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Victoria Alexander, The Elephant in the Womb

The Elephant in the Womb

Victoria, also known as “The Elephant in the Womb” on social media, is a non-binary reproductive health educator and queer creator.

Under the name “The Elephant in the Womb”, you have created content that has gone viral on TikTok and Instagram. Could you share the inspiration behind this name?

I came up with ‘The Elephant in the Womb’ back in 2016 when I graduated my first program in Childbirth Education! I wasn’t out as queer back then, but instantly had a huge interest in working in inclusive care since so many of my friends were part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and there was a huge lack of inclusivity both in language and practice when it comes to reproductive health. The Elephant in the Womb felt like the perfect play on words of ‘The Elephant in the Room’ when it comes to progressing rights and education in reproductive health.

You collaborated with It Gets Better Canada to discuss inclusive language. Can you tell us a bit about why inclusive language is important in your profession and how it might be important in the mental health sphere?

Shifting language like ‘period care’ instead of ‘feminine hygiene’ and other inclusive changes helps to make sure all people that a topic may pertain to are included. There is a lot of cis-centered language when it comes to reproductive care, which doesn’t account for all the people who might have a uterus. When I say this I mean some transgender men, some nonbinary folks, some 2Spirit folks, and even many cisgender women who may experience different bodily functions due to conditions or medications. Inclusive language doesn’t set out to erase anyone, it sets out to ensure that everyone is included. When using gendered language it can be very isolating for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and can leave people to miss out on the essential care they need even. I hope in the future more healthcare providers will adopt inclusive language to keep reproductive care comfortable and safe for all.

It Gets Better Canada, is a non-profit organization that works to “uplift, empower, and connect 2SLGBTQ+ youth”.

You’ve also made content about people not fitting into queer and non-binary stereotypes. What advice would you have for your younger self when you first started to realize you identified as part of the queer community?

My biggest advice to younger me questioning my gender and sexuality would be to go with my gut. I figured everyone must think the things I was thinking about what it would be like to use ‘they/them’ pronouns, or that everyone must think about being with the same sex. While questioning is common, I’d tell myself that cis-het people do not spend hours on end daydreaming about what things could be like if they came out as queer. I also think it’s so important to remember that everyone’s gender and sexuality journey looks different. I never formally came out, and probably never will, I just told people close to me and switched my pronouns online and that’s what felt right to me. For others, having a big celebratory moment is important. We are all on our own journeys and experience life different!

What is something that you wish cisgender and heterosexual people better understood?

I wish cis-het folks understood that how we feel and know our queerness is just the same as how they wholly know their gender and sexuality too. There’s so much doubt cis-het folks project onto queer people, it can be exhausting. Doing the inner work to unpack your own internalized biphobia/transphobia is so important! For example, a common one we see is in bi-women. When a bi-woman dates another woman, many people say that she must be a lesbian. When a bi-woman dates a man, many people say she must just be confused and clearly straight. Neither of those assumptions are ok, and there is a lot of unlearning we all have to do to accept everyone for who they are regardless of their history and experience.

What role does mental health play in the work that you do?

Mental health definitely plays a big role in my work! Mental health conditions affect the menstrual cycle and worsen around people's periods. On top of that there are conditions like PMDD that are directly related to menstrual cycles. In the queer community many people experience dysphoria surrounding the menstrual cycle as well, and I work to educate folks on ways to make it a less triggering and stressful experience!

Photo by Victoria Alexander