Sunday Spotlight is a series where we profile individuals in the Young Mormon Feminists community to hear their story and get to know them a little better through Q&A or their personal narrative. This week we talked with Kathleen.
A little bit about me:
I am Canadian. I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and grew up in a few different places in Alberta – Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Bow Island (which is between Medicine Hat and Lethbridge). I went to BYU from 2000-2007, and I actually loved BYU because it was the first place I ever met other Mormons who were liberals and feminists like me. Of course it probably helped that I was in the Physics and Astronomy department and didn’t have to listen to very much talk about politics on a daily basis. I got my bachelor’s degree (in physics-astronomy with a minor in math) and master’s degree (in physics) at BYU, and then I went to Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS, to do a PhD in astronomy. I had a bit of a quarter-life crisis when I was there and ended up making a career change and going to medical school after I finished my PhD. I live in Calgary now and am finishing med school this spring and I’m going to do my residency in family medicine. I really like primary care and mental health and working with marginalized populations (like the homeless and refugees). I am also interested in medical education, medical ethics, and medical history. I still do some astronomy research, but now that I am doing it for fun I like it a lot more (I work on variable stars, and in particular SRc variables, if anyone is interested). I also like quantum mechanics, abstract algebra, knitting and crocheting, pastel drawing, reading lots of books, cooking and gluten-free baking (I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008), swimming, yoga, and playing the violin (I took lessons for a couple of years when I lived in Halifax and I am hoping that in a few years my schedule will settle down so that I can take more lessons and maybe even play in an orchestra some day). I was a ballet dancer when I was younger. I am single and I live with my 2 guinea pigs, Annie and Sarah.
How I realized I was a feminist:
I was raised in not-very-typical LDS family. My parents are both converts to the church, they got married when they were in their late 30s, and I only have one sibling, and I didn’t realize just how different the political beliefs of most church members were from my own until I was in grade 6 or 7. I had a few experiences in YW and in school where I would innocently make some comment about one of my political beliefs and get attacked for it. So I didn’t really have a feminist awakening – it was more that I had a realization that there are people who don’t believe in equal rights. And I wasn’t ok with that. So I became very political in junior high. I joined Amnesty International and started writing letters for human rights campaigns (and I still do that), I wrote letters to the editor, and I liked asking controversial questions when they would bring political candidates to our school for debates (picture me as a 13 year old with big hair and huge glasses in 1995 demanding to know why gay marriage wasn’t legal). I’m much less angry now than I was then, but I am still passionate about standing up for human rights whenever I can.
Issues I am particularly passionate about:
-intersectionality and more inclusion of non-Caucasian people and non-cisgender people in the feminist movement
-body acceptance and ending fat-shaming
-ending routine circumcision of male infants
– specifically children’s rights and mistreatment of the elderly
-the status and treatment of singles in the LDS church
-de-stigmatizing mental health problems
-reproductive choice and education (which involves so much more than just abortion)
-universal healthcare as a fundamental human right
-the social determinants of health
-poverty and income inequality
-removing stigma and fear about menstruation (half the world is bleeding from their vaginas a quarter of the time, let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen), and awareness of alternative menstrual products (like cloth pads and menstrual cups) so that people know they have options
A couple of other things:
-I have a blog. http://glutenfreewolf.com. I don’t talk about issues on there, and it hasn’t been updated in forever, but my best gluten free recipes are on there including my awesome bread.
-I started a Feminist Mormon Ravelry group a few weeks ago and you should join it if you’re on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/feminist-mormon-knitters-and-crocheters
-I think everyone should read “If Men Could Menstruate” by Gloria Steinem. It’s one of my favorite things ever. http://www.haverford.edu/psych/ddavis/p109g/steinem.menstruate.html