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Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter
Wednesday, August 21, 2019


Top Stories This Week

1. A Weekend of Sexual Freedom; 
2. What reproductive care is like at an anti-abortion, anti-contraception clinic;
3. How to give children the tools to recognize sexual abuse;
4. The ICE arrests of 680 in Mississippi;
5. Reciprocal IVF;
6. The obscene cost of being a woman with a chronic health problem; 
7. A day in name-changing court

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Sexual Freedom Summit 2019

Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s Sexual Freedom Summit

This past weekend, Woodhull hosted our 10th annual Sexual Freedom Summit! We welcomed nearly 400 activists, writers, policy makers, sexuality educators, researchers, and sexual freedom movement leaders to Alexandria, VA for 4 days of inspiring conversation and strategizing. From our day-long institute on the sex worker advocacy hosted with our 2019 partner organization, Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-USA), to our over 70 workshop sessions, Summit attendees were invited to challenge their assumptions, share concrete skills, network, and build a powerful movement for sexual freedom. 

Read our recap blogs to catch just a snapshot of the weekend:


Robin Marty/Flickr

What It's Like to Get Reproductive Care at an Anti-Abortion, Anti-Contraception Clinic (Pacific Standard) 

In its latest round of funding, the Department of Health and Human Services declined to give grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates in several states, instead opting to direct money to general health clinics. Francie Diep covers one such clinic, Obria Group: “So how can a clinic that opposes contraception provide family planning services? Obria plans to encourage abstinence until marriage, especially with its teen clients, and to promote an app that helps users track when they’re fertile, the Washington Post reports, based on documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. A statement that Obria’s spokesperson sent me lists ‘sexual risk avoidance education’—a newer name for abstinence-based education—among the services it provides, but not fertility tracking, nor any other method of family planning.” Read more.


Jun Cen

Give Your Child the Tools to Recognize Sexual Abuse (The New York Times) 

As a counselor and educator who focuses on child sexual abuse, Shani Zoldan-Verschleiser believes it to be imperative for parents to talk to kids about their bodies and empower them to speak out: “Empower kids to say ‘no’ and talk openly. Encouraging emotional honesty and physical boundaries helps kids gain some control over their bodies. Letting a child say, ‘No, I don’t want a hug, but a handshake is O.K.’ shows her that she has choices. Still, children may not be able to say ‘no’ to their abuser or stop the abuse. Most children who are sexually abused do not disclose their abuse, so we need to tell children that even if they can’t say ‘no,’ even if they can’t get away, the most important thing to do is to tell someone about the abuse.” Read more.


Alex Love/WJTV

ICE Arrests 680 in Mississippi, Leaving Children Without Their Parents (Truthout) 

On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested nearly 700 workers at various Mississippi food processing plants, unconscionably leaving their children homeless. Jake Johnson cites many different media responses, including a tweet from Greisa Martínez Rosas, deputy executive director of rights group United We Dream: “For anyone who tries to desensitize the situation or blur the connections between the acts of terror this week I call bullshit. Latinx and immigrant kids and families have been terrorized this week. It is time for both parties in Congress to stop giving ICE and [Customs and Border Protection] billions of dollars and to hold them accountable.” Read more.


Barb Simkova for Tara McMullen Photography

Birth Story: One Mom Made the Embryos, and the Other Grew the Baby (them.) 

In her column on LGBTQ journeys toward becoming parents, Laura Leigh Abby speaks with Emily Herczeg and Victoria Schwarzl on their decision to have a child. As Emily states in her interview, “We always talked about how amazing it would be if one day when we wanted to have kids—in a perfect world—we could use Victoria’s egg and I could carry and that way we could both be part of the pregnancy.” Thanks to what is known as reciprocal IVF, “which is when one partner supplies the eggs to be used for IVF while the other acts as the gestational carrier,” the couple’s dream came true.
Read more.


Cathryn Virginia

‘I Lost Everything’: The Obscene Cost of Being a Woman with a Chronic Health Problem (Vice) 

Ivana Rihter explores the costs—financial and otherwise—of being a woman who has a chronic health problem, including the specific experience of K.D. Chalk, a Black woman who has struggled with painful periods since middle school: “When it finally got bad enough that she ended up in the hospital, she was met with the grim reality so many women of color experience in the ER: After hours of waiting with no medical help, Chalk begged for some kind of relief, but was not taken seriously, she said. She told the staff her pain levels were at a 10 out of 10, and the nurse offered her an ibuprofen. [...] (Research suggests that [...] doctors underestimate the pain of their Black patients.) She made the decision to leave the hospital and find another one that could see her more quickly. This also meant going to one outside her insurance network, which she said cost $2,000.”
Read more.


Christina Animashaun

A day in name-changing court (Vox) 

For their 29th birthday, J. Dylan Sandifer bought a first and middle name, “traditionally masculine yet gender-flexible, freeing [them] to explore moving through the world with a different identity.” As Sandifer writes, the process was, in itself, a gift: “I walked into the Shelby County Probate Court because I wanted to affirm myself in an official capacity, to become closer to who I was. What I didn’t expect was for my name changing process to be such a unique shared experience with everyone else in that room. Other than newlyweds, there is no celebrated milestone or cultural script that leads you to believe you will ever find yourself in a courthouse signing away a name you’ve carried around for a couple of decades or more. But here we all were.”
Read more.


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