Unmuted Turns 1: Celebration Recap

In early 2020, a group of Black MSFC members primarily based at HBCUs convened and began planning programming designed for and by Black medical students interested in abortion and reproductive health. Initially, they were hoping to plan an in-person conference, but because of COVID-19, the group pivoted to launching the Unmuted webinar series. Unmuted explores the history of reproductive violence and oppression facing the Black and African American communities in the United States and examines how this legacy of racism endures today along the entire reproductive healthcare spectrum. Starting in May 2020 with a Reproductive Justice 101 session, the series continued on a monthly basis through November 2020, discussing topics such as historical evidence of violence against Black women, Black maternal mortality, attitudes on family planning within the Black community, and Black trans reproductive health. The series quickly became one of the most popular online programs in MSFC’s history. The planning committee members set their sights on returning to the original intent behind starting the project – hosting a conference – and decided to work on planning larger-scale events and trainings for 2021.

The planning committee recruited new members to help plan an event commemorating the one-year anniversary of Unmuted’s first event on May 29, 2021. The three-part Unmuted Turns 1 celebration started with a session on marginalization through laws and policy with a focus on the Black/POC & trans/non-binary experience in the South US. Speakers Gin Pham from the Transgender Education Network of Texas and Sybastian Smith of Black Trans Men Inc. talked with participants about how to provide the best care to trans and non-binary patients, from making their practices a safer space to educating themselves on issues community members most frequently face. The second session on sex education, sex liberation, and sexual health was hosted by Tyomi Morgan, a Certified Sexologist, Authentic Tantra Practitioner, and International Pleasure Coach. During her session, Tyomi discussed how future physicians can destigmatize sex and sexuality with their patients, as well as the challenges certain communities experience in accessing sexual health services. We wrapped up the day with three representatives from The Womxn Project, a Rhode Island based organization that uses the power of art, activism, and advocacy to create change in the state. Board members Tammy Brown, Jennifer Rourke, and Jocelyn Foye spoke about their work, particularly in the reproductive rights and justice space, and gave students tips for how they can engage in advocacy work as future physicians.

The planning committee also launched the Unmuted Instagram account, @unmuted_msfc, as part of the anniversary event. We encourage you to follow the account so you can stay up-to-date with what Unmuted has coming up next! They are working on planning other multi-part events and trainings to take place this year, so stay tuned for more. We are so proud of what the student planning committee has accomplished in such a short amount of time, and look forward to seeing what Unmuted programming we are able to support in the future.

The new Unmuted logo, designed by Milo K. Falconi