June 13, 2024


Future Depends on What You Do

Farrah Khan on reproductive justice, motherhood and the necessity of pleasure

Award-profitable human rights and gender fairness advocate Farrah Khan.Illustration by Photograph Illustration by The World and Mail

Farrah Khan is no stranger to standing up for society’s most marginalized. More than the final two many years, the award-winning human rights and gender fairness advocate has been fighting for reproductive and gender justice on all fronts – as a front line employee, trauma counsellor, educator and policy adviser.

The transform maker has a big career change in advance, as she techniques in as the new executive director of Motion Canada, a leading national sexual and reproductive legal rights business that performs to advance progressive procedures on abortion accessibility, stigma-totally free health treatment, gender equality, 2SLGBTQIA rights, and inclusive sex-ed – concerns with which Khan is intimately common.

Prior to using on this purpose, Khan was the manager of Consent Will come Very first, the sexual violence centre at Toronto Metropolitan College. She is also the founder of Probability Seeds, a social adjust consultancy where she is currently foremost the advancement of Braveness to Act – the nationwide framework to protect against and tackle gender-primarily based violence at postsecondary establishments.

After decades of doing the job on the entrance strains, Khan is ready to take a action back again and concentrate her efforts on advocating for plan-amount, systemic changes. She’s also all set to reside a lifetime in which she regularly makes joy a precedence, and that contains expending plenty of time “laughing from her belly” with her wife or husband, Ontario MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam, and younger son.

How is this new function diverse for you?

I worked for a pretty very long time as a front line worker supporting individuals who experienced been subjected to gender-based mostly violence, and it really took a toll on me. There isn’t plenty of care taken for people today who do this get the job done. A pair months back I took some time to do some deep reflection and I resolved that I could no lengthier do it.

Now I’m excited to be undertaking operate that appears to be at the precise procedures and the systemic explanations why all those harms are occurring. My intention is to, you know, melt away down the patriarchy. But seriously, reproductive and sexual rights are below attack globally. And we just can’t realize gender fairness without all gals becoming safe, listened to and affirmed. So I’m eager to focus on the wants of individuals most susceptible to damage and hate, such as trans people, small-revenue gals, BIPOC females and migrant females.

You turned a mom just a couple many years back. How has starting to be a parent educated how you fully grasp and approach your perform?

Getting a mother modified my comprehension of reproductive health and justice in so a lot of methods. From the procedure of acquiring pregnant as a queer loved ones and often sensation demonized or seen as unnatural, to the simple fact that only in the previous 10 years in Ontario would my husband or wife not have to undertake our baby when he was born [in order to be recognized as a legal parent].

I was so fortunate to have accessibility to midwifery treatment and an wonderful doula, but not most people can find the money for or obtain that, which is not correct. I also went as a result of a miscarriage and discovered firsthand about the grief that will come from that knowledge. Mostly, I realized that so much of reproductive well being, precisely around pregnancy, is however shrouded in secrecy and disgrace and concern – and that totally has to modify.

How does it come to feel to be performing on these difficulties at a time when there appears to be so a lot pushback in opposition to progress?

Acquiring worked in the violence towards women’s sector for so prolonged, a single of the issues we constantly would say to girls when they are leaving abusive interactions is that one of the most harmful instances is suitable when they go away.

Suitable now we’re in a quite harmful time for the reason that we’re leaving driving a destructive environment and we’re seeking to develop some thing new and lovely, but the men and women who have benefited from harm are afraid and they are acting out. So this is the time when we have to choose care of and look out for every single other.

Wyoming not long ago grew to become the initially point out to ban abortion drugs, and a Texas choose is at the moment looking at a lawsuit that could properly ban a prevalent abortion capsule across the U.S. What could this signify for reproductive legal rights right here in Canada?

This could impact us in Canada, completely. What we’d like to see likely forward is ensuring that when the Canadian govt is talking about a universal PharmaCare plan, that involves common contraceptive coverage across all provinces and territories. This is a human correct, and it is also fiscally clever. Some people are like, ‘We never want to pay for people’s intercourse lives,’ but you by now are. You are paying for people’s unintended pregnancies and STIs inside our health and fitness care procedure, so why are not we doing preventative interventions?

Two preferred television reveals – Sexual intercourse Education and Large Mouth examine themes of puberty, sexuality, consent and a lot more in methods that couple pieces of media have in advance of. What do you consider of them?

I love them each. They meet the needs of younger folks. When youthful gentlemen inform me they enjoy Big Mouth, I think which is wonderful, since it talks about topics that we have been advised we’re meant to shy absent from, like masturbation, penis dimensions and women’s enjoyment. Younger persons have earned to have exact, accessible info about their wellness. Which is their proper, and yet so frequently they are not obtaining it. So I applaud these reveals, I’m so psyched they exist, but I want that to take place in our training procedure, way too.

How do you make time for rest and pleasure whilst doing work on this kind of urgent, significant problems?

I examine romance novels simply because I love happy endings, and I want to browse stories exactly where the queer couple does not die in the conclusion. I am intentional with my time with buddies and family members. I have the most awesome team of gals and trans folks all around me that send out me ridiculous memes in the center of the day, that really like me and cheer me on. And I devote time with my son.

I also just want to begin not seeing joy as frivolous but as a key component of any of this operate. The pleasure and the justice have to go collectively.

Are there any publications you would propose that train essential messages to young children at a young age?

We have go through my son the Feminist Child series, and we also have an wonderful ebook referred to as Will Ladybug Hug by Hilary Leung. It’s about a ladybug who has various buddies, and they all like diverse ways of greeting each other. So it is chatting about consent, and I believe that there is never a incorrect time to start owning these conversations with our little ones.