Inter/Act – supporting young people with DSD/Intersex conditions

Feminist Conversations is a regular series here at Feminists For Choice. Today we are talking to Jim Bruce, Communications and Youth Coordinator for Advocates for Informed Choice, about the program Inter/Act. Inter/Act is the first intersex youth leadership development program in the world and is a project of Advocates for Informed Choice. Inter/Act encourages young people with DSD or intersex conditions to share their opinions and experiences.

1. Tell our readers a little bit about Advocates for Informed Choice and Inter/Act.

Advocates for Informed Choice (AIC) is the first, and only, organization in the U.S. to undertake a coordinated strategy of legal advocacy for the rights of children with intersex conditions or DSDs (differences of sex development). AIC uses innovative legal strategies to advocate for the civil rights of children born with variations ofreproductive or sexual anatomy. Our project engages parents, doctors, attorneys and intersex activists in strategy discussions; stimulates legal dialogue about the fundamental rights of children born with intersex conditions or DSDs; and employs traditional and non-traditional legal tools to ensure justice for children born with intersex conditions or DSDs. These activities are grounded in a sense of respect and compassion for the children, parents, doctors, and intersex adults involved.

Inter/Act is the first intersex youth leadership development program created exclusively to facilitate tomorrow’s intersex advocates. Inter/Act is a place for young people with intersex conditions or DSDs the world over to come together, express themselves, and unite their individual stories to develop a voice for a new generation. Inter/Act’s goal is for peers, parents, doctors, scholars, and supporters to gain a better understanding of the varied experiences and perspectives of young people with different bodies. Inter/Act’s blog presents the unique voices of members in the Inter/Act community. Inter/Act welcomes young people with intersex conditions/DSDs no matter how they identify.

2. How important is it for people with DSDs or intersex conditions to represent themselves?

The right to self-determination and bodily autonomy has always been a political goal of the intersex community. The progress made toward winning these rights is largely a result of brave intersex individuals being public, speaking up and demanding accountability from caregivers, policymakers and other intersex activists. More to the point no matter how someone born with an intersex condition identifies it is vital that parents of children with intersex conditions see intersex adults taking responsibility for their own lives.

[Read more...]

Advice from a Seasoned Activist on How to Avoid Burn Out

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature here at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to difference feminists about what activism looks like for them. Today we’re talking to my good friend, Emily Herrell. Emily is the former Advocacy Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Arizona. (That’s Emily is the hat on the left.) Emily has been an incredible mentor to me as I have volunteered with Planned Parenthood over the last three years. In addition to being a huge zombie fanatic, Emily is also a runner and a bicycling enthusiast. Emily recently left her position at Planned Parenthood Arizona and transitioned over to Habitat for Humanity Tucson.

Find out what Emily has to say about being a pro-choice activist, and read her advice for sticking it out in the movement.

How did you get involved in the pro-choice movement?
I have always been pro-choice, but when I got hired at Planned Parenthood, that was my first official role in the pro-choice movement.

When I was in high school and I decided to start having sex, I put $300 into a savings account so that if I ever needed an abortion, I had my own funding to pay for it. I had that savings account all through college, and I always told my partners up front about it. [Read more...]

Is President Obama Pro-Choice?

President Obama is enjoying a recent surge in popularity because of the death of Osama bin Laden. But many Progressives aren’t feeling a renewed surge of love for President Obama (myself included), primarily because they feel like President Obama sold them a bill of goods during the election, and he has now reneged on all those campaign promises.

Reproductive rights is one of the areas where President Obama fails to meet my expectations. In the latest issue of Conscience Magazine, Jodi Jacobson raises similar feelings of disapproval.

“As a candidate, Obama said all the right things. As a president, his actions suggest that then-presidential contender and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was right—he will not fight for us.… The president has presided over the greatest erosion to women’s reproductive health and rights in the past 30 years, and a continuing degradation of our rights at the state level. Yet still he remains silent. Is Obama pro-choice? Not by my definition.”

I’m with Jacobson on this one. President Obama’s advisers have recommended that he veto HR3 when it lands on his desk, but I want to hear the president speak up for himself on this issue. The president never stood up during the health care reform debate to speak out against the Stupak amendment, and HR3 is just the latest version of President Obama’s lack of leadership in reproductive rights. [Read more...]

Women and Power Conference Looks at Leadership From a Feminist Lens

Today’s post is by Alison Turkos. Alison is a Development & Events intern with NARAL Pro Choice NY. She volunteers as a clinic escort, and she is currently attempting to enjoy all the feminist fun that New York City has to offer.

This past September I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the 9th annual Women and Power Conference at the OMEGA Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.

Each year OMEGA chooses a focal point for the conference, a reoccurring theme which stretches across multiple mediums throughout the weekend. This year the conference dialogue revolved around the topic of leadership. The conference was loosely based on a few core questions, such as:

  • How do we define leadership?
  • What are the critical issues women face as leaders at home, in families, at work and in the world?
  • How can we support each other in the shift to a leadership paradigm that emphasizes partnership with others?

With multiple keynote speakers including OMEGA co-founder Elizabeth Lesser, founder and CEO of Women for Women International, Zainab Salbi, and president and co-chair of the NoVo Foundation Jennifer Buffett, along with many more. The entire weekend showed attendees diverse forms, and definitions of leadership.

The conference began Friday evening with a wonderful OMEGA welcome. Carla Goldstein, director of the Women’s Institute at OMEGA opened the conference speaking about leadership as a whole. Carla asked the audience to “break the barriers that separate us,” and told us “the thing that unites us is our womanhood.” Her zest and overall enthusiasm was a wonderful beginning to the weekend. Carla ended her welcoming words with a amazingly powerful statement that not only excited me for what was to come. Carla told us that “the time for talking is over. The time to lead is NOW.” [Read more...]

Gloria Feldt Tells Women to Embrace Their Power

Have you ever wondered why women still earn 78 cents for every $1 a man makes? Do you wonder why women still only make up 18% of the corporate boardrooms, even though we make 85% of consumer spending decisions in the United States? Or do you want to know why women only make up 17% of elected positions in the US, even though we’re twice as likely to vote as men?

Gloria Feldt has some surprising answers in her new book No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. In No Excuses, Feldt argues that no one is holding women back but themselves. Just think about that statement for a minute. No one is stopping women from claiming positions of leadership. We can vote. We can run for office. We can start our own companies. No one is telling us, “no.” But even though there are 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, women are still hesitant to embrace their power.

No Excuses provides some interesting research to back up Gloria Feldt’s claims, and there are inspiring interviews with women from across the country who share their stories of embracing their power. In fact, Gloria offers women tools for taking practical steps in their lives to embrace that power. She calls them the “power tools,” and she has been going even more in depth each week on her 9 Ways Blog.

I love the power tools in No Excuses. Instead of pointing the finger at this or that problem, Gloria provides practical solutions. One of my favorite tools is “Use What You’ve Got.” We all have strengths that we can employ to equalize our lives. Take me for example. I love to write, I am comfortable talking to people, I can research and assimilate information into a coherent argument, I tell a good joke, and I love to cook. All of these are skills that can be employed to make a difference. (I included cooking on the list because people have a harder time telling me “no” when I’m offering them a cupcake.) [Read more...]