Though I have never personally felt worthy of the title “activist,” my life has been surrounded by activism. I was brought up in a rather radical household; my mother was a single parent who raised and homeschooled six children on her own and instilled in each of us a strong sense of individual self-worth and a drive for gender equality. My oldest sister, Kate, who is ten years my senior, was a passionate crusader for feminist causes from the time I was six years old onwards. It was through her influence that I first became seriously interested in activism. She is a social worker and an active participant in the social justice community in New York City and a founding member of RISE, a grassroots organization/collective for radical social work in NYC.
My first experience of what I consider to be “real” activism was when I volunteered at the first annual RISE conference as a teenager, tabling and working as a greeter for the event. It was an incredibly formative experience for me. At the conference, I was able to sit in on workshops by transwomen, sex workers, and abortion doulas, among many others. Not only was I introduced to issues I had never previously conceived of, but my work as a volunteer doing groundwork for RISE allowed me to feel like a true ally to these diverse communities. Although I have not been involved in such a clearly activist project since then, volunteering with RISE opened my eyes to the activism of sex workers, the trans* community, fat feminists, and others, and these days I try to maintain awareness of and involvement in these communities through social media and internet activism.