White Feminism Won't Cut It
by Mandi Moon | published Nov. 30th, 2016
In the turbulent days since the election of the Trump-Pence duo to the highest office in the land, there has been a lot of concern among liberals about — well, basically everything, but I'm going to specifically talk about access to healthcare for women and minorities. The new administration aims to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare, and Pence specifically has a history of trying to restrict reproductive rights via the defunding of Planned Parenthood. As a woman who highly values the right to have a say in what happens to my own body, this is incredibly disturbing to me, not least because I know that it will make access to birth control and other healthcare services extremely difficult for women, especially those in lower income levels.
However, there is something incredibly important missing from these concerns: the rights of transgender people to expert, reliable healthcare. We don't want to fall into the trap that so many of our feminist predecessors have fallen into and forget the issues that are faced by other communities that are equally or more disenfranchised than the rest of us. White Feminism is real and has caused the feminist community to let down some of those whom it claims to raise up more often than any of us would like to admit. If we don't want to be hypocrites when we fight for equality, we need to include and fight for the rights of minority women and trans people in our campaign for equal and sufficient rights, including the right to access to healthcare.
There are as many as 700,000 transgender people in the U.S., and they have faced persecution and discrimination for decades upon decades, especially when trying to receive transition-related medical care. Of these 700,000 people, one in five has been refused medical care because of their identity as of 2011. That statistic goes up to 25 percent of transgender people who are currently incarcerated — which is about 19 percent of all trans women, but closer to 60 percent of all minority trans women. Transgender people are more likely to contract HIV, and are less likely to benefit from pre-cancer screenings than the rest of the population. Then, if they manage to get a healthcare professional to treat them, there is a 29 percent chance that they will have to teach their own doctor about trans health issues.
If the Trump administration repeals the Affordable Care Act, besides the fact that about 20 million people will lose their health insurance, transgender people will lose legislation that makes it illegal for healthcare providers to a) discriminate based on sex or perceived sex, including in cases where a trans man needs a hysterectomy or other "gender-specific" procedure; b) exclude or limit medical transition care from insurance coverage; and c) overcharge or deny a person insurance coverage based on their status as a transgender individual.
Basically, Obamacare makes it impossible for healthcare and insurance providers to refuse to help transgender people to transition — which the American Medical Association has determined is medically necessary — or from receiving necessary medical care that may not align with their gender post-transition. Trump and Pence want to do away entirely with this piece of legislation, which would be a huge blow to the progress we have made in the right direction in regards to medical care for trans people.
While we donate to Planned Parenthood in Pence's name just to spite him, protest the restriction of access to healthcare, hope that Europe doesn't totally abandon us out of disgust and try to figure out how to understand and get through to the people who feel so threatened by the country's progress that they elected an angry orange reality television "star" to the presidency, it is vital that we fight for the rights of every group that is going to be irreparably hurt by the coming administration. We can't just focus on our own issues; we have to do this together. We owe it to all the groups we have failed in the past.