You know the story. A trans person is in the news for something, anything, like picking their nose or having a past, but the public comments that follow always descend into hate, be it from those displaying the empathy of a root vegetable or those seeing their status somehow eroded by acknowledging our lives.
A typical reaction is to criticise the cost to the NHS of treating trans people. This almost always implies that everyone goes on to have surgery, which is untrue, but let’s just go with that for a moment. Why shouldn’t trans people, a third of whom will attempt suicide, not receive a one-off £10,000 operation in an attempt to save their lives?
Society appears fine with people who’ve drunk alcohol, or smoked, receiving treatment for cancer. For those who undertake mountain biking, horse riding, rock climbing or other hazardous sport, the expectation is for free A&E care should the worst happen. You might choose a lifetime without exercise but still expect the NHS to care for you after a stroke. These are all decisions people make, risks to which they voluntarily accede, expecting health care to be there for them.
Trans people on the other hand have no choice. Thanks to whatever atypical in-utero combination of genetics and hormones it is that separates us from cisgender people, we cannot change who we are. It is not our choice that those of us with gender dysphoria need hormones and sometimes surgery. I pay my tax and national insurance just the same as any other employed person, but you don’t want to cover me for this extremely rare operation with its super high satisfaction rate?
It’s not our choice that society discriminates against us, struggles to accept us when we look too ‘different’. Yet here I am, pushed into justifying trans peoples’ treatment to the same respect and care as everyone else. Those who deny us this help should be ashamed.
by Lisa Severn (@lisasevern)
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