It’s time to talk about some troubles that transgender people face


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Morgana Carroll, Columnist

I’m not gonna lie, I was a little scared coming into this piece. While over time society becomes more and more accepting of different identities, there is still some stigma around talking about one’s experiences in a negative light. There is a definite fear that the common response to this will be along the lines of “You only look at the negative experiences you have,” and “You’re just looking for an excuse to complain.”

Something I want to get out of the way before this starts is that I love being transgender. I love being able to embrace my gender identity. I love the friends and community it’s brought me. I love the perspective it’s given me towards the constructs society has made that we so strictly follow. I wouldn’t stop being trans for anything. 

I purchased a pronoun pin to help remind people that I’m a woman. I can’t blame them for not always remembering, especially when some of them don’t interact with me on a daily basis. But it’s so demoralizing that I need to take the effort to go “Ahem, hold on, look at the pin!” That’s not to say I don’t try to present as feminine, I wear my cute little sweaters. But it can be hard to control things like stubble and my voice, and I don’t feel comfortable enough with my legs to wear a skirt or a dress, so to some people it seems that I don’t present as feminine enough to be a woman in their eyes. 

I recently applied for a retail job, and I lied about who I was because I was scared of employment descrimination. I’ve had friends and acquaintances who have been denied jobs or have been fired after coming out, and let’s face it, we live in rural Washington. Not to mention, I haven’t changed my name on any of my state IDs yet, and I don’t look that feminine since I haven’t started Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

HRT is a whole different discussion. HRT can be difficult to get.  While Informed Consent Clinics center themselves around not requiring it, a lot of healthcare providers and clinics require you to get a mental health screening before getting HRT for transitioning. This is especially frustrating since cisgendered people don’t need such checks for hormones. Hormones can be really easy to get for cisgendered people. Men can say they are suffering from low testosterone count and women can get hormones for birth control. I’m not saying that those aren’t valid reasons. I don’t want to advocate for anything that would restrict womens’ birth control, but it’s really one-sided. It’s so hard to get hormones for trans people. It’s really dehumanizing to have to get a mental health screening, as if we’re some specimen that needs approval.

All gender affirming healthcare is harder to get for trans people. A woman can say she wants to get her breasts removed because she is afraid of breast cancer and she won’t run into many problems getting that done (again valid, and I wouldn’t want to have that ease taken away). A trans man wants to get his breast removed and suddenly there are more hoops to jump through. 

For these forms of healthcare the bar for entry is just way harder to reach, and patients can fall prey to discrimination. For gender affirming care and surgeries, a lot of clinics and providers require a mental health check to “prove” that you’re trans enough to get the care. People need to realize there is no guarantee that the person doing the evaluation or anyone involved in the process won’t discriminate against you for personal reasons. Needing to “prove” that you’re trans enough to get that care is so demoralizing. It really does feel like you’re being told “dance, monkey, dance.”I can’t help but imagine an old timey James Bond villain sitting in a fancy chair, saying “Prove to me that you’re trans enough and maybe I’ll consider letting you have a drop of estrogen.”

So when I don’t present as feminine enough, some people don’t take me seriously as a woman. They think that I’m faking, trending or my femininity isn’t valid enough in their eyes for them to see me as a woman. The procedures that I am actively trying to take that would allow me to perform that femininity is hard for me to achieve due to barriers in place by higher powers. This doesn’t even address the fact that I shouldn’t need to perform to every individual’s idea of what gender should be. A lot of people don’t want to fully perform to the gender they are whether they are trans or not, and that doesn’t make them any less valid.

Don’t allow me to be the only opinion of these issues that you hear, but please go talk to other transgender people. Listen to transgender people. Become friends with transgender people. Don’t let my disembodied voice in the form of a newspaper opinion column be the only context you have for the transgender experience, because there is likely someone close to you who is transgender or who is questioning their gender right now.

Photo by Medgirl131 / CC BY 4.0