Meet Taylor Whittington
Originally Published: January 25, 2018
Revised: May 30, 2019
I spent my senior year of high school creating a class that connected the history of feminism to modern women’s rights issues. I learned about the real-life consequences of stigma around women’s health. It was enraging and heartbreaking to learn about girls forced to use paper bags or old socks as menstrual products because they couldn’t afford to buy pads or tampons. The more I thought about it, the less sense it made why I had access to sanitary menstrual products while others faced high risks of infection, just because our economic status was different. If levels of privilege aren’t required to get a period, why are they required to safely manage one?
…arming young people with information about what they deserve and are entitled to is the best way to make them feel in control of their bodies and their reproductive rights.
I decided to turn my anger into action by organizing and running a period product drive. In just three weeks, collection boxes were filled with over 2,600 menstrual products! I created “Period Supply Kits” out of donated pads and tampons, with supplies for one menstrual cycle. I also included hand sanitizer, information cards on vaginal health and handwritten notes of support. These were donated to a local soup kitchen, where anyone living on the streets, in a shelter or below the poverty line could pick one up with a hot meal. Thanks to my town and fellow volunteers, 191 safe, sanitary and hopefully less stressful periods were provided to local people unable to reliably afford menstrual products. Whether someone donated one tampon or an entire box, they helped make this project possible. No matter how small a contribution might seem, applying any amount of passion and effort makes a difference.
My commitment to women’s health has only grown since this project, and I’m currently studying sociology in college with plans to continue volunteering and to eventually work at a nonprofit that advocates for sex education and reproductive rights. This is why Sex, Etc. asked me to profile myself for Faces of Change!
Providing access to detailed and shame-free sexuality education and information about birth control is my passion. I strongly believe knowledge is the key to empowerment, and arming young people with information about what they deserve and are entitled to is the best way to make them feel in control of their bodies and their reproductive rights. I remember the shame and embarrassment I felt while navigating the world of sex and sexuality, and I want to make sure others feel comfortable and safe exploring and learning about their bodies.
Makes Me Super Happy
When people introduce themselves with their pronouns, it makes me super happy because I know that wherever I am, it’s a place that values acceptance and would rather make people whose gender doesn’t fit the binary comfortable than make ignorant people feel inconvenienced.
That you cannot get sexually transmitted diseases from oral sex because they would dissolve in your stomach acid is a ridiculous myth. This was my friend’s reason for why she and her boyfriend didn’t talk about getting tested or previous sexual partners.
Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr?
Facebook. It’s the fastest way for me to share information with people of all generations. Everyone from my grandma to my high school friends can see my posts and know what’s happening in my life.
Show Me the Money
If I had $1 million, I would put more funding into integrating information about sexual orientation and gender identity into sex ed curricula and educators’ training. A lot of the time it’s not the health teacher’s fault that a school’s sex ed program is lacking in diversity; it’s that the curriculum doesn’t allow for conversation around LGBTQ issues and identities. Providing the instructor with the information they need to facilitate conversations and answer questions would in turn allow more students to feel valid and accepted.
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*Taylor Whittington is an 18-year-old contributor who attends college in Washington, DC.
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