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“You’re a mutilated man, that’s all. Self-mutilation…” – Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna Everage)
“A man who gets his dick chopped off is actually inflicting an extraordinary act of violence on himself.” – Germaine Greer
“Some countries require transgender people to undergo sterilization before gaining legal recognition of their gender, a practice that Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment cites as a violation of the Yogyakarta Principles.” – Wikipedia
Can you spot a common theme?
What about this headline?
“Judge: Doctors Have “Religious Freedom” to Refuse to Treat Trans Patients, Women Who’ve Had Abortions” – Headline from Slate.com
There is, I believe, a natural intersection between people who want access to free, safe, legal abortions and members of the transgender community. The biggest, and most obvious, is bodily autonomy. It is about the right to choose what we do with our own bodies.
Trans women are not mutilated men. Gender affirmation surgery is not something to be entered into lightly. It is delicate and complex surgery and, believe you me, any trans person that opts for this surgery is doing it because they have no choice.
They’re doing it because it’s the only way that they will finally feel happy in themselves and with themselves.
Coincidentally, I was asked today (as of the time of writing) by a medical professional if I had considered surgery. The honest answer is yes, I have considered it. And I am still considering it. But it’ll be a year or two down the line before I come to any decision. But it’s there. In the back of my mind. Being mulled over.
It’s not a decision I will make on a whim. It will be a thought out and considered decision. And if it comes to it, if I decide to have the surgery, then it will have been MY decision about MY body. And that’s a right the State denies women and AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) people every day.
“Bodily integrity is the inviolability of the physical body and emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy and the self-determination of human beings over their own bodies.” – Wikipedia
Much has been written, and continues to be written, about Ireland’s abortion laws and the 8th Amendment. I want to come at it, for a moment, from a different angle.
“It’s important to remember that not everyone who gets pregnant is a woman.” – Abortion Rights Campaign website, Ireland.
The above is important. Trans men can become pregnant. Intersex people can become pregnant. Non binary people can become pregnant.
And this brings with it, its own sets of problems, on top of the existing problems that anyone dealing with a crisis pregnancy goes through. A gender non-conforming person who needs to travel might not have their documentation – birth cert, passport, etc. – aligned to their gender identity, making it difficult, if not impossible for them to travel. And that’s assuming they can afford to travel in the first place.
But don’t for one minute think that I’m getting on my high horse because this is an issue that can affect trans people too. It is a much bigger issue than that. This is a fundamental human right that’s being denied to half our population. I will never get pregnant. It will never affect me directly. It may never affect you directly either. But it might affect someone in your life. Your partner, your friend, your sister, your daughter, your trans son.
Our Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, recently remarked that he could remember where he was when he heard that Princess Diana had died. Well, so can I. But I can also remember where I was when I heard that Savita Halappanavar had died. I can remember the sheer cold rage that I felt. I remember yelling “FUCK THIS COUNTRY!” at the car radio. And then, over the coming days as more and more details emerged, I alternated between sorrow and rage at what had happened to her.
There have been many more cases since then and many people have come forward with their own personal and heartbreaking stories. I’m not going to list them here. Those stories are out there and they’re not hard to find. In fact, depressingly, they’re all too common.
On Saturday I will be marching for choice. I will be marching for all who have travelled, all who are travelling, and all who will travel. The 8th Amendment is a stain on this country and I am proud to stand alongside all AFAB people and fight for their right to bodily autonomy, just as I know they would fight for mine.