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First ever national survey about health of BDSM communities and kink-identified individuals

on Friday, 15 April 2016. Hits 668

The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance (TASHRA), a San Francisco non-profit community research organization, announces that on April 1st, 2016 it will launch the first ever national survey to examine the impact of kink sexuality on health and healthcare usage.


Why the survey?


Patients who engage in non-traditional sexual practices, including kink, BDSM, and fetishes (see terminology, below), have been largely ignored by healthcare providers and clinical researchers. TASHRA’s research strives to explore the interaction between kink and health, and specifically to describe the physical and mental health of the kink population, their use of healthcare, and their experiences engaging with the healthcare system.

TASHRA’s pilot study (manuscript in review), was a qualitative study based in the San Francisco Bay Area, conducted from 2013-2015. The study concluded that patients have genuine healthcare needs relating to their kink practices and identities, and that they wish to “come out” to their clinicians about their kink sexuality. However, only 38% are out to their current primary care clinician, with most citing fear of stigma as the reason for their non-disclosure.

TASHRA’s pilot study was conducted in a single urban setting, and the results should be generalized with caution. As a qualitative study, the results serve to bring salient issues to light, but do not provide statistics relating to the frequency of the findings, nor do they permit comparisons between subgroups of study participants.

The next step in TASHRA’s research agenda, then, is to distribute a survey to a national kink population, which will allow us to quantify the impact of kink on both physical and mental health, and examine nation-wide issues of healthcare access, specifically as they relate to the experience of healthcare-related stigma.

TASHRA will be recruiting U.S. adults, 18 years and older, who practice at least one non-traditional sexual behavior or fetish, including but not limited to: bondage/discipline, sadism/masochism, domination/submission, sexual role-play, or sexual objectification.

The survey is available online at: It will be advertised at kink conferences and community events across the country, along with kink-oriented social media sites and Facebook.

More about TASHRA:

TASHRA is a community-based organization whose mission is to improve the physical and mental health of people who engage in BDSM, kink and sexual fetishism. This is achieved by conducting community-based research, educating healthcare professionals and patients, and by fostering the development of kink-friendly healthcare services.

TASHRA was started in 2012 by Jess Waldura, MD, Richard Sprott, PhD, and Anna Randal, MPH MSW. Jess Waldura, MD, is a family physician, HIV provider, and researcher at UCSF. Richard Sprott, PhD, is a developmental psychologist and director of the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS). Anna Randall, MPH MSW, is a clinical sexologist and researcher in private practice. TASHRA is guided and supported by a Community Advisory Board consisting of 16 kink-identified community members.


For more information, contact Jess Waldura, Richard Sprott and Anna Randall at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Guest Blog: The Need for KAP/Poly-Aware Networking Groups for Psychotherapists

on Thursday, 14 April 2016. Hits 646

by Keely Kolmes, Psy.D.

In the fall of 2009, I started Bay Area Open Minds a clinician networking group for psychotherapists and psychotherapy students who affirm that sexual and gender diversity are natural expressions of the human experience. Our psychotherapy practices welcome and serve clients who engage in consensual sexual behaviors, including but not limited to kink and polyamory and clients who are gender variant. One of our primary goals was to provide mentorship and community to students seeking support in working with these communities who may not be getting such support in their graduate programs.

We now have over 160 mental health professionals in our thriving group. We have an active listserv where we can seek consultation and referrals. And we have developed a brochure and website so that clients can find clinicians and graduate programs can advertise our group.

We’d love to help other communities to create their own groups. If you’re interested in starting one, here are our recommendations.

1. If you are a student, find a Kink Aware Professional or Poly-Friendly Professional in your community and inquire as to whether they are willing to be a support/contact person to initiate group. It can be very stressful to take this on as a student but immensely helpful to have the support of licensed colleagues.

2. Our approach was to send the announcement to local LGBT therapy groups, graduate programs, local Kink Aware Therapists and Poly-Friendly colleagues who were known to Dr. Kolmes, founder of our group.

3. We got some more visibility through newspapers, at some graduate schools, through Good Vibrations magazine, and social media.

4. The first flyer was a blog post on Dr. Kolmes’s website and a paper announcement posted in public spaces. It read:

Please join our group: Bay Area Therapists Affirming of Diversity in Sexuality

This is a free group for mental health professionals in the Bay Area of California. We offer support, networking, and consultation for Bay Area clinicians and mental health trainees who embrace the full range of sexual expression of consenting adults. Our respective practices explicitly welcome and serve clients who engage in alternative sexual behaviors and relationships, including kink and poly folks.

We offer an email list (no consultation takes place on-list) and meet every other month at a member’s office.

We are especially interested in reaching out to students who may not have mentors or support in their clinical programs around working with sexually diverse populations.  Most clinical programs encourage students to explore their cultural identities and offer student groups organized around ethnicity, religion, LGBT-identity, disability, or other cultural affiliations.

But students who are kink or poly-identified or who want to work with these populations may have a more difficult time identifying one another and forming such groups. Many schools still don’t recognize these alternative identities as deserving of non-biased care and respect. We are seeking to bridge this gap. We offer a safe space to connect with other mental health professionals who are affirming of the full range of diverse sexual expression.

Contact me if you would like to get connected with us.

5. Our first meeting had 8 clinicians show up and the group evolved to monthly two hour meetings. Volunteer efforts started with naming of our group and we came up with Open Minds. After 3 years, we formed our Board of Directors and began collecting dues. At that point, we created a logo, website, and brochures.

Our aim was to keep membership fees low so as to make our group accessible to students.

6. Having funding became important because while our local queer therapist group was amenable to our sharing booth space with them at some events temporarily, we needed funds in order to be able to purchase our own booth space and have an independent presence at street fairs.

7. Towards end of the first year with Board of Directors (June, 2012) , we consulted with a Certified Public Accountant for pursuit of non-profit status and submitted forms to the Tax Board to become tax exempt professional organization. When we have funds in excess of $5000, we may apply for non-profit status, or we can donate to community groups to keep our funds in the $5000 range.

8. Over time, we found that there is a strong need for a social and networking component to our group. Additionally, the email list has continued to be a good resource for seeking referrals and information. We have also been able to offer educational offerings such as managing sexual transference and countertransference as well as business networking issues. We also had a discussion on working with mono/poly pairings.

We hope we can encourage other communities to develop similar groups. It is clear that clinicians serving altsex and gender diverse communities can benefit from support and networking.


Join us and help serve as role models to student therapists in your community.

Consent Summit

on Tuesday, 05 April 2016. Hits 715

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom’s Consent Summit is an all-day event of workshops and discussions on consent in Seattle. The NCSF Consent Summit is sponsored by the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival and the Foundation and Center for Sex Positive Culture.

Keynote Speaker for the Consent Summit, Tristan Taormino says, “It’s important enough to devote an entire summit to it!”

10 am – 6 pm on April 23rd

@the Center for Sex Positive Culture, 1602 15th Ave W, Seattle, WA

See the Program and Presenters here!

Plenary: State of Consent

Keynote Speech by Tristan Taormino

Panels: Consent & the Law
Consent Activism: Past, Present and Future
Affirmative Consent and College Campuses 
Workshops:  Consent & Negotiation
Consent in Power Exchange Relationships
Train the Trainers: Teaching Consent


All tickets include Seattle Erotic Arts Festival admission on Sunday and 15% off the Weekend Pass for the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival. Register here:

$50 - All day event with luncheon ticket for Keynote

$40 - All day event without luncheon

$35 - All day reduced price and students

$30 - Luncheon and Keynote ticket

$75 – All day event with luncheon ticket and Pay It Forward*

*Pay It Forward allows those who are economically advantaged to assist people who are not. It's a reminder to all of us that money can create barriers between us. If you need a scholarship to attend, please contact NCSF to find out more - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Now everyone can join in the NCSF Consent Summit! Watch the Keynote Speech, Plenary and Panels live online. You can ask questions and make comments via the chat function. RSVP to register for free online viewing: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Silicon Valley Welcomes the NCSF Coalition Partners!

on Friday, 18 March 2016. Hits 464

March 18, 2016 – The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom’s annual Coalition Partner Meeting took place March 4-6, 2016, in San Jose, CA. For the first time, the annual meeting was made accessible by video conferencing for Coalition Partners and NCSF staff members, so they could actively participate in the meeting.

“Opening up the NCSF annual meeting to everyone regardless of whether they can travel will allow more people to get involved in our work,” says Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF. “NCSF has made a lot of progress over the past 19 years fighting for our rights, and we are seeing a drop in persecution because of our successful efforts with the American Psychiatric Association. We look forward to more progress with our new American Law Institute project to make consent a defense to BDSM in criminal proceedings.”

“Opening up the NCSF annual meeting to everyone regardless of whether they can travel will allow more people to get involved in our work,” says Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF. “NCSF has made a lot of progress over the past 19 years fighting for our rights, and we are seeing a drop in persecution because of our successful efforts with the American Psychiatric Association. We look forward to more progress with our new American Law Institute project to make consent a defense to BDSM in criminal proceedings.”

Some highlights from NCSF:

· The first NCSF Consent Summit will take place on April 23rd in Seattle

· Over 60 people have signed up to take NCSF’s BDSM and Intimate Partner Violence Training with workshops scheduled through the next quarter

· NCSF worked with the American Association for Sexuality Educators Counselors and Therapists Alt Sex SIG to produce “A Taste of Kink” at the AASECT annual conference in Minneapolis last June

· NCSF introduced the new Got Consent? brochure on communication and negotiations

· NCSF launched a series of FAQs for groups and events on how to deal with consent violations

· NCSF directly helped 198 people, groups and businesses in 2015 through our Incident Reporting & Response

· The Kink Aware Professionals database was accessed by 1,800 people, a 30% increase over 2014

· NCSF exhibited and presented at over 33 events in 2015

· NCSF gave 38 interviews last year including a big media push around the 50 Shades of Grey movie launch

The annual reports and financial statements are posted on the NCSF website:


Saturday afternoon was devoted to discussing the services NCSF provides to people who are non-monogamous, and how to further develop the resources people need, like help with housing, child custody and legal forms of protection. The CPs and Board members also discussed a proposal on Disabilities and Sex Workers, which dovetails with NCSF’s mission to defend the right of consenting adults to have freedom of sexual expression.

Saturday evening, the NCSF staff, Board members and Coalition Partner reps attended the San Francisco’s Leather Alliance Weekend main event, the Mr. SF Leather Contest, where 10 amazing contestants vied for the sash. NCSF congratulates Mr. San Francisco Leather 2016: Cody Elkin (Mr. Lonestar 2016)!

The Consent Counts Discussion on Sunday drew a crowd of 38 people who were eager to discuss various issues of consent. It was a wonderful showing of interest and support from the local San Jose community.


The new NCSF Board of Directors consists of:

Kevin Carlson – Chairman (Boise, ID)

Keira Harris – Secretary and Volunteer Coordinator (New Orleans, LA)

L.V. "Sassy" Reese – NCSF Treasurer (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN)

Jim Fleckenstein – NCSF Foundation Treasurer (Manassas, VA)

Susan Wright – Media and Incident Reporting & Response Director (Phoenix, AZ)

Judy Guerin – Consent Counts Director (Washington, DC)

Julian Wolf – Newsletter Director (Albuquerque, NM)

Mercury – Literature Director (Nashville, TN)

Devin MacLachlan (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

Allena Gabosch (Seattle, WA)

Billy Lane (Philadelphia, PA)

Jackie "Bebe" Harris (St. Louis, MO)


NCSF looks forward to seeing you in the Midwest for the 2017 Annual Coalition Partners Meeting.

Please support NCSF by becoming a member, volunteering or donating today! NCSF is here to help you, so please help us!

Guest Blog: Judges Still Cannot Accept a Right of Privacy for BDSM

on Monday, 14 March 2016. Hits 637

A look at Lawrence v. Texas and Doe v. George Mason U

By Richard O. Cunningham, Esq.

NCSF Legal Counsel


In Doe v. George Mason University, the District Court judge’s discussion of BDSM and of Lawrence v. Texas—which is an opinion, not a ruling—is yet another example of how a number of courts have twisted and turned to avoid applying Lawrence to sexual practices of which they morally disapprove. These decisions have involved BDSM, polyamory and even sodomy—which was, of course, the specific practice that was prosecuted in the Lawrence case.


The fact is that Lawrence was explicitly based on a fundamental ruling that applies broadly—but with some ambiguities—to non-injurious, non-commercial sexual conduct.  The constitutional right of privacy, the Lawrence court stated, prevents criminalization of intimate sexual practices unless there is a sufficient societal interest that needs protection by a criminal statute.  The court went on to hold—and this is the crucial point that the District Court judge ignores in Doe v. George Mason—that moral disapproval is not a sufficient societal interest.


But Lawrence, like most Supreme Court decisions, is a lengthy opinion that contains language which, although it in no way detracts from the basic ruling, can be twisted by the moralists to find ways to continue to prosecute the same sexual acts.  Thus courts have misused the Lawrence court’s references to “public sex,” or to the exchange of money, or to physical harm—all to justify the criminalization of “private, consensual conduct,” a criminalization which Lawrence explicitly condemns.


It is important not to oversimplify the issues and frame the debate in a context favorable to the sexual bigots. For our purposes, the question is whether the right to privacy contemplated in Lawrence protects people who engage in BDSM absent non-consent or serious physical injury.  We contend that it does.  This approach enables us to focus the courts and public opinion on the fact that prosecutions growing out of BDSM conduct—whether for assault or trafficking or other crimes—are based on precisely what the Lawrence court found impermissible—namely, moral disapproval.


The judge in Doe v. George Mason sets up a “straw man” when he states the issue as whether there is a “constitutional right to BDSM.”  Lawrence does not specifically mention BDSM, but instead establishes a broad principle that the right of privacy protects “private, consensual conduct” which includes BDSM as certainly as it includes same sex conduct.


It is also important to note that the Lawrence ruling says that conduct may be criminalized if necessary to protect a sufficient societal interest. That is why NCSF argues, and has had success arguing, that only BDSM cases involving serious physical injury warrant criminal prosecution if the activity is consensual.  Such an argument is both legally sound and appeals to the public’s sense of fairness and respect for privacy and personal dignity. NCSF is working effectively on this basis with legislators, lawyer groups, prosecutors and others, and is filing amicus briefs in key appeals related to cases involving alternative sexuality practices.


Of course we should continue emphasizing the general principle of Lawrence that a right of privacy protects sexual conduct unless there is a sufficient societal interest to warrant criminalization. But the balance between that right of privacy and the alleged “societal interests” claimed by our opponents to warrant prosecution will differ from one sex practice to another. Thus, for example, this argument will be different for BDSM than for polyamory.


NCSF is making real progress by presenting these issues in the proper way. An over-broad argument that “we can perform any sex acts we want” or that “BDSM is constitutionally protected in any circumstances,” won’t win over the courts or the legislators. And an over-broad strategy plays into the hands of our opponents, who want to portray us as perverts who want no rules in any situation that would prevent people from doing anything they want to do.


This District Court’s decision is nothing new, and there is no need—and a real downside—for focusing our battle on that opinion, incorrect and illogical as it is.


Participants needed for Qualitative Study

on Friday, 11 March 2016. Hits 488

Vanilla and Kink: Married Couples in Which One Partner Identifies as a Part of the BDSM Culture and the Other Partner Does Not.

Looking for a legally married couple:

· At least 18 years of age

· Married for at least 1 year (including open-marriage and other variations)

· Male and female partnered marriage

· Speak and write English language fluently

· One partner self-identifying as a part of the BDSM culture/community for at least 1 year and the other partner self-identifying as not specifically BDSM (including vanilla, kinky but not identifying as BDSM, etc. )

· Not currently pregnant or experiencing psychosis or suicidal ideation

Due to the limited time and resources, this particular study focuses the above specific population. Future research will include a variety of types of committed relationships, sexual orientations, etc.

For questions or interest in participation, contact:

Catherine Meyer, MA, LMFT #88224

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Supervised by Hao-Min Chen, Ph.D.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Goal of this study is to understand how married couples communicate and negotiate the rules, roles, and expectations about their sexual relationship when one partner identifies with the BDSM culture and the other does not.


All identifying information will be kept confidential.

This research is endorsed by CARAS.

NCSF Announcement on the George Mason University case

on Thursday, 10 March 2016. Hits 2391

NCSF counsel has carefully analyzed the opinion of U.S. District Court Judge T. S. Ellis III in John Doe v. George Mason University. Contrary to what is being said by some people on the internet, the issues actually decided by the Judge had nothing to do with the constitutionality or legality of BDSM. That subject appears only in a throw-away section of the opinion in which the Judge, having already decided the case in favor of the BDSM practitioner who had been wrongfully expelled from the university, decided to give vent to his displeasure with BDSM and with Lawrence v. Texas, and to state his own totally wrong interpretation of Lawrence.

At the outset of the opinion, the Judge announced that he was going to decide two issues. First, did the University use the constitutionally-required procedures in expelling Mr. Doe? He ruled that the University did not. Second, was Mr. Doe’s right of free speech violated by taking action against him for telling his girlfriend privately that he might commit suicide? The Judge ruled that Mr. Doe’s free speech rights were violated. On these grounds, and only on these grounds, the Judge ordered Mr. Doe to be at least temporarily reinstated at George Mason

After all of this, the Judge noted that Mr. Doe had argued earlier in the case – but not for purposes of this decision – that he had a constitutional right to practice BDSM. Then, without any pretense of issuing any order on this issue, the Judge gave vent to his own views on BDSM and Lawrence v. Texas.

There is now no procedure by which the subject of BDSM will be addressed in any further court proceedings. The student, Mr. Doe, cannot appeal this decision because he won. The University might appeal, but only on the procedural unfairness and free speech issues.

NCSF regrets that Judge Ellis felt it necessary to articulate his dead-wrong view of Lawrence. This is but one more example of a judge giving expression to his own moralistic and uninformed displeasure concerning BDSM. But it is entirely what lawyers call dictum. It creates no precedent and does not even have any effect on this case.

For more information, contact NCSF at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Journal of Positive Sexuality Gains Co-Sponsor in NCSF

on Tuesday, 01 March 2016. Hits 580

Non-Profit Outreach Education and Research Organization

Center for Positive Sexuality

is Pleased to Partner on Journal with National Coalition for Sexual Freedom!

LOS ANGELES (March 1, 2016) – On the heels of celebrating the one-year anniversary of their Journal of Positive Sexuality, launched in February 2015, the Center for Positive Sexuality teams up with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a known champion of sexual freedoms and privacy rights for all adults. With similar visions, but slightly different audiences, the two groups' messages of sex positivity, consent, education, and acceptance can be shared more broadly.

Center for Positive Sexuality Director of Research Dr. DJ Williams reports, ”With this sponsorship the Journal will reach a wider audience and acquire more submissions to publish. This will also improve our research,as we’ll have an outlet to promote our studies and surveys. Partnering with NCSF makes sense. They have a broad audience who share similar interests.”

Established in 2007, the Center for Positive Sexuality received 501c3 Non-Profit status in 2013 and has been presenting educational panels to local colleges, universities, and professionals debunking myths and replacing them with truths and lived experiences on a range of issues such as kink/BDSM, non-monogamy, sex and aging, sex and disability, gender spectrum, and others.

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) was formed in 1997 by a small group led by Susan Wright under the auspices of the New York SM Activists. The goal was to fight for sexual freedom and privacy rights for all adults who engage in safe, sane and consensual behavior. Today, NCSF has over 50 Coalition Partners made up of groups and businesses who serve BDSM, swing and polyamory practitioners. Over the years, NCSF has formed alliances with other organizations that defend sexual freedom rights: Free Speech Coalition, the ACLU, American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, among others.

In its first year of publication, the open-access Journal of Positive Sexuality published three issues with a total of 12 articles, reaching over 30 countries worldwide.

The Journal of Positive Sexuality is free to access and download, and is multi-disciplinary, peer-reviewed and easy to read (articles are no longer than 8 pages) all from a sex positive lens.

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