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re: A slippery slope: abortion now, what next?

This article was written at the end of Spring 2022 in response to a Carletonian Viewpoint regarding Roe v. Wade. The Carletonian has decided to publish it despite the delay due to the continuing relevance of Roe v. Wade.

To wit: I do not take issue with the opinion in A slippery slope: abortion now, what next? that the imminent fall of Roe v. Wade is catastrophic for cisgender women, particularly for those living in poverty, who aren’t white and/or who are living in abusive situations.

I do take issue with the claim that men “will never be in a position to understand what a choice like abortion would feel like.” Trans men exist. Some genderqueer and non-binary people are capable of getting pregnant. I don’t write about this as a theoretical idea — I am a trans man, and a survivor of assault. The imminent formal destruction of Roe v. Wade is my worst nightmare.

As tempting as snappy euphemisms like “a woman’s right to choose” are, abortion does not only affect women. Such framing draws this debate over dangerous lines: it perpetuates the deadly ignorance that has been weaponized, time and time again, against all trans and non-binary people previously assigned female at birth who seek reproductive healthcare. This isn’t a language issue. We can’t talk honestly and inclusively about abortion with only a token mention of trans people. To understand the anti-abortion movement,we must confront what Roe’s fall means for trans people and the ongoing attacks against trans people’s right to exist.

Banning abortion is the embodiment of Evangelical Christianity’s threat and promise. A promise to return gender-marginalized people — cis and trans women, trans men, non-binary and genderqueer people, all of us — to biblically-ordained roles. The movement to ban abortion is misogynistic to the core, meant to leave us in false, restrictive ideas of gender.

This threat is doubly deadly for trans people. In addition to the usual dangers of pregnancy, we can’t remain on hormone therapy during pregnancy. We often must either be misgendered by our doctors or face the deadly consequences when everything from abortion to pap smears to even menstruation products have been deemed “women’s healthcare” and thus off-limits to us.

I invite anyone reading this to imagine yourself in my shoes for a moment: The world is telling you that you’re delusional, that you’re dead to them, that you don’t exist and your healthcare provider can’t conceive of your existence.

Meanwhile, when conservatives and transphobes do bother to remember that trans men exist, it is to tell people like me that I am destroying my own body, that I’m a confused teenage girl who should stop fighting benevolent society trying to make my decisions for me and — more recently — that as a victim and perpetrator of “gender ideology,” I am a danger to children.

This doesn’t solely stem from right-wing politicians and media figures. Most infamously, J.K. Rowling’s violently transphobic essays have been repeatedly cited by American and British politicians during recent legislative sessions as she leverages her influence to paint trans people as a societal threat and restrict access to trans healthcare.

The argument against abortion follows similar patterns as current genocidal transphobic rhetoric. The moment a person is pregnant, the moment a person declares that they are queer, they lose the right to self-determination, the belief that no one has the right to demand more of another’s body than that person is willing to give.

The high correlation between abortion bans and anti-trans laws is no accident. In a post-Obergefell world, the right wing made trans people the boogeyman. This is in part because if we can decide what to do with our bodies, what’s stopping cis women from deciding whether they want to remain pregnant?

For God’s sake, Montana has recently declared it will ignore a direct court order and refuse trans people the right to update their birth certificates’ accuracy, in defiance of every judicial principle this country is supposedly built on [Editor’s Note: As of September 2022, Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services has now indicated they will comply with this court order]. To pretend that trans people don’t exist in a time like this gives anti-choice politicians exactly what they want.

Texas is actively prosecuting the parents of trans children, three states have bans on transition through the age of eighteen and two states are debating raising the age of transition to 25 years old. Don’t Say Gay laws, bathroom bills, girls’ athletics bills and laws mandating outing of students by teachers have been debated in all fifty states, and multiple states have passed at least one of them. Trans women, particularly trans women of color and those involved in sex work, have seen already sky-high rates of murder spike in the last five years.

To ignore the existence of trans people, to ignore the cis (mostly white) anti-choice women in favor of claiming that people like me, who are men, “could never know what it’s like,” to play into deadly gender essentialism, is an inadequate response to the misogynistic cruelty and selfishness that characterizes American fascism.

To circle back to the headline of the (original) article, “what next?” Thirty-two states still have statutes against gay marriage if Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) is overturned. Twelve states have anti-sodomy laws that will again be enforced if Lawrence v. Texas (2003) is nullified. Justice Alito explicitly cited Obergefell v. Hodges and Griswold v. Connecticut with mentions of Loving v. Virginia and Lawrence v. Texas to tell us exactly how much further they’ll go if given the chance. Alito and Thomas were even part of the dissent for Obergefell in 2015.

When the opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) is returned in June, Casey and Roe will be struck down, states will begin to enforce unprecedented laws that ban abortion before anyone could know they’re pregnant, without exception for assault or incest or abuse, and to put people who miscarried on trial for murder. We will be in a darker nightmare than a pre-Roe world ever imagined.

I am not above begging cisgender people to care and stand in solidarity with us. Not when there is no “what may happen.” You say to worry about what comes next, and I’m telling you that the trans community has an answer and is begging you to listen: We are already here.

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