Sierra Holland, she/her, All Bodies Birth
Katie: Alright, so thanks for hanging out with me today! Just to start, can you tell us a little bit about your practice?
Sierra: Yeah, so I’m Sierra Holland, I use she/her pronouns and my practice is called All Bodies Birth, so it’s kind of an umbrella for my work in a lot of aspects of reproductive healthcare. I trained primarily as a birth doula and expanded out from there to become a full-spectrum doula. So I do abortion support work, fertility support work, placenta medicine, childbirth education and now I’m a student midwife. So my practice is really focused on people who are oppressed by systems that don’t wanna recognize us, mostly queer, trans and nonbinary folks, religious minority folks, people parenting in creative parenting and family structures, and other people who just get overlooked or written out of the system.
Katie: Awesome, and what are you queering right now?
Sierra: I hope everything, everywhere I go, all the time. As a femme I have to be a little more explicit, like y’know, throwing biosafe rainbow glitter behind me everywhere I go. But generally, spaces around reproductive healthcare and family building. I’m kind of straddling two worlds right now, as a doula I work in the hospital system a lot. So that means making space for people that don’t have a space in that system or who are actively oppressed by that system. And then I’m a student midwife as well, so I’m training to be an out of hospital provider. So that means exciting things like in-home IUIs and preconception fertility care and lots of support for people’s unique family building journeys. I’m kind of in both worlds at once, trying my best to queer them all up.
Katie: Awesome. And where are you geographically?
Sierra: I’m located in Portland, Maine, so unceded Wabanaki territory, but I serve all of New England physically and anywhere in the world virtually.
Katie: What inspired you to do the work that you do?
Sierra: Oh goodness. I come from an academic background, so I spent a lot of time studying these things, family building, especially queer fertility. Feeling a sense of distance from the process in the researcher role, you don’t really get to invest in people and make their lives better directly, and that was very frustrating to me. So I knew that I wanted to be in a more practical role where I get to walk alongside individual people and give them the options and support and advocacy that they might not have elsewhere and that as a researcher I could never provide them. So I do it to make more space for people in institutions that don’t like us and to make more opportunities outside those institutions.
Katie: Awesome, and relatedly, how do you describe your support philosophy?
Sierra: Hmmm. I believe a lot in the power of individuals. And I’m also a sociologist in a past life, so I have a very structural view. What I see is that those things don’t match up a lot of the time. So my support philosophy is really about bridging the gap between individual experiences and needs and institutional limitations. So if you’re choosing to or need to be in a hospital setting, but your identity or family structure or way of existing in the world is one that isn’t recognized by that setting, then my support is in creating the space for you and helping the institution meet you where you’re at. Kind of reducing the harm that can be done when there’s such a disjoint.
Katie: Awesome, and so to shift gears a little.. We’ve asked you about your natal work, and now I also need to ask you about your natal chart. What is your sun, moon, rising?
Sierra: Yes! I’m a Virgo sun, cancer moon, sagittarius rising but super don’t identify with that.
Katie: And what’s your favorite thing about being a queer support person working with queer and trans families?
Sierra: Creativity! I mean, queers are the creative people on the planet. Just when you decide that certain rules don’t make sense or don’t apply to you, you can really do anything you want. Like, the freedom to arrange your family however you want, arrange your support system however you want, parent your children however you want. I mean, we’re all living in institutions and systems, right? But there’s just a certain amount of expansiveness that I love about queer folks and trans folks and family building that is radical in that way.
Katie: And if you could improve one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth for queer and trans families, what would it be?
Sierra: I don’t have just one, I have a laundry list. But, right now I am focusing myself on becoming a provider. So, what I’ve seen is that we need good providers in every space and they don’t always exist where we need them to be, and they don’t always meet the needs of people in individualized and human-centered ways. So right now, the goal I’m working on is becoming another provider that can meet people where they’re at and provide that care. That’s the one that I feel equipped to work on, but my list of things is …
Katie: Rrrreal long?
Sierra: Very, very long. And some days, it’s like, y’know, burn it all down, we don’t have a use for these systems anymore. But most days, I can see the need for them for a lot of people in different situations. I think the other big one I want to change is access. I care a lot about people having access to the kind of care that they need and want when they’re building their families. So that’s hopefully gonna be a cornerstone of my practice.
Katie: And one piece of advice for new or aspiring queer and trans birth workers?
Sierra: Find other people. Other people will make it doable and sustainable. What’s really kept me going the last few years as a doula, in particular, is having a network of queer doulas that understand that our identity is so mixed up in what we do and don’t try to advocate for us to be a different person in those spaces. So: find other queer and trans folks that will see you for your whole self and that you can rant about institutions with often and decompress after tough interactions with institutions. Because nobody understands this work like other queer birth workers, really. Also, don’t train with DONA. You can edit that if you need to, but that’s my…
Katie: (laughing) absolutely not. What’s something not nata/birth/reproductive related about your life that you wanna share?
Sierra: I’m a former, so now retired, roller derby skater and coach. So I love being in environments where alternative forms of masculinity and femininity and being get to thrive and get celebrated. So I spent some time in Boston coaching the little ones on skates- you think having a kid is hard, have a kid on skates. That’s really hard. And that was a big part of my life for a long time. Unfortunately the on call lifestyle of being a birth worker is a little incompatible with that. So, these days I’m a rock climber, climb a lot of rocks, and read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi books with my cat when he will entertain me.
Katie: Can I ask what your derby name was?
Sierra: Madam Secrescary.
Sierra: Yep, Scary for short. Which is such a good… (smiles) yeah.
Katie: And where can people find you on the internet-land?
Sierra: I’ve got an instagram and a facebook under my business name, All Bodies Birth. Also AllBodiesBirth.com. Pretty easy.
Katie: Awesome, and is there anything that we haven’t asked you that the people need to know?
Sierra: Find a queer/trans birth worker near you and ask them what they need on your journey. Find a black or person of color midwife and ask them what they need on their journey. A lot of us are facing barriers to access for getting into this kind of work, and I believe a lot in having care by people who look like you and who have a shared affinity with you. So: find an oppressed birth worker, aspiring birth worker, plant the seed, buy their books from a local bookstore… that’s a really good way to get more of us out in the field to give better care for queer and trans people and other oppressed communities.
Katie: Alright, thank you so much Sierra!