Day of Action: Stop Medical Oppression of Trans* Communities
I’ll be the first to admit that I have high standards. A cupcake shop recently opened up in my city, and I finally got to stop by. I took a bite and got a wash of disappointment from the flavorless, cake-mix mound in my hands. I knew it seemed silly to be so upset over a cupcake, but if I’m going to spend $2.50 on a cupcake, it better be a fucking awesome cupcake. If I’m going to spend time, energy, and money on something, it better be worth it. Same goes with life, if someone is going to try to give something to me, I’ll only take it if it is worth taking; if I’m going to live my life, I’m going to make it worth living.
Trans* gets dressed up a lot now days, from Chaz Bono to TV characters, the public is becoming more and more interested in our community, one way or another. And as conversations about trans* identities grow, what isn’t being said is one of the most important issues we face; the fact that around the world trans* and gender variant people are considered to be mentally ill. We are told we have Gender Identity Disorders (GID), a disempowering system that promotes the continual stigmitization of mental health variance and the pathologization of difference. The result is a continual lack of access, safety, education, and inclusion on a global scale. After 30 years a growing outcry from trans* and non -trans* communities have pushed medical and social organizations to slowly, but surely, denounce GID. Last month the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) relaxed the Standards of Care for trans patients in an attempt to minimize pathologization and increase access; a significant change but not a solution. In 2012, the global psychiatric community plans to maintain trans* people’s place in the list of mental health conditions through a revised version of GID called Gender Dysphoria (or Gender Incongruence -see also GD in Children) and an even more problematic version of Transvestic Disorder. WPATH quotes these changes as “a step in the right direction” but to me, and for many others, a step in the right direction is not enough movement. At this point, we are beyond taking steps. We are ready for a jump. I know what you’re thinking – we can’t just jump in unprepared, and I agree. The truth is that we are prepared. We have been working internationally to create policies to medicalize care and provide regulation, accessibility, and safety for a new age of trans* health.
This is about more than health care; This is an issue about quality of life; about respect, justice, and humanity. It is about the fact that trans* people are not allowed to be ourselves without the consent of someone else. We recognize ‘my body, my choice’ in terms of reproductive rights, but it is not only there that the phrase is relevant. I know that members of the medical and psychological community mean well, but just as good intentions don’t make a delicious cupcake, they also are not capable of keeping me safe or labeling me sane. I have many mental health conditions, my trans identity is not one of them. I have high standards, and I refuse to be treated less than because my identity is not considered “normal.” If society gives me something that I’m not satisfied with, I have the right to ask for my (metaphorical) money back. Today, October 22nd, is an international day of action to Stop Trans* Pathologization. If you have never talked about trans* pathologization before, start today. Tell your friends, your partner(s), your family; ask your physicians if they support accessible health care for trans* people, educate yourself and others on the need for change. This shackle on the trans* community influences us all. Stand up with us.