We meet Kate at nightfall (left, on her fire escape), in the lively collective anarchist bookstore and arts space, The Iron Rail. Before heading up to her loft, she takes us on a tour of the various colorful happenings and resources this unassuming industrial building provides. The bookstore overflows with literature, zines, records, and attractive gutter punks. Zig zagging through the halls, we pass a yoga class, a female and trans friendly bike shop, a library for prisoners, we meet a trapeze artist, and somehow end up in the street being taught how to hula-hoop with industrial piping.
Finally, we brew some tea and get pens ready for Kate’s story. She had a feminist upbringing in Phoenix, but chooses “not to identify with that label anymore. Anarchist is a more powerful label…it means fighting hierarchies overall.” Kate became frustrated with the male-dominated anarchy scene some years back, but after attending the North American Anarchist conference in 2000 in LA she became inspired by the presence of “loud, brash anarchist women,” and decided to make a documentary to expose the voices of female and trans anarchists. So far she has video-interviewed over 200 subjects, and is still working with the hopes it will become “an interview compilation, sort of a library resource.”
Despite her continued involvement in anarchist action, Kate became frustrated with the stagnancy of rhetoric, and decided to push her interest in women’s health and social justice into a career as a midwife. She cites a pivotal moment as attending a birth the night before Katrina hit. “Before, I politically analyzed every situation, now I am more in touch with exhibiting compassion, using my hands. It has really changed the way I interact with people in this city…[In midwifery] I’ve found an outlet for my liberation politics—attending births and helping at the hospital, increasing patient info, giving power back to the mother.” Kate previously had worked at Planned Parenthood, but found it “disempowering”: “There was a desperation for professionalism and acceptance of the status quo. Non-profits like Planned Parenthood just delay and control resources. Many feminists (and at Planned Parenthood) automatically assume that if someone gets pregnant at a young age, they’re not going to have any kind of life…it’s a weak analysis around gender combined with an undercurrent of racism and classism.”