Given a choice, Andy Anderson would be living on a farm in Ohio, running a Jewish health retreat. But right now, the 25-year-old, who is non binary, is content running a program for women with bleeding disorders.
Anderson also works with the Hemophilia Federation of America and as an advocate for queer and disabled Jews.
How did you get involved with the Hemophilia Federation of America?
I have [a bleeding disorder] myself. It’s one of a number of genetic conditions and when I was in my teens, I got involved with advocacy on a volunteer basis. I was really big on access to reproductive care and affordable healthcare and drug pricing.
What are some of your responsibilities in your job?
I [planned] a conference for women with bleeding disorders. We [bought] in 16 women from around the country who have a bleeding disorder for a weekend of empowerment and education.
In addition to running the women’s program, I’m also a part of the history team and recently helped to create an exhibit on the history of bleeding disorders. We donated it to the Smithsonian and hopefully it will be unveiled within the next year or two.
One of the things I’m most excited about [is] a bottle of Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound. This was one of the first patent medicines in the U.S. It started as kind of a home brew operation. The purpose of it was to help with menstrual irregularities. We have a bottle [of it] from the early 1950s.
Why are you interested in menstrual health?
A lot of the people I work with experience a lot of difficulties with their menstrual cycle. I had periods of my life that I was disabled because I was losing so much blood through my menstrual period. Any doctor who looked would have said, “We don’t think you’re disabled. You’re just having a really bad period.”
But I was unable to accomplish a lot of things in my life. That experience qualifies as a disability: It’s an inability to perform daily activities, and that concept creeps into a lot of areas of life for people with bleeding disorders. There are things we can and can’t do.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I really like to cook. I spend a lot of time cooking or eating and thinking about what I want to cook or eat. I’m blessed to have a group of friends who are similarly-minded.
I really enjoy baking, and I think that’s where I get the most joy, like baking desserts. A couple months back, I hosted a Shabbat dinner where there was chocolate in every dish. My capstone of the evening was a chocolate ganache tart. The challah was the only thing that didn’t have chocolate.
I like to spend time outdoors, and do dog spotting. Just looking at dogs that are out and about. It’s the easiest hobby to take up. You just look at dogs and think what you like about that dog. What’s that dog thinking about? What kind of music do you think will be playing in that dog’s head? I can still enjoy the dog from afar. I can still think about petting the dog. I really like it when I do get to pet the dog.
What is your dream job?
I’m so glad you asked. It wouldn’t be a job but a fully integrated lifestyle. I want a very large piece of land to steward and I would love to run a Jewish retreat center where people could come and connect to the planet and to ways that their food is raised.
Like yes, please come walk through the garden with me, see the chickens we raise, enjoy the forest. I would love for everyone I meet to have that same sense of holiness and awe that I feel about
nature, so running a retreat center where people could come and unplug and really like get back to nature and eat the food I cook — that would be the dream.
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