March 16, 2015

APANO Member Spotlight: Kara on Gender and Queer Justice

In a workshop APANO's Strong Families group leads, we do an exercise where we talk about why a nuclear family model—a mom at home, a dad at work, with kids, living under the same roof—does or does not resonate with us. I frequently share that, as a transracial adoptee, while I grew up in a two-parent household, we didn't look like each other and strangers often did not know we were family. I also identify as queer and have a same-gender partner, so my vision of how my family will look in the future does not match that picture either. These are both reasons I don't identify with an outdated nuclear family model that only 1 in 5 families in the United States now resemble—but they are also reasons I have not always felt like I fit in other API spaces.

Growing up in a white family, I learned about myself first through media and literature, then through history, and through other women of color who mentored me. What it was to be Asian American was, not always, but often put forward as one narrative, one that didn't leave much room for identities that deviated from that model. And at the same time, the white queer organizing I grew up in often seemed equally narrow, unable to recognize how inseparable our multiple identities are or to lift up intersections with racial and economic justice and how those intersections play out intimately in our own lives.

What first brought me to APANO was APANO's vision that all families, not just those that fit a single narrative, deserve the rights, recognition and resources they need to thrive. This framework is deeply rooted in reproductive justice, in all of us having the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, genders, sexualities and families for ourselves and our communities in all areas of our lives. As an adoptee, I learned early on that economic, social and political forces impact us intimately, from before we are even born, and believe strongly in more people and more families having the body sovereignty and self-determination to build and support the families they choose, in the ways they choose.

I'm excited to be joining APANO as Training Manager, to support the role of leadership development, political education and skill building throughout APANO's work. I look forward to meeting many of you, working with and learning from you, and continuing to work for justice that is rooted in the multiple stories of our diverse lives and families.

Right now, APANO is proud to be a part of an unprecedented, diverse coalition working to ensure that Oregonians—regardless of income, type of insurance or location--have health insurance coverage for preconception care, contraception, abortion, prenatal care, childbirth and postpartum care. This is a deeply intersectional issue: we know that those who are less likely to have coverage are low-income people, people of color, those who are transgender and those who are undocumented. I invite you to stand with me and APANO— first, please write to your legislator here to let them know how important this bill is!

If you are available on Wednesday, March 25, I also invite you to join me in Salem for the BRAVE and United Lobby Day, to tell our legislators in person why this matters to our families and our communities.

Finally, APANO’s 5th Annual Community Health Forum on Saturday, April 4 is another opportunity to learn and share about gender justice, reproductive justice, and how to use community organizing and policy advocacy to make changes in support of all families.

I look forward to meeting and connecting with many of you at one of these upcoming events!

Kara Carmosino
Training Manager
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon

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