by Princess Harmony Rodriguez
In the United States, there’s a debate going on about funding for Planned Parenthood and abortion. After doctored video footage of Planned Parenthood allegedly selling fetal tissue for research released by anti-abortion and anti-bodily autonomy groups, a stronger debate raged on and resulted in numerous investigations across multiple states into Planned Parenthood’s dealings. Needless to say, the investigations have all found nothing but that hasn’t stopped the misogynistic attacks on it.
It’s every decent person’s job to stand with Planned Parenthood as they face unjust scrutiny. In addition, it’s also our job to understand it isn’t just an abortion provider. It – and organizations like it – also do important things in the area of women’s health. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that trans men and AFAB non-binary people also need access to abortion. But what very few people don’t know is that these organizations also serve trans women.
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While Planned Parenthood isn’t always the primary provider of healthcare to trans women (that usually falls into the hands of other Community Health Centers, whose federal funding has been targeted before by the Republican Congress), they do provide services to trans women and it’s important to acknowledge the things they do. Here are 5 things that Planned Parenthood does for trans women:
1. They provide hormone replacement therapy
Though this service is limited to only a few Planned Parenthood locations, they’re often the only places that provide these services in those areas. Having been on hormones for almost half a decade, I often underappreciate how difficult it can be to come by. These services are vital for the people that receive them. Without organizations like Planned Parenthood providing this, trans healthcare would be set back decades. Before the advent of Informed Consent model of trans care (the model of care that eliminates gatekeeping letters by laying out what hormones do to the trans body), and affordable hormones, it was common for trans women who could not afford their hormones to get them from sketchy grey or black market sources. Whether it’s estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone, hormones are powerful things and without doctors to oversee their use – even as toxic as the medical establishment can be towards trans women sometimes – we can end up hurting ourselves or aggravating medical conditions that can be affected by hormones, such as HIV.
2. They provide stigma-free STD treatment and HIV testing
Trans women, particularly black trans women and other trans women of color, are at a dangerously high risk for HIV. What’s more, trans women – because of economic inequalities – often cannot afford HIV medications, so HIV ends up progressing to AIDS. Stigma is one of the reasons why people, trans or not, don’t get tested. But Planned Parenthood provides stigma-free and sex-positive HIV testing to trans women. This is doubly important for our community because of the number of us who do full-service sex work. We can go there and get tested without the stigma and anti-sex worker sentiment other facilities heap on us. If we test HIV+, they refer patients to places that can provide low-cost HIV treatment (treating HIV is significantly harder than other STDs). For other STDs, they do the treatment in-house, which guarantees low-cost and a safe environment. This service, while not exclusively trans-oriented, is important to trans women because no matter what we do we’re stigmatized by most health providers.
3. They’ve been on the front lines of reforming the medical establishment’s treatment of trans people
Early in August, a hashtag called #TransHealthFail was used by trans people to tell our stories of discrimination in medical facilities. It was one of the first times where we, as a group, came together to share the personal Hells that we’ve all experienced at the hands of either uninformed or outright bigoted doctors and nurses. Needless to say, we’ve been fighting this battle longer than anybody else. However, Planned Parenthood and other organizations have been fighting on their end to educate their peers in the medical field and to reform its treatment of trans and queer patients. While they, themselves, have a little bit further to go in changing their language and making it more accessible, even now they’re aiming for that and to set a positive standard in trans care.
4. They provide trans-friendly preventative care
1 in 3 people will get some type of cancer in their lifetimes and, tragically, some of those people will not survive their fight. However, many cancers can either be prevented or detected early with proper medical care. If you have cancer, the earlier you detect and treat it, the higher your chance of survival. Trans women on HRT, much like cis women, are at risk for breast cancer. Planned Parenthood gives trans women mammograms in a way that affirms our gender. They also teach how to self-screen for breast cancer. They can also provide other types of preventative care to us, like testing for testicular and prostate cancers. There are those of us have a high familial risk for prostate cancer, because other family members had it. Planned Parenthood provides screenings to us without the awkwardness that comes with being a woman asking for a prostate or testicular cancer exam.
5. They provide assistance with legal document changes
Although this service is limited, Planned Parenthood offers help with filing name change petitions and requesting gender changes on documents. This process, which can leave many trans women lost and confused, is daunting even with help. Without it, very few are able to clear the hurdles that the government places in our way. However, at certain locations, they’re able to give you support as you take this important step. If you’re on HRT at Planned Parenthood, their doctors and nurses are also able to sign off on documents as needed.
This is just a short list of the services Planned Parenthood provides to trans women. It, and organizations like it, are necessary to our health and well-being as trans women. If Planned Parenthood disappeared, or was crippled the way that the Republican Congress wants it to be, many would be without these services.
Most importantly, Planned Parenthood provides an array of services that are undoubtedly necessary, and it’s our job as socially aware people to fight to defend that.
For this, and many other reasons, is why I stand with Planned Parenthood and why trans women (and all other people) should as well.
Healthcare is a human right.
Princess Harmony is a trans feminine afrolatina who enjoys food, anime, and video games. Her favorite foods are potato balls and empanadas, her favorite anime is Robotics;Notes, and her favorite game is Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. Follow her on Twitter at @jasmine_weapons
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