An Interview with PUSH Campaign Graphic Designer Ky Walker for Pride

This Pride Month, we speak to PUSH Graphic Designer Ky Walker about what Pride means to them and how the reproductive healthcare space can better support LGBTQIA+ individuals and families.

June 29, 2023

Introduce yourself and your role on the PUSH Campaign

My name is Ky Walker (they/he). I am a queer transmasculine non-binary designer, visual communications strategist, and activist. I serve as the designer for the PUSH Campaign, which means that I spearhead our visual brand identity across digital and print spaces. I live in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland with my girlfriend—who is also trans—and our two cats. 

As a non-binary individual, what does Pride Month mean to you personally, and how do you celebrate or honour it?

Pride Month is a time to challenge the systems that have always harmed queer and trans people and advocate for queer liberation. For me, this means taking direct action against medical institutions that pathologise transness and prevent us from accessing gender-affirming care. This means dismantling the police and prison system that criminalises us and investing in our communities. This means demanding accessible universal public housing for all. Pride is not merely a celebration, but a chance to use our collective power to defend our rights to self-determination and bodily autonomy.

How do you bring your lived experience and perspective to the creative work you do for PUSH?

In my creative work, I seek to challenge the cisheteronormative image of midwifery. There is this idea that all midwives are cis women and that they only serve cis women, that all people seeking midwifery care are cis women, and that all families accessing reproductive healthcare are cis heterosexual couples. That is not the reality. I have talked with many queer, trans, and intersex midwives, birth parents, and advocates across the globe. But representation is not everything. That is why my work expands beyond visual design.

In working with PUSH and the ICM, what have you learned about the potential of midwives and midwifery to support LGBTQIA+ individuals and families?

I believe midwives have the power to transform health for queer, trans, and intersex people. Midwifery care is based on the principles of justice, equity, and dignity and uplifts the right to self-determination in sexual and reproductive health. Because of this, midwives have historically been—and in many contexts, continue to be—subversive in the medical system. 

At the same time, trans and queer people are subjected to marginalisation and discrimination within pregnancy and birth care and intersex people face harmful, invasive and unnecessary medical interventions. Midwives have the potential to subvert the medical establishment and act as advocates for emancipatory, liberated sexual and reproductive healthcare for queer, trans, and intersex people. In fact, I would say it is their duty by definition.

I would point to my interviews with trans advocates and intersex advocates to more deeply understand the ways in which midwives can, and should, support queer, trans, and intersex people.

How can similar campaigns to PUSH or other organisations actively promote inclusivity and celebrate diversity best, particularly during Pride Month?

Organisations need to adhere to the principle of “nothing about us without us”. Trans and queer people hold the knowledge and wisdom to define our needs and our vision for a liberated future. Organisations advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights have a duty to listen to this knowledge and wisdom, understand the systems that harm trans and queer people, and put in the work to dismantle them. Visibility is not enough, celebration is not enough, and this work does not start and end in June.

What advice would you give to other LGBTQIA+ individuals who aspire to pursue a similar career path to you?

Get involved in your local community. Find the grassroots organisations and small nonprofits near you and offer your support with their design and communications needs. Many of these organisations will need flyers, social media, a logo, or a website and you can use these opportunities both as a chance to improve your skills and network with other activists. You don’t need a special degree for this work—these volunteer experiences will help you build a powerful portfolio that can lead into a career.

Ky Walker is a graphic designer and visual communications strategist with over seven years of experience at nonprofit human rights organisations. Ky serves as Designer for the International Confederation of Midwives and the PUSH Campaign. Prior to their role at ICM, Ky worked as Graphic Designer for the Tahirih Justice Center.

Ky engages with queer, feminist, and emergent strategy frameworks along with the Design Justice Principles throughout their projects, with an eye into how design can propagate narratives that drive us towards collective liberation. They are thrilled to be working with the PUSH Campaign and ICM to advocate for midwives at the intersection of gender, health, and economic justice.

Ky is a graduate of the University of Vermont with a B.A. in Political Science and Russian & East European Studies and recently completed coursework within the Communication Design program at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design.