We Missed The Mark: An Open Letter About Listening, Learning & Growing In Social Justice Work

Inclusion is paramount to DTI’s mission: to provide choice and autonomy to all birthing persons–Emphasis on the “ALL.”

What does inclusion look like in action for DTI?

It means being intentional about language and understanding that people of all genders, including those who are gender non-conforming/non-binary, can physically get pregnant.

It means acknowledging the multiplicity within the LGBTQI2S  (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, and Two-Spirit) Community.

It means creating access to opportunities like our Trans Health Initiative so more doulas who are transgender can start doula practices and contribute as leaders to the field of birthwork.

It means aligning ourselves with other people, organizations and causes that prioritize inclusion in order to collaborate for needed change in our world.

Visibility and strategic funding contribute to building a strong foundation in building the kind of world we seek; together, we continue to expand our diverse community, guided by the leadership and hard work of our Social Justice Steering Committee, we’re proud of the trajectory we’re on.

But we don’t always get it right.

Recently, we missed the mark on our mission.

We published a blog titled “Join the #BoobsCampaign for Birth Justice”, promoting the work of Rebekah Erev.

For full transparency, which is always a good thing, here are details of where the money from purchasing her “boob” posters was going:

“Half of the proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood and the Birth Justice Project, a Bay-Area based organization that provides doula care and health education to people in local jails and addiction recovery programs.

“From March 27 to April 26 (for the month of Nisan – the first month of the Jewish year, when Passover occurs), half of sales proceeds will go to TGIJP (Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project).”

We’re so grateful to our community for speaking out and stating, “Hey, this isn’t okay.”

After receiving feedback from the DTI community, we decided to pull the blog for its woman-centric and exclusionary language. The framing in the blog was confusing and contradictory to both DTI’s mission and that of the organization (the Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project) the campaign is donating to. We correlated breast tissue (“boobs”) to being a woman, which simply isn’t true. For trans doulas in our organization, this language can discount their experiences of their own bodies and make them feel marginalized or misunderstood by the organization.

That being said, advocating for all birthing persons requires more than good intentions. We should never reach a point where we determine we’ve reached “peak enlightenment,” we are lifelong learners and need each other to grow and to do work together across our differences and the multiplicity of identities shared throughout our DTI community.

Inclusion “in community” requires a commitment to lifelong learning and  a depth of dialogue that evolves over time; day to day work in order for all of our voices to be heard, we need to listen to each other in community–with openness. Not simply with good intentions, but an intentional plan of action for transformation and change.

We will keep listening to each other, learning from our shared experiences and growing in our mission to support ALL birthing persons.

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