In her akward TED talk, Christen Reighter talks about physiological exams for her bodily autonomy. She mentions:

I wanted to give that doctor every piece of evidence that I was not the date of birth in that file. (5:38)

Can you explain what she meant? Is the phrase idiomatic?


From what she says afterwards, I interpret it to mean it as another way to say "I'm not just a number".

She's contrasting how she wanted to be treated - as a unique human being with wants, fears, etc. - as opposed to an impersonal, dehumanizing collection of numbers, like date of birth, height, weight, blood pressure, etc.

It is not a common expression.

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  • I agree (+1), but somehow the metaphor has struck me as a little "meh". Maybe because what I immediately thought was the fact that a date of birth isn't that unique, and that doctors (despite her efforts to describe everyone not supporting her intentions as bad) actually care about their patients. – user3395 Jul 23 '18 at 14:42
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    @userr2684291 I felt the same, but the power of her argument is neither here nor there in re: the question. It may be that she'd answered the "please verify your date of birth" question so often that it really stuck in her head, but I'm just speculating. – John Feltz Jul 23 '18 at 14:44

She wanted that doctor to understand that she wasn't the same as every other girl at her age. Her date of birth is not enough to establish who she is.

The statement in question follows two common objections that doctors often raise: that the woman is too young and that she doesn't have enough children yet. In turn, it's followed by examples of such evidence, such as her considerable educational background and her partner's established career path.

She means that there were more important things to know about her than the fact that she was a woman in her early twenties.

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