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On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with the founder of The Pocket Doula, Anna Balagtas, about uplifting queer, and trans-care. 

Anna Balagtas (she/siya) is a queer, Pinay full circle birth worker, educator, facilitator, energy worker, and pleasure advocate. Her practice is rooted in the decolonization of birth work, radical QTBIPOC care, and queer reproductive justice, taught to her by king yaa. Anna’s deepest joy comes from witnessing her communities thrive through community care, mutual aid, and abolition work. 

We talk about how Anna started The Pocket Doula and her journey to decolonized birth work. We also talk about Anna’s experience with radicalizing perinatal care for QTBIPOC communities by creating empowering spaces centered on queer reproductive justice. 

Content warning: We mention abortion, queerphobia, transphobia, medical trauma, medical racism, death, miscarriage, and loss. 

Resources

Learn more about the founder of The Pocket Doula, Anna Balagtas, here. Follow Anna, The Pocket Doula, on Facebook and Instagram

Learn more about Decolonization is for Everyone here.

Learn more about Birthing Beyond the Binary by king yaa here.

Learn more about Cornerstone Birthwork Trainings here.

Learn more about Whole Body Pregnancy here.

Learn more about Birthing Advocacy Doula Trainings here.

Learn more about Gender Affirming Birthwork + All Genders Birth Class by Moss Froom here.

Learn more about king yaa here.

Learn more about Teaching Resistance by John Mink here.

Learn more about The Care We Dream Of: Liberatory and Transformative Approaches to LGBTQ+ Health by Zena Sharman here.

Transcript

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Hi, everyone on today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with the founder of The Pocket Doula. Anna Balagtas about uplifting queer, and trans-care. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker and I’m a nurse with my PhD and the founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Join me each week as we work together to get evidence-based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice, ebbirth.com/disclaimer, for more details.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Hi everyone. My name is Rebecca Decker pronouns she/her, and I will be your host for today’s episode. Today, We are so excited to welcome the founder of The Pocket Doula, Anna Balagtas. Before we interview Anna, I want to let you know that if there are any detailed content or trigger warnings, we’ll post them in the description or show notes, go along with this episode. And now I’d like to introduce our honored guest. 

Anna Balagtas (she/siya) is a queer, Pinay full circle birth worker, educator, facilitator, energy worker, and pleasure advocate. Her practice is rooted in the decolonization of birth work, radical QTBIPOC care, and queer reproductive justice as was taught to her by king yaa. Anna’s deepest joy comes from witnessing her communities thrive through community care, mutual aid, and abolition work. We are so excited that Anna is here. Welcome Anna to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast.

Anna Balagtas:

Thank you so much for having me. This is so exciting.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Well, I’m so excited that I get to talk with you today, and I have just been really excited to find out your story and how you got into birth work. So can you tell us about your journey?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for asking. So my stumble into birth work was pretty accidental before I became a doula. I worked as a nanny and sometimes I still work as a nanny, but I was in childcare spaces very often. I was a nanny for perhaps about six, seven years before I became a birth worker or found out what a birth worker was, but I originally wanted to be a pediatrician or a midwife, but the institutionalized learning to get into these practices was just something that I couldn’t do when I went to university, I fully could not do the workload and it just, it was such a big mental health thing for me that I knew if I wanted to be a midwife or pediatrician, it would take longer than the recommended route. And that seemed very unattainable to me. And so I kind of put childcare and healthcare on a back burner for a while because they didn’t know what to do with it.

But there was a time where I was still living with my roommate and I was asking what she was doing. She was working at our communal table and she’s like, oh, I’m learning how to become a doula. And I was like, what’s a doula. Like I that’s the very first time I had ever heard the word. And so she explained to me that doulas help support birthing folks and families emotionally, physically, but not so much in the sense where you need to be medically trained for years in order to do so. Like, this is really just about heart-centered work. And I dove right in. I was like, how do I get in on that? And I trained with my very first training, which unfortunately was not very good. It was very whitewashed and very harmful. There were many things in there where they just skirted over what birth and postpartum could look like.

And it just was not for me. And so I thought that because I had taken this training and I didn’t really vibe with what they were teaching me that birth work wasn’t for me at all. So I had left, like I just stopped doing the work. I was like, oh, maybe it’s not for me. But when I took a break, I came back a year after, because I was scrolling on Instagram and I had seen this post that said something like birth workers, political. And I was like, this is the very first time I have ever seen, like these two things side by side, that birth work is political and that it has activism behind it. And I was like, what? This is something new. And so when I found out about this, I dove right into that community about how birth work is all about reproductive justice. And since then, I’ve never turned back. Like, this is where my work is rooted and this is where I’m going to stay.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

So you found your community essentially.

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. Again, like by stumbling on it, like such an accident.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

So how did you go about then getting involved in like the reproductive justice side of birth work?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah, that’s a great question. So that post that I had seen it was by Cornerstone Birthwork Trainings and because the pandemic had just began a lot of the work now I saw was starting to become online. And I saw that Cornerstone was based in the states and I’m in Canada, but they had these courses available online. And so I took them and that’s how I found myself in this virtual community of radical birth workers. And that’s really how I started to build my own community too, is from this training that isn’t whitewashed and is actually quite incredible and radical. That is how I shifted over to where I found my own space.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Okay. So you were first exposed to birth work through kind of the white lens in the United States, kind of where that was centered and then you took a break. Yeah. Yeah. Cause you’re like this isn’t for me. And then you found that there was a completely different approach to birth work that you now root your practice in. After you went through that training with cornerstone, what was it like starting your journey as you know, a birth worker? Were you going to births then in person through the pandemic or,

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah, that was really hard for me to do because of the pandemic and also there’s talk of certification. So when I started with Cornerstone, I didn’t wanna be certified. Like that was just something that I felt like I had no capacity to do and didn’t want to do, like, I think the validity of my work doesn’t need to be certified. So that was in itself like a barrier I had to face because if clients wanted my care, a lot of the time they would ask me where I was trained. You know, like how valid is your work? Like, how can we trust you? Which is fair because this is their care that we’re talking about. So I had lost out on a lot of clients in that way, but I found that advocacy work online was something that I was even more passionate about. So I was able to find clients to support in births, in person, in hospitals, home births, all of that good stuff. And these were the folks that I knew I aligned with because they didn’t care about certification. They just cared about me as a person. So that was great for me. But even as I was supporting these folks, I was realizing that like, where I really wanted to be was online in advocacy spaces where I could kind of help other emerging, radical doulas, like come into this space with less barriers. Cuz I knew how much of a hard time I had trying to get into doula work with the tools that I had.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

So tell us about The Pocket Doula because that’s where you’ve been doing a lot of this online advocacy work. What is The Pocket Doula and what kinds of programs are offered?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. Oh thank you for asking this. Yes. So Pocket Doula right now is a landing space for emerging or even already established birth workers who want to radicalize their practice. I still offer support for folks and families who want in-personal care, but I’m trying to move away from that because I really feel like my work resides with emerging doulas, but something that I’m offering right now is a workshop called at Baja and at Baja is Tagalog for our house. And in this workshop, I am sharing knowledge with birth workers who are looking to build their practice as if they were building their own homes. Like we’re really looking at the structure of your practice. Like who are you rooted in? What are the pillars of your practice? What roof of values are you practicing under? Things like that. And this is a workshop that I do on the other hand of that is something called Kapi Baja, which is a play on words because instead of our house, Kapi Baja means neighbor and in, I think Bahai was building your house, but in KA Bahai, the mentorship it’s building community and how to become a good neighbor within your community.

And so it’s a longer process because the mentorship is about four months, but I am all about community-centered care. I mean, I don’t know how we would be able to do this alone and I don’t think this work should be done alone. And so a lot of the offerings that I do is super community-based and centered.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

And I’m at your website right now, looking at yourpocketdoula.com. Both of those programs are listed like right at the tops. It’s really easy to yeah. To, to read along and see the descriptions. And I love what you’re building there. Can you tell me a little bit about the emerging and new doulas and birth workers that are going through these mentorship and building this community with you? Like what kinds of transformations have you seen?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah, so I really like to target doulas who have no idea where to start. Like I have seen how much harm folks have gone through if they land in whitewashed training organizations like I have and have been triggered or traumatized by it. And so I wanna nip it in the bud almost. It’s like you’re investing a lot of your time and money in these folks, which could be going to other trainings or facilitations in where you actually want to spend your money on. But things that I have seen in building these workshops and these mentorships is that I have seen how much community discussion has shifted a person’s practice. Like the other day I had a community call, oh, that’s also something I do as well. So every month I host community calls for folks in the community, it’s pay what you can, you can drop in whenever you want to.

But in one of these community calls, we had talked about payment and sliding scales and what being paid for our labor looks like because this work tends to be underpaid. A lot of the time care workers are massively underpaid for what we do. And there was such a big discussion about how we can make this work, both affordable and also respectable of the labor that we put in it. And at the end of that community call folks were in my inbox saying like, wow, I have shifted how I wanna price my stuff. Like thank you so much for that discussion. Like I feel like I have more of an idea of what I wanna do. So it’s things like just talking to the folks around, you can massively shift where you are in your practice. And that is amazing. Like that transformation, that change is so beautiful to see.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. And I noticed on your website before I interview that I was looking around and you talk about the green bottle pricing method. Can you talk a little bit about like how perhaps you use that in your own community, but then how people can also take that concept and use it if they’re practicing birth work?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. So the sliding scale method I use is the green bottle method. And I think either I had found this out through cornerstone or through king. Yeah. Both of those, both of them are my mentors. But what the sliding scale is you have three pictures of bottles. The first bottle is filled up very low. The second bottle is half full and the third bottle is very full. And within the bottles, it shows the capacities that you have. So the very lowest bottle is like, I can barely afford basic necessities. I don’t have income coming in. Things like that, where it shows that your lower income, then you have the middle bottle, which is like, I can meet my basic necessities, but I don’t have savings. I can put food on the table, but not very much. And then the last bottle that’s super full is I have access to all the things that I need.

I actually have overflow. I’m abundant in all the things. And when I have this scale right on my page, people are confronted to see exactly where they land financially. And so if I just say the sliding scale is between $0 to $25, some folks might just wanna say, oh, I don’t know, I’ll just pay 10, but it’s like, but are you able to afford 25? And what I love about this visual is that you can fully see like where you can price yourself within your capacities. And there’s no judgment on my part. I never know. I’m not looking to see. Hmm. So, and so paid this or, mm, so and so paid that it’s like, this is out for you. I trust that you are choosing what you’re able to, but just so you know, like this is how I’m always pricing my stuff and I still respect wherever you are on it.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

So you can do this with your own programs and offerings. And then you were having discussions with other birth workers about how they’re doing this with their clients.

Anna Balagtas:

Yes, exactly. Yeah.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

That’s really amazing. Anna, can you talk to us about what is a full circle birth worker? I don’t think we’ve had anybody define that yet on the EEB podcast.

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. So I like to call myself a full circle birth worker, but folks also go by full-spectrum birth workers. Okay. And essentially it’s a person who supports someone in many different parts of their reproductive care journey, but I like to see it as someone who can support from birth to death, which is why it’s like full circle. I am starting to train to become a death worker, which is really cool. It’s something that I’ve yet to dip my toes in. I’ve supported folks in miscarriage and loss, but I’m really interested in death and grieving like for elderly folks or for anyone really. But that’s something that I’m starting to dip my toes into. So full circle just from birth to death.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. And having been a nurse who’s been at the side, holding the hands of many people who have passed. I can definitely see the connections. Like it’s a very sacred moment, the moment of birth, the moment of death. And it requires like that support most of the

Anna Balagtas:

Time. Yeah, for sure. I mean, like, those are the biggest transitions that you can go to in your life to be born and to leave to die. Like that’s why wouldn’t you want support in these moments. Right.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

And they both have a lot of similarities in terms of like having been over intervention, you know, at both stages. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I can just totally see birth workers also being pulled in that direction. So that’s really exciting. What have been the barriers you’ve experienced as a queer Pinay full circle birth worker?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. So one of the biggest barriers I have seen is the lack of resources specifically for my community, for queer and trans folks, as well as the resources for undocumented racialized folks in Canada. I mostly see the lack of resources here because that’s who I’m mostly supporting in my community right now. So I know how difficult it is to find what I need to find in order to support them, but also being Filipino it’s hmm. How to best put this. It’s not uncommon to see someone who’s Filipino be in the realm of care work. So a lot of the time my work is diminished because it’s something folks expect me to do, which actually decreases my chances of my work being amplified. And that’s a huge barrier for me because having my work being amplified is how I find more people to support. And yeah, like it’s, it feels kind of sad that because I’m Filipino and I’m expected to do this work that this work isn’t seen as beautiful and radical and incredible just because I’m expected to do it. And that’s something that I’ve really only started realizing now is that it’s a grief process, really? That that’s a barrier for me. And it’s not something that’s just celebrated

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Because there’s this racialized expectation that you will be in a caregiving or service type role. So it’s not celebrated

Anna Balagtas:

Exactly.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

That you’re doing this work. Yeah —

Anna Balagtas:

Exactly. And being a birth worker too, it’s also diminished because for some of us, we don’t have medical training and in my family personally, people will ask me like, why didn’t you just become a nurse? Or like, why didn’t you just become a midwife? I’m like, well, because those aren’t part of my capacities. Like I’m not able to do that. And how ableist of you to assume that I have time or resources or the capacities in order to do that, like being a birth worker, isn’t a step down from being a nurse or a midwife, like in itself, it’s an amazing thing to do. Like why are we putting it in this category? That it’s a second choice, you know, or second place.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Before we start recording, we were talking a little bit about how, you know, you have this strong desire to uplift the queer and trans community. Can you talk a little bit about how that shows up in your work?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. So uplifting, queer, and trans communities is actually very, quite simple. We just need y’all to listen to us. Like we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I see a lot of folks wanting to speak up for queer and trans communities of like, this is what I think we need. This is what I think we need to change. And it’s like, why don’t you just ask the community what we feel like we need to change right. In my work, I talk a lot about decolonizing and transformative queer care. And that for me, just really means putting care back in the hands of racialized folks. Like we don’t need anyone to be our savior. We know exactly how to help ourselves, but we need the resources in order to get us to a place where we can care for each other. When we listen to queer trans Black Indigenous and people of the global majority folks, and we actively listen, like we can reimagine and we can reshape what queer care looks like for us. It doesn’t need reinventing again. Like the answers are out there. We just need the resources to do it.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

I was wondering if you could educate our listeners a little bit. I know when I went to Canada for the first time for a birth work related event, I saw the term racialized being used a lot. And that is not something we hear in the us. So for like our us based listeners, can you explain what that means? The concept of what is it to be racialized?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. So being racialized, I see it as going hand in hand with there’s the term BIPOC, which is Black, Indigenous, and People of Color I’ve shifted away from using POC. And now I say by PGM, which is Black, Indigenous, and people of the global majority, I can get more into why I switched out on that. But essentially being racialized is being a person who’s not white. And sometimes it’s easier to say racialized than to say an acronym because racialized, you can infer what it means. Then if it’s an acronym, it might be a little bit harder to access what that entails.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

So it’s essentially like a social construct where people who are white have othered everybody else and racialized them yeah. 

Anna Balagtas:

Into a category, essentially. Essentially my gosh, that’s such a great way of putting it. It’s like, you’re either white or you’re racialized. Like what, what,

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. You talked about decolonized care. How does that show up? And can you explain what that means?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. So for me, decolonized care is again, putting the care back into our hands and not projecting what you feel like is best specifically. This is specifically for Black Indigenous and people of the global majority. Like it’s very common to see that by PGM folks face a lot of disparity when it comes to medical racism and medical trauma, but that doesn’t have to be the normal. Like I feel like that’s such a norm nowadays. It’s like, oh yeah, Black folks faced a lot of medical racism. That’s just how it is. But when we’re decolonizing this care, it’s like we have to get into the root as to why this is happening. And then we think back to the roots of modern midwifery, or we think back to the roots of Marion Sims, if you’ve ever heard of him, he’s the white guy, “father of gynecology.”

I hate using that term that he’s the father of modern gynecology because he had actually found his footing using and exploiting the labor of enslaved Black women. And so when we’re decolonizing this care, it’s like, why are the systems the way that they are now and how do they root back to what they were in the past? And how can we flip it back over its head because our systems are incredibly racist, but there’s a reason why that is right. So decolonizing is really just dismantling those systems and rebuilding a newer system in where by PGM folks are completely uplifted in where the care is completely in our hands. Cuz it always should be

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Anna. I wanna give you free reign to talk about whatever it is you want. So is there anything in particular that like is on your mind right now or heart that you wanna speak about?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. Yes. Actually there is. So today we had just found out that Roe versus Wade might be overturned coming from Canada. Like this is something that’s not really affecting us right now because our abortion is free. It’s accessible and all of that good stuff. But I wanted to hold space a little bit for what that might mean for our queer and trans racialized folks who might not be able to access abortion in the states. And so if we take away abortion access, it’s a racist way to harm folks who need abortion access, like the two go hand in hand. And so I just, I wanted to leave space for that for a moment because this is a really big moment. Like I see a lot of things on the internet right now about just chatting about what could happen, what could happen, but it’s like the future is quite close. Like it’s not just clout at this point. Like this could be, what’s going to happen in the future. Like what systems do we have in place to take care of my queer and trans kin, right? Like how are we able to mobilize this right now? So that’s something that I just wanted to chat about is it’s the magnitude of this really?

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

And I know we’re recording this in May, after the papers were leaked and this will be airing in June, you know, sometime around then. When that decision is finally made public. And one thing that has struck me is we’ve been collecting the research on this topic. And yeah, I was reading about how often when Black women and queer folks are going to abortion clinics to access medical care, how they’re often yelled. And it’s really been interesting to me over the last couple years to realize that a lot of insults and hatred that are spewed is often a projection on, of something that you’ve done yourself. And so I think it’s really interesting that in the us, we’ve essentially committed genocide to our Indigenous community and to enslaved Africans and African Americans. And we’re attempted to, I’m not saying completed it, but definitely attempted to. And so to me it’s really horrifying and sad that that’s the comment that is being used. Yeah. You know, to it’s like projecting what the white community has done and putting it on people who are trying to access medical care yeah.

Anna Balagtas:

It’s—

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Really horrifying. So a lot of intersections, like you were saying,

Anna Balagtas:

Absolutely.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

With racism and lack of access to needed medical care. I know here at EEB, we have a lot of parents who take our child class who very much have wanted pregnancies, but have crises and need medical care. So, and when you take that away, it endangers all pregnant people. So

Anna Balagtas:

Absolutely.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

The fear of whether or not we’ll be able to access care if something goes wrong yeah. With the pregnancy. And the truth is here at EEB. We have a lot of clients and parents who need medical care in these really frightening situations that we’ve personally experienced, you know, holding them as birth workers and childbirth educators like, you know, so that is definitely a problem. And I live in a state where there’s a trigger law. So as soon as Roe V Wade is overturned, we will have no abortion access after six weeks unless the pregnant person is at risk of dying, but with no other exceptions. So it’s gonna affect a lot of people. Yeah. But I also feel like with any movement in one direction, there’s always a counter-movement. So I think that is the nature of like cultural shifts and change too. So that is one thing that absolutely people tend to either way they feel like things are going in whatever direction, but things always change. So

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And actually, as you were chatting, it just reminds me too, that you were saying that folks who are coming into EEB B who are needing access to medical care and all of that stuff like for queer and trans folks, access to medical care for them is zero to none like or 10 to none. It’s, we’re afraid to find medical care because in finding medical care, it’s just a way that we could traumatize ourselves. Right. My partner is non-binary and I’ve yet to see them go into a healthcare setting. And whenever I ask why it’s like, well, I don’t want them to ask for my pronouns. I don’t want them to ask why I am the way I am. Like I just need a health checkup and all that stuff. And so going back to abortion access, it’s like who of our queer and trans kin are now doubling their risk of harm by number one, not having access to safe abortions.

And number two, if they weren’t able to access medical care in the first place, like then they’re really backed up in a corner. Right. But I like what you were saying about how it shifts. Like there’s gonna be a huge shift regardless of how this goes. And I would love in reimagining this future with you. I would love to see that shift being decolonized, right? Like how do we bring back abortion access to the hands of ancestral knowledge? Like we have a lot of plant ancestral knowledge. We have a lot of midwives and folks who have the pills available, like what can we do alongside our community so that we can still access safe abortions, but not needing government systems to back us up. Like how can we access safe abortions for each other or create that for each other. So that’s something that I would love to see, should it go that direction?

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

And not only that, but with miscarriage care, obviously banning abortion makes it more difficult for some people to seek care for miscarriages that are happening naturally or spontaneously. And I know personally having had two miscarriages at home how, and they were early and I felt safe enough to be at home cuz it was very early, but it just felt so calm and peaceful and safe. And I wonder if, like you said decolonizing treatments like that can also, in some ways, you know, do you know what I’m talking about? Just like that. Just kind of like how we’re taking birth back birth itself at home, but like yes. Miscarriage care, shifting it to a home setting when possible and when safe. Yeah. Can be really empowering too.

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. To me, that kind of sounds like body literacy in a way like where body literacy is something that we’re not really taught in in school because it’s part of an institution and that’s because they’re taking away power that is rightfully ours. And so I feel like with abortion access or even miscarriage and even birth, it’s like the literacy in order for us to be able to do this ourselves is something that is so incredible that we have to think back. Why do they wanna take that power away from us? And how do we claim that power back to ourselves? I think this is kind of where the realm that you are going at. Yeah. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah, yeah. Reclaiming it for ourselves. And I think, you know, I work with a lot of pregnant teens and many of them have really no idea, just like what happens with fertilization and implantation of the egg and when pregnancy starts and what causes pregnancy symptoms and just basic knowledge about like, when are you more likely to conceive and when are you less likely to conceive. So there’s a lot of interesting lack of knowledge about bodies from all stages of our reproductive health.

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah, absolutely. I agree. I always question why, like why isn’t this just a part of our curriculum. It’s really funny to me that there are parts where someone out there was just like, this is more important to teach than other parts. And the parts that we are never taught about are the parts that essentially we can claim power in. So that has always been something that’s in the back of my mind.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Yeah. So it’s definitely eye-opening to get questions from people asking me. So when did I get pregnant? You know, like not really even understanding what does it mean to be six weeks pregnant or 12 weeks pregnant? Or how do I know when did I conceive this baby? So there’s, it’s really interesting just to know how little knowledge there is about our bodies and that yeah. A lot of that comes from that colonization you

Anna Balagtas:

Were talking about. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. And this whole conversation is really mind-blowing to me right now because honestly had, I still stayed within that community where I was trained first in that very whitewashed community of doula trainers in where we never really talked about abortion access or what colonization looked like or what transformative queer care looked like, this conversation would never have been possible. And so that for me is such a huge pillar as to why I want to keep doing this work with emerging radical birth workers is because this is the conversations that I hope that they are listening to or participating in because this radical access is the future of birth work is the pillar of birth work. Like, community care is radical birth work and this is the imagining future that I want us to participate in. Like, Ugh. Yeah. I’m feeling a lot from this conversation right now. It’s like big fire in a belly.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Well, Anna, I just feel like if birth work was in the hands and if all of the financial power and all of that was in the hands of queer trans and bipo birth workers, I feel like things would be very different, a lot better and a lot different.

Anna Balagtas:

So, oh my

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Gosh. I love imagining this with you too. And being able to uplift your concerns and your hopes and your dreams and yeah. Can you talk with our audience about ways that birth workers can improve on being allies, especially for the queer and trans community and queer and trans birth workers?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. So yes, a way that you can uplift us is I want to explore you folks being more than just allies. Like how can we be a comrade or how can we be a coconspirator because I know very many of folks who want to uplift queer and trans birth workers or queer and trans people will say, yeah like love is love. All is, well, do you, but it’s like, that’s one part, but what does it mean for you to act within your activism? Like how exactly do you plan on uplifting me as a birth worker or how exactly do you plan on uplifting, queer and trans folks who need support? Is it in finding resources? Is it in paying us when we give you free labor? Or when we teach you something that you didn’t know? Like, I want folks to find ways to actually act within their activism when they say that they wanna be an ally for the queer and trans community. Yeah. And on that note, like if ever queer and trans folks say something that is very new for you or is something that you’re learning for the very first time, like pay them, don’t make it a weird thing to just give someone money for their labor. Like let’s normalize the behavior that we’re tipping people for giving us knowledge. Right? Yeah. That’s something that’s really big for me is I want us to step away from just being allies and instead wanting to be comrades and co-conspirators,

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

And I would also add sometimes CIS het, people like myself get access to spaces where there is queer and transphobia and hate. And I think it’s important to not, I think it’s easy for people to just keep their mouth shut and not say anything. Yeah. Yeah. But I think like you’re saying, if you’re actually working as a co-conspirator, you have to be willing to like speak up and call out the hate and phobias when you see them.

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. Because this isn’t about you anymore. This isn’t about your ego. This is about the health and the wellbeing of the people that you so say you support right on that note too, for CIS doulas, especially if you are finding yourself in spaces where queer and trans folks are needing support, I would like for you to pass that person on to a queer or trans doula, I fully believe that everyone deserves doula support and birth work support, but that might not necessarily mean that you are the doula for them. Right. So take stock of your capacities and your intersections. If you’re a CIS doula, I’m very sure you are able to give them the support that you need, but you might not be the best person to do so. So knowing when to refer out and knowing who is in your community is another great way to be a comrade to us.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

So making referrals and being aware of who the queer and trans birth workers are in your community so that you can uplift them and send clients to them.

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Anna, thank you so much for coming on and just being open and honest and vulnerable with us today. I know that’s not always the easiest thing or the safest thing, but I appreciate everything that you do and all of the work that you’re doing with your community, how can people follow you and support your work?

Anna Balagtas:

Yeah. Thank you for asking. It’s been such a pleasure to be here so you can find me mostly on Instagram. I am @pocketdoula. I’m also on Patreon. So if you would like to uplift me, I do have a Patreon also at Pocket Doula, and that’s where I share my newsletters and my monthly resources. If you’re into that. And of course you can look me up on my website, yourpocketdoula.com.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

Awesome. Thank you so much, Anna. We just so enjoyed hearing from you today.

Anna Balagtas:

Thank you. It’s been such a pleasure.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker:

 

 

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