On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, we as a nation will be deciding on who will be leading our country into the future for the next 4 years. On the ballot, not only are we deciding on the very ugly presidential question, but in many states there will also be important decisions to make about the future of the transgender community. And in many of these states, the debate about transgender issues, rights, and freedoms has become very heated.
As the founder of TVEN, I feel it would be very wrong for me to try to bias your opinion and choice in any way. Having said that, I will do my best to keep personal opinion out of this post and stick to the issues at hand. So, without further ado, I would like give a brief overview of some of the topics that might be voted upon. Considering this article is being written by a transgender woman, I will do my best to be objective when it comes to offering information about sides of the argument.
I just ask that, regardless of what is said here, and regardless of what everyone else you know is voting for, be true to yourself and vote your own choice.
Just Need to Pee
Out of all of the transgender debates on the ballot this Tuesday, the topics of bathroom usages seems to be the most wildly heated. Some will argue for their side based on predictions of fear and safety for children, while others will argue for their side based on gender identity/expression and personal safety.
For Transgender Usage of Gender Appropriate Bathrooms
Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have historically been excluded from or denied access to public restrooms simply because they/we were not assigned at birth the gender, or non-gender, that they currently identify as. For trans individuals, the right/freedom to use public restrooms that are most appropriate to their gender identity versus their genetic sex, is a matter of more than just personal choice. For trans individuals it is a matter of being in a place where they feel like they belong and where they feel safe to be the gender that they identify with. For trans individuals, this debate is a matter of being safe from persecution, violence, and abuses. For trans individuals, being able to use the restroom that is more applicable to their gender identity is also an acknowledgement that they have been accepted for who they are and not who society may want them to be. The importance of this decision also affects AFAB (assigned female at birth) cisgender women and girls who may not fit a preconceived stereotype of what a female gendered person should look like.
Against Transgender Usage of Gender Appropriate Bathrooms
By far, the largest complaint against trans and gender non-conforming individuals has been for the imagined safety of young girls against becoming the target of a male sexual predator. This imagined fear is based solely on men (not transgender women) dressing in drag and infiltrating the women’s restroom for that purpose. This fear is based in the false belief that transgender women, transgender men, gender non-conforming individuals, and all others under the transgender umbrella are just sexual predators who only want to have sex with children. While I cannot say with 100% certainty that this does not happen, in every state where transgender bathroom usage has been legally approved, there has not been one single reported incident of a transgender individual sexually assaulting anyone of any gender in any public restroom. Those who are against transgender individuals using a public restroom that is appropriate to their gender identity and expression are pushing for enforced gender policing of any individual that does not readily appear to fit a stereotypical description of that binary gender of male or female.
Time for a Check-Up
When it comes to medical transition and care for transgender individuals, the bills can quickly become astronomical, especially for some segments of the transgender population who are currently living on the streets and have no other resources by which to support themselves. Hormone treatments alone can reach into the hundreds every month, and this doesn’t even include lab work or any other medically necessary medical or surgical procedures . . . often referred to as Gender Affirmation Surgeries.
For Transgender Healthcare Coverage
Transgender individuals who decide that medical transition is right for them are often immediately confronted with one very large problem. The price! There is the cost of psychology appointments, doctor check-ups, lab work, hormones, hair removal, breast augmentation/removal, gender affirmation surgeries, facial feminization surgeries . . . and that is just the short list. Proponents of the approval of this legislation argue that these medical procedures, many of them currently available and covered for cisgender men and women, should be covered by health insurance and that medical and psychology staffs should have a appropriate education and and counseling on how to compassionately treat transgender patients. For transgender individuals who decide that medical transition is right for them, some or all of these medical procedures become medically necessary even though the procedures themselves are currently classified as cosmetic (breast augmentation) or elective (breast removal). Transgender patients request that these surgeries be re-classified as medically necessary (for some transgender individuals, the medical procedures can mean the difference between life and death).
Against Transgender Healthcare Coverage
Those who oppose transgender healthcare coverage only point out that the costs for these procedures can be expensive (full electrolysis of the face and neck for transgender women can reach as high as $20,000) and that most of it is currently considered cosmetic or elective surgery. These opponents also attempt to argue that being transgender is purely a matter of choice vs. being an unchangeable part of the person’s gender identity. These individuals and groups argue that since (as they believe) being transgender is only a matter of choice then there is no need to re-classify these procedures as medically necessary.
Get Out & Vote
Now that you have heard my two cents on the matter, I encourage you to investigate these issues for yourself so that you can make an informed decision free from bias and mis-information. Whether you are going to polls in person or mailing in your ballot, educate yourself about the issues and vote your heart. Every state and principality within these United States of America may have different rules and regulations about voting procedure, it helps to be aware of them before going to your polling locating. And if you do go to a polling location, be aware of your rights and please do everything you can to stay safe as it is a good possibility that there may be individuals and groups there who may try to intimidate and/or harm you in order to get you not to vote.
Offered in Love,
Transgender Visibility &