, treated, touched and interacted with.
The ‘Integrative’ part of this, for me, is how I combine this with the invitation to come more into the experience of the body and all that it can tell us. I let the client lead me on how ready they are for this or how much is right for them. I can touch and interact with scars, both external and internal, in a consent-based, gentle and non-invasive way that can be healing on multiple levels.
So many people come to me carrying difficult memory and trauma from years of being under the care of gender services, and finally having surgery. As well as being joy and relief, often after years of waiting lists, there is also pain, loss and processing to be done. There is often a distinct sense of medical trauma, from less than caring treatment and attitudes from the medical systems, or things that went wrong.
Where does pleasure come into this?
Integrative Scarwork means that we unapologetically embrace the idea of getting pleasure back, or connecting with new pleasure. Not just ‘normal’ function, not just ‘normal’ sensation, but pleasure in movement, and pleasure in feeling and from touch! This is something that many people report as lacking from most of our mainstream gender services – a centring of a person’s sexual pleasure and whole erotic embodiment, and the acknowledgement of the yearning for this and the loss and grief that can arise in its absence. Clients know I centre and welcome pleasure and that I am there for them whether they can access or notice pleasure or not. We welcome what arises and cultivate curiosity about it.
The touch and scar remediation we might do on genitals is not explicitly erotic or seeking of pleasure, but we might ‘map’ the scar or an area in a completely open-minded way; because I am a Certified Sexological Bodyworker, the client knows they are completely welcome to notice and share about arousal or pleasurable sensations.