Abortion Isn't Only About Women

·3 min read
Photo:  Ty O’Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket (Getty Images)
Photo: Ty O’Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket (Getty Images)

It’s an unfortunate reality that violence against trans and gender non-conforming people in this country appears to be rising. Last year was the deadliest year on record for transgender and non-binary folk in the United States.

Even children’s events like drag queen story hour aren’t safe from people who find anyone who doesn’t conform to strict gender norms a threat.

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But for some reason, in the midst of all of this violence and hate, there are people who say that including transgender and non-binary folks in the struggle for reproductive freedom is a step too far.

They think that somehow if we don’t pretend that only women get abortions, we’ll forever lose the fight over gender equality. (No, I will not be tagging transphobes here).

But I’d like to offer a different theory of the case. What if instead of seeing liberation as a zero-sum game, we thought of it as a collective struggle where the most marginalized among us might actually have an even greater stake in this fight than we do.

Because transgender men and non-binary folks aren’t just our allies in the battle for reproductive justice, they’re on the front lines.

When Roe v. Wade was overturned, people who had the greatest difficulty accessing health care were the most impacted. Ask anyone whose Trans (or better yet, read reporting from folks like Orion Rummler at the 19th news) about how hard it is to get health care when you’re trans, and you’ll get why.

More than half of transgender folks in a Center for American Progress study reported not receiving necessary medical care because they couldn’t afford it the year prior.

Two-thirds of transgender adults worry that their health care evaluations are impacted by their gender and sexual identity, according to CAP. And 20 percent of trans folks reported not having anywhere to get health care. Many of these disparities are only heightened for transgender people of color.

A 2017 study from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health care research firm, found that less than a quarter of abortion facilities provided transgender-specific care.

Geography also plays a part here. In the United States, transgender folks disproportionately live in the south, where the majority of abortion bans have emerged since the court overturned Roe.

So when Roe fell, trans and non-binary folks concentrated in states hostile to abortion, who in many cases couldn’t afford medically necessary care, were somehow expected to afford to travel hundreds of miles out of state for abortion care. A task only made more difficult by the fact that most abortion providers don’t provide transgender-specific care.

I said it once and I’ll say it again, this is not and never has been a zero-sum game. Many of the same things preventing cis women from getting abortion care impact trans and non-binary folks ten times over, especially if they’re Black or Brown.

So we can fight against the folks who know better than anyone what it feels like to be denied the care they need, or we can accept that our struggles are collective and so is our liberation.