Transgender Texans feel the impact of state’s restrictive abortion laws

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Samson Winsor moved across the country from Utah to Austin in 2019, hoping he’ll feel less out of place. Texas’ capital city has creative opportunities and a cheaper cost of living than places like Los Angeles and New York City while still having a large transgender population who support his identity as a transgender person .

But Winsor says he’s still scared. Weeks after having sex with someone, he notices his period is late. While his hormone therapy affects menstrual regularity, he worries about the possibility of pregnancy. Winsor anxiously awaited test results, realizing how limited his options would be if he became pregnant.

He got over it with relief when he knew he wasn’t.

“I didn’t want to be a pregnant man in Texas,” Winsor said. “I was terrified because I realized that, by the time I could confirm that I was pregnant, I didn’t know if I could be looked at or even seriously walk in the door.”

The Texas Legislature passed a bill in this year’s regular session that severely limits abortions in the state, banning the procedure when fetal heart activity is detected, usually about six weeks after pregnant. While the law strictly addresses pregnant women in its usage, the law also restricts Winsor and other transgender and non-bisexual pregnant women from accessing abortion services in the state. .

But the impact on them has barely been addressed by Texas policymakers. Anna Rupani, executive director of Fund Texas Choice, a nonprofit that provides financial support for people with access to abortion.

For communities that are used to discrimination in their daily lives, the stigma surrounding pregnancy and transgender can affect everything from safety to financial stability. to their mental and physical health.

Laws made by the state Senator Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, is not enforced by government officials. To replace, it relies on private citizens suing people who “assist or abet” others with abortions is prohibited by statute and allows plaintiffs to collect at least $10,000 if their case is successful.

The US Supreme Court has found the only enforcement mechanism questionable enough to allow a legal challenge against Texas law to proceed, but declined on December 10 to block it. The matter now returns to a lower court, but a long road remains before the future of the statute is determined.

Winsor said the potential liability for people helping others with abortions also made him uncomfortable accepting offers from friends to get him out of state if he became pregnant.

The law “is strangely reminiscent of my time in the Mormon Church,” Winsor said. “When I became transgender at the time, we were considered apostates. Even associating with us is a sin. I find the law to be the same, if you’re trying to help someone. that terminates the pregnancy.”

Transgender people and abortion
In 2017, hundreds of transgender and non-bisexual people in the United States had abortions at facilities that did not offer transgender-specific medical services such as hormone therapy, according to a research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The Texas Choice Fund and the Texas Equal Access Fund, another group that funds abortions for Texans, say they have worked with a number of transgender and non-mixed patients but do not track gender demographics. of the patient to avoid intrusion.

The state also doesn’t track the gender identities of those who have abortions, but it has the second-largest transgender population in the US. More than 125,000 Texans identify as transgender, according to a 2016 study from the Williams Institute at the University. of California at the Los Angeles School of Law.

“People hated that I existed and that people like me existed,” Winsor said. “They refuse to believe that we are men, but we still have children, we are still pregnant and we still have to access abortion. What would that be like, when what they say does not exist look at it? straight in their face and say, “I’m a pregnant man”?

Many transgender men have had a full-term pregnancy, but doing so is not without its own risks and complications. The impact of hormone therapy on pregnancy can change the type of medication and dosage that transgender pregnant people should be prescribed, according to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologistsand some reproductive health facilities are unable to provide transgender-specific treatments.

Abortion laws hit disadvantaged communities harder because those who can’t afford to leave the state don’t have the option of having the procedure done elsewhere – including many transgender people in Texas.

Communities face widening income disparities. Transgender employees, or those who determine their sex of birth, earn 32% more per year than transgender employees, regardless of their educational attainment or higher, according to a. recent report from McKinsey & Company.

Winsor said many transgender people don’t currently have access to healthcare specifically for them, and financial disadvantages could add to medical barriers. He also worries about the dangerous effects of being pregnant as a man – 2021 will mark the most violent year on record for transgender violent deaths, according to a new report. Human Rights Campaign Report.

“We’re against all sorts of different stereotypes and having a baby can even frustrate me at work,” Windsor said. “My body is in danger, and the child’s body is in danger.”

State Representative. Donna Howard, D-Austin, who chairs the women’s health caucus, said legislators opposed to abortion restrictions know that there are transgender men who can get pregnant and need to address the difficulty of getting pregnant can create for them.

“(Transgender) pregnancy needs to be addressed by providing an option to terminate a pregnancy and considering the impact it would have on a person presenting as male and the impact it would have on work. of the person and the person’s place in general in their community,” Howard said.

When asked about the impact of Texas’ abortion ban on the transgender community, Human Coalition, a Texas nonprofit that opposes abortion and advocates for the passage of the law, said it has no idea. data on abortion among transgender people and declined to comment further.

RELATED POST: Clinics can sue over Texas’ abortion ban, but the law will remain in effect, Supreme Court regulations

Often forgotten
The need to be seen and taken into account when discussing healthcare policies is part of the push to use more inclusive language, which can make transgender people feel welcome, says Winsor. more than.

But as Texas’ abortion law gained national attention, it also started a controversy over the use of the term “pregnant” in place of “pregnant woman.”

Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”, a graphic book popularly used to protest against abortion restrictions, tweeted recently an article questioning terminology.

“Why can’t we say ‘women’ anymore?” Atwood tweeted.

Windsor said he understands the frustration of women who oppose this expression, but hopes they can also remember that both communities face prejudice and discrimination. He said he hopes they can find common ground to work for equal rights.

“Having lived as a woman, even though I don’t identify as such, I’ve basically learned that I’m not one. Transgender women already know that’s how they’re treated. So I don’t necessarily have Winsor saying, “But we’re talking about women, when we say pregnant people. We’re trying to remind people that women are human beings. – it doesn’t just stop at body parts.”

Stigma is not limited to transgender adults – transgender minors often face similar challenges but with fewer resources. They are often removed from the chat because they are consistently not identified as gender-conforming or transgender in studies and reports, which makes it difficult to estimate the number of transgender teens who have become pregnant or find abortion becomes more difficult.

Jane’s Due Process, a nonprofit that specifically helps minors access abortions – which may include helping teens navigate through the courts when they are unable to secure a father’s consent mothers for the procedure – said they are working hard to integrate more. Rosann Mariappuram, the organization’s chief executive officer, said discrimination is written into the system.

Courts even refer to minors seeking abortions as “Jane Doe,” Mariappuram said.

“There is an assumption that only teenagers need birth control or abortion care, but a lot of young people need these services,” she said. “Including gender and sexual orientation for birth control and not assuming gender type or who (their) mate is an opinion for us.”

Teens between the ages of 13 and 17 have the highest estimated percentage of people identifying as transgender, and Texas has nearly 14,000 youth identifying as transgender, one of the largest populations in the nation, according to a year 2017 research from UCLA Law School.

The agenda of Texas Republican lawmakers has recently taken aim at transgender youth. They passed House Bill 25 into law in the third special legislative session this year, require students to participate in sports teams that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificate at or near the time of their birth, not their gender identity.

RELATED: Restrictions on participation of transgender student athletes in school sports in Texas signed into law

They also asked the Texas Department of Family Protective Services to determine Are some gender confirmation surgeries for transgender children child abuse?, books are targeted in school libraries Tell stories with LGBTQ characters and put pressure on a children’s hospital program provided mental health services and hormone treatment to transgender children.

Non-stop targeting has take some money about the mental health of many in the transgender community, and many have struggled with the burden of gender dysphoria, or feelings of unease about their gender or biological body.

For some transgender men who are already pregnant and unable to have an abortion, a full-term pregnancy carries the risk of extreme gender dysphoria, Winsor said.

SEE MORE: Supreme Court Returns Texas Abortion Case to Court of Appeals

“I don’t know if I can get over the discomfort of seeing myself pregnant and having to go through it,” he said. “It will be overwhelming. I fear it will cost me my life.”

Disclosure: The Human Rights Campaign provided financial support to The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial backers play no role in Tribune’s press. Find a complete list of them here.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and interacts with them – on public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues. Transgender Texans feel the impact of state’s restrictive abortion laws

Dais Johnston

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