FWHCFeminist Women's Health Center
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Inspired in part by Eads' story, the Feminist Women's Health Center in Atlanta (FWHC) a few years ago launched a clinic to provide FtM individuals with gynecological exams, Pap smears and other routine health care.
FWHC is building its own institutional knowledge by retaining staff who have been involved with the clinic since its start and by sending staff to workshops at Southern Comfort.
Scattered centers founded in the early 1970s together formed a decentralized coalition called the Federation of Feminist Women's Health Centers (FWHCs), which shared materials, collectively wrote several books, and met in Los Angeles each summer for "political education." (20) Many more women's health centers were allied ideologically and politically.
"Self Help Clinic" was the official name for a series of meetings organized by FWHCs, in which women, often strangers to each other, met for a set number of weeks facilitated by a lay health worker.
The clitoral study of 1978, for example, which was undertaken as part of a collective Federation of FWHCs book project, captured the methodological mode of feminist self-help research, as well as the ambivalent place of sexuality within it.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance (BMQA) made numerous efforts to quash the work of lay health workers in FWHCs by brandishing the charge of practicing medicine without a license.
Sitting on the floor in a circle, Downer explained, served a strategic purpose: "to minimize any kind of authoritarian carry over." On the abortion side of FWHCs, the details of technical procedures were deliberately organized to empower the woman client, from assigning the doctor the status of technician, to offering women the opportunity to examine their aborted tissue under a microscope.
Further, the women represented in these images were clearly raced and diverse, capturing both the reality of women who used FWHCs (if not the directorship) and their idealized, although problematically conceived, global sisterhood.