Inspiring NL: Taylor Stocks

Inspiring NL: Taylor Stocks

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Student, artist and activist Taylor Stocks is recognized nationally for their amazing work in the community while living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Newfoundland student, artist and activist Taylor Stocks is one of 10 recipients across Canada to receive up to $5,000 in scholarships from Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and the AbbVie IBD Scholarship Program. To say that is an earned title would be an understatement.

‘Progressively worse’

The initiative recognizes 10 post-secondary students across the country living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis who continue to lead in their communities, advocating for diverse causes and creating sustainable solutions to positively impact their peers.

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Suffering from ulcerative colitis, an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) which causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive track  – The personal battle with the at times debilitating condition truly ramped up in 2018.

“I was in, what I hope will be, my worst flare ever for about a year and a half, which got progressively worse and worse,” Stocks shared with The Herald. “I didn’t quite know how bad it was until I went into a scope and they admitted me saying that it was the worst case they’d seen in years. I had a surprise nine day hospital admission in June of last year which really changed the game for me.”

A careful balance

As of May 31st of this year Stocks is in remission, though lingering symptoms remain. It requires a careful balancing act and restraint, one that led to openness and transparency about their condition.

“I think there is a balance,” Stocks says of manging their health. “Last year I really slowed down my life. I stopped a lot of extracurricular activities and I was very open about why I was doing it and quite open about asking for help when I was quite ill. The main way that people know about my story is because I really needed help doing very basic things at one point. I had two good hours in a day if I was lucky. I was sharing my story just in order to enliven my network to get support, which was quite effective. Then hearing from a number of other people say how me talking about my auto immune disease and the effects that it had on me has made it much easier for them to be open about their illnesses. So I find that the more that you talk about it and you’re open about this is what I can do and this is what I can’t do than other people feel comfortable sharing that as well.”

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Pursuing a PhD in Education from Memorial University that tackles organizational change and decision making, Stocks is a known and respected name across the province. 

Stocks has been open and transparent about their experiences as a trans non-binary person and the advocacy towards an emphatic and inclusive world, one which has included amazing work at the institutional level concerning LGBTQ rights.

“I hope that the work that I do in community is meaningful,” Stocks shares, modestly. “I am currently the chair of the Inclusion Advisory Committee for the City of St. John’s. I do work on a regular basis with folks from all different areas who are advocating for their different groups and for me that’s both the LGBTQ community as well as those who live with often invisible chronic illnesses that can be quite debilitating. I do a lot of workshops, a lot of consulting for businesses and governments and other organizations who just need to talk through policy or want to run an inclusive event.”

And while Stocks is a prominent figure in the movement to enact positive change and reform in the LGBTQ community, they are also a beloved name in the ever growing drag scene in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

A talented artist and musician with over a decade and a half of experience, Stocks is well known for their drag character Dr. Androbox, who has been a mainstay in the drag scene for six years and counting. Stocks aims to release a double album under the Androbox name to coincide with Pride 2020. 

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“It’s been really neat to see the explosion of the local drag scene,” Stocks shares. “When I started there wasn’t a ton of diversity in the types of performers or performances that you’d see. And now you’ve got a whole bunch of different groups doing things. For me it’s always been a great way to play with things, to dress up and to be silly and to take some of my more painful parts of my story and put them on stage in a way that’s meaningful. I have done quite a number of performances that do specifically relate to my illness as well as my specific gender. And I think that’s a great way of getting at an art that gets stuff that’s meaningful.”

Stocks’ double lens

Asked as to why they believe they were chosen as a recipient of the AbbVie IBD Scholarship Program, and the ever modest multi-tasker pauses. Consideration must be given to Stocks’ tireless work as not only an advocate and brave face for IBD, but as a boots-on-the-ground force for positive change in the LGBTQ community in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I think it’s that double lens that I bring,” Stocks says, thoughtfully. “It’s not just about my illness or it’s not just about my gender or sexual identity but the combination of those and saying this is all of me. And therefore there is space for there to be all of you and we can have a meaningful conversation about what it is to make our world a little bit kinder because us working on it is the only way that it actually becomes that.”

For more on the AbbVie Scholarhship visit ibdscholarship.ca. Visit crohnsandcolitis.ca for more on IBD.

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Dillon Collins is a writer based out of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Multi-time MusicNL nominee for Media Person of the Year. Lover of heavy metal, hoppy beverages and the loveable canine.

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