After a few years of strong activism on many different fronts, I decided, due to activism burnout, that I needed to streamline my focus. Last year I focused on activism for transgender rights, because we had a ballot question up for voting in our state presenting a bill to roll back trans rights in public spaces, and I just couldn’t have that. I have a lot of wonderful trans and enby folks in my life, but regardless of that, I firmly believe that trans rights are human rights, and the struggle for trans rights is a civil rights issue. We won this particular battle, and our state has preserved the rights of transgender people to be legally protected against discrimination in public spaces. Go team! But it filled me with shame and anger that the question made it on our ballot in the first place.
Just before the end of last year I stumbled across a remarkable person named Trystan Reese, a trans man whose pregnancy went viral in 2017. Trystan did a Moth Story Hour on his story of deciding he wanted to become pregnant, his conversations with his partner, and all that came after, including a lot of very difficult to hear, extremely hateful messages that he received from strangers, his trauma as a result, and his journey to healing and acceptance through birth. His story left me in tears, and I made a promise to myself to use gender neutral pronouns as often as possible in all areas of my practice, and not use language that limits the experience of pregnancy and birth to only people who identify as woman.
In making that decision, I realized that this promise I made makes it more challenging to talk about something else that is also very important to me: my prenatal massage and doula practices as openly feminist businesses. One of my core values is to empower and support women, and both of my healing practices are platforms for that work. I want to make sure that my messaging and language are inclusive, but I also want to empower women, and I strongly believe that reclaiming our power in childbirth is a very important piece of that empowerment. So I’m working to find ways to continue speaking about my practices as feminist businesses, without only using female pronouns to describe people who give birth. Women ARE magic and strength and goddesses, and ALSO, not all people who give birth are women. You can see my conundrum here? For me, feminism MUST be inclusive. I strongly believe that feminism is good for every being on planet earth, not just women, not just humans.
I suspect that navigating this is about balance, and will be a learning process. I will likely make mistakes, but I’m interested by this challenge. Please let me know if you have any advice or thoughts around this exploration, and I’m here if you ever want to talk about trans rights, trans activism, or inclusive feminism.