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Medical Herstory: the stigmatization of women's health

Shame and stigma are problems that are far too common in women's health experiences. That's why one woman decided to set up Medical Herstory, a charity that uses stories to educate women and girls of any background and age about their bodies. Eliminating shame and stigma is a monumental task, so we caught up with Tori Ford, the founder of Medical Herstory, to hear exactly how she plans to do it.


Here's what Tori had to say...


Q. What were you like as a teenager growing up? What were your interests and how do they relate to where you are now?


I grew up in a very sex-positive household. My grandmother was a sex-educator at our local school, and I started teaching sex-ed at the age of 16 in those very same classrooms. I remember spending hours working on my custom curriculum that would be inclusive and empowering for my peers. Sex education wasn’t standardized or mandatory in Quebec at the time, so I had the opportunity to design lesson plans and train others on presenting them. Growing up, I was pretty shy in a lot of social settings, but once I found peer-education, I came into my voice. I knew I loved leading teams, generating change, and being outspoken about issues that I cared about. Over the years, this passion has grown and evolved, but I’m still so proud that at 16 I had the courage to break down taboos and work to empower and educate others.



Q. What made you choose to study Gender, Sexuality, Feminist and Social Justice Studies at University? I enrolled at McGill University the very first year that they offered Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, and Social Justice Studies. This program combined all my interests and was progressive and innovative in its curriculum. At the time, I wasn’t sure what a career in the field would look like, but I knew that I wanted to be having conversations and leading research on feminism while creating a social impact.



Q. Where did your interest in health and medicine stem from? What made you go down this path for your Masters? Throughout my undergrad, my interest in sexual health became more focused on how health systems uphold sexism, shame, and stigma, and I wanted to delve more into the realm of feminist health. The University of Cambridge developed a new program entitled Health, Medicine, and Society that offers interdisciplinary learning about the social dimensions of health. I was thrilled to be continuing my work in gender studies with a focus on sexual health and improving patient experiences.