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"Like many women or femme-presenting people, I chose to go to a conservative OB-GYN for my reproductive care since I started my first period – around age 16. The staff there was good at the medically-related services they provided me, but I always felt uncomfortable – like something was missing in my experience each time. I stayed with them through my pregnancy with my son six years ago, but afterward I switched to Planned Parenthood because I’d decided to finally explore my sexuality and identity more. I very quickly realized that the two biggest reasons I had never felt comfortable at my traditional OB-GYN were because I could never ask questions that were gender-related, and all the services were very heteronormative. This was a huge problem for me, as I identify as a queer, non-binary mother.

From the first appointment I attended, the staff at Planned Parenthood was warm, non-judgmental, and provided me a level of care that I’d never experienced before. I was treated with respect, consideration, and finally figured out how to use a dental dam. SO simple, right? Yet, it had been far out of my reach my entire life prior. I accessed their care through a sliding fee scale, which was new to me as an individual, since I’d been socially trained to never accept financial help even when it’s offered. There’s a level of shame that has long-been embedded within social expectations around accepting any form of help. Additionally, coming from an impoverished background, money really stresses me out a lot – although I’m sure most can relate to that sentiment regardless of their upbringing. I was dealing with major financial concerns when I started going to Planned Parenthood, but they were confidential, reassuring, and they offered different solutions to me that did not revolve around a payment plan, which would not have worked because I was homeless and just taking the terrifying step to starting my life as an individual, fresh out of a conflict-rich, damaging marriage.

Planned Parenthood has since been an incredible staple in providing me consistent support in figuring out more regarding who I am – in my identity, in my sexual orientation - as well as helping me work through a lot of sexual trauma. Their support has helped me focus on other areas in my life that I’m working on – I’m finally finishing up my degree in social psychology, with a concentration on sex, intimacy, and relationships. My ability to focus so diligently on my studies has only been further supported because I don’t have to worry about my birth control needs, and I know I have some amazing resources whenever I need it.

I want others to know that affordable care is not a simple choice for a lot of people – especially those who are marginalized, impoverished, and who are women. If they don’t have the kind of support that Planned Parenthood provides, it very quickly becomes a matter of life and death. We are real people who are dealing with real stressors and experiencing the very real consequences of not having access to proper sexual and reproductive health care services.

Since my initial experience, I’m so privileged to say that I have become part of Planned Parenthood’s Patient Advocacy program, working to protect the sexual and reproductive health rights of everyone, everywhere. I have found that because I use Planned Parenthood’s services so often, I can relate to at least one part of every single person’s story I collect as part of that team.

The bottom line is this: sex and reproduction are basic HUMAN experiences – in turn, access to services that support those experiences should be treated as a basic human right. These aren’t privileges that are reserved for the “elite” of this country. So, why should access to services that keep us all safe and healthy be limited to the few instead of made available to the majority? It simply doesn’t make sense."

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