Assistant Professor Provides Women's Health Insight in New CBC Series

Aug 27, 2019

Drs. Jen Gunter, Yolanda Kirkham and Nadine Thornhill sitting together(From left to right) Drs. Jen Gunter, Yolanda Kirkham and Nadine Thornhill Written by Dr. Yolanda Kirkham, Assistant Professor with UofT ObGyn

Many in the department might remember voting for me in 2005 when I was a first-year ObGyn resident, for Elle Canada's "Smart" girl competition.  

That seems like a lifetime ago and now, armed with 15 years of experience, I am achieving a broader reach and sharing reliable health information through media to women.  I provide "meducation" to all my patients; but girls, transmen and women want and need digestible information they can access easily.  And it's the perfect time to provide accurate information when there is an overwhelming amount of misinformation over social media and the internet. 

Dr Kirkham on Elle Magazine coverDr. Kirkham on the Elle Magazine cover in 2005 I was contacted to be an expert on Dr. Jen Gunter's new docuseries, Jensplaining,  where she extends her extensive social media presence into a television show. She is an outspoken, no-holds-barred ObGyn known as Twitter's resident gynaecologist and Gwyneth Paltrow's nemesis. Jen is a witty and fun advocate for women who might otherwise fall for wellness propaganda designed to part women from their money and good sense. Science isn't as sexy as the false claims backed by celebrity. But facts and evidence-based practice are the basis for medicine and should be no secret for people trying to make smart health decisions. 

I was asked to show up with some wardrobe changes and be prepared to talk candidly about periods, birth and vaginas. I literally did not know what I was getting myself into! I drove to a freezing cold warehouse in the middle of nowhere in January. When I arrived at the studio, I wandered by several empty, dark jail cells, the Oval Office, and a makeshift hospital room until I found the crew. The sets were fantastic and cozy (a kitchen and living room), and everyone was warm and friendly. Both the director and producer were women, which felt empowering, among a mostly male crew - all of whom were enlightened by our subject matter. We improvised our banter and it felt great to have discussions and laughs with Drs Gunter and Nadine Thornhill, sex educator. We shared some pretty personal information on camera and bonded easily. One of the many strengths of the show is the light and comical feel while tackling taboo subjects. We wanted to show viewers that science can be fun while supporting evidence and truth for women's health - that we are approachable and open about these difficult subjects. The shoot took longer than planned and I ended up driving home in a snowstorm, but it was definitely worth it! We're very happy with the end product, which premiered in late August on CBC GEM online. All 10 episodes (I'm in episodes 1, 8, and 9) are available on the app or on the CBC Gem website.

"Jensplaining": Through humour and expertise, Dr. Jen Gunter ("Twitter’s Gynecologist"), helps us understand how celebrity-endorsed popular pseudoscience "wellness" products and trends are anything but harmless. You can watch all ten episodes for free on CBC Gem!


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