TransLash’s Trans-Affirming Guide to Roe v. Wade

After an unplanned pregnancy and unsuccessful Plan B contraceptive, Jack Qu’emi (they/them) sought abortion access in central Florida. Their story highlights the need for care providers to include trans and TGNC patients in their understanding of reproductive access.

The Supreme Court overturned the federal right to an abortion on June 24, 2022, effectively blocking abortion access in roughly half the states where there are laws––already on the books or proposed––to end the practice. This move sets back a half century of progress for reproductive justice, body autonomy, and possibly puts even the right to privacy in jeopardy. Because these issues are at the very heart of the transgender community, Team TransLash will continue to update this guide with details of the outcome.

Background: on May 2, 2022, POLITICO leaked a draft opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. In it, Alito argues for an end to Roe v. Wade and its privacy protections. Many conservative states prepared years in advance for such an opinion and have “trigger laws” that will ban abortion within their states the moment Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Because the Supreme Court decided to overturn the decades-long ruling this week, abortion rights will be left up to states, many of which have already passed laws to ban abortion immediately.

A 2021 study of transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive people in the United States shows that out of 1694 respondents who were <30 years of age, 210 respondents (12%) had been pregnant. These 210 reported 433 total pregnancies, of which 92 (21%) ended in abortion. Of the 1694 participants, 76 people (36% of those ever pregnant) reported considering trying to end a pregnancy on their own without clinical supervision, and a subset of these (19% of those ever pregnant) reported attempting to do so.

“We have to recognize that this decision will impact trans folks,” Alexis Rangel, policy counselor at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) said. “Particularly trans men and nonbinary folks who need access to reproductive healthcare and abortion specifically.”

In an interview with Forbes, TransLash Media founder Imara Jones explains the nuanced factors of why abortion is an issue for transgender and gender non-conforming people:

In [the people who oppose abortion rights’] world view, the problem embodied by replacement theory and driving that conspiracy is, in part, immigration, and then the fact that not enough white people are having babies. And so the way that you fix that is by eliminating abortion and initiating conversion therapy to stop people from being gay and trans, and you stop allowing people to talk about it. And thirdly, you stop this trans thing. For them, those three things together allows them to fix this problem of white people being in a diminishing majority. That’s what’s happening. And so, they’ve operationalized it through this backlash that is both coordinating and learning from the abortion movement. And it’s the exact same groups.

Imara jones, translash media

The Food and Drug Administration changed its regulations in December 2021 to allow abortion pills to be sent by mail, but at least 19 states have bans on getting the pills delivered by mail or via telehealth, passing laws requiring a medical clinician to be physically present when abortion pills are administered to a patient: Republicans in South Dakota, Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee and Oklahoma have moved to further restrict access to abortion pills in recent months.

The implications of a negative Roe V. Wade decision on trans men and those who are nonbinary are devastating: as explained by OutCare, a culture advocating forced birth is difficult. What will happen when trans and nonbinary people lose access to birth control or elective hysterectomies? Will people lose access to hormone therapy? Will they be excluded from discussions about reproductive health, and how will the loss of Roe impact them?

Many trans men and nonbinary people say they feel left out of the abortion conversation. Team TransLash created this trans-affirming guide to Roe v. Wade to help you make sense of what is happening and what you can do to access resources and fight back.

WHAT IS ROE V. WADE?

Roe v. Wade is the name of the lawsuit that led to the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The majority opinion found an absolute right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Jane Roe was a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey, who was 22, unmarried, unemployed and pregnant for the third time in 1969 when she sought to have an abortion in Texas. By the time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in her favor, McCorvey had given birth to a girl whom she placed for adoption.

Henry Wade was the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas. It was his job to enforce a state law prohibiting abortion except to save a woman’s life, so he was the person McCorvey sued when she sought the abortion.

Roe v. Wade has been the focus of anti-abortion groups since the opinion came down in 1973, but the history of the movement started more than a century before Roe, with roots in British common law

At the time of Roe, abortion was broadly legal in just four states and allowed under limited circumstances in 16 others. Constitutional rights trump state laws, so the court’s decision nullified the bans in the remaining 30 states.

WHY IS ROE V. WADE IMPORTANT TO TRANSGENDER PEOPLE?

Now is the time for the larger progressive movement to connect the struggles for LGBTQIA people and reproductive rights more deeply, especially for those who are transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary.

As Imara Jones wrote for LGBTQ Nation, trans people get pregnant. Trans people need abortions. Trans people deserve access to culturally competent medical care. Trans people must have the freedom to live––something that is currently under unprecedented direct attack through hundreds of pieces of legislation across the country. Despite all of this, trans people have been marginalized in the mainstream fight over body autonomy. That must end.

The right wing mainstays of the anti-abortion movement, including The Heritage Foundation, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Liberty Council are at the forefront of the anti-trans movement, especially the ability for trans people–including children–to have equal access to health care (learn more via our podcast limited series, The Ant-Trans Hate Machine).

Many trans rights advocates say that because the transgender community can often only get safe and inclusive care at clinics that provide abortions, restricting them impacts overall health care. This is why many leaders of diverse backgrounds are looking at the intersection of reproductive rights and gender-affirming healthcare

Now––more than ever––is the time for people of all genders to fight to protect abortion rights for all: cisgender women, trans men, nonbinary folks, and gender non-conforming people.

WATCH TRANSLASH CONTENT 

Trans Bodies, Trans Choices Films

On March 14, 2022, TransLash Media launched a three-part video series called Trans Bodies, Trans Choices, in which transgender people speak out about their abortion experiences. Three short films were released, featuring a trans person telling their own abortion story. The videos not only highlight the variety of experiences trans people have, but the challenges they may face navigating a system set up largely for cisgender people (learn more in this Teen Vogue article).

ABORTION RESOURCES FOR TRANSGENDER & TGNC PEOPLE

What You Can Do

  • Here’s a map of abortion rallies taking place nationwide.
  • Sign on and Demand #AbortionWithinReach: Abortion funds have come together to deliver an unprecedented bold statement, explicitly identifying what it means for abortion to be truly accessible for our callers. As we shine a light on these demands, we also want to spotlight independent clinics, who are our partners on the front lines giving support and care to abortion seekers. Independent clinics perform the majority of abortions in the U.S., and show up big as plaintiffs in the monumental cases of the past few years. 
  • Expand the Supreme Court & Save Abortion Rights. Sign the petition here.
  • Urge federal elected officials to end the Hyde Amendment, the Global Gag Rule, and the Helms Amendment. Learn more and take action to expressly urge support for the EACH Act, the Global Health, Empowerment, & Rights Act, and the Abortion is Healthcare Everywhere Act
  • Invest in abortion clinics, especially community-led health care facilities. 
  • Talk about abortion! Change culture and shift stigma through powerful, values-based conversations. We believe dialogue, storytelling, and intentional conversations are powerful tools to organize and strengthen our movement. This guide for heart-to-heart abortion conversations from NNAF   and this toolkit from Chicago Abortion Fund will support you to hold a small group gathering, house party, or action space where you can invite your friends, family, and acquaintances into meaningful conversations about abortion, issues that relate to abortion, and why you support abortion funds.
  • Support the Black reproductive justice policy agenda, which outlines proactive policy solutions to address issues at the intersections of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and gender identity within the situational impacts of economics, politics and culture that make up the lived experiences of Black women, femmes, girls and gender-expansive individuals in the United States.
  • Invest in long-term sustainable models of care that supplement existing structures of support and center the expertise of those who have been laying this groundwork for years so that communities have reliable support systems that contribute to one’s current and future ability to thrive. 
  • We urge all individuals knowledgeable about a person’s reproductive choices to make a commitment to not – under any circumstances – punish, criminalize or report any person for any pregnancy decision or seeking medical assistance for a decision. This includes abortion funders, public health authorities, clinicians, law enforcement, prosecutors, and community members.

Getting an Abortion

  • Under 18 and need an abortion + free legal representation for judicial bypass? Call or text Jane’s Due Process: 1-866-999-5263
  • The National Network of Abortion Funds connects abortion seekers with grassroots organizations that can support financial and logistical needs here.
  • Here are tips on how to choose a good abortion provider and questions to ask a clinic.
  • The Brigid Alliance arranges and funds travel, along with related needs, to support individuals across the country who are forced to travel for later abortion care. 

For Clinicians and Providers

Trans-Affirming Abortion Articles, Research, and Essays

Pregnancy Resources for TGNC People

Did you find this resource helpful? Consider supporting TransLash today with a tax-deductible donation.

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