Like I needed another reason to be afraid to go to the doctor.
I’ve often spoken about the Trump administration’s new branch of Health and Human Services dubbed the “New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” and its intent to excise LGBT+ Americans from the mainstream healthcare system or obstruct our access to it.
I’ve also openly discussed the anxiety inducing experience of going to a physician or hospital where we, as transgender people, must allow ourselves to be vulnerable in order to get better. In such an personal setting, wherein we find ourselves placing our physical well-being in the hands of someone who may or may not have a prejudice toward us, a simple visit to a doctor becomes an emotionally exhausting event. Many of us have seen doctors for issues or concerns unrelated to our gender and found ourselves in a room with a tightly wound, middle aged, visibly nervous carer who won’t come within arms reach. I’ve had doctors never touch me- not even to conduct traditional, run-of-the-mill diagnostic tests such as listening to my heart with a stethoscope, tapping my kneecap to test my reflexes or look into my ears or throat. These are routine processes of any check up.
Trans people have died from illnesses that could have been prevented or treated because of their inherent fear of seeking help from a medical professional. We fear judgement, persecution, even humiliation as we place ourselves at the mercy of a medical caregiver who may have an immediate bias the second they walk through the door. We experience this in all areas of social integration- whether it’s at school, our place of work, a local bar, institutions of worship or trying on clothes in a department store, we as trans+ people have been forced to be hyper vigilant in order to self preserve. One might even say we’ve had to develop a sixth sense. An asset to our survival can be our ability to sense someone else’s unspoken discomfort or tempered disgust provoked by our mere presence in their company. We can read a person or situation better than the Long Island Medium. Our culture has demonstrated to my community over and over that the privileges straight, white, cigender people take for granted are not intended for us- the “othered.”
Many LGBT folks and people of color have stood before a judge with that bias; Many of us have had a teacher with that bias, or worked beneath a supervisor with that bias, or been pulled over by a cop with that bias. Far to many of us have been born into a family with that bias. Whether it is motivated by religion, the passing down of toxic systems of belief or consuming the opinions of others and accepting it has gospel, it has resulted in our isolation and the deterioration of our quality of life, our ability to thrive and be productive in a society that champions our rejection and dehumanizing. We’ve seen people like us killed while murderers walks free. We’ve seen people laugh and cheer and we’re mocked and degraded. While we are allowed our pride week, we still have to watch ignorance on parade ever single day of our lives.
My therapist once asked me if my emotional struggles were the result of coming to terms with my gender identity.
“No.” I said matter-of-factly. “The erosion of my mental health is the result of how I have been treated by those who refuse to allow me to exist unchallenged.”
Those people responsible have never been held accountable for the damage they incur on LGBT+ people. They aren’t asked to be held responsible for their behavior wherein their duties to us as professionals are impeded by their bigotry. No one has bothered asking why.
That’s how we got here.
That is why we have an administration that advocates for the inevitable genocide of my community. It may not be gas chambers this time, but instead by leveraging the legal system, the education system, the medical institution to allow those in power to drive us into darkness and embolden the hatred expressed by those who wield it. My community experiences a disproportionate number of murders and suicide. Prisons are populated, in some stated, by 70% black men who will never be allowed to reintegrate into society even after released due to the stigma. They can’t get a job. They can’t get a loan. They don’t qualify for benefits to get back on their feet. They can’t even vote. The system relies on their return to prison, not their recovery, redemption or success.
This is deliberate.
Now that medical caregivers can refuse us basic healthcare treatment citing their religion or moral conscience, more transgender people will die. This is a deterrent for us; Something else to advertise with gleeful authority that we are not human. It comes on the heels of the Trump administrations 3 year war on minorities- Trans people, people of color, immigrants, muslims, people of non-christian faith as geriatric Republicans with antiquated world views attempt to reshape American into their image. White, wealthy, straight, christian. No one else matters. The rest of us our disposable.
Trans people are just the first to find ourselves in their direct fire, eve though people of color in large communities have had their votes tossed and even been arrested for trying to vote in a democratic election. None of those responsible were asked why. But it is transgender Americans, some who served in the military before the trans ban, some who just need a flu shot, that are walking around with a bullseye on our backs. I know we’re not alone; We’e not the only community they’re severing the rights from; Whose existence they’re erasing. We’re just the smallest, easiest community to start with. We’re the experiment. When Trump and his appointed cronies see how far they can get while the est f the world says silent or, at best, indifferent to our politicized destruction, they’re laying the groundwork for which community they’ll take down next. Black and brown folks and gay rights.
Now, can we be afraid? Can we angry without being ridiculed or accused of suffering from “Trump derangement Syndrome?” Can we not be accused of lacking a sense of humor as people make jokes at our expense as if that’s hat we’re here for- your entertainment as you watch us being stoned in the town square?
Upside down world, backward morals. Everything is wrong with this. There is not one rational or logical explanation for the onslaught of domestic attacks launched against us by a government standing on “We, the People.” conservatives have distorted that in to “We, the People Only Like Us.”
The consequences to this are grave. People will suffer. Good people- not the tiki torch carrying white nationalists chanting “Jews Will Not replace Us” that the President adores, but we Americans who just want to live our lives and contribute. We have no one advocating for us in government now. We have no high-powered ally punching back at Trump and his gang of thugs in our name. We have to sit back and accept that this is what out live will be like.
This is sadly the hill many of those who came before us died on. Pioneers of the LGBT+ movement and Black leaders formative to civil rights like Martin Luther King didn’t die so this could be our future. They wanted for us what had been denied them. They fought, they sacrificed so we might not have to.
And all it took was Donald Trump to lure all that rage and white, heterosexual, cisgender fear of sharing space out the shadows of shame and hand them the power to influence our lives our safety in an increasingly violent society and his notorious abusing of government henchmen to disrupt the promise of a hopeful future.
Now, here’s what needs to happen: Medical caregivers with these prejudices should be required to be transparent and disclose this information visibly in their office and website. “This office does not provide care for Gay/Transgender/Jewish/ Muslim Patients.” At minimum, we targeted Americans should be equipped with the information necessary to maintain some dignity and ensure our safety rather than risk becoming the victim of government authorized abuse or negligence resulting from retaliatory behavior from a radical with a degree. We deserve to know where we are safe, and in terms of our tedious task of seeking healthcare, where we are welcome. Require these “care”givers to out themselves instead of letting them potentially hurt innocent people with no consequence.
This is a sad day for transgender Americans… but we are the canary in the mine. We have stopped singing. The climate is now deadly, and if you’re not one of them, you won’t be handed a mask either.
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