Feminist reproductive health work necessitates community. Meet those who define themselves as feminist midwives, feminist nurses, feminist writers, feminist doulas, feminist students, and many others! To participate as a Feminist Worker, fill out this survey. This series is based on the Radical Doula profile series by the incredible Miriam Zoila Pérez: find the Radical Doula profiles here.
Kaity Molé is a queer nursing student and birth doula currently finishing up her 17 month BSN at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore, MD and will be continuing on into nurse-midwifery in the fall of 2015. She has a strong passion for patient empowerment and every person’s right to be fully informed and have options, choices and participation in their healthcare. She currently works at a domestic violence shelter teaching reproductive healthcare and talking about the dynamics of abusive relationships and sexual coercion, works as a research assistant under Dr. Jacqueline Campbell (creator of the Danger Assessment) doing domestic violence research and is also a leader in the Birth Companions program at the School of Nursing co-leading the doula services being provided to individuals at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
What brought you to reproductive health work?
Honestly, I think what initially brought me to reproductive health work is my own deprivation of any kind of sexual education and the lack of ownership of my own body I felt growing up. I was a survivor of sexual trauma and had no resources or support and I saw this mirrored in so many women’s lives that I interacted with and it made me really angry. Everyone deserves compassion, to be listened to and to have choices and knowledge about their own bodies. We need trauma informed care and safe providers giving care to all patients in a world where if you’re born with a vagina OR present any way outside of the norm (queer, qenderqueer, trans* etc) that all of this oppression and ignorance is going to come full force at you. Healthcare is not exempt from perpetuating those things and it pushes a lot of people away from really taking care of their health and having the health experiences they desire and it’s BS! I think that reproductive health is an area of healthcare where this really manifests and it got me really passionate about knocking down those barriers and to create a safe and empowering space for women.
How do you identify with the term feminist?
I really strongly identify with the word! I view feminism as a political movement against ALL types of oppression. Oppression is all related and while any group of people is still held under the thumb of oppression, none of us will ever be free from it. You can’t eradicate sexism without destroying racism, homophobia, classism etc. and vice versa. I also see feminism in theory as a model of self-empowerment and affirming to all people that ʺYes, you have the right to speak up and speak out and fight for what you deserve.ʺ It certainly doesn’t always play out that way, but in my mind that’s how I think I apply it.
Reflect on two favorite things about your profession.
Oh man. I love midwifery and birth justice work with all my heart. I think two things that I really love about midwifery are that midwives are so empowering and hands off. They have faith in the human body and in their patients self-knowledge of their bodies. They approach their patients with humility.
A lot of traditional medical care comes at the human body as if it’s weak and needs doctors constant help and that they know better than you do, no matter why you’re there, and it can be a really disempowering and paternalistic experience.
I also really love the midwifery model of care that really encourages patient input and participation, whether it’s just well-women care, birth or abortion, midwives want to hear from you and will tailor their care to your needs. Midwives really listen.
What one aspect of reproductive health work are you currently working to change?
I think one thing that is really on the forefront of my mind is the treatment of cisgendered women and trans* women within the prison industrial complex. Through my limited work as a doula in detention centers, what I’ve seen is really dehumanizing and disempowering and it makes me incredibly angry. There’s no birth control or reproductive health care within prisons and in Maryland, women are still handcuffed during labor. It’s also not at all uncommon for women to be assaulted or harassed while in prison, with no repercussions for the perpetrators and often healthcare staff who aren’t trained in trauma informed care. People come out of prisons carrying all of this trauma from their time IN prison (let alone before) and it really wears on bodies and souls and autonomy. I have a really strong passion to do what I can to change that.
Describe a project or accomplishment you consider to be the most important in your career so far.
Right now, I’m working really hard on bringing queer health and sensitivity education to the Hopkins School of Nursing, because it’s pretty lacking in that respect. There are other students (one student, Falisha Khan, in particular) who have spearheaded some trans* health initiatives at the school that will be implemented in the curriculum, and I’m trying to get the Mazzoni Center from Philadelphia as well as some professors from the School of Public Health to come and do some trainings with the nursing students, which I think is VITALLY important to good care. Queer health is not a ʺspecialtyʺ, it’s something every care provider needs to know about! I’m really hoping that this becomes a continuous and permanent training at the school, and if it does I definitely consider that a huge accomplishment!
Miriam Perez, the author of Radical Doula has always been a shining star for me. They brought such a light to the varying intersections of peoples’ experience with birth, abortion and general life which I think is vitally important in working so intimately with people either as a doula or a midwife. You have to understand the systematic oppressions and life experiences that are at work.
I’m constantly inspired by my fellow doulas and nursing students, particularly those that have fought such hardships in their own lives. I’m really blown away by some of the caring souls I’ve met so far in nursing school. Currently I’m also really inspired by all the CPMs who are fighting for legal practice in Maryland (CPMs are still illegal here) and the passion and the lengths that they are going to provide this much needed service of the choice of home birth/VBACS etc. to women who otherwise would not always be able to pursue those options, at the risk of imprisonment! They’re really an amazing community.