I’m a transgender man. Overturning Roe v. Wade puts us all at risk.
The decision to be pregnant and the decision to medically transition are deeply personal choices that profoundly affect an individual's life.
I was 18 years old when I took my first pregnancy test. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my roommate’s car at 2 a.m., tears clouding my vision as we searched for a pharmacy that was still open.
I didn’t tell anyone why I thought I was pregnant, that my then-boyfriend made it a habit to force sex without protection. I wondered if I would have to drop out of college, if I would be trapped in a one-bedroom apartment with him and a child.
I was 19 when I needed to get Plan B. Same boyfriend, same heavy weight on top of me. I always felt like it was my fault. When my period was late, I cried in the bathroom because I was scared to go to the pharmacy alone. My body was a ticking time bomb, and every minute that passed signaled the impending nightmare of navigating a medical system that didn’t want me to live the life that I wanted – the life that I would ultimately choose.
I was lucky to obtain the medication that I needed. The paper pharmacy bag that crinkled when I gripped it with white knuckles held a better future, free from my partner’s control – a control that would have become inescapable through a pregnancy. It was the first time that medical intervention gave me power over my body.
I, like the millions of others with reproductive abilities in this country, will not be so lucky in the future. The right to control our own bodies has been wrestled away from us by the Supreme Court, along with a clear road map of where it intends to go. In his concurrence, Justice Clarence Thomas called for the court to reconsider other rights that protect our freedom to make personal, private decisions, including the right to gay marriage and access to contraception.
Not just abortion:Overturning Roe puts your right to conceive babies at risk, too
The fight for reproductive rights and gender-affirming care is one and the same. As a transgender man, I’m speaking out about the necessity of these services.
Access to care is access to survival
I started hormone therapy when I was 24 years old. I held a similar small paper bag, creased between my fingers as my heart pounded against my rib cage. I was elated. That little bag held the power to become myself, a tiny vial of clear liquid that would forever change my life.
Hormone therapy was a turning point for me. Soft curves melted away and, for the first time in my life, I looked into the mirror and saw myself. I finally fit inside of my body in a way that quieted the unsettling thoughts in my head.
Access to hormones and gender-affirming care is vital to my survival and the survival of other transgender individuals. But, like access to reproductive care, hormone therapy is on the chopping block. More than 130 anti-transgender bills have been introduced this year, with many focusing on banning access to gender-affirming care.
In the same way that abortion bans encroach on a person's right to choose if, when and how to become pregnant, bans on gender-affirming care deprive transgender individuals of the choice to live as the person they truly are.
Our freedoms are intertwined
I am fully transitioned now and have distanced myself from my past relationship, but the release of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization made my stomach drop. I again felt the vital control over my own body slipping through my fingers, replaced by the guilt and stigma of seeking abortion services.
The decision to be pregnant and the decision to medically transition are deeply personal choices that profoundly affect an individual's life. It is not the court or the government’s place to decide who has the right to be free in their own body.
When the government legislates contrary to best medical practices, the individuals seeking those necessary services are deprived of their right to choose their futures. I’m alive today because I was able to access reproductive care and because I can continue accessing gender-affirming care. Being deprived of vital, gender-affirming hormones would force me back into a body that I don’t recognize, one that I felt so trapped in I seriously considered taking my own life.
I should not have to justify my need for medical care.
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This is not a question of which choice an individual will make, but of the freedom to have a choice at all. When the Supreme Court justices decided Dobbs, they handed down a sword to strike at not only women’s and transgender rights, but also the right of us all to make informed, private decisions about safe medical procedures. We must collectively fight to defend these rights because, regardless of your identity, your freedom to choose is inextricably tied to mine.
Mikiko Galpin, a student at Temple University Beasley School of Law with a Bachelor of Creative Writing degree from the University of British Columbia, is a Holley Law Fellow with the National LGBTQ Task Force.