Since the U.S. Supreme Court effectively overturned the landmark 1973 abortion rights case Roe v. Wade on June 24, activists have cried out in fury over a monumental loss of reproductive rights. Yet their messaging and calls to action too often fail to include trans people, a massive disappointment for a community that needs reproductive health care as much as any.
From pushback on gender-inclusive abortion language to accusations of misogyny when trans people ask to be included in conversations on care, the fight reflects how deeply medical transphobia and trans-exclusionary reproductive activism are entrenched in our country. And because battles for reproductive rights and transgender healthcare are often painted as parallel but separate struggles, trans abortion seekers are often left on the margins.
“It feels like a failure to recognize that trans people need access to healthcare outside of transition-related care,” Oliver Hall, Trans Health Director at Kentucky Health Justice Network, tells Them. “Trans people give birth, trans people get abortions, and trans people need access to birth control.”
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has triggered abortion bans in 13 states that have already gone into effect or will do so in the weeks to follow the ruling. Ten other states have pre-Roe abortion bans that will go into effect now that the ruling has fallen. This leaves all abortion seekers — especially those from exploited communities, like trans people and people of color – more vulnerable in nearly half of the country.
It is no coincidence that legislators in many of these trigger-law states are simultaneously moving to ban HRT treatments and surgeries for trans people, further highlighting that the fights for abortion access and trans healthcare are ultimately rooted in the right to bodily autonomy.
“They’re very fundamentally intertwined, and you cannot think about one without thinking about the other,” Dr. Quinn Jackson, a family physician and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, tells Them. “Anti-abortion legislation and anti-trans legislation are both rooted in this fundamentalist, white supremacist value system that really has no place in medicine.”
Trans people already faced barriers to care. A post-Roe v. Wade landscape will only exacerbate them
Prior to this most recent attack on reproductive rights, trans people already struggled to get access to safe abortions and reproductive healthcare overall due to structural oppression and interpersonal discrimination. “Trans people are more likely to live below the poverty line, more likely to not have access to transportation, and are more likely to face social isolation, so in the case of an outright ban, practical barriers like traveling to another state are even harder,” Hall tells Them.
“That’s really compounded by the discrimination trans people face in healthcare,” Jackson says. Trans people seeking care have long reported facing transphobia at healthcare facilities, ranging from deadnaming and misgendering to physical assault and overall refusal of care. 28% of respondents to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported postponing care because they were scared of mistreatment. “It’s really scary for trans folks to try to access healthcare because we just never know if we’re going to be treated terribly,” Jackson tells Them. This lack of accessible trans-competent care has dire consequences.