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Remarks from SQUATfest: Birth activism as part of the movement for reproductive justice

September 3, 2013

In early August I had the honor of speaking at the SQUATfest conference. It was a first of its kind gathering that brought together doulas, midwives and other birth activists interested in radical politics. It didn’t have a central theme, but I knew that it was going to be a unique space.

I gave the talk below to the attendees on the morning of the second day. I have a lot more to say about the gathering, and the topics I addressed below, which I’ll do in follow up posts. Makeda Kamara gave an absolutely earth-shattering and life-altering keynote address the following day. I don’t believe that it was recorded, but if you ever have a chance to read Makeda’s writing or see her speak, you have to do it. She has incredible wisdom about midwifery, as well as racial justice movements in the US and abroad.

The gathering was inspiring, but it was also another reminder that there is much work left to do, even within the “radical” parts of our movement, particularly around questions of racial justice and dealing with white privilege.

—————–

The reason I started my blog, Radical Doula, in 2007, was because I couldn’t imagine a room like this one existing. I had been a doula for a few years, and as my own identity and politics developed, I looked around me and felt alone.

I felt alone as a queer and genderqueer person. I felt alone as a Cuban-American, a Latina, a child of immigrants. I felt alone as a reproductive justice activist and someone who supported access to abortion as well as access to homebirth and midwives. I felt alone as someone who approached my work as a doula as social justice activism.

I remember one of the first, possibly the very first, conversation I had with another doula who felt similarly. Christy Hall, who is here today, and I met at a reproductive justice conference, and the memory of crouching in the corner with her, infant in arms, talking about being doulas with radical politics is seared in my brain.

So very much has changed since that first conversation all those years ago. The fact that this gathering is happening at all is a major testament to that change.

Needless to say, I no longer feel alone. Instead I’m in awe of the incredible growth in the doula movement, and particularly in the movement of doulas who see their work as part of a broader social justice vision. For so many of us, this work isn’t just about improving a few select people’s experiences with pregnancy and birth–it’s about changing the systems altogether.

This is no easy task. And while the growth and expansion of the doula movement is really good news in many ways, it also presents its own unique challenges.

What I wanted to talk about today is how I see our work as birth activists as part of the broader reproductive justice movement.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, reproductive justice is a movement that was established by women of color in the reproductive rights movement who wanted a framework through which to see their organizing that better mirrored the lives of the people in their communities. It’s an intersectional framework that acknowledges the complexity of people’s lives and the many issues that affects them.

One way I describe it is building a world where everyone has what they need to create the family that they want to create.

While abortion still tends to most of the attention in this work, I think birth workers, are also perfectly suited to be part of this movement and to utilize the framework to support our own efforts.

So what does it really mean to understand our work as doulas, or midwives, or birth activists, as part of the movement for reproductive justice?

First it means we put at the center of our work those who face the most challenges.

Read the rest of this entry »

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See you at the Allied Media Conference!

June 19, 2013

I’m headed to the Allied Media Conference tomorrow. It’s my first time at this gathering, and I’m really excited to finally be able to participate. From what I hear it’s a pretty incredible gathering of folks with radical politics who care about media making–and media is defined really broadly.

I’ll be part of a panel on Sunday called “Making a Living & a Life in Radical Tech” where I’ll be talking about my work as a digital communications consultant. I’ll also be tabling throughout the weekend, selling Radical Doula Guides and giving hugs to fellow doulas. I’ll be offering a special AMC sliding scale price for guides ($10-$12) so if you’ve been waiting to buy one and you’ll be at the conference, this is a good time! Come find me. :)


Philadelphia Trans Health Conference 2013

June 11, 2013

This post should have happened months ago, so that all you lovely people who didn’t know about this conference yet would have gotten it together and made plans to make it there.

But, alas, that is not how my life goes.

So, better late than never! This year I’m once again presenting at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. There are a number of reasons I like this conference:

  1. It’s free!
  2. It’s really community-focused, meaning the panels are run by lots of different people, from many different professions and walks of life. It’s not just for those who are employed by non-profits that work on trans issues, although those folks are there and well represented also.
  3. A conference where thousands of people come together to talk about the needs of trans folks, and the majority of the attendees themselves identify somewhere on the trans* spectrum!
  4. Since I first attended four years ago, the presence of birth workers has steadily increased. So much so that last year we were able to have a panel specifically about birth work, with all trans and GNC identified birth workers speaking! Wowza, how things change.
  5. Did I mention it’s free?
  6. It’s next to one of my favorite indoor markets of all time: Reading Terminal Market, where you can get all sorts of super yummy food.

I’ll be part of two sessions this year, one similar to last year’s about birth work and trans/GNC folks, and another that is specifically for networking and community building among birth workers. I’ll also have limited copies of the Radical Doula Guide with me for sale, in case you haven’t picked one up but still want to (no shipping!).

Hope to see some of you there! And those who can’t attend, keep it mind for next year.


A few dollars can help folks in MA get the services they need

April 25, 2013

Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund Triathlon logo, slogan

Tonight is one event in a season of incredible grassroots fundraising around the country on behalf of abortion funds who raise money to help folks pay for the procedures they need when their health care won’t cover it. Just like doula care is about unconditional and nonjudgemental support for pregnant and parenting people, the work of abortion funds is also that.

Supporting abortion funds is a really easy way to directly impact one persons ability to make decisions about their life and their pregnancy. Most of these funds are volunteer run, which means the majority of every $1 donated goes directly into the hands of someone in need of a procedure. It’s a direct response to the class inequality inherent in our medical system. No one should have to carry a pregnancy to term simply because they cannot afford an abortion.

While there are many great groups fundraising, and I suggest checking out your local one, I’m making a pitch on behalf of the group in Eastern Massachusetts. Tonight is their annual fundraiser which brings in a huge amount of the money they use each year to help folks in the area get the medical care they need and cannot afford. But understandably because of what has transpired this past week in Boston, when they would have been doing a major push in their fundraising, they are still $14,000 away from reaching their fundraising goal.

Do you have a few dollars to support this amazing group of volunteers?

I’m actually headed to Boston right now to be at the event as an honored guest, so it’s important to me to share the love with them. I’ll be presenting brief remarks, and honored to be able to bring doula work into that space.

If you’re in the area, come out! It should be a good time.

If you’re not able to attend, consider donating even a few dollars to support their work and help them meet their goal. Thanks!


Philly: Radical Doulas & Reproductive Justice event on Wednesday March 27

March 25, 2013

I’m heading out this week to do two speaking events, so if you’re in the Philly area, you should join!

I love any and all opportunity to talk about the activism I’m involved in, and I’m beyond pleased that doula work is gaining enough prominence that I get more and more requests to come speak about it.

On Wednesday I’ll be speaking at the University of Pennsylvania, hosted by groups primarily in the Nursing School. Major thanks to Ryan Pryor who organized the event! I’ll be talking about doulas, reproductive justice and community-based interventions to health care. I’m jazzed to be speaking to future health care professionals–a group that has the power to really change our health care system.

Details:

Radical Doulas & Reproductive Justice: Community-based health

Miriam Zoila Perez will talk about her work as a full-spectrum doula, writer and activist. There is a growing movement of doulas working to improve pregnant people’s health care experiences through one-on-one emotional, physical and informational suport. How are doulas changing health care experiences? How can providers collaborate with doulas? Miriam will discuss this important and growing movement, and it’s many connections to health care activist work. 

Event co-hosted by Nurses PUSH, Nursing Students for Choice, Med Students for Choice, LGBTPM+, GAPSA, Nursing Student Services and Penn LGBT Center.

Wednesday March 27th, 12pm-1pm, Claire M. Fagin Hall, University of Pennsylvannia

Facebook event here.

In the evening there will also be a get together, for those who can’t make the event and folks who want to talk more. Details: New Deck Tavern on 34th and Sansom (3408 Sansom St  Philadelphia, PA 19104), 7:30-9:30pm

On Thursday I’ll be speaking at the Queer and Trans Conference at Swarthmore College, my alma mater! I’ll be hosting a workshop about Queering Reproductive Justice.

I’ll have Radical Doula Guides with me for sale at both events. Hope to see you there Philly!


I heart doulas: Celebrating 6 years of Radical Doula w/DC Doulas for Choice

February 28, 2013

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Folks from the Shodhini Institute at the LA Radical Doula Guide Release Party

I’m excited to share the details of a party happening in Washington DC in just two weeks. It was meant to be the last stop on the Radical Doula Guide Release Tour, but as the date got pushed back I decided it made more sense to use this as an excuse to celebrate the anniversary! It’s also my current home, so I’m happy to be ending the tour here.

Guides will still be for sale, and we’ll have all the elements from past parties: raffle, photo booth and raising funds for the local full spectrum doula group, DC Doulas for Choice.

About DCDC:

The DC Doulas for Choice Collective is a DC-based, volunteer-led-and-run, pro-choice organization that seeks to provide doula care to people across the full spectrum of reproductive health, pregnancy, and choice.

Details:

I <3 doulas: Celebrating 6 years of Radical Doula with DC Doulas for Choice

I heart doulas sign

March 13th, 6pm-9pm
MOVA Lounge DC
2204 14th St NW Washington, DC 20009

Join us for this event celebrating Radical Doula, a blog run by Miriam Zoila Pérez, and the DC Doulas for Choice, a DC-based, volunteer-led-and-run, pro-choice organization that seeks to provide doula care to people across the full spectrum of reproductive health, pregnancy, and choice. Meet other folks interested in reproductive justice and doula activism, and raise funds for DCDC!

We’ll have Radical Doula Guides for sale, a raffle with lots of great prizes, a photobooth, snacks and half-price happy hour drink specials.

Hope to see you all there!

Facebook event invite here.


Philadelphia Trans Health Conference

May 30, 2012

I’m heading to Philly tomorrow to attend the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. I’m part of an exciting panel:

Trans & GNC centered Midwifery and Full Spectrum Doula Care (miscarriage, abortion, birth, adoption)

Saturday June 2nd, 5:30pm – 6:50pm

Room: 102A

We all know that the trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) community has needs when it comes to pregnancy, birth and reproductive health. This workshop will introduce participants to the midwifery and doula models of care, and discuss how trans and GNC midwives and doulas are working to improve care for our communities. While this workshop will be centered on pregnancy-related care, the health care models we will be talking about can be applied to any type of health care. We will present information and resources on options for midwifery and doula care that may be ideal for trans and GNC people. This workshop will discuss how empowering health care experiences can transform our lives and facilitate deep healing.

I attended the Philly Trans Health Conference two years ago, and was part of a panel about parenting for trans folks. I was the birth worker/doula voice, and I’m so psyched that this year there are enough birth workers attending to have a whole panel just about midwifery and doula care!

If you’re in the area, come! It’s a free conference, and a really incredible space for knowledge sharing about trans and gender queer, gender non-conforming health.

If you are going to the conference, and are a birth worker, a few of us are trying to organize an informal meet-up. I’ll post details here once I have them, but you can also email me at radicaldoula@gmail.com.

PTHC birth worker meet-up details: After our midwifery and doula care panel, come by for an informal gathering of birth workers attending the conference. 6:50pm, Saturday June 2nd, Room 102A. Hope to see you there!


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