Attacks on Both Gender Affirming Care and Abortion
As of January 26, 2023, an unsettling number of 76 pieces of anti-trans healthcare legislation have been introduced throughout the United States and these bills are moving fast. Utah just passed a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, which not only prohibits surgeries for children seeking to transition, but also hormone therapy for minors who are not already diagnosed with gender dysphoria or not already receiving care. Mississippi’s ban, similar to Utah’s, will pass into law this week, and Missouri and North Dakota also plan to pass similar bans in the near future. In Missouri, a hearing was called on eight different anti-trans bills with just 24 hours’ notice. On the same day, the same process unfolded in North Dakota. While not all of the introduced bills will become law, they are evidence that transphobic rhetoric is being written into law by legislators who are refusing to listen to the expertise of medical providers and the lived experiences of trans people, youth, and their families.
Attacks on gender-affirming care arise out of the same playbook as attacks on abortion access.
Limits and bans on gender-affirming care are dangerous. Transgender and gender-diverse people should have access to all available life-saving treatments that will affirm their gender identity including social support, mental health care, pubertal blockers, gender-affirming hormones, or gender-affirming procedures. The decision, if and when, to begin gender affirmation is a personal decision that should be made without political interference and in consultation with the people they trust. Protecting gender-affirming care is protecting bodily autonomy which, unfortunately, is why attacks on this critical health care are playing out very similarly to attacks on abortion access.
So, why does this all really, really matter?
This is a huge intersectional problem. Attacks on gender-affirming care arise out of the same playbook as attacks on abortion access. Bans on abortion and gender affirming care access are rooted in the same systems of oppression and white supremacy that serve to control those disproportionally affected by these bans: Black, Indigenous, people of color, immigrant communities, young people, and LGBTQ+ people. Legislators seek to criminalize those who need access to essential health care: both gender-affirming care and abortion. This includes instilling fear of criminalization in health care providers, who provide these types of care to their patients. Both bans on gender-affirming care and abortion access also undermine the universal human truth that everyone should have the autonomy to make their own decisions about their bodies and how to live their lives. These bans limit certain groups of people from receiving care, and both deal with interstate travel issues, where people have to travel out of their state to receive the care they need, if they are even able to do so. While we see the tree and the branches that result in the legalization of bodily control and coercion, the root is ultimately white supremacy and the desire of those in power to ensure that they stay in power.
No matter what form these attacks have taken, one thing is true – they are attempts to control and restrict bodily autonomy. The struggle for trans rights and reproductive justice are forever interconnected. At PRH, we are committed to the fight for liberation for all people and for all people to be able to make their own decisions about their own lives, on their own timelines, and in consultation with their loved ones and medical providers. This moment is hard, but we are glad to be in solidarity with grassroots advocates, organizations, and medical providers to build the future that our communities deserve.
By: Kenyatta Thomas, State Communications Strategist & Meera Rajput, If/When/How Reproductive Justice Federal Fellow