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Inspiring Conversations with Jamee Pineda of Jamee Pineda Healing Arts

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamee Pineda.

Hi Jamee, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I am a hilot binabaylan, acupuncturist, and Chinese medicine practitioner. My practice is informed by my identity as a queer, trans, nonbinary, Tagalog person living in the U.S. My goal is to help individuals and communities live their fullest lives by offering a decolonizing approach to medicine rooted in traditional and ancestral practices.

It has been a journey to be a healing practitioner. In 2009, I had just graduated with my MPA and landed my dream job as an executive director at a small nonprofit in my community. I was passionate about the organization and its mission, but I was soon on the road to burnout. I was working full time with half the pay. The organization was on the verge of folding and revealed this fact to me after I accepted the offer. To make ends meet, I picked up part-time jobs in addition to my full-time work. This experience completely broke me – I was traumatized, depleted, and ill. I did not have health insurance then, so I started seeing a counselor and going to a community acupuncture clinic with generous sliding scales. After 9 months, I was on the way back to wellness. I thought I had been doing work to uplift my community, but my approach was harmful to one of those community members: me. Why did my values and care not extend to myself as someone who faced multiple, intersectional oppressions? That realization changed my orientation to healing and movement work. I had to learn to attend to my healing to have the energy to live my values. I had to learn that rest and recovery are needed to sustain movements. I left toxic, white, queer, nonprofit culture for a big do-over. It became clear that my interests, values, and gifts aligned much more with the healing arts. In 2012, I came back to acupuncture as a student.

Going deeper into the healing arts, I started envisioning what decolonizing medicine would look like. My family is Tagalog and Chinoy. I wanted to understand what was so powerful about our pre-colonial traditions that the Spanish conquistadors and American imperialists tried to wipe them out. What did we do before we were forced into Euro-centric spiritual and medical systems that were violent towards us? What would my ancestors do in the face of today’s struggles for liberation? With immense support from my community, I traveled to the Philippines to study traditional Filipinx medicine at the Hilot Academy of Binabaylan. In a lucky window between the eruption of the Taal volcano and the COVID-19 pandemic, I was trained and initiated as a practitioner. What a time to be part of hilot’s revival! I am honored to be part of a tradition that has survived multiple invasions, the Catholic Church, and natural disasters. This medicine prioritizes not just individual healing but being in right relationship with each other and our natural environment. For me, offering this medicine is a step towards liberation.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I have had challenges doing the work I am committed to. I have worked as an employee in other people’s clinics and am self-employed. As an employee, I usually found myself in situations without structural support for folks who identified as gender-expansive, transgender, or nonbinary as patients or staff. I have always worked with employers and co-workers who described themselves as “open-minded” but lacked gender-inclusive language on medical documentation, gender-inclusive restrooms, familiarity with gender-affirming medical procedures, training for staff on pronouns and chosen names, etc. I have also been told not to focus so much on working with the trans community because they’re “niche.” I do not agree with this. I often found myself in the position of having to advocate for both myself and my patients without compensation. I believe everyone deserves care that affirms who they are because I believe medicine is about treating the whole person and their community. However, it takes a lot of energy and is difficult to navigate as an employee in someone else’s practice.

Running my own business gives me more autonomy to practice medicine in a way that is aligned with my values and my communities. It also gives me space to build a livelihood that matches how I interact with the world as an autistic person. My business is still in its infancy. It is scary to navigate a capitalist system without the illusion of stability from a regular paycheck (no shame on those who choose this because they need to). I get imposter syndrome. I doubt myself. I have to de-program an orientation towards scarcity and bootstraps mentality and re-program towards interdependence, compassion, and decolonization. None of this is easy, but that’s the work, isn’t it?

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
I am a practitioner of traditional medicines from the Philippines and China. I offer both virtual and in-person services. My virtual services include Chinese medicine telehealth, qi gong classes, and virtual hilot (divination). These services include acupuncture, Tuina (bodywork), moxibustion, cupping, gua sha, and herbal consultations. My in-person practice is located in the Fruit Camp building in Remington.

My practice centers on the needs of queer and trans folks of color, although I work with others. I especially love supporting folks through gender-affirming surgery and other trans-affirming care. Other common issues I treat include pain, digestion, anxiety/depression/stress, menstrual regulation, fertility, and pregnancy support. I partner with patients to create treatment plans considering their goals, lifestyles, and capacities. As much as possible in my work, I try to meet patients where they are in their healing journey.

Health and wellness are not an individual physical state. It is much more than a mind-body connection. It is a constellation of emotional, social, spiritual, financial, environmental, and ancestral health. It is healthy within the context of overlapping structural oppressions and histories of colonization. This, to me, is holistic health care.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check?
I love sci-fi and fantasy as ways to understand the world and reimagine better ways to do things.
Here is a short list of some of my favorites:
-All of NK Jemisin’s books
-The Wolves of No World Series (Lobizona, Cazadora), by Romina Garber
-Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho
-The Grishaverse books, by Leigh Bardugo
-All of Octavia Butler’s books
-Nnedi Okorafor’s books
-Trese, by Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jati Lindsay

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