In Pursuit of Choice
They say, “Your body, your choice.” But sometimes, that choice can be pretty complicated.
My grandmother tells me there are three inventions that have revolutionized the lives of women in her lifetime: pantyhose, tampons, and birth control. Pantyhose, because they meant the end of garters. Tampons, for the sheer improvement in comfort and mobility. And most importantly, birth control, because it gave us an unprecedented level of control over our bodies and our lives. She tells me:
The power to choose — if, when, and how many children you want to have — is revolutionary.
One we should celebrate.
And expand — so all can reap its benefits.
But, never take for granted.
In 2017, fifty-seven years after the first oral contraceptive was invented, women still face significant barriers to making their own contraceptive choices. Moreover, taboos surrounding sexual and reproductive health continue to permeate our culture, communities, and healthcare system.
On the one hand, there are many more types of birth control methods than my grandmother had in her reproductive years — from the dozens of different birth control pills, to the ring, to multiple types of IUDs. On the other hand, vocalizing questions and concerns about sexual and reproductive health is still too difficult, confusing, and worst-of-all, wrought with judgement. As a result, women are all too often making healthcare decisions — about birth control, sex, pregnancy and beyond — from a place of fear, anxiety, and shame.
Inspired by my grandmother, I joined forces with my longtime friend and feminist ally, Felicity, to start Tia — a next-gen women’s healthcare company for millennials by millennials. Our mission is to empower women to make independent and informed decisions for their own bodies, health, and lives with confidence. We believe there are no “right” choices or “wrong” choices, only choices that you make and that you own.
Through technology, design, and a whole lot of sass, we are reimagining the complex world of women’s health through the lens of the female experience. Our approach is to tackle key moments of decision complexity women face day in and day out with solutions rooted in science and empathy. Above all else, we seek to build solutions and spark conversations that defend and expand the right to individual choice and bodily autonomy. At a time when women’s control over their own healthcare decisions faces so many threats, we believe our mission is evermore paramount.
We’re starting with a focus on helping women choose the right birth control — a choice that 99% of sexually-active women face in their lifetime — with a product that reduces the “guesswork” inherent to today’s broken process.
Meet Tia: Your personal, private, digital women’s health assistant.
Today, Tia is a part-machine, part-human-powered assistant you privately message with about birth control and sexual health. Over time, we aim to make Tia your trusted confidante for all your women’s health questions and needs.
Like your cool aunt, Tia is your go-to in all those “ugh!” moments, “oops…” moments, and “huh?” moments. Never judging, never with an “I told you so”, Tia is there at your fingertips to help make those complicated choices a little bit less complicated.
Tia, the assistant, is the first tangible manifestation of our vision.
As technology and society progress, we anticipate the product in its current form will, too, evolve in unforeseen ways. However, the values at the core of our product — which define who we are as founders, as a company, and why we do what we do —will endure. With relentless dedication, we hope that these values might change for the better, the way people view themselves, interact with others, and perhaps, the world:
We believe that every person has an inviolable right to exercise choice in their healthcare decisions. Importantly, we believe the very notion of choice is distinct from a decision. You may disagree with the decision someone makes, but not their right to have a choice in the matter. We aspire to help women realize their right to choice in everything they do.
We believe that with the right information, each and every woman can make independent and informed decisions for her own body and life — better than anyone else. We strive to create avenues that link women to quality care and foster shared decision-making with healthcare providers.
We believe your health is personal, and that one-size-fits-all approaches fall short. We aim to reduce the guesswork in healthcare by working with women’s health experts to build private, personalized, data-driven solutions.
We believe that a person’s emotions are their reality, never to be ignored, but to be listened to, respected, and kept private — always. We strive to build relationships rooted in compassion and in empathy, and to cultivate a safe space in which all can communicate freely without fear of judgement.
We believe that every person — regardless of race, religion, sexuality or gender — has a right to personal choice in their healthcare decisions. In both our product and our company, we foster diversity, demand inclusivity, and celebrate individuality.
Today, our core competency lies in providing health information to people with female anatomy — no matter what you look like, what gender you identify with, or who you love. We are on a mission to continually expand our expertise to better serve the diverse needs of all identities and anatomies. If you have suggestions for how we can make Tia more affirming to your identity and experiences, don’t hesitate to contact us! Our product and our community are a perpetual evolution.
There’s a long road ahead to ensuring that personal choice in our healthcare decisions, both big and small, is a universal right and a tangible possibility for all. We’re just getting started, but believe that together, we can change the conversation around women’s health, and empower each and every person to make independent and informed decisions for their own bodies, health and lives with confidence.
Carolyn Witte and Felicity Yost