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Oct 25, 2012
It is safe to say that, as an unemployed transgender person who relies on medical assistance, it is very unlikely that I will be able to get the state of Pennsylvania, where I live, to cover the cost of my sexual reassignment surgery. In fact, only California‘s Medicaid program will cover MediCal, and as I will do anything within the bounds of the law to further my transition, I may be moving there in the coming year.
It’s safe to say that the issue of whether to publicly fund transition related surgeries is controversial and does not have universal acceptance among the LGBT community and our allies, as the case of Michelle Kosilek shows. But then, hearing everyone around me talk about the very real “War On Women”, I got to thinking…
MY BODY, MY CHOICE!!!
Yes, those words uttered by many feminists for reproductive freedom are also germane to the idea of allowing those who have an irrevocable commitment to partially or fully transition to their authentic selves, whichever will make one feel complete. I feel there is a parallel to these separate but equally important struggles; that people who are in a place of great privilege seek to be the final arbiter on what constitutes legitimate healthcare. I do not like it when certain non-directly affected communities say that individuals* should not get free birth control or should not be able to make the choice to use preventative measures to prevent conception or to abort one’s pregnancy, and I do not like it when cisgender bean counters, religious fanatics, tough-on-crime fetishists, and other contrarians, many of whom are in positions of power, tell me that all or part of my transition is “cosmetic” or “elective” and that funding should not be available for such procedures. I regularly go to local candidate’s nights and whenever I hear some elected official or candidate who claims to be pro-LGBT talk about how transsexual surgery is too “expensive” or some type of “elective lifestyle surgery”, to me, it sounds like the candidates are projecting their cisgender privilege unto me, for they will never know first-hand the pain and continuous dysphoria of being born in the wrong body.
I have come to the conclusion that one issue that unites all women in the greater struggle for women’s rights is the right of bodily autonomy. Whether it be freedom from sexual assault or unwelcome touching, reproductive freedom, or freedom to affirm oneself as their true gender and to be treated as such. Women’s rights is a Venn Diagram, with ciswomen on one side, transwomen on another, and a lot bigger middle than one might think. Thus bringing one back to the idea of my body, my choice; and how all women need to stick together to advance our common goals and to support each other’s distinct issues. United we stand, divided we fall.
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
*When talking about reproductive functions or other gendered medical issues, I try to be inclusive of trans/gender variant individuals. For example, both ciswomen and pre-op transmen can give birth, as well as non-binary individuals with functioning ovaries, and to say that abortion is strictly a woman’s issue is somewhat myopic.