She Daddy, start!

A reflection of how we started and our plans for 2020

What started as a simple project became something more

It was 2018 and I had been working in several grassroots organizing projects. I was struggling with mental illness, still on rocky ground with living as an out Non-Binary Trans woman, and the stress of academic life was not helping. The empowerment I received by working in the movement was nothing short of life saving. I was living in Ohio at the time, so the main trends in conversation were around the opiate crisis happening around us; people dying not just from a proliferation of fentanyl and carfentanil adulterating drug supplies but of apathy. It was easy for people chide in with "Just say no"'s or "Stay away from the hard drugs", but people never seem to think about what people already dependent on drug use were to do. Especially those who could neither afford nor access competent recovery care because of their financial class or other vectors of marginalization.

One of the primiary initiatives I had been working with was as a Street Medic with the local autonomous collective. While we worked as action medics, providing our medical training at protests and public demos, our collective identified that the resources in our city were failing drug users and lended our work to building coalition with leaders of Harm Reduction.

Defining Harm Reduction is outside the scope of this article, but to abbreviate, Harm Reduction is both a set of concrete strategies and a theoretical foundation for adapting work toward better communal care. Harm Reduction is access to clean needles and safe injection supplies. It is Narcan/Naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses with no other potential side-effects. It is also the recognition that the primary goal of interventions of care is not the cessation of particular habits or behaviors but to enable people to live happy and fulfilling lives by minimizing their suffering. Harm Reduction models are primarily applied to drug use but also provide a wealth of benefits when applied to mental health, sexual health, and the larger healthcare context in general.

Harm reduction is the work of caring for our communities in the ways that work, not just those accepted and without stigma

We worked to assemble kits to better distribute Narcan and safe injection supplies into the communities that needed them.

Bridging Communities

While all this was happening, I was also active in Punk/Electronic/DIY music scenes in Columbus, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. In these communities, it especially wasn't uncommon to hear of someone fatally overdosing, especially since Fentanyl and its more potent analogues were showing up in more non-opioid drugs with increasing frequency and these were communities where drug use was common.

I had these skills and expertise so what happened next wasn't shocking or groundbreaking. I brought my medic kit, earplugs, condoms, strips that detect the presence of Fentanyl and it's analogues, put on my Queerest outfit, and threw everything onto a silver serving tray and danced all night with it. By distributing these supplies and talking with people about harm reduction strategies as a peer in a provocative costume, I made sure that I would be listened to and that if a crisis did occur, I could be the one sober person with the skills to potentially save someone's life.

From there I've only grown! I worked more and more parties, became a figure people recognized and felt comfortable asking questions that pertained to their health and safety. I was not an expert in an ivory tower, but a peer who could present the research and data in a simple way. Much more than that, I've shared my skills, led teams at large scale events with people from all over the world, and trained others in how to serve similar roles in their own communities.

The Road Ahead

Now, as a budding Software engineer, I'm seeking to better disseminate knowledge in the same ways I have in the past, but in communities everywhere through smart and functional Software. She Daddy in 2020 is here to share knowledge that helps us better care for each other. The world is changing fast but we have the means to ending suffering and liberation already in hand. All we need to do is keep extending hands with each other.

Things you can expect from She Daddy:

  • Trainings
  • Resource sharing
  • Projects that bring together movement workers of all types
  • Calls to action
  • An evolving discussion on how to help each other thrive

I'm so excited to share more, but cheers to you all for now...

-- SD