FIRST EVER Q/T*POC BIRTHWORK PROJECT TRAINING: DEBRIEF AND A SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH RAFAEL/A LUNA PIZANO
Oooof, que fuerte! It has taken me literally three weeks to be able to sit down and write about this experience. The first ever QTPOC Birthwork Training
was in Seattle this past July, it was a beautiful gathering of souls, it was life affirming, it was fun, it was like being 18-years old again! Lately I have been dealing with the fact that I am growing up, that I am pretty much in my mid-twenties and that it is kind of depressing to ‘grow up’- this gathering was a lot of things but sobre todo refreshing. It made me feel exited once again. I am still trying to figure out teleporting so i can keep building with the people I met in the training.
We had an amazing array of presenters; mothers, students midwife, post-partum companion/doulas, midwives, body workers and straight up bad asses. The folx that got together came from all over the US, from different cultures and backgrounds- knowledge in the room was so RICH. I even got to taste a little bit of a dried placenta and meet two little people being brought up in Queer families! The only way I could describe the whole experience, besides saying that I felt 18-years old again, would be to compare it to the first time I touched a placenta- it was warm and rich with life.
Here is a sneak peak on what the training covered: language check, de-medicalizing body parts, hirstory of midwives of color, navigating ‘doula’ or companion work as QTPOCs, rebozo skill-share, unexpected birth outcomes, belly binding, post-partum support and healing, chest/breast feeding, break-out sessions on adoption, queer family making, insemination, abortion, Trans* birthwork and much much more!
Here is an interview with Rafael/a Luna Pizano, one of the brains behind the QTPOC Birthwork Project
and also one of the many facilitators of this beautiful soul gathering.
Who is Rafael/a Luna Pizano?
I’m a descendant of Pilipin@, Mexica and mestiz@ blood, walking the red road as a two-spirit/ed child. I am a bodyworker by trade, artist by night, and dreamer by day. I am passionate about reproductive justice for all genders and bodies, especially for transpeople (i.e. transwomxn, transmxn and gender-fluid folks) and people of color. I really love food, playing capoeira, finding unnatural lipstick colors, dipping my head in the ocean and complaining about how much my cat likes to cuddle.
What does Trans* and Queer BIrthwork mean to you and why do you think it is important to train QTPOC folx as birthworkers?
Trans and Queer birthwork…means that ALL kinds of bodies and genders have great access to reproductive support including full-spectrum pregnancy care. This also means that the folks offering this support to trans and queer folks are of trans and queer communities or have been asked by people from these communities to support them in solidarity. I feel it’s important to train q/tpoc to become birthworkers because we (q/tpoc) also need reproductive care that’s respectful, culturally-competent and appropriate to our needs. Who better to support us than folks from our own community? We need the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to at least provide basic support for each other through all aspects of reproductive health, pregnancy and fertility practices. I want us to know how to engage with our medical providers (esp if they aren’t q/tpoc) about our reproductive health, armed with more education about our bodies and cycles. This knowledge of our bodies’ reproductive needs and health is imperative to our survival especially as transpeople because so many medical providers are still ignorant to our existence, let alone our specific healthcare needs. There is still very little research or data gathering on what is ‘normal’ for transbodies regarding our reproductive cycles and how gender-affirming hormones or surgeries impact this aspect of our lives for the long-term. By creating more access to reproductive education, I hope that more q/tpoc will not only be able to provide reproductive care for each other, but also begin recording our stories and experiences as part of a collective memory that can teach us about what is common to our experiences as transpeople navigating pregnancy or reproductive shifts.
How can other QTPOC folx get involved in birthwork? How do they get started?
More q/tpoc can get involved with birthwork by self-educating and reading, connecting with others online (including us at the QTPOC Birthwork Project
), listening to their elders and asking questions more specifically related to pregnancy/childbirth (folks might have to ask the questions several times before anyone feels like answering lol), and definitely doing the self-healing work that often comes up when we enter the realm of birthwork on any level. Taking trainings for doulas/labor companions, connecting with local doula groups or asking birthworkers in the field about entry points to birthwork are a few ways to get started. Unfortunately, most trainings, birthwork networks and providers are of white/cis/hetero/upper-class communities and often do not have the resources or foundations to even begin understanding what an aspiring q/tpoc birthworker may bring into a space. Q/tpocs will probably wage through the usual mix of righteous rage, trauma, sadness and lack of motivation that occurs when met with the well-intentioned white ladies that often run birth practices in the U.S. (especially up here in the NW). I suggest that q/tpocs try their best to find poc birthworkers to start and interview them, talk story, get book recommendations, etc. as they begin to travel along a path that has been lonely for q/tpoc and two-spirit/ed folks since ‘colonization.’
What do you envision for QTPOC Birthwork Project? Are there plans of future trainings?
I envision that the Q/TPOC Birthwerq Project
will continue to create other workshops, probably smaller in size/duration and topics covered, to focus more on specific aspects of pregnancy, fertility and sexual health as it relates to transpeople and queer folks of color. I also see gatherings that are more for trans and queer community-members interested in healing around reproductive health, where people can come together and share their fertility and pregnancy experiences/questions/dreams in a safer space and with people that can answer questions or offer resources. I see these kinds of gatherings especially for transpeople, because I feel that trans folks need some other steps around self-healing before we think about supporting cis-people during pregnancy (i.e. labor companion work) because that is still the majority of who is pregnant. I hope that we can continue to connect with trans community and meet transwomxn that are interested in birthwork. Because transwomxn are womxn, I want to see my sisters taking up their right to womxn’s legacies of traditional birth practices and support a gathering where other womxn (trans, cis, etc) of color can share basic fertility and pregnancy practices with each other. I also see a gathering for existing q/tpoc birthworkers to come together and share healing time, feed each other, and nourish our drive for this work because it’s fuckin’ exhausting to be us and struggling for equal reproductive access. I dream of a men’s pregnancy gathering where all kinds (trans, cis, etc.) of men of color can come together and learn more about the basics of pregnancy, reproductive resources and get comfortable talking about it because men are often part of the birthing equation, but don’t often know how to show up in a helpful way. I have many more dreams, but I’m more interested in hearing what people from our first workshop are dreaming of now that they’ve had a taste of what birthwork can offer. I hope that participants from our first workshop will want to create gatherings in their local communities that encourage conversation, skill-sharing and connection necessary to continue the reproductive justice work of our elders in a new way.
Q/TPOC Birthwerq Project email: firstname.lastname@example.org
-by La Loba Loca. Gay.Queer Peruvian Muxer, Coxinera, tumblerista, body-powered tattooist, D.I.Y. fine artist, documentarista, Justicia Reproductiva advocate, Full Spectrum Birthworker and over all interested on autonomous health. If you are looking for birth and full spectrum companionship/doula in central Los Angeles, CA contact me and also check out my earth-loving goodies, reusable pads and chest/breast pads, atlalobaloca.bigcartel.com!