As a male-identified being, I often feel – largely appropriately so – ancillary to the conversation about reproductive rights. But as a transgender and gender queer individual, as a queer person, this conversation affects me too.
Many of you know I’m a local Unitarian Universalist minister. But that’s not the capacity I’m writing in here. I’m writing as a member of the community to which I most deeply identify, what most cisgender folks call trans*.
So let’s be clear. I’m someone that looks male but has a uterus. I’m past my childbearing years, and the testosterone I take has effectively ended my ability to reproduce, but for many I know within trans and gender queer community, whether or not to have children is still an open question.
We’re left out of the discussion, bluntly, because of transphobia. People assume there isn’t a ‘man and a woman,’ or a penis and a vagina, and reproduction is off the table. But it’s a whole lot more complicated than that.
Some trans* folks can bear children. Some can’t. But all deserve the same right that cisgender women are fighting for here, the right to have bodily autonomy. To determine when and how and if they will have children.
Before you legislators dismiss this letter entirely, as a fringe statement, think a moment. Do you know that trans* and gender queer folkx are at least 10% of your voting constituency? Do you know or understand what their – our – reproductive freedoms – are or are not?
I’m part of The Woman Project Collaborative because I believe, from the core of my being, about the right to bodily autonomy, to reproductive self-determination. In my opinion, the proposed Reproductive Healthcare Act doesn’t go near far enough, for it leaves my community and so many other marginalized communities exactly where we’ve been for so long. Without equal access, by any means.
But I will continue to fight, to use my voice and my body to protest, knowing that those I am fighting with will continue this battle until bodies are no longer regulated by genitalia, until one’s decision or ability to parent resides the only place it can – with the individual.
- D.L. Helfer
May 31, 2018