Abortions - Beyond the Binary
Una Holland is a queer & trans writer, editor, and bookseller. They have a degree in creative writing and women, gender, & sexuality studies and love nothing more than writing and reading about queer rights, sexual health, and bodily autonomy. His work is currently published in odyssey, Unwritten, Sanctuary, Headwaters, ode to Queer, and The YEW Journal.
As a young transgender person, I have felt left out of almost every conversation about the recent historic overturn of Roe v. Wade. If you open up your social media, you’ll likely see all sorts of easy-to-share posts, covered in feminine Venus symbols, with quotes like:
“Women’s Rights are Human Rights”
“Hands Off Women’s Bodies”
“Abortion Is A Woman’s Right”
While there isn’t anything inherently wrong about these statements, it’s useful to think twice about the wording here. Roe v Wade isn't just a women's issue and treating it as such is an injustice. It’s isolating and invalidating to those also affected who are transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming.
Not just cisgender women.
I understand that I do have a uterus, an ‘F’ on my license, and I used to take birth control to prevent pregnancy. However, I am not a woman and thus, I do not have a woman’s body. It’s 2022, and it’s about time we stop equating everyone to the simple ‘M’ and ‘F’ boxes. We have compression tops in Target and companies that will mail you your hormones. So why am I, and other folks like me, being left out of the conversation?
In a country where JK Rowling and her racist, transphobic rhetoric is still supported en masse, where LGBTQ+ folks are unable to talk about their identities, and where dozens of anti-lgbtq bills are attempting to restrict our rights further, I suppose I shouldn’t have expected better. I grew up in North Carolina. I was only 15 when the infamous House Bill 2 forced transgender folks to use public restrooms according to their sex assigned at birth rather than their gender. I saw friends struggle with bullies, was met with transphobia from my school guidance counselors, and was too terrified to come out as trans (to even myself) for years following.
Transgender folks are not safe and not supported enough in this country. More trans people are being murdered every year. Then there’s the performative activism of it all. You’ll have someone post resources and educational graphics all over their instagram stories about trans rights, yet you’d be quick to notice that they have little-to-no trans friends, and much less would never be romantic or intimate with a trans person. We are dehumanized and de-sexualized in the media, bringing us to the crucial intersection of reproductive rights and gender affirming care.
We are sick of the mistreatment.
For cisgender women, deciding whether or not to get an abortion is already a stigmatized and difficult choice to make. However, transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming folks are more heavily judged and questioned for making the same choice. As Courtney Roark, a nonbinary Alabama policy director for the group Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equality (URGE), said, “if you’re trans or nonbinary, you could be having to interact with not only transphobic antiabortionists, but also trans-exclusionary radical feminists. Your world of support gets smaller.”
Every day, trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming folks have to live with this mistreatment, as it further risks not receiving the healthcare they need if they try to correct or argue with their healthcare provider on their identity. In a study aimed to collect data about transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive folks assigned female or intersex at birth, responders frequently mentioned the need for better gender-inclusive language around abortions, within clinics and intake forms. Clinics are crucial for care, not just abortions but for gender affirmating care as well. As the study says, we are an understudied and underserved population, and we need help and support now more than ever.
While I may not have had an abortion before, I have had my own share of pregnancy scares. The chance for me to one day need an abortion is there, especially because my current body weight restricts the effectiveness of over-the-counter medications like Plan B. Roe v. Wade affects me, because I have had to deal with medical mistreatment due to my transness. I have gone to pharmacies for my testosterone prescription, or to my doctor’s office for a check up, and I am repeatedly misgendered, deadnamed, and prodded with invasive questions about my gender identity and bodily changes. At this point, it’s more frustrating having to correct people, because more often than not I end up arguing about my privacy with a stranger. My right to exist as I am is constantly on the line.
This fight is only just beginning.
Roe v. Wade is not the only court case to have given people more rights over their bodies. We need to keep in mind that the Supreme Court will be going after others like Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized the act of sodomy, and Obergefell v. Hodge, which established same-sex couples the right to marry. This fight is only just beginning. I can only hope that the rest of the country will recognize that this is not just about women, but about all of us and our bodily autonomy.
If you want to be an ally and support everyone who is affected by these events, take an extra minute to educate those around you. We are all in this together for reproductive rights, changing our diction is the least we can do to be more inclusive and lead to a better tomorrow.
Join us in fighting back against the attack on uterus owner's bodies and human rights! Check out our Pro Roe collection here. With each purchase you make, 20% of our profits will go directly to Emily's List, an organization creating change by electing more Democratic pro-choice humans to national