A biomedical science student has introduced a new group to the university community committed to eliminating sexism, shame and stigma from healthcare experiences to advance gender equity in health.
Medical Herstory is a youth-led, international not-for-profit organization and their focus is spread across three portfolios — medical education, patient advocacy and undoing stigma. Nick Bauer, a Queer Métis man and a third-year cellular, physiological and pharmacological sciences honours student, volunteers with Medical Herstory as the Medical Education Events Chair and a representative at the University of Saskatchewan.
Bauer is passionate about biomedical research and is preparing to do a project focused on reproductive physiology in the university’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine.
“Comprehensive sexual health education, youth advocacy, and reproductive justice are deeply important to me,” Bauer said.
Medical Herstory was started by founder and CEO Tori Ford from Cambridge University, who was motivated to start the organization based on the barriers she experienced trying to have her voice heard in healthcare. Bauer says that it is inspiring how Ford used her experiences “as a catalyst to start addressing systemic issues in healthcare.”
Medical Herstory recently partnered with Students for Global Health Cambridge to host an event titled “Pregnancy in a Pandemic.” This event invited new parents and birth workers to share their stories, challenges and advice around their COVID-19 birth and postpartum experiences.
Bauer says that people sharing their stories is a form of self-empowerment.
“The celebration of lived experience through storytelling is central to accomplishing our goals in the three portfolios,” Bauer said. “We want to escape the paternalistic traditions of medicine and inspire people to become their own health advocates.”
Medical Herstory also releases publications that tell first-person illness narratives, research linked to lived experience, and reflections on gender inequity in medicine.
One of the most recent stories posted, titled “Till Death Do Us Part,” tells the sexual health journey of a woman. She writes about the lack of information about female genitalia, the stigma around herpes and the backlash she received from it. She also focuses on the good, highlighting the support that she received from close friends and family, and how she’s moving forward with her condition.
Through sharing these stories, Medical Herstory intends to destigmatize bodies and normalize transparent health discourse. People of all backgrounds, identities, and experiences are welcome to share their story as an audio, visual or writing submission.
Alongside his involvement in Medical Herstory, Nick lends his efforts to other organizations such as LetsStopAIDS and the SHOUT Project. The SHOUT Project is a collaboration between Saskatoon Sexual Health and OUTSaskatoon that acts as an advisory group to embolden Queer youth to become critical and knowledgable sexual health advocates.
Bauer says that Queer sexuality is “simply not discussed” in highschool sexual education, which motivates him to make a change.
“I am determined as an advocate and educator to make sexual health education more inclusive and comprehensive,” Bauer said.
With Medical Herstory and the SHOUT Project, Bauer contributes to the fight for gender equity at different scales.
“Through SHOUT, we take on a local fight to make sexual health more inclusive. With Medical Herstory, we tackle international, systemic issues of sexism, shame and stigma,” Bauer said.
Bauer is currently working to organize an event focused on Indigenous women’s health. He is diligently working with university partners to bring gender health bias workshops to the U of S College of Medicine.
“As I am approaching a career in medicine, I am dedicated to dismantling personal and institutional bias and stigma,” Bauer said, “To me, Medical Herstory and other youth-led organizations are helping lead these changes in healthcare.”