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Dr. Monica Tanner, 37, New York and Los Angeles, she/her

Tell us about yourself! Hobbies, jobs, passion projects, interests?
I really enjoy anything that allows me to have a lifelong learning mentality. I am a proud cancer fighter/survivor/advocate. I am humbled daily to work with my mentees and various cancer societies to enhance care during such a tough fight. I am learning to fly a Cessna Airplane, I am heavily involved with Space Advocacy (@ The Planetary Society), I hike as well as trail run a lot, and I have the privilege of working with people’s brains every day. As an Organizational Psychologist, foundations in Neurology, I have the ability to help others identify areas of improvement through brain patterns and diagnostics.

What are you listening to these days?
Earth Crisis is always a top band for me. But besides Hardcore, I do enjoy really all genres. Pop punk always has a special place in my heart (The Starting Line)

What’s your straight edge story?
I grew up with a Mum who was Straight Edge before there was a claiming. So I grew up with a strong woman who taught me to stand my ground, be present, and to never let anyone dictate how to live my life. I was 21 when I made the vow, it has been almost 17 years. I enjoy being my true self every day and not being clouded with substances, every decision I make is made through a clear lens. I was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 2018 and have survived through massive mitigating measures. I house a syndrome that helps my body produce cancer rapidly. Being on a constant form of chemo, it is dire that I leverage my body and brain to their full potential. A straight edge lifestyle has allowed me to do that.

How do you define straight edge?
Straight edge is a vow, one you make to yourself. You can be sober and not straight edge. The more firm side of me states you aren’t born straight edge, it is something you agree with, take a vow on, and nurture. I will not break my vow. I am not early in my life choice so commitment isn’t something I think about anymore. This is my life and because of it I can be the best version of myself every day.

True or False: “If you’re not now, you never were”?
My younger self would agree with the statement, now I am a bit more open minded. I do venture to say those who slip in and out of straight edge are looking for a home, a place of belonging vs doing this for themselves. It’s OK to be sober and not claim, sobriety is important and I hope those who are fighting addiction become clear. I will always foster an environment where people feel welcome to come back in but think people should have an open discussion with themselves on their drive to leave and their drive to be back. Being honest with oneself is more important than what group you are associated with.

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon straight edge, and it has really spoken to them.  Do you feel that the straight edge community has been, and should be welcoming to those in recovery?
We should welcome all who want to claim- regardless of recovery.

Have you ever felt that your gender has had influenced your experience in the “straight edge and/or hardcore scene”?
Women in any heavily male-dominated scenes can feel a pressure. This goes for all people who don’t identify with being a male. I think women are looked at differently in this arena, for good and for bad. At the end of the day, it’s about being a good person and being a role model for others.

Do you feel that the straight edge movement/scene is inclusive?  What are things that can be done to make it more inclusive?  What sort of changes would you like to see?
Inclusivity can be difficult with any group that doesn’t have an open mindset. It’s up to the people in the movement and scene to make it easier for all humans to join. All I can control is myself and I do.

Has being straight edge had an impact on your relationships (family, friends, significant others)?
I’ve met some of the best people through the scene. Outside of my mum, addiction has ran through my family and I believe them seeing me living a straight edge lifestyle has had a positive impact.

There’s an ongoing debate on whether one can be straight edge without being a part of the music scene, what are your thoughts on this?
We must never forget our roots. It’s OK to not be a part of the music scene but understanding why and where the movement came from is important.

Final Thoughts? Is there anything else you’d like to add? Maybe questions you think we should add or change?
I always appreciate women who hold other women up, allowing each other to shine (thanks Kelly ♥️). Women are not my competition and I hope others let go of that notion.

Mother, wife, small business owner.

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