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(Ep. 32) Trans-Inclusive Reproductive Mental Health with A.J. Lowik

In this episode of Beyond Postpartum my guest is A.J. Lowik (they/them/theirs), who is a researcher and PhD candidate with the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice, at the University of British Columbia. Their dissertation research explores and documents how trans people strategically navigate reproductive health care spaces that weren’t built with them in mind, and how trans peoples gender identities and reproductive lives intersect. In our conversation we talk about the mental health impacts this has, and why gender affirming reproductive mental health care is so important. A.J. also shares about their own mental health journey, and how they found recovery from severe OCD, and the influence this experience has had on their life.

We talk about:

  • How they got into their current area of research
  • The themes that are emerging from their dissertation research
  • The distress that can be experienced when seeking care and experiencing discrimination based on ones gender, and the compromises that people have to make with their care in order to protect their mental health
  • Perceived and actual mistreatment and the harms these cause
  • Trans-inclusive reproductive justice and the systemic nature of it
  • What needs to get done to work towards trans-inclusive reproductive justice
  • The harmful social narrative and dominant ideologies that keep us stuck
  • What we can do to work towards trans-inclusive reproductive justice
  • Utilizing the areas we have power and privilege
  • The constellation of stressors for currently pregnant people and new parents
  • The impacts of misgendering, erasure, and negative experiences in reproductive health care spaces
  • Finding supports – including online and through social media
  • The gaps in the research about trans reproductive health care and why these gaps are occurring
  • A.J.’s experience with OCD
  • Their recovery from OCD and what life is like now
  • Knowing that even when they were unwell they were still good, and deserving of care
  • The book that A.J. is co-editing that will come out in Jan 2022
  • The encouragement they found in learning about the plasticity of the brain and how this helped in their recovery