Two weeks ago I came out of a year of mourning. 2018 was a rough one; my Mother passed suddenly in Feb, a dear friend died unexpectedly in June, and then one of my beloved nieces ended her lifein late July. My spiritual tradition has a framework for guiding us thru the grieving process & I availed myself of it fully. As the year came to a close, I found myself curious about how I wanted to emerge, what new possibilities awaited me, what I might offer to help move Midwifery forward.
Then my friend & colleague Juli Tilsner of Cornerstone Doula Trainings directed me to a disturbing post gone viral & just like *that* I’m back in the water & remembering how to swim.
The post was a piece of convo between a birth worker & Jan Tritten, publisher of Midwifery Today, concerning the upcoming conference “Sharing Birth Culture” for April 2020. Turns out the venue is owned by Christians & has some very exclusionary language on it’s policy page. Specifically: “...refrain from...immodest clothing, and refraining from practicing or condoning sexual activity outside of the relationship of marriage between a man and a woman.” And also this: “Each guest group will respect the following statement of faith: We Believe In...” Which is all about the divinity of a christ and salvation, and which I do not respect because it’s been used to oppress Jews, Muslims & Queers forever.
When the exclusionary nature of the venue with regards to trans-people was brought to Jan’s attention, her response was this: “Sorry. Perhaps another time. This is a very unusual venue for us but so reasonable in price and they give us so much.”
So the cost of the exclusion of LGBTQI2s and not-christians,
was simply the price of a religiously bigoted, homophobic,
transphobic, slut-shaming cheap retreat center.
I’ve written for Midwifery Today several times over the last few years. I’ve been grateful to have had a forum that allowed me to speak to my greater community on issues near & dear to my heart. I’m also grateful to Jan and those of her generation who dedicated their lives to helping non-nurse Midwifery survive in a country so very hostile to our existence. It’s important to acknowledge the good works our Elders have done in the past, the foundation they laid, so that future generations could continue to build beyond what the planners ever imagined.
But the planners only knew what they knew. Their lives, their understandings were limited by the times & places & politics of their generation. They didn’t expect us, and they certainly didn’t expect YOU, you who are stepping into your power today. You are multi-cultural, PoC, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Intersex, 2Spirit, loud and proud of it all. Jan’s generation was characterized by fear, fear that kept them from seeing the complicity in their own self-oppression & that of others within our community.
None of this is meant to excuse or justify, but rather to look at the past and have compassion for what came before now.
But now we are here in this time & place. And now we must say to these Elders: *If you are unwilling to see how your belief systems limit growth & perpetuate oppression within the Midwifery community, it’s time for you step aside. *If you are unwilling to consider how you have benefitted from systemic /institutionalized racism, i
t’s time for you step aside. *If you continue to insist on outdated understandings of gender & sexuality,
it’s time for you step aside. *If you cannot grow, if you are unable or unwilling to adapt to change, it is time for you step aside. *If you cannot see how lacking in representation your conferences are, it’s time for you step aside. Thank you for all of your hard work. Thank you for keeping the fire burning. But you do not speak for us. You cannot see us. You do not know us. It is time to pass the torch to those who can carry us into the future. It is time for you to step aside.
So this queer jewish midwife, married to a gender non-conforming person, won’t be attending in April 2020 or any other Midwifery Today conference. It’s time for a new midwifery journal that reflects and embraces the many faces of midwifery today, rather than that of midwifery yesterday...
Sitz Herbs in the Doula's Birth Bag;
One Midwife's Perspective