NEWS

How Abortion Bans Impact the Transgender Community

Planned Parenthood leads the New York City Pride Parade on June 26, 2022 in New York City

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The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has sent shockwaves through the country. Many are afraid and confused about what their futures will hold.

Despite the huge response to such a landmark decision, one particular group of potentially-affected people hasn’t been discussed much. That group is transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals with uteruses.

“Trans men and nonbinary folks who were assigned female at birth are worried about their healthcare and access to abortion,” Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD, Chief Medical Officer at The Jed Foundation, a nonprofit for teen and young adult emotional health, told Verywell. Erickson-Schroth is also the editor of “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves.”

“The inability to obtain an abortion in some states will mean that some people will have to carry pregnancies they don’t want. But this decision also calls into question other fundamental rights that LGBTQ+ people rely on, including the right to have sex with those of your choice (Lawrence v. Texas) and to marry your partner, no matter their gender (Obergefell v. Hodges),” said Erickson-Schroth. 

Roe v. Wade prohibited the government from interfering with private conversations between patients and their healthcare providers. The same rhetoric was used to protect other civil rights that deal with privacy, like marrying whomever you choose. As a result, LGBTQ+ rights are now in jeopardy.

Here are some of the biggest ways trans people are impacted by this decision.

Greater Likelihood of Healthcare Discrimination

About 70% of transgender and gender-nonconforming people say they have experienced healthcare discrimination when seeking medical care. And that was before Roe was overturned.

“If traveling to other states for abortions, trans folks will have to seek out providers in new areas where they may not know how supportive the providers will be of their identities,” said Erickson-Schroth.

Negative Impacts on Gender-Affirming Care

Forced pregnancies will have a huge impact on gender-affirming care and access to hormones that help aid in transitioning. A testosterone-based transition would have to cease for nine months. This is a forced de-transition.

“It is possible to become pregnant while on testosterone, but testosterone can cause birth defects, so it should be stopped if someone becomes pregnant,” said Erickson-Schroth. “Medical transition with testosterone is important to the emotional health of trans men, and stopping testosterone can cause a return of severe gender-related distress.”

Heightened Risk of Violence

Another potential risk of forced pregnancy in trans individuals? Hate crimes.

“Being forced to carry a pregnancy to term, for anyone, is extremely difficult, but trans men and nonbinary people may feel the impact even more because pregnancy is so gendered,” said Erickson-Schroth. “Cis women are already at increased risk for violence when pregnant, and trans men are likely to be targeted at even higher rates because of societal ignorance and transphobia.”

Increased Economic Challenges

Transgender workers tend to earn less than their cisgender peers. Frequent workplace discrimination also leaves LGBTQ+ workers with less income, which means they have less financial capability to support children.

Forcing LGBTQ+ individuals to give birth if they do not wish to only exacerbates a cycle of poverty.

How to Support Transgender Folks

Bringing the trans community into the conversation about reproductive rights begins with how people talk about them.

Remember, women are not the only people who are capable of getting pregnant. And not all women, including cisgendered women, are capable of getting pregnant. Instead of talking only about women, consider using phrases like “women and others with uteruses” or “those who can get pregnant.”

“Cisgender people have to keep in mind that the overturning Roe affects not just those who as identify as women, but all people with uteruses,” Meg York, JD, staff attorney and assistant professor of law at Vermont Law and Graduate School, told Verywell. “Unless speaking about a specific identity, everyone should be mindful and use this term when providing resources and advocating.”

Several organizations are fighting not just for women’s rights, but also for everyone affected by the overturning of Roe.

“Transgender and gender queer folks can turn to existing organizations like the National Network of Abortion Funds, Midwest Access Coalition, Sister Song, TAKE Birmingham, TKO Society, TENT and others,” said York.

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  1. Lamda Legal. When health care isn’t caring: Lambda Legal’s survey on discrimination against LGBT people and people living with HIV.