Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What's the Deal With IUDs, Anyway?

According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, intrauterine devices, or IUDs, are over 99% effective. Worldwide, IUDs are the second most popular form of birth control, right after sterilization. While American IUD use is on the rise, (2% in 2002 compared to 8.5% in 2009), the numbers are still low. In fact, almost a third of American women are on the pill, a method that with typical use (not taking your pill at the same time every day or missing pills) is only 92% effective. That means that 8 in 100 women who are on the pill will get pregnant each year, compared to less than 1 in 100 women with an IUD. So why aren't more women using long-acting reversible contraceptive methods like IUDs?

Because of the Dalkon Shield. In 1971, an IUD called the Dalkon Shield was marketed nationally. At this time, no government regulation of medical devices existed, and no laws were in place to prove medical efficacy. Because of this lack of regulation, Dalkon Shield IUDs were poorly and inconsistently designed, and never tested before implanted into over 2 million women. Many complications occurred, ultimately leading to 17 deaths and thousands of women left infertile or chronically ill. And even though IUDs like the Lippes Loop and Copper T-200 were available, the media heavily publicized studies that showed the dangers of the Dalkon Shield. According to this CDC report, women using the Dalkon Shield were found to have a five-fold increase in risk for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease compared to women using other IUDs.

Dalkon Shield

Here's the thing- that was the 1970s. According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, IUDs are the most effective reversible contraceptives available, are available and safe (many improvements from earlier versions [Dalkon Shield]) for women of all reproductive ages, and complications are rare. IUDs are inserted by a physician one time, they last for five to ten years depending on which IUD you choose, and are removed by a physician. (IUDs can also be taken out by a physician before these time frames in the event that you want to become pregnant.) Compare this to methods like birth control pills which must be taken once per day by the user at the same time to keep their high efficacy rate; that's burdensome! The fact is, birth control methods that take less human effort are the most effective. Here are your choices for IUDs today:                 

Paragard is a non-hormonal IUD that prevents pregnancy by preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. This method last for 10 years. People who choose Paragard may experience heavier and longer periods. IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted infections, and it is important to use condoms until you and your partner have been tested.


Mirena is a hormonal IUD that prevents pregnancy by thickening cervical mucus, inhibiting sperm from reaching an egg, and by thinning the lining of your uterus. This method lasts for 5 years. People who choose Mirena may experience irregular periods, shorter periods, or not having a period at all. IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted infections, and it is important to use condoms until you and your partner have been tested.


An IUD may not be the right option for you, and I encourage you to explore all of your options by visiting Bedsider.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Queer People of Color & Allies Host Kim Katrin Crosby at The University of Texas at Austin

I'm overwhelmed at my experience at Kim Crosby's Intersectionality and Community Organizing Workshop. So overwhelmed, that all I can do is share this video, share the Prezi In Fierceness & Vulnerability: Deconstructing and Resisting Femmephobia, share my main take away, and share my notes. Some of my notes are directly from the presentation, and some include my own interpretations.

Kim Katrin Crosby at Slutwalk in Toronoto, 2012

Community organizing should not be about production, it should be about creating relationships. Take the time to make space for multiple truths. Create space to be present with your community. Self care should be done within the context of community, not alone. Just "loving yourself" is not enough- it is irrational because we need each other. Adorn yourself- it is okay to feel insecure in a world that tells you you're not valuable. When someone tells you they enjoy your work, ask them if they want to hug about it.

  • Acknowledge your privilege and your oppression because they occur simultaneously
  • View identities as a kaleidoscope, not a spectrum. Spectrums create binaries
  • Discuss meanings, not definitions. Definitions are limiting and binary. Feminine
  • Another's experience does not invalidate your own, but it should and necessarily does complicate your own
  • Interrupt acts of oppression- that's solidarity
  • Don't treat others the way you want to be treated. Treat others the way they want to be treated. ASK. And keep asking, because people are constantly evolving. You don't "just know someone."
  • It is no one's responsibility to educate you but your own. Allow yourself to be humbled. Listen and actively seek knowledge.
  • When someone checks you, don't discredit their experience. Being checked is an opportunity to be a better person and to treat each other more kindly. Listen.
  • Guilt is the least productive emotion around oppression work. You have an opportunity to make it better. Do something about it. Listen.
  • Take up less space- fall back. Allies should be peripherial. 
  • Collect your folks- correct people who share your privileges.
  • Inquiry- ask to learn more, not to invalidate someone else's experience. Be empathetic.
  • Resolution can be tangible. If you spend 45 minutes being transphobic, give that person 45 minutes of your time- do their laundry, make them dinner. Oppression makes lives difficult- make it easier
  • If anti-oppression work feels good, then you're doing it wrong
  • Systemic Power & Systemic Advantages vs. Relational Power and Relational Advantage
  • Increased visibility does not mean things are getting better 
  • It's okay to be insecure in a world that tells you you're not valuable
  • Be conscious of the media you consume
  • "Just love yourself" is irrational because we need each other to love ourselves
  • Create space to just be present in your community
  • Decolonize
    • make a boundary, and use your community to enforce it
    • respect a boundary
    • engage in an economy without money- create direct access to resources
    • trust your struggle; your oppressors will not validate you
    • take up space
    • rest
    • don't apologize for your emotions
    • make space for multiple truths- reject the idea of one sole truth
The Insight Project: Kim's Story
February 8, 2013: QPOCA's 2nd Annual Gloria AnzaldĂșa Luncheon

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2012 Election Photo Recap

According to the Sunlight Foundation, Planned Parenthood's advocacy arm and super PAC saw returns on their investments in the election at around 98%. This means that the time and money we put behind certain politicians was overwhelmingly effective. The runner up was Majority PAC at just under 89%. 

From August to November, Planned Parenthood in Austin registered over 750 community members to vote, and collected almost 3,000 pledge to votes. Pledge to vote cards were returned to empower pledgers with information about when and where to vote, and where to find a nonpartisan ballot builder. Here is a recap of what my election season looked like!

First block walk of my life in Pasadena, Texas with Planned Parenthood's Youth Organizing and Policy Institute. We collected pledge to votes in this community.

Block walk #2 in Austin, Texas, registering voters, collecting pledge to votes, and letting the community know about our local health center.

Block Walk #2

Block Walk #3 in Austin, Texas collecting pledge to votes and to tell the community about the local health center.

Texas Roller Derby Championship collecting pledge to votes.

Phone banking for Texas Freedom Network in Kathy Miller's office- super boss! I also won "Most Enthusiastic Phone Banker." Thanks, TFN!

Tabling at UT to collect pledge to votes from students with Voices for Reproductive Justice.

Block walk in Waco, Texas with Planned Parenthood staff members to collect pledge to vote cards and let the community know about their local health center.

Women Take Texas Rally in Austin, Texas

My second C4 phone bank for State Representative Donna Howard, who was reelected!

Importantly, reelecting Barack Obama means that women's health is safe for another four years. The Affordable Care Act will remain in place. Women with health insurance will receive many preventative services such as well woman exams, breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and STI testing with no co-pays or deductibles. Our Congress is the most diverse in history, with 24 female representatives and the first bisexual representative, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

(Courtesy of Think Progress)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why Bother? Engaging Texas in Democracy Now

I just got back from the taping of Why Bother? Engaging Texas in Democracy Now hosted by The Annette Strauss Institute, KUT 90.5FM, and KLRU. Why Bother? is a "news and public dialogue series intended to provoke a conversation among regular people about why Texas has one of the lowest rates of civic engagement in the world, and what we can do about it."

Thanks, Kenzie, for the pic!

I wanted to tell this studio audience and also the viewers at home on Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon a few things:

  • Millennials (those currently aged about 13-30) have not only the largest voting block in America right now, but according to Pew Research Center we are also the most ethnically diverse and politically progressive in our nation's history!
  • 46 million millennials are eligible to vote in 2012- that's a lot of power!
  • This election is important to me because reproductive rights are under attack, and this not only affects me, but it affects ALL of our mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives ability to contribute to our society economically.
  • Your vote matters- get to the polls! 
(Check out League of Women Voters for nonpartisan information about the elections and for voter guides. Here is a link to the League of Women Voters of Texas with the Voter Guide right on the homepage!)

Now I'm inviting you to watch the television broadcast on KLRU on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:00pm or on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 1:30pm to see what young people in Austin think about our state and nation's political climate. 

You can tweet about the event with the hashtag #whybothertexas or share it on Facebook at facebook.com/whybothertexas.

Edit: Here is a link to the entire show

Friday, September 7, 2012

Crisis Pregnancy Center Investigation by The Crisis Project

Ah ha, so pro-choicers finally decide to give anti-choicers a taste of their own medicine. According to The Crisis Project website, they are "a youth led movement that is committed to advancing social justice by exposing threats to human rights. By utilizing new media and investigative journalism we illuminate an invisible crisis in this country -- Americans are systematically denied access to both their legal rights and to accurate information because of the coercive and manipulative nature of regressive political and social ideologies." To The Crisis Project I say, "BRAVO!" (Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter.)

The Crisis Project must be a response to LiveAction, an anti-choice group that often releases undercover videos in Planned Parenthood clinics.You may remember LiveAction releasing a video about sex selective abortion counseling in a Planned Parenthood clinic in May. Check out my blog post here about that particular video.

Last legislative session in Texas, the family planning budget was reduced from $111 million down to just $38 million. Some of this funding was diverted to crisis pregnancy centers that provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, diapers, clothing, and counseling on parenting and personal finance. They are not required to have medical staff, however obstetricians and nurses donate their time to offer ultrasounds. 

Let's be clear that this funding was diverted from women's annual exams, STI testing, birth control, and other preventative care to religiously backed crisis pregnancy centers that refer out for the aforementioned services. 

As a future social worker, I am appalled that state funding would promote judgmental and directive counseling. I am ethically bound to promote social justice, integrity, and competence. My field respects the client's own interests and their own self determination. I am responsible to help them review ALL OF THEIR CHOICES and help identify and clarify their goals. 

If you care about women's health and respect a woman's ability to make a choice about what's right for her own family, you can donate to Planned Parenthood here. Or if you want to support equal access to abortion you can donate to the Lilith Fund here.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Night with Mary Tuma on KOOP 91.7

Last night I was invited back to KOOP 91.7 to discuss UT's Voices for Reproductive Justice,  upcoming reproductive rights events, dismantling of the Women's Health Program in Texas, the GOP's position on abortion, and rape culture.

You can check out the program here if you missed it last night. The pledge drive has been edited out for brevity, but please make a donation to KOOP. KOOP gives people like me a place to discuss issues that affect our community.

If you would like to sign the petition to demand the Department of State Health Services set a date for the hearing on dismantling of the Women's Health Program click here.

Facts on Induced Abortion in the US (About 61%* of abortions in the US are obtained by women who have one or more children)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Planned Parenthood's Youth Organizing and Policy Institute: Gulf Coast

Over the weekend I attended Planned Parenthood's Youth Organizing and Policy Institute (YOPI) in Houston, Texas. The mission of YOPI is to train young activists between the ages of 18-24 to mobilize their communities around reproductive justice and sexual health. Millennials (those currently aged about 13-30) have not only the largest voting block in America right now, but according to Pew Research Center are also the most ethnically diverse and the most politically progressive in our nation's history. YOPI engaged participants through workshops and small group break outs that ultimately led to an advocacy effort at the end of the training. Planned Parenthood is bringing YOPI all across the nation to about 1,000 young activists through 8 regional conferences.

Each conference discusses challenges unique to each region. I've written a few blog posts regarding Texas' issues such as the dismantling of the Women's Health Program and mandatory waiting periods and ultrasounds.

After an enjoyable 3 hour bus ride over to Houston, some Austin area folks and myself arrived to the smoothest check-in ever. We received our guides, our name tags, and this sweet V-neck Planned Parenthood t-shirt. I requested to be a small group facilitator, so I got an extra fancy tag.

Liz and me representing Voices for Reproductive Justice and being super stoked when we arrived

The first night was extremely inspirational as we broke out into small group and learned about what called each individual to action in our story of self. This was something I struggled with because 1. I suck at telling stories and 2. I love nitty gritty facts and struggle with personal anecdotes (which one do I choose?!). One of my favorite parts of this night though was hearing my mentors' stories from my local Planned Parenthood affiliate. How had I never asked them before?! 

We got back to our hotel at a decent time, but I was so excited that I literally could not fall asleep until about 2am. Then it was back up super early for a meeting at 7:45. Here is a picture I got of my small group on the second day.

From left to right: Caroline and Kathy from UT, Sarah and Molly from Texas State, and me

The second day was a lot different. This was the day we were to come up with our Vox Chapter's purpose, and over the course of the 13 hour day (on about 5 hours of sleep for me), an extremely detailed strategic plan of how we were going to fulfill our purpose. Initially I felt overwhelmed at our region's mission to register 1,000 voters and get 2,000 voter pledge cards by October 9th, of which a large part is to come from VRJ since we are at UT. Luckily I have the most amazing boss ever who pulled me aside and calmed my concerns. Thank you Miss. Brittany Yelverton (seriously though, I was a mess)! I didn't get many pictures from this day because it was literally back to back meetings for me.
Dyana, me, and Brittany after a 13 hour day.

The last day was much less stressful as we reconvened in small groups to come up with a story of our community and rehearsed our call to action. We even got to take some pictures before we left.

My fellow peer educators at the conference. Thank you Tiffany Vo for the picture!

Then, depending on travel plans, we split up to either block walk or phone bank. My group was assigned to block walk getting pledge to vote cards. I've got to be honest, I loathed the idea of block walking. It made me extremely nervous and I just didn't want to do it. I hate when people I don't know knock on my door, so I didn't want to knock on anyone else's door. Here was my breakout group for block walking before we went out.

Some VRJ gals! me, Liz, Caroline, and Kathy

We broke out into teams of 2 and a few teams of 3. We were given 40 addresses and 2 hours to get as many pledge to votes as possible. Y'all, block walking is SO FUN. My team got 11 cards out of 40 addresses. I'm pretty happy with that 1:4 ratio! We also met some really friendly people who were happy to take a minute or two out of their day to help our cause. Lavern was my favorite. Lavern is an  80 year old woman who, after mentioning her children and grandchildren, asked us if $5 would be enough- before we could get to our pledge to vote pitch. Hilariously awesome. When all of the 8 or 9 teams got back we had collected 50 cards (that 1:5 ratio sounds good too!)! 

My team from left to right: Kathy, Sarah, and me (GO TEAM!)

Oh the other awesome part of this was the lemonade Dyana had for us when we got back from block walking. This little girl had a lemonade stand to raise money for new shoes for school. Dyana bought all of the lemonade and a team even got a pledge to vote from her mom. GIRL POWER!

So basically, YOPI was a huge learning experience for me: I learned how to organize and strategize, but most importantly I made so many friends. This picture below is all of the Austin folks that I can't wait to work with. Thank you all for being so amazing and let's get together for some one-on-ones!

photobomb FTW

Thanks to Tiffany Vo for the picture of all conference attendees!