Artemis Willow Gorde | She and They | YAB Member | Troy, MI
Michigan Forward in Enhancing Research and Community Equity (MFierce), is a partnership of community organizations, youth advocates, and public health researchers working together to reduce STIs among young sexual and gender minority youth in Southeast Michigan. MFierce is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Community Approaches to Reducing STIs Program and is a project of the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of Michigan Schoolof Public Health.
MFierce is a coalition that utilizes a shared decision-making process among all partners to address STIs in our region. MFierce is comprised of three entities; a SexLab team, a group of Youth Advisory Board (YAB) members who are youth advocates, ages 20-30, and a Steering Committee of organization and agency representatives. We are currently implementing the Health Access Initiative, a LGBTQ+ cultural responsiveness training and technical assistance program for local clinics and health centers. Our second initiative is developing the Advocacy Collective, a LGBTQ+ youth health advocate organization.
In the spirit of promoting LGBTQ+ affirming resources and services, check out this great event this month: A Trans Health Access Panel, hosted by the University of Michigan student groups OUTbreak and Out in Public. Taking place Thursday, March 31 from 6 PM – 8 PM in the University of Michigan’s School of Public Policy. Check out more information on the event here.
How did you get involved with MFierce?
I got involved via a friend, who told me about the position.
The MFierce Coalition uses a community-engaged approach where decision-making is shared among the three entities. That sounds complex. What are the most important take aways from using participatory processes?
It allows for many voices to be heard, as well as allows for a sort of mentorship between the YAB and the other groups in the coalition.
What is the most exciting thing that you’ve experienced while being a part of MFierce?
The most exciting thing is knowing that I have a chance to increase access to trans-related health care in the area I grew up in.
When I talk to people about MFierce, I tell them…
That we’re a coalition with the goal of decreasing STI and HIV rates in LGBT youth in southeastern Michigan through systemic means, headed by LGBT youth and other members of the community, and that we’re doing this by focusing on increasing access to health care.
“Community” is a word people use a lot but don’t always define. What does it mean to you?
For me, community means a connection with those I share struggles with.
How do you define “justice”?
Justice is the dismantling of violent structures, and reparations for the damages of violence.
Can you tell us about some of your heros/sheros/queeros?
Most trans women I have known of or met who are doing something. Activists, artists, theorists, or even just surviving. All of them inspire me in some way.
If you could look into the future, what would you tell your future self?
“I really hope you’re someone I want to be.”
And the most important question of our time, if you were a crayon, what color would you be?
An earthy green or dark purp