My birthing story: I was one of the first non-binary births at Truman Medical

By: Max Sheffield-Baird

I never expected to become pregnant. I had made my peace with it years ago. I was assured by an OBGYN over five years ago that I could not ovulate without medical assistance. As I came to terms with my gender identity as a non-binary trans person, I saw my lack of menstruation as my body doing me a favor and saving me the dysphoria of a monthly reminder of my body not quite fitting the person I knew myself to be.

I’m a nurse. I’ve actually attended two births. Each time I cried. It was a sacred experience to witness. Whether you’re religious or not, I was able to see the argument for a Deity when I’d see a baby take their first breath and their parents get to hold them for the first time. For my own birth experience, I had nervous anticipation. No one comes into Birth prepared. Not really. I had a birth plan but I also knew that nothing goes 100 percent as planned. It was an exercise in letting go and surrendering to the process. I’ve never been very good at that.

I did expect to educate the labor nurses and obstetricians around me on my gender identity and how best to support and affirm me as I went through one of the most vulnerable times of my life. I created a sign and hung it over my hospital bed at Truman Medical: “My name is Max, I’m non-binary, I use they/them pronouns.” The nurses asked questions and were respectful. They asked me if “mom” was still appropriate to use.

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Book Review: Feminism is for Everybody

By Max Sheffield-Baird

Max has started a book club! Every month they’re reviewing one book that educates on intersectionality. Next month, Max is reading Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. Feel free to join in!

I chose Feminism is for Everybody to start off this feminist book series because it’s a short read. Author Bell Hooks states the purpose of her book is to make feminism accessible and to dispel the notions that feminism is inherently anti-men—which the patriarchy has drummed into popular consciousness for decades now. 

I’m not sure how well she succeeded. 

The tone feels academic and dry. I would consider it a good primer for those looking to do a serious study on gender, race, class, and other aspects to kyriarchy (Psst, kyriarchy encompasses all social systems of oppression we face). But it doesn’t feel like it’s meant for the masses. People who are just looking to get a quick FAQ on intersectional feminism might want to look elsewhere.

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A Pinch

By Kelcie McKenney

A pinch.

Her thumb and forefinger held fast the softness at her middle. She stood—knobby kneed in her stretched out underwear, the fabric thin from nights of tossing and turning, her t-shirt pulled up just under her breast.

A pinch, creating a spread of warmth and reddness, seeping through the skin of her belly.

And she sighed—longingly looking into the mirror at a body that didn’t feel like her own.

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SOUP: Anything for Love

By Jen Harris

SOUP offers a content warning prior to every column, as the subjects discussed herein may be triggering for some readers. Please proceed with caution. If you would like to try a grounding technique for triggered moments, here is a personal recommendation.

The song goes, “I would do anything for love… but I won’t do that,” and the great debate is, “What IS ‘that’?”

That is all of the things that wreck a relationship: addiction, codependency, attachment style, jealousy, infidelity, financial strain, untreated mental illness, misogyny, sexism, racism, sexual repression… the list is long. So, the song is inherently claiming, “I would do anything for love, except be human.”

Historically I’ve claimed to be the sort of person who “won’t do that,” even though I totally DO THAT and that and that. I’d still like to believe I would do anything well-intentioned and healthy for love.

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Uzazi Village is nurturing Black mothers and birthing bodies, and fighting health inequities in Kansas City

By Kelcie McKenney

Sandra Thornhill came to Uzazi Village in 2018 when she was pregnant with her son Jerren Junior. 

“That’s where I met the co-founder and CEO of Uzazi Village, Mama Hakima,” Thornhill said of Uzazi Executive Director Hakmia Tafunzi Payne. She had stopped by for a labor and delivery class and got to talking to Payne about where she wanted to give birth. At the time, Thornhill wanted to have a home birth, but felt like going to the hospital was easier. 

“But [Payne], being the true, authentic, warrior sister that she is, called me out,” Thornhill recalled. It turned into an hour long conversation about the autonomy of Thornhill’s body and that she had every right to determine how she wanted her birth to take place.

“Two years later, that has taken me on a journey to always question, ‘Am I being the most true and authentic?’” Thornhills said. “So after having my son, who is a boy, I realized that my first child would be a Black male. And looking at the climate of the existence and history of Black men in America—not only in America, because I’ve traveled internationally—and seeing how the Black male was treated, that made me realize I don’t want him to have to wait until he’s 27 or 28 to realize that your voice matters.”

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