Just established as a federal holiday last year, Juneteenth is a loaded reminder for Black Americans that although we celebrate the 1865 date when news of emancipation finally reached enslaved Black communities in Texas, true liberation includes reproductive justice now. Feminist activist and educator Loretta Ross defines reproductive justice as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, the right to have children or not have children, and the right to parent those children in safe and sustainable communities.” And yet, in this country, sexual health has always been inextricably linked to systemic oppression for Black women in particular as their enslaved bodies were used without consent or pain management to develop practices that still inform the field of modern gynecology and obstetrics today.
Disparities in quality healthcare with compassionate providers, lack of paid medical leave from work to allow for sufficient recovery time, and limited education and employment opportunities are all contributing factors to the chronic exposure to racism that affects both mental and physical health, known as “biological weathering.” This is especially impactful during the child-rearing years, as the maternal mortality rate for Black women is almost triple than that of white women in the US. Less hands-on postpartum support also contributes to lower rates of breastfeeding in communities of color. Dawn Godbolt and Alice Powell of Rewire News Group urge, “This Juneteenth, as we remember our Black Independence Day, we must continue to advocate for reproductive justice so that more Black mamas and babies can experience the fullness of liberation.” #juneteenth #blackmaternalhealth #reproductivejustice
Post by Sharon Itkoff Nacache
Original Photo by Max Leveridge via Unsplash
Today marks the 1st day of Pride month. Queer and nonbinary folks face unique challenges on their family building journeys. Popular culture, policy makers, and the medical community too often use terminology that only applies to cisgender and hetero-parent families which can be both frustrating and alienating to the over 11.3 million adults identifying as LGBTQ+, according to a 2019 survey by the Family Equality Council. But the social stigma extends far beyond gendered newborn gear and gifts pre-labeled with “mommy” and “daddy” or standardized forms that require a choice between only 2 boxes to encompass the sex assigned at birth, the nuances of the gender identity, AND sexual orientation all at once. Beyond an archaic maternity clothing industry or gender reveal parties, LGBTQ+ discrimination also looks like a deficit in care providers who are both sensitive to and educated about their specific needs, an uptick in violence and hate crimes toward these communities, and restrictive parenting and adoptive legislation across the country that neither represent nor protect queer or nonbinary families. LGBTQ+ allies can make a conscious effort to use inclusive, gender-neutral language with preferred pronouns, acknowledge the birthing person over a specific gender, and avoid assumptions around a traditional division of labor at home that has historically always been associated with “masculine” and “feminine” jobs inside and outside of the home.
In a 2019 “Xtra Magazine” parenting article Andrea Bennett explains, “When you’re a queer parent, there is no automatic delineation of roles; every family looks a little different, but somebody has to bathe the child, teach her to read, do the laundry. There’s no falling back on cultural expectations, so a negotiation follows: what’s important to you? What do you like, dislike? How will we share things in a way that seems fair and sustainable?” Bennett goes on to contextualize how limiting language and gender roles have been historically: “While feminism has tried to move the needle on parenting issues, we are still culturally stuck in 101-level conversations about mothering and fathering… “Mothering” is a field that has not expanded nearly as much as ‘woman.’” Indeed, we have a long way to go to better support and represent caregivers in general, and especially within queer and nonbinary communities. #nonbinaryfamilies #queerfamilies #LGBTQIApride #mentalhealth #cocreatearttherapy
Original photograph by Carlos DeToro via Unsplash
Post by Sharon Itkoff Nacache LCAT ATR-BC PMH-C