Empowering. Healing. Connecting.
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Trans self-defense and empowerment for all bodies

Trans Communities
Anti-violence, Self-Help
March 8, 2023
Length of Recording

Trans and non-binary people, especially trans women of color, experience some of the most severe and frequent gender-based violence of any group in the US. Defend Yourself offers practical skills that anyone can learn (you don’t have to be an athlete, or train for years in martial arts) — skills for preventing, interrupting, and healing from harassment, abuse, and assault. Join Defend Yourself teacher Stephania Mahdi to find out more about how empowerment and self-defense training can help you be safer and more confident when dealing with everything from daily problems like problematic family members or intrusive coworkers to physical assault. You’ll leave this session with techniques you can use right away.

0:00 Introduction to presentation
2:04 About Stephania and Defend Yourself
6:16 Basics of empowerment self-defense
9:55 Self-defense and neurodiversity
12:09 Building confidence and empowerment

20:10 Practical self-defense skills
26:27 Self-defense with physical disabilities
28:31 The “tunnel zone”
31:02 What skills can people learn in class?

34:02 How to create distance?
36:21 How do we balance non-violence with safety?
40:23 Defend Yourself trainings with FORGE
42:25 Resources for people with disabilities

45:44 Getting away with mobility issues
47:17 How do you move from a “fawn” response to being more assertive?
52:32 If we can’t create space, how to create safety?
54:59 Why Stephania teaches self-defense
58:10 What weapons do you recommend carrying?

1:02:16 Closing words

Stephania Mahdi: For the last six years I have been teaching, learning, and growing as a Defend Yourself trainer. Defend Yourself classes empower me to be more assertive, and to create healthy respectful boundaries in my personal relationships. What inspires me the most about Defend Yourself is providing tools to women (cis/trans) and non-binary/queer folks to feel empowered in all aspects of their day-to-day life.

In addition to teaching with Defend Yourself, I am the chair of the DC Anti-Violence Project, a volunteer organization that supports survivors of all types of violence in the LGBTQIA+ community.

In my professional life I work as an Equal Opportunity Advisor, advising and training management and employees on ways to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

In my spare time, I enjoy volunteering in my community, working out, and attending the theatre.

Recorded March 8, 2023.