The Fertility & Pregnancy Institute (FPI) Formal Statement on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
We welcome all people.
We are dedicated to helping to ensure that all people have access to the most valuable information affecting their reproductive health, reproductive potential, and families—present and future.
We provide the same standard of guidance and support to all people.
And we believe that people of every background are capable of achieving—and deserve to enjoy—the highest possible standard of health, well-being, and happiness for themselves, their children, and their families for generations to come.
My team and I celebrate the many faces of motherhood and parenthood and, most importantly, of love and of family. In all of our work, we try very hard to use language and tools that are as inclusive as possible. The truth is that, inevitably, we fall short. And this is partly because we are focused on teaching tools that will strengthen the DNA that we pass down to our children via egg (from a woman) and sperm (from a man) and via the interaction of genes and environment and broader epigenetic processes. While it is imperative that we work at the level of DNA during the primemester, the social container in which conceiving, pregnancy, and child development occurs is as critical—and potentially, even more critical. All biological and social parents are welcome here. In advance, I am sorry for any way in which we will inevitably fall short. When I do fall short, whether out of necessity for the tools or due to my own blind spots, what I want you to know without any doubt is that you are welcome and celebrated here exactly as you are today. Thank you in advance for your patience and acknowledgement of our shared humanity when I do fall short.
For more information about our celebration of and dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion, please see the FPI Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Page and learn more about the FPI Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Advisory Board.
The FPI Core Values
Letter from Dr. Cleopatra, FPI President & Chief Scientific Officer, on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
From the desk of Dr. Cleopatra
The Fertility Strategist
President & Chief Scientific Officer of the Fertility & Pregnancy Institute (FPI)
Selected Member of the Fulbright Specialists Roster
Fierce Cheerleader for ALL Women & Children
I am a fertility specialist who also specializes in diversity, equity, and inclusion. I know how rare this is. I may be one of the only in the U.S.; one of the only in the world.
Among our foundational 12 Revolutionary Fertility Tenets at FPI is this:
Reproduction is a universal, but not uniform, human experience.
Nearly every single human being, in every corner of the world, has the ability to reproduce (only about 3% are truly sterile or infertile). But we are not all born with equal opportunity to experience reproduction as easy, healthy, dignified, or joyful.
I know this intimately. I lost my beautiful, young mother at birth. She was 27 years old. My parents were new Americans from Egypt, my mother didn’t speak English, and better healthcare decisions by those attending to her in labor and delivery were all that were needed to prevent her death. My mother died because her life was not valued. My mother died because someone administering her care could not find their shared humanity in my mother’s beautiful face.
From that beginning, I dedicated my life to creating pioneering and revolutionary science-driven, big-hearted approaches to improving fertility, pregnancy, and the intergenerational transmission of health. My epigenetics approach to fertility and pregnancy supports the slowing reproductive aging. This is important for all women living in our modern world, and it is especially important for women of color, who experience accelerated reproductive “weathering” (or wear-and-tear) due to their social, economic, and political, and broader experiences.
My mother deserved so much more than the world was offering her. And so did I. Even my own babies—who now, by the grace of God, have everything, including two doting parents—deserve so much more than the world had on offer for them from this intergenerational perspective. I have done, and am doing, all that is within my power to give my babies and grandbabies the most incredible epigenetic advantages despite these difficult ancestral experiences—just as I teach you to do for your own babies, Precious Mama.
In my 24-year-long formal body of work in primemester epigenetics, fertility, pregnancy, and the intergenerational transmission of health, I have deliberately and meticulously centered the experiences of women and families of color. In fact, our number one Core Value at FPI is Deep Impact, Access, and Inclusion.
So, yes, I happen to be an expert in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In truth, though, I believe that being an expert in diversity, equity, and inclusion is perhaps as impossible as being an expert in parenting. It doesn’t matter that you, yourself, possess a marginalized identity, as I do; just like it doesn’t matter that you, yourself, are a parent. And it certainly doesn’t matter that you are an intellectual “expert” in the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion; just like it doesn’t matter that you are an intellectual expert in parenting or human development, as I am.
If you have ever actually done it—and by “it” I mean both/either diversity, equity, and inclusion work and/or the work of parenting—you know that it is hard and humbling, and that, in practice, you feel like you don’t know what you are doing half the time. There probably is no such thing as a true expert in these topics, if “expert” means both engaging deeply with the topic on an intellectual level AND always knowing the right answer about what to do in real-time.
This second part is especially hard.
As with most things in life, there is no one right answer or right way to do diversity, equity, and inclusion. There are clearly wrong ways to do it, but—even when you are mindful and careful and take great care to be educated and conscious in how you do it—it is unlikely that you will get it 100% right 100% of the time, or that you will be able to please everyone.
This is a fact of life, and it is particularly a fact of life where diversity, equity, and inclusion are concerned.
For example, it is clear that there needs to be representation in images. But if there is only one person from each group you wish to represent, it is tokenism. If you go in the opposite direction and have the social minority become the majority in your images, this raises a new set of challenges.
I advise health insurance companies, OB/GYNs, universities, and other institutions on diversity, equity, and inclusion on a regular basis, and what I always say is that the most valuable thing you can do is be super clear and sincere in expressing your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. And, at the same time, openly acknowledge that despite your deep care, commitment, and concern, you are confident that you will have instances of getting it wrong; and you know this for a fact because every approach the world has thought of thus far is flawed in some way.
This means that yours will inevitably be flawed, too.
As shocking as it is to my heart and sensibilities, this means that even ours at FPI will inevitably be flawed, too.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion—even when led by a human with marginalized identities who intimately knows the consequences of inequity and disparities—is a work in progress. At FPI, we can guarantee that we won’t get it 100% right 100% of the time, but we can also guarantee that we couldn’t be more all in and are dedicated to continually striving to get better—not because you are looking, but because we believe it is one of the most important things that we could ever do and model in our world.
In love, peace, solidarity, and progress,
P.S. We support diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the field of reproductive health, throughout healthcare as a whole, and throughout our world. We are committed to centering the experiences of marginalized, under-represented, and under-heard populations, and we are honored to serve as a model for investing in this goal. You are welcome to model your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement and materials after ours. We ask only that you credit The Fertility & Pregnancy Institute (FPI) and Dr. Cleopatra for serving as a model for your own.