I got kind of emotional reading Miriam’s story yesterday about ob-gyns being told to prepare to treat transgender patients. This is a huge win in the area of health care access, a major issue for trans folks. It’s a win on an issue that’s particularly close to my heart, the intersection of reproductive and sexual health and trans issues. I’ve focused on this intersection in my organizing, and it hasn’t always been easy to be a voice for trans issues in the reproductive justice movement. I thought about all my friends have done to raise awareness about this crucial problem – it’s incredibly inspiring to finally see recognition of our health needs after we’ve been standing here shouting for so long.
And then I noticed the reaction to ob-gyn news around the web: a lot of people were saying, “It’s about time.”
Oh, right, yes. To simply have trans health needs recognized? To have doctors be told they should treat us when we need treatment? Like any other human being? It is about fucking time.
That’s the reality of where we’re at on trans issues. We are so far behind on winning basic rights and protections, still overwhelmingly stigmatized and discriminated against by a culture that still knows almost nothing about us, still killed just for being ourselves.
I can cite the numbers from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey again, numbers that show we face discrimination at alarming rates in housing, health care, education, employment – basically everywhere. I can talk again about how the discrimination faced by trans women of color is staggering even next to what the rest of the trans community faces. But the numbers can feel too extreme to understand. How do you even make it fit in your mind, that a whole group of people can be treated so inhumanely just for living our genders honestly?
Maybe the “It’s about time” reaction can actually help make this point. We are starting to see some important wins, and they all have that same feeling, like how is it possible this is even an issue? These are the kinds of obstacles we face every day. And we need more actions like the one taken by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology to simply tell people: hey, trans folks are human beings, and should be treated as such.
If you saw the ACOG statement and thought “It’s about time” – what’s the similar action that could be taken in your field? Is it overtly clear that your workplace is an accountable space for trans folks? As in, not only are you willing to hire them but people are educated about how to respect our genders? Is there a service you provide that trans folks might need, but that’s not made explicitly available to us? What can consciousness raising work can you do with the people in your like to change our culture of transphobia? Because when discrimination is the default, you have to actually be proactive. When the assumption is that you’re not welcome in public space, at all, it takes being overt to make change. It’s not enough to simply say treating trans folks like shit is wrong – we need positive action.
Discrimination snowballs – losing employment can lead to losing housing which can lead to the street economy which can lead to prison – this is the reality of many trans people’s lives. But the good news is that social justice works this way too. Every time there’s a win that makes people think, “It’s about time” that sentiment will spread – more people will realize it is about time for trans discrimination to end. But for these “about time” wins to happen, people need to actually take the “no duh” actions like we saw from ACOG.