Gender Stories

Gender in the time of Coronavirus

March 27, 2020 Alex Iantaffi Season 3 Episode 35
Gender Stories
Gender in the time of Coronavirus
Show Notes Transcript

In this solo episode, your host, Dr Alex Iantaffi reflects on the impact of gender during the COVID-19 public health crisis. How does the way in which we are gendered influence the ways in which we are impacted by this pandemic? Why is talking about gender relevant and necessary at this time? Listen to find out what Alex thinks and feel free to share your thoughts and experiences by emailing them at
You can also support the podcast on Patreon. Thank you for listening.

Support the show

Instagram: GenderStories
Hosted by Alex Iantaffi
Music by Maxwell von Raven
Gender Stories logo by Lior Effinger-Weintraub

Musical Intro:

Everyone has a relationship with gender. What's your story? Hello, and welcome to Gender Stories with your host, Dr. Alex Iantaffi.

Alex Iantaffi:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Gender Stories. First of all, thank you for your patience. I know that this episode is later than usual and that there was quite a bit of a gap between Season Two and season three. I do hope that you enjoyed the first two episodes of season three. They encompass the long conversation I had with the wonderful award winning sex educator Bianca Labriano. And if you haven't checked those out yet, I really encourage you to check those out. Some of the reasons why not an excuse, but just wanting to let you know some of the reasons why there's been so much of a delay is that I've been struggling with some of my own health issues and finally got diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and we also suspect there are some related dysautonomia issues and that's very helpful. You know, diagnosis can be very medical, but there can also be a relief to our system when we know what's going on. And then of course, Coronavirus, COVID-19 hit the world and the world has not been the same since. So the first thing I want to do in this episode, which will be about gender in the times of Coronavirus is really to take a moment to breathe and check in with you about how you are dear listeners. How are you doing during this time? How is this impacting you? How is your world change because of COVID-19? And whatever wherever you're at or whatever is happening for you. I'd love to hear from you if you want to or you can reach me through my website, I hope you're all Okay, I hope you're well. And that I hope you have some stability. I also realized that many people have been impacted in terms of economic and housing stability. It is a really challenging time. So I hope you're safe and I hope you're well and hope you have support in your life wherever you are in the globe. So why talk about gender at a time when this seems to be impacting all of us and maybe you might be thinking what's gender got to do with Coronavirus? Right with COVID-19? And that's what I want to explore in the solo episode today and I'm sure we might return to the topic with guests. But today I really kind of want to focus on that. I'm not really going to be focusing on coping with this new reality, or on medical facts or on best practices. If you're interested in that, I really recommend an episode from March 10 of 2020 of the Irresistible podcast. That's the podcast formerly known as the Healing Justice podcast. They have a wonderful episode that they released on March 10, talking about Coronavirus and wisdom from a social justice lens. In that episode, there's also an interview with a medical provider. So check out the episode from irresistible formerly known as the Healing Justice podcast, if that's the information you're looking for in this moment. What I do want to focus on for this episode of the podcast is actually gender and I've been thinking a lot about gender during the time of the Coronavirus, and that might be because it's one of the lenses that I really applied to the world. But gender does seem to be really at play here in terms of who is impacted, right? So let's take a moment to think about all of the essential care workers, whether that be healthcare workers, hospital staff, hospital cleaning staff has certified medical assistants, administrators in hospital and healthcare, therapists, counselors, nurses, but also grocery store clerks. People who are kind of taking care of our community, childcare workers, all of those folks tend to be a predominantly femme folks predominantly feminine folks, those are all professions they're by and large dominated by women of course. Dominated might be the wrong word because I think that women and femme folks are overly represented and often underpaid in many of those professions, of course, and often not kind of at the management levels, or the executive levels of other people. And even this language feels strange to use at a time when capitalism seems to have no meaning, because what we really need to focus on is our health, our family's health and our communities. But I do want us to take a moment to think about how women and femme folks are indeed overrepresented among essential care workers. And what does that mean, at the time when also, schools are closed in most places, and children are home, and women and femme talks are also predominantly the caregivers in the home? So I really want to take a moment to think about how many hours women in STEM folks might be putting in, in terms of taking care of other people taking care of their children and taking care of the homes, but also how many conflicting priorities women and femme folks are experiencing during this time of the Coronavirus. And talking about childcare, that is something I really want us to think about because of course not everybody is impacted in the same way. Some people like myself are privileged enough to be able to work from home. But for those of us who might also be predominantly responsible for childcare, what does that look like to balance, working from home and taking care of children as well, right? I feel privileged and fortunate that my partners are also working from home and are really able to take on the lion's share of childcare during the day while I'm with clients, because I'm not able to do that because of our different jobs. But what happens for single parents, especially single moms, at a time when capitalism keeps going on despite the fact that we should be focusing on what the well being of our families and communities. And many people are required to carry on as usual, almost as if nothing has happened and work from home and also be caregivers, whether it's of their children, but also of older parents, or spouses. What does the division of labor, in the home and outside the home looks like in this moment, who is really carrying the burden of care at this time of the Coronavirus? And those are questions that I think are worth are worth asking ourselves, right? Especially because we are aware that also economic disparities if we want to look at this through a capitalist lens for a moment. Not one of my favorite lens, but here you go, let's think about economic disparities. Once again, women and femme folks and trans and or non binary folks are also disproportionately impacted. And of course, within all those categories. The folks who are most impacted are black, brown, indigenous, immigrant and disabled folks within those categories as well right? There are significant economic disparities that are at play. And I believe that during this time of the Coronavirus, we're seeing this economic disparities come even more into into play, you know, they're really highlighted about who's most impacted and of course, people who are engaging in gig economies or who are hourly paid and are losing jobs and being put on furlough or have been fired. And once again, who is most impacted? And I think the way our bodies are gendered, the way our bodies are racialized, the way our bodies are seen as valuable or not depending on our indigeneity, immigrant status, disability, socioeconomic status, and earning capacity and so on earning capital, really impacts the way we are cared for during this time. And so even though women and femme folks are disproportionately, I would argue, carrying the burden of care during this time of Coronavirus aka COVID-19 you'll hear me use this... As one in the same during the podcast, even though there is this disproportionate carrying of care, I also believe that women and femme folks and trans and non binary folks, especially I'm originally from Italy and I'm far too aware of what is happening at the moment in my home country, how the healthcare system is completely overwhelmed. And now people, medical doctors are having to make decisions that no medical doctor should have to make about who gets access to care, where they will get access to ventilators and I want to go back to that through the lens of gender in a moment. But first, I want to talk about attitudes towards this virus. So for those who are black, indigenous people of color, immigrant, example, who is likely to seek care? We know that there is really good research about how gender might impact who is more or less likely to seek care from medical providers. We know that cisgender men, for example, are less likely to seek care when they're sick and at a time like this, when you couple that maybe with an attitude of pushing through or needing to be, you know, macho attitude of having to be strong and invincible. This might also mean that there are men who are not seeking care disabled, are also the most economically impacted. And so and are also potentially exposing other people to the virus if they're not taking seriously the the plea really of physically distancing from other people. And in some places I know that has been enforced and other other places, like on the Dakota Anishinaabe land currently known as Minneapolis, Minnesota where I live, we do not yet have the shelter in place as of today while I'm recording this episode, so it is really left to people, what kind of choices are they making. let's think of of that for a moment, how the same population And so there is a lot of fear, there is a lot of fear around So who is likely to seek care, who is likely to physically distance from other people and take this, what we'll call a how our bodies are gendered and racialized, and who might be mandate of care for our communities to distance from one another, who is taking that seriously, who is not, who is seen as having value in this capitalist world, who is going maybe wanting to take it seriously. But as I'm being brought up to show any vulnerability, to show any fear, to be assisted, and who's not, if it comes to the kind of some might be fearful inside, and might be overcompensating with bravado on the outside and with their choices. And as well choices the medical doctors have to make in Italy for example, is carrying a lot of the burden, and probably also the most as whos likely to seek care, who is likely to be afraid to seek and we charge the bodies that are going to be seen as worthy care? I know as a trans and non binary person as a visibly trans of care. And those are real questions that I have seen, or non binary person one of my fears, quite frankly, is to end up in the hospital with nobody there to advocate for me. You discussed a lot in disability community, and we have so much know, no family, no friends, because quite rightly, we want to contain this, that being in the hands of medical providers to learn and keep learning from disability movements. I'm so who may or may not see my body as valuable and even is, even as grateful to the Disability Justice Movement, they have been economically impacted in this moment. So those are kind of somebody who benefits from white privilege because of my skin nurturing my soul for a long time and they sure keep doing so color, and benefits from considerable educational in this moment. Then, you know, I kind of feel a part of that privilege because of my PhD, I have experienced quite a bit of discrimination and harassment as a trans and non binary person at movement and I feel like I don't do enough disability activism to the hands of the medical establishment. So now let's think about black and brown, indigenous, immigrant, disabled, fully feel part of that movement at the same time. But there are trans or non binary folks being at the hands of the healthcare so many lessons that we can learn from disability justice system that has historically pathologized, marginalized, some of the reflections I wanted to start from, but I also want stigmatized, exploited, and used also all of those bodies in a movements, and so much that we owe them in this moment of way that's been really not ethical. Of course, people are crisis and emergency. And one of those is, one of those lessons afraid to seek care. And they might avoid seeking care even when they might need it. And again, during this time, it is is this gratitude towards the hard discussions that I'm seeing so essential for people to seek the support they need and yet we disabled folks have around how can we take care of ourselves if might be interfacing with a healthcare system that does not have our best interests at heart, that does not seen our we are afraid to interface with a medical system that might not our bodies as valuable. to think about an attitudes towards this virus and, and how seen our bodies as valuable? And I think that actually a lot of trans and or non binary folks, or queer folks and folks of color might be experiencing some of the same fears. Will my body be seen as valuable? Will the medical doctors see my body, because of the way it's gendered and racialized as a body that's gender might also be playing a role about how we react to this, worth saving? As a body that's worth caring for? How will discrimination play a part in the Coronavirus? And those are fears that many of us are carrying in our body and I think there are fears that we need to talk about out loud. There is something that happens I've been talking about this a lot with my this threat because it is a threat to our immune system, clients or something that happens when we acknowledge the hard feelings. In some way we want to move away from the hard feelings, we don't want to look at them. They may feel overwhelming. And yet when we have the support to slow down and breathe, and notice the places that are constricted, the individually and collectively, right? It's also a threat to the places that we don't want to look at, the places that we are pushing away from, once we are held in sitting with those feelings in in being in relationship to those places, afterwards we can breathe a little easier, we can be in better relationship with ourselves. So I think it's worth capacity not just of our individual immune system, but talking about those fears. And I think it's worth talking about how gender impacts those fear impacts those fears for a lot of people, especially I think trans or not, and or non binary folks in this moment. And of course, all the place in which those the capacity of our healthcare system. And in many countries, identities intersects with other marginalized identities such as racialized identities and disabled identities and experiences as well. But as well as fear, there is also hope, pray that where there's fear, there's power, and there's hope. And so I think we also need to look at those places of power and hope. And what I'm noticing around me and what I'm really those healthcare systems are proven to be inadequate. trying to tell my brain to notice because I think our brain how our brains have that lovely negative bias that wants to go to the hard places first, to the places of danger, because that's how we survive. But when we invite our brains to notice what is where's hope, what is going well, what is happening, that is maybe good. What I'm noticing is that there is so much organizing and there's so much mutual aid happening. I don't know if it's happening everywhere. I really want to hope so. But I know that When we notice with as much curiosity and as much non in this place that we currently know as the Twin Cities, I'm seeing a lot of mutual aid, organizing springing up. There some that's specific for trans and or non binary and queer folks, that some that specific to neighborhoods, that some that's specific to elders and disabled folks, and many of the intersections there are, and it's beautiful to see those networks of mutual aid springing up and I'm seeing people like my beloved friend, Suzanne Rafa also reflects on what is the impact on both short term organizing and longer term organizing of this virus? How is this changing us and the way we organize? And I'm paraphrasing and I'm really sorry, Suzanne, if I misunderstood what you said in your beautiful post, a week or so ago. But I think there is an opportunity for us to look at those places of mutual hate, mutual aid, those places of hope and to pause, there's an opportunity to pause and notice. What is our reaction to this moment? Are we noticing those places where there is organizing, where there is mutual aid, where there is a possibility to plug in with purpose? Or are we gliding over those networks? And if we're gliding over those networks, why is that? I would say we have an opportunity to ask ourself, ask ourselves, what is our first reaction and first part to this virus? Then what is our second reaction and our second thought? And then what is our third reaction and our third thought? But also in pausing, pausing and noticing how our first reaction and our first thoughts might be influenced by so many societal and cultural discourses right? How they may be shaped by ongoing settler colonialism? How they might be shaped by patriarchy? How they might be shaped by misogyny? How they might be shaped by racism? Let's take the opportunity, pause and notice how we're reacting, what our reactions shaped by, and in that pause in that pause is the possibility of choosing to do something different, is if our first reaction and our first part is not in line with our values. judgement, as we can handle in the moment, how our first reactions and first thoughts might be influenced by dominant discourses, including dominant discourses around gender, such as patriarchy, such as misogyny, then we can maybe choose whether we want to wait for a second part and a second reaction. We want to kind of take a moment and that is what I'm really wanting to invite you to do dear listeners. I would like to invite you to pause and take a moment and notice and see how maybe your gender identities, your gender experiences, are showing up in this moment of the Coronavirus in this time of dealing with this Virus, COVID-19 Virus? And is there an opportunity to think or act in a different way. Or maybe you're completely happy with the way you're thinking and acting and if you are carrying an undue burden of care and an undue burden of economic inequity and an undue burden of care for others but also care in the home or maybe even care for yourself without as much support as you deserve. I hope you can hold yourself with compassion and I hope you can find support. So thank you for listening as ever. Thank you for your patience as I've been finding my way back to regularly podcasting. I hope that these reflections are helpful to you. I really welcome your thoughts. I would love to know what you think about gender in the time of Coronavirus and there's also more to say about gender and relationships in the time of Coronavirus. But please let me know your thoughts. You can email me at or you can also contact me through the contact form on my website, And if you want to support me and support this podcast, please subscribe to the podcast leave a review if you want to, you can do that on all podcast listening platforms, so you can use your preferred one. We're also a Patreon as gender stories, so you can support gender stories on Patreon. And also, if you just have some time, and you would like to help with catching up with transcripts, I would love to be caught up with transcripts and there's only so much I can do and so many spoons I have in so many spoons my producer has to so if you would like to help out with transcribing, I would love to put a bit of an accessibility team together so please contact me. And of course, as ever, if you have questions about gender, you can also buy the books that Meg John and I have written How To Understand Your Gender, The Practical Guide For Exploring Who You Are, our first book, and Life Isn't Binary, our second book. And this year there are also some more books coming out, both from myself by myself and Meg John. There's actually a book on self care where we also question the whole idea of self care seems timely at the moment and also an offering that I'm doing with another dear friend about looking at communicating when we're in conflict through a trauma informed lens. So I'm gonna do my best to kind of keep producing content. Also on my personal well my personal professional Facebook page. So Alex Iantaffi, not on my personal Facebook page but my professional Facebook page every

morning at 8:

20am US Central Standard Time or there abouts. I'm offering kind of 10 minutes long somatic check ins during this time. I'm also uploading them to my youtube channel@alexiantaffi. If you look for Alex Iantaffi pandemics somatic check ins, that should come up. That's another offering that I'm doing for community. I hope it's helpful. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you so much for supporting gender stories and until next time, please stay well. Be safe and I hope you get all the supporting here that we all deserve. Good bye.