Category Archives: Oppression

Rolling Our Eyes Won’t Cut it this Time. Stand with Planned Parenthood.

I’m embarrassed.  By my country, my government, my fellow human folks.  I’ve sat here quietly while all this de-fund-Planned-Parenthood nonsense has gone on, hoping it was just one more instance of those crazy right-wingers unsuccessfully trying to make the world a worse place, and instead successfully just making themselves look ridiculous–again.

But that’s not what’s going on.  This is serious business.  When the House voted last week to revoke all federal funding of Planned Parenthood, they placed the health care and reproductive choices of millions of women in peril. 

AND THESE ARE NOT JUST WOMEN LOOKING FOR ABORTIONS.  They are grandmothers looking for breast cancer screenings; trans folks looking for respectful pap smears; teen girls looking for ways to not get pregnant; expectant couples suffering stillbirth and miscarriage.  They are you, your mom, your sister, your cousin.

It’s time to not be quiet anymore.  Rolling our eyes at the anti-choicers won’t cut it this time.  Sign the I Stand for Planned Parenthood Petition and tell the Congress not to destroy 3 million women’s access to quality, affordable health care.

The Children of Tahrir Square

While I’ve had my eyes glued to Al Jazeera English over the past few weeks, Mai’a Williams of Guerrilla Mama Medicine–a resident of Cairo–has been living the Egyptian revolution live and in person.  Below are some of her photos, specifically of children, from Tahrir Square over the past few weeks.

Mai'a Williams and her daughter Aza dancing in Tahrir Square during the million Man March 02/09/11

I’m not going to spout a bunch of rhetoric here about the value of giving your children the experience of engaging in full scale social revolution, or the turmoil of decisions around safety…I’m just going to post these photos.  Photos of families and children whose presence in Tahrir Square this month has made the world a different place.  Thank you to Mai’a and everyone in these photos.

"family at tahrir sq protests last week""woman standing with two children, one of whom holds the egyptian flag"


"woman standing with two children, one of whom holds the egyptian flag"


"mother carrying child during protests on friday--day of rage"

"boy teaching girl how to throw rocks in front of a mosque in tahrir sq.""mother carrying child during protests on friday--day of rage"

Call for Birth Stories from LGBTQ parents

In the world of pregnancy and birth, there’s not much space devoted to the voices of queer or trans birthing folks.  When’s the last time you read a transman’s birth story, or noticed a lesbian couple’s birth photos floating around the ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ world of Facebook?

Kristen Ethier of Chicago’s Kaledioscope Doula wants to change that!  Here’s her call for submissions of birth stories from lesbian, queer, gender non-conforming, or FTM transgender parents:

What’s this all about?

There are vast collections of birth stories written by heterosexual folks.  It is time for your stories to be heard & recorded as a part of our queer history.  I am asking you to share your story with me because I am passionate about your story of the day you welcomed your child to the world being heard, in your own words. Send me your story whether you were the parent who gave birth or the co-parent who supported your partner when your baby was born.

I am not certain about the direction this collection will take & I will respond to your e-mailed story to ask permission before posting/publishing it.

Who’s asking?

Hi. I’m Kristen. I’m a queer feminist birth doula and childbirth educator in Chicago. I am passionate about the power of queer voices in pregnancy & birth culture. You can learn more about me at

All submissions can be e-mailed to

Outlaw Midwives #2 is here!

Outlaw Midwives #2 is here!  Thanks to the work, vision, intention, manifestation, joy, and rage of Mai’a Williams and the swarm of incredible folks involved in this zine.  Read it online here, and read Maia’s intro here:

I love volume 2 of outlaw midwives.  I love it because it is full of personal stories from the frontlines of birth work and mothering.  As I printed out the articles and sat on the floor with glue stick and scissors, stapler and paper, I could hear the air crackle around me as the electric heater burnt slowly.  These pages are pointing to a path of liberation and magic.  To a place where justice = love.

These stories run the gamut, from supporting women’s access to abortion to discovering that breastfeeding can be painful and exhausting.  From questioning who homebirth is really for, to mamas discussing marginal identities in the natural birth community.  There are visions for what midwifery could be, should be, and what it should never have become.  Stories about death.  And yes, stories about birth.  Most of all, these are stories, our stories, that we need. Continue reading

Smiling at Fred Phelps

How the fuck do you smile at Fred Phelps?

Scotty Weaver was an 18 year old gay Alabaman who liked to dress in drag. He was brutally tortured & murdered by 3 teenagers in 2004. Fred Phelps is glad he's dead.

I’m watching the documentary Small Town Gay Bar, and there’s this loooong interview with the infamous Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church.  He’s smiling and happy and cheerful as he describes the wrath that God is bringing down on us all for our acceptance of “fags.”

And the kicker is, you can hear the (liberal, LGBTQ friendly) filmmakers chuckling along with him as he spews his hate to their camera with a huge grin on his face.

I get that they did what they had to do to get the interview.  I can identify with having to compromise yourself for a moment in order to accomplish a larger goal.

But imagining myself sitting across a table from Fred Phelps, smiling and chuckling along with him–EVEN just for a few minutes, for a fantastic purpose–makes my skin crawl.  My head is spinning at the thought of it.

End rant.

Mamas of Color Rising…and Rising and Rising!

The momentum over at Mamas of Color Rising makes me tired just reading about them!

They host a monthly potluck & clothing swap, they fundraise like crazy–I’ve heard their homemade empanadas are worth every penny–and it seems they know how to throw a mean benefit party.

But their most exciting endeavor?  The Sister Doula Training, wherein they’ll train 20 women of color to become certified doulas.

This is one part of our current campaign around access to equality in birthing and prenatal care for women of color. This training will be a first step in implementing a women of color doula and birth support project here in Austin, TX.

Sending Mamas of Color Rising some solidarity and love from the Rocky Mountains!

Gendered Language in this Safe Space

This post originally appeared today at the Full Spectrum Doula Network, so the language is directed toward that particular community.  But the message applies to the larger reproductive health community as well–and is a key element to the work we have to do to create an inclusive movement that fully represents the vibrance and diversity of this world.

One of the core goals of this community is to create a safe space for the full spectrum of doulas and other reproductive health workers.  For transgender or genderqueer folks working in the reproductive health world, part of feeling safe is not being asked to constantly, on a minute-to-minute basis, identify within the conventional gender binary of male and female–and not constantly, on a minute-to-minute basis, having your gender assumed as female because of your work as a doula or midwife.

This post is just a gentle nudge to remind folks here that your language matters.  To remind folks that part of creating a safe space lies in challenging ourselves to change our behaviors that might be alienating or denigrating to folks we really don’t mean to oppress.

Here, in this safe space, you don’t have to be a ‘lady’ or a ‘she’ or a ‘woman’ (or even a ‘womyn’ for that matter) to be a doula or a midwife or an advocate.

Many of us have talked about how Continue reading

this is THE conference to be at. see you there!

The annual conference ‘From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom’ is the closest thing to a major radical reproductive rights conference out there.  I suspect that a good number of you have already been to it before, and I’ll be there in April 2011.  Come! 

Every year 1,000+ reproductive health advocates gather for an Abortion Speakout, plus workshops on incredible topics like:

  • Expanding the Doula Model of Care: Training and Being Abortion Doulas
  • Abortion Care
  • Abortion Access Internationally 
  • Abortion Funding and Access in the U.S. 
  • Mothers Among Us 
  • Empowering Birth 
  • Politics of Family Creation 
  • Healthcare for All
  • Translating the Gender Landscape: Creating Awareness and Activism 
  • Trans Feminism
  • Beyond the Gender Binary: A Trans 101
  • Blogging for Reproductive Justice
  • Self-Help/Self-Exams
  • Demystifying Reproductive Health
  • International Reproductive Rights Roundtable 
  • Organizing for Health Care Access

These workshops are from last year, but this year’s schedule promises to be even more ridiculously great–it’s the conference’s 30th anniversary.  It’s hosted by the Civil Liberties & Public Policy program at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. 

The real kicker is that this amazing event is free.  Yeah, I said free.  So, no cost for the conference, plus a bunch of meals are included, plus free transportation around the area, means this is probably one of the most accessible (as well as the most fly) conferences around. 

So join me!  Come and share and learn and grow and network!  Who’s in?

Disability Justice in Practice

Mia and Stacy are two self-described “interdependent queer disabled korean diasporic radical women of color” looking for collective support as they combine their households and move to Berkeley. 

I ran across their story courtesy of Guerrilla Mama Medicine, and I feel like I’ve just encountered two inspiring, powerful women with more resting on their shoulders than I will ever understand. 

Mia Mingus and I [Stacey Milbern] have decided to live together and create/cultivate interdependent queer disabled korean diasporic radical women of color home together. We are embarking on a journey together to put pieces of disability justice into practice, love each other and live on the other side of dreaming. A huge part of this is our need, as crips, as queers, and women of color, as korean (and all) diasporic people; we need each other and we need you.

Their task is formidable; they have to gather the financial, physical, and social resources to find affordable, accessible housing, to make the actual move, and to establish a careshift collective to provide daily routine assistance until disability & medicaid start up in their new home state.

So  how can you help?  If you’re in Berkeley, help look for housing, or send any referrals their way.  If you’re not in Berkeley, send them a donation toward housing/moving costs, or participate in Thaura Distro’s book sale fundraiser  to benefit Mia & Stacy.

The IRS: My New Riot Cops

In 2003, I was beaten, sprayed with chemical weapons, stripped naked by male officers, and sent to jail in a paper hospital gown. In 2008, I won my lawsuit against the police department who’d violated my physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual safety. They sent me a big fat check, and I tried to move on with my life.

But evidently, the government is not done with me.

The IRS thinks I owe them taxes on the settlement money I received.  The idea of that blows me away; the idea of fighting tooth & nail for recognition of what happened, and then handing some of that recognition back over to the same entity that committed the violations in the first place, the modern U.S. police state.  Lawsuit funds related to personal injury are not taxable, and I promise you, I was motherfucking personally injured.

The lawsuit settlement was my vindication.  It was the closest thing to an apology or an admission of guilt that I’ll ever get.  It was my validation that something wrong had actually occurred. 

I spent five years fighting for that validation.  In and out of court rooms, testifying in depositions, sitting through soul-crushing settlement negotiations, flying back & forth across the country for court dates on a $0 budget. 

And now the IRS wants to start the process all over again, with months of hearings and evidence and testimony.  Continue reading

Solidarity with Black Midwives

From the folks over at SQUAT: An Anarchist Birth Journal, here’s an opportunity to stand in solidarity with Black midwives.  Please read on and donate if you can to support women of color struggling in the white-led birthing world.  Please feel free to forward widely, post on Facebook, etc…

Dearest Community,

As many of you know, I just recently graduated from Maternidad La Luz (MLL), a midwifery school and clinic in El Paso, Texas that serves primarily women and families from Juarez, Mexico. During my 18-months of training, I came to understand that both MLL and powerful sectors of the midwifery community in the U.S. are white-dominated and currently lack a meaningful analysis around white supremacy and

I also came to meet two amazing midwives and dear friends during my time at MLL, Andrea and Kennasha. They are the only midwives of color on staff, and thus hold unique positions at the clinic full of challenge and ripe with potential. In early October is a very exciting opportunity for them to attend the 7th International Black Midwives & Healers Conference: Weaving the Cultural Traditions of Midwifery. They believe that this 3-day conference would provide them with strength, inspiration, and tools to continue the amazing care and teaching they are providing at MLL, as well as a special opportunity to connect with other folks of color who are also engaged in the beauty and struggle of midwifery.

I’m reaching out to people in my community who I know care deeply about anti-racism, reproductive justice, and midwifery. I am writing to ask that you donate to raise money towards Kennasha and Andrea’s registration fee and the cost of gas to Los Angeles and back Continue reading

French Police Make Me Want to Throw Up

Seriously, this is horrifying. Sickening.

It’s video of French police breaking up a protest after evicting tenants from a tent city outside Paris.  A pregnant woman lying immobile on the ground before being dragged away.  Another woman being dragged on the ground, on her back, with a baby tied to her back.  A toddler screaming in absolute terror, and being physically ripped from his mother’s arms as she’s being dragged away.

I’m adding a disclaimer here that I have not researched this particular incident very deeply, and I’m not familiar with the specifics of the issue these women were protesting.  What I am familiar with is what is feels like to be a woman in a situation where you’re being beaten by the police.

As someone who’s experienced serious physical assault and injury by police, in a similar context of watching these scenes is a bit PTSD-ish for me.  I know full well what it’s like to be attacked and injured by police–but I can only imagine the added horror of knowing that your child’s safety is in danger as well.  And as a privileged white woman, my experience is likely only a fraction as horrific as the experiences of these houseless immigrant women, living in poverty in a strange land, being beaten by the government that’s taken them in.

Perhaps there were circumstances here that we can’t see in the short film clip, that justify the French police’s use of force and disrespect for pregnant women and infants.  Like…maybe the women were hiding guns inside their baby slings…or maybe they ‘d been throwing dirty diapers and spit up rags at the police.

Or maybe, just maybe, the way this went down was entirely fucked up.