Kate Black

Kate Black is a North Dakota native and is dedicated to the extension of human rights in her own state. While working with the Feminist Majority Foundation to encourage the students to vote, as well as working to protect the reproductive rights of people in her state, Kate realized the power of social change within communities. Her specific areas of interest within the realm of social justice include reproductive rights, voting rights, and intersectionality.

Details

    Issues Areas:
  • Reproductive Rights, Health, and Justice

Campus: North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND

Fellowship Class Year: 2015

Featured Fellow Spotlight

Kate Black is a North Dakota native and dedicated to the extension of human rights in her own state. While working with the Feminist Majority Foundation to encourage the students to vote, as well as working to protect the reproductive rights of people in her state, Kate realized the power of social change within communities. Her specific areas of interest within the realm of social justice include reproductive rights, voting rights, and intersectionality.

Kate Black's Blog Posts

Anti-Transgender Bills Are Plaguing the U.S.

In a desperate ploy to villify the transgender community, conservatives across the country are trying to cast transgender folks as intruders into traditionally gendered spaces. In particular, they’re focused on engaging in a politics of fear which depicts transgender folks (inaccurately) as violent aggressors in bathrooms). Currently, seventeen anti-trans bills are being considered amongst ten state legislatures, including those in South Dakota, Kentucky, and Missouri.

What exactly do these “bathroom bills” accomplish? The doors to public restrooms and school locker rooms are certainly not monitored and blockaded by a person taking careful note of one’s gender identity or even genetalia.  Bills such as HB1624 in Missouri and HB4474 in Illinois only serve to implement an increased level of hateful rhetoric in the public psyche. These bills support the practices of a society obsessed with gender policing and bolsters the disregard for transgender folks in our communities.

In policing the gender identity and presentation of transgender folks, we stand in disregard of their emotions, safety, and security. We also deny them of any basic level of human respect.  The bravery of transgender students like then fifth grader Nicole Maines to stand before Maine’s highest court in 2014 for her right to use the female designated student restroom and the student physically assaulted by peers in a San Francisco school restroom  is astounding. It has been reported that 75% of transgender students feel unsafe in their schools, and 59% have been denied entrance to a restroom in accordance with their gender identity.  Over 50% of transgender youth will attempt suicide in their lifetime, and 55% of transgender youth report physical attacks based on their gender expression or identity having occurred in their schools. Reports from organizations and coalitions such as the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs present even more sobering facts on the homicide rates of transgender people, especially transgender women and transgender women of color.  These are the people impacted by the hateful rhetoric of our state legislatures, rather than those harboring bigoted imaginary fear toward members of the transgender communities.

Where does our gender and body policing end? At what point is a student, transgender or not, perceived as too feminine or too masculine presenting to use a certain restroom in our public schools, and by whom? Where do we as a society allow one another to feel comfortable and secure, to express ourselves and choose our own identities as we so please? Rather than allow ourselves to be consumed by the fear of each other’s bodies, let us instead stand against rigid gender roles, body policing, and a culture which allows us to excuse hateful speech and action in the name of ignorance.  As we’re reminded by conservatives’ attempts to pit us against each other, our collective liberation requires collective participation. Until cisgender people stand squarely against this attempt to castigate our transgender siblings, we will not ourselves be free. The reality of oppression and violence against our transgender community members necessitates that we do better. And we can. This past week, International Transgender Day of Visibility was celebrated around the world. We must stand with and support our transgender siblings on these important days of solidarity and throughout the year, in order to make the world safer for transgender people, and all people.

 

“I See You”: 2016 YP4 National Summit

 

“I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.” –Malcolm X

 

  I am not confident that my time at Young People For’s National Summit can be adequately summarized. I don’t know if anything I write can portray the love, inspiration, beauty, depth, and heart of the most amazing group of people I’ve ever been surrounded by. I’m not sure that I can properly express the awe I have for this group, but I can try.

The opportunity to listen to the words of activists and community leaders like Marilyn Mosby and Samantha Master stirred in me a hope for the future, for tangible change in our communities, and a true sense of possibility. As cliché as these thoughts may sound, I truly saw these actions in my contemporaries, YP4 staff, and alumni. Our work is often thankless and tireless, although critical to uplifting and encouraging others, especially one another.
The value of the space created at the National Summit is to me best summarized by the words of activist Linda Sarsour; “I see you.” The opposition, violence, hate, systemic oppression and persecution we work to overcome can become silencing and heavy. At this convening, our differences in race, religion, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, and socioeconomic status were truly recognized, and celebrated, rather than ignored. In this recognition, I felt my understanding of intersectionality come to fruition; we are stronger as a whole, no person or group can be ignored or left behind in our journey forward. We must recognize, acknowledge, and celebrate our differences to better our communities and to better ourselves. In the words of Oprah (or Abbi Abrams), I had an “Aha moment” in further understanding and shaping the lens through which I see others.
To my fellow YP4 fellows, I see you, I thank you, and I love you. I can’t adequately put into words the appreciation I have for the critical conversations, the laughs, and the tears. From any wary observer of the millennial generation, to harmful FOX news pundits, to elected officials who work to silence our vote and enact laws that harm our communities; I challenge you to find a group who is more committed, intelligent, empathetic, informed, and active than the YP4 community. We aren’t apathetic, inactive, or ignorant. We’re enacting radical progressive change in all forms, all across the United States and this world. We’re influential, committed, and we aren’t going anywhere.

Activists Hold Red Signs that Say Equality Now

Undue Burden and the Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood

As I write this, news has just broken that the President will veto the Stop Gap Spending Bill which is widely known as the effort to defund Planned Parenthood throughout the country. This news broke just hours before the Senate was scheduled to vote on the bill.

What other decisions regarding women’s healthcare access and bodily autonomy loom over the people of the United States? Next on the docket seems to be the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, under the guise of a bill written to “protect women and children” introduced in June of 2015. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act attempts a federal ban on abortions performed after twenty weeks gestation, a ban which is already in place in ten states. This bill has already been approved by the house and is scheduled to be presented to the senate at some point this fall, perhaps even by the end of this month. Again, the attempt seems futile, as the bill will most likely fail in the senate, and will certainly be vetoed by President Obama if it reaches his desk.

I fully understand that an abortion performed at twenty weeks gestation is difficult for many people to comprehend. Fear mongering and inaccurate information provided by the Center for Medical Progress and various other anti-choice organizations has only aided in developing this belief amongst the masses. The fact is that a federal twenty week abortion ban will only deny healthcare to women already in the most dire of straits. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, just 1.5% of abortions performed in the United States each year are administered past twenty weeks of pregnancy. The majority of these abortions are induced upon girls between the ages of ten and seventeen.[3]These abortions may be performed later in pregnancy than “normal” for several reasons. A woman (or girl) experiencing irregular menstrual periods may not realize that she is pregnant prior to later gestation. Variable-onset and late-onset fetal anomalies which are undetectable prior to twenty weeks, anomalies which result in drastically impaired viability or death of the fetus often drive women to seek abortion in order to avoid further fetal distress. Often, pregnancies experiencing these severe anomalies are intended, and legislated restricting a woman’s access to an abortion most certainly places an additional undue burden on her. Additionally, 25,000 women and girls in the United States become pregnant each year as a result of rape. Many existing abortion bans and the proposed Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act secure no exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or in the threat of the pregnant woman’s health or life.

When the monumental Roe v. Wade decision was made in 1973, the Supreme Court legalized all abortion until the point of fetal viability, without undue burden on the woman seeking an abortion. What, exactly, constitutes an undue burden on a woman simply attempting to access a safe medical procedure? Let me use my state of North Dakota as an example.

Currently, the Red River Women’s Clinic in downtown Fargo, North Dakota is the only clinic providing abortions to women in the state. Therefore, some women in the Western part of the state face a seven hour drive one way to the nearest provider, within their own state. The clinic also provides care to women from underserved areas in Manitoba, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana, sometimes requiring a drive of eleven hours each way. Once a woman arrives in Fargo, state provided “counseling” meant to discourage the woman from choosing abortion is mandated by the state, in addition to a twenty-four hour waiting period for the procedure after counseling is completed. A woman seeking an abortion in North Dakota may not use her own privately obtained health insurance, nor a plan provided under the Affordable Care Act, for coverage of her abortion procedure in the state, in any  case other than one which presents an immediate danger to her life. Medication abortions, typically available for use in the first nine weeks of pregnancy, using mifepristone and misoprostol , are not available in North Dakota, nor is telemedicine abortion using these medications.  A minor seeking an abortion must obtain permission from both parents.

This myriad of requirements and restrictions certainly places an undue burden on the women of my state, and on those who turn to North Dakota for abortion; the undue burden of blatant distrust and disdain from state elected officials who fail to represent their constituents and their access to a common, safe medical procedure. Politicians who place this burden on woman in North Dakota and throughout the United States do so with no regard for their well-being, only with a false concern for the well-being of a fetus. A woman is entitled to the same bodily autonomy as a man. She is not required to defend her choices regarding her own personal healthcare to distant elected officials. She need not face yet another undue burden.