Too often we are discouraged from discussing the taboos surrounding our bodies; the parts of us that are messy, leaky, and in pain. These topics are thought to be reserved for closeted discussions between patients and doctors. Medical Herstory seeks to make such stories public by empowering women and femmes to speak shamelessly about their bodies and health outside of the doctors’ office.
Despite popular beliefs that medicine is value-neutral and objective, gender bias infiltrate medical care and harm women and femmes. Although women are 2x more likely to suffer from chronic pain than men, their pain is more likely to be dismissed due to stereotypes that women are overly dramatic, emotional, or hysterical. These injustices are further exacerbated for low-income, disabled, trans, and racialized women and non-binary femmes. As a result, many women and girls struggle in silence with medical conditions due to being ignored or shamed. These presumptions have dangerous consequences, from lost hope and lost access to lost lives.
Medical Herstorytm began in 2018, when I took the risk of bearing the messy, leaky, and painful parts of myself publicly as a call to action for more compassionate and comprehensive medical care. Writing publicly about my experience helped remove the burden of shame I had been carrying and work towards healing. After sharing my own story, I quickly found out I was not alone and hearing others’ stories inspired me to launch this platform.
I am grateful for all those who have shared their stories with me in private, and for those who here share them publicly. These stories are not always easily composed with a beginning, middle, and end, but continue to be lived long after writing the final sentence. These stories are lived within systems of sexism, ableism, racism, and ageism – structures that involve all of us. My hope is that you read these stories, and you find community, education, or encouragement to share your own. I hope our stories inspire you to push for compassionate and comprehensive medical care for all.