Sassify Zine - June 2020
Illustration - Ben Faulkner Gant
“Give us the platform,
not because you “feel” it’s the right thing
to do but because you know we should
have been equal all along
and those challenging feelings
are testament to
Z Ratty 2018
Meet Zayna Ratty (She/Her), Chair of Oxford Pride, Gender, Sexuality & Relationship Diversity Hypno-Psychotherapist and Stonewall Role Model by day, we caught up with Zayna to talk Pride, and her LGBTQ+ journey.
Could you tell us about your LGBTQ+ journey so far?
My own journey to authenticity started from a similar place as many others, that of not knowing, yet of sensing something other about myself. I did as many people did and signed up to the societal trope of heteronormativity, a marriage which lead me down the fabulous path of motherhood. That path also led me to the flawed self-belief of being heterosexual and holding my authentic self in stasis.
I stayed in GSRD stasis until the learnings I made and took from my marriage gave me no option but to admit to myself that I had never been heterosexual and had been forcing my square self into a round receptacle for most of my life. It left me with the feeling of what do I do? Where do I turn? I don’t know anything other than the box which I’ve always lived in.
My learnings have been many yet continue every day, knowing more about myself and being more accepting. I do often feel that my bisexuality intersects with my ethnic identity in that they both undergo systemic discrimination. Just as ethnicity is a set of boundaries dividing populations based on characteristics such as language, religion, race or culture. Sexuality can be seen as a set of boundaries dividing a population according to sexual practices, identities, orientations and desires. It is through this observation of division that we can begin to decolonise those concepts. Right now, I truly hope that the outpouring of activism and support for the #blacklivesmatter movement never wains but continues to evoke real change throughout all our worlds. From the language used around marginalised groups, to the frameworks and structure that mean we are born at a disadvantage simply because of being who we are.
We must remember that few great things were done alone, we must think differently than before to affect change, this capacity to change the way we think comes thanks to the unusually high neuroplasticity of our brains. Listen to viewpoints that are not your own without interrupting; treat the person or viewpoint with the same kind regard that you’d treat your own ideas or self. We can improve inclusion by considering the 4 steps of intellectual humility. This guides our intellectual conduct, recognizing and owning our intellectual limitations in the pursuit of deeper knowledge, authenticity, and congruence.
The power of therapy and talking is so important, even more so in times of isolation.
What drew you to becoming a Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist?
We have all lied, we all evaluate the cost to benefit ratio of doing so every time it occurs. Clients need to learn that they can trust us before they will tell us what they really want to talk about, we are taught early on in practice that the “presenting issue isn't always the issue”. I too had this experience.
I didn't know much about myself, had a limited emotional vocabulary and didn't feel my therapist would understand what I wanted to say. I had a professional background in terminal care, so have always been in a role where I tried to help others. People often ask how I became a LGBTQIA+ specialist. It’s because I want to provide a safe space where people can be themselves, to provide a space where there is no judgement and because I do what I know.
I don't really see people who want to stop smoking, I guess I’m not the therapist for them either. I always say clients are drawn to the therapist they need at that time, this might not be a long time therapeutic exchange but when I see people who have been erased, dismissive therapists or those whose therapists had some fascination with some part of their identity for their own end, then I know I made the right choice to allow my career to take me where it wanted to go.
I didn't start researching courses and training until I was in my 30’s nearly 10 years ago now and it’s been a journey for me, I’ve learnt so much and continue to learn. I’m currently doing a practitioner’s course in ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). I am not tied to one modality, because no two clients are the same and so I believe the therapist is their own modality made up of everything they know, want to know and have done. The profession can be quite territorial about modalities. I feel that I’m an ‘integrative’ hypno-psychotherapist. Like baking a cake, every client comes with different ingredients, so you need to know how to bake more than one type of cake.
One image I saw recently that really resonated with me was about how smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from experiences and short-sighted people already have the answers. I am told I don't like to make it easy on myself, but decolonising therapy is a passion of mine. If no one ever challenges anything then no one ever moves in any direction. I feel that when any profession is not being proactively inclusive then it is fostering a systemic culture of being exclusive.
What has been the best part of your chosen profession?
People think my profession is just to listen to people’s problems all day and it’s really depressing or to use hypnosis to turn people into chickens… Nether is actually true!
It is about so much more; there is no bigger privilege than to be the one to sit with someone, to walk with them, to encourage and see them be their best selves. I’m incredibly proud of the changes that my clients make in their lives and situations. They do the work, they show up and be present. We laugh, we cry, we search, we find meanings, we find dead ends, evaluate, transform and know that they are all part of the fabric of their life and, for that, I’m grateful to play my part.
I don't fix people, I encourage them to fix themselves: to find new skills, to reframe, to think feel and to see from different angles. We all come from different places and end up at different locations. When you do what you love, you can really love what you do.