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Navigating Violence, Reframing Trans Health

“I go by what I feel. What my spirits tell me, I’m following” – Sylvia Rivera (Queens in Exile)

Trans, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGNCI) communities are resilient but everyday our folks are up against trauma, stress, and anxiety – what kind of transformation will it take to  make sure trans people have access to healthcare and wellness needs? I’m reminded of Sylvia’s words from “Queens in Exile” when talking about how to navigate what I need as a trans person of color, “I go by what I feel. What my spirits tell me, I’m following.”

But it’s difficult trying to follow your spirit when laws, policies, insurance companies, and health providers (aka the state) have a say in what kind of care we can receive and access. Though we’ve seen progress in additional providers offering services in NYC this spring, healthcare isn’t all daisies; the medicalization of our bodies and the ways institutions use this to restrict and deny our healthcare is out of control. Not only is some of the care we’re seeing substandard, but if healthcare providers and advocates can’t see the connections between healthcare and poverty, bathrooms, racism, xenophobia, and transphobia, our communities’ struggles will continue to be glazed over, presumed a non-issue, or erased altogether. TGNCI folks will continue to have gaps in care, face harassment and discrimination, be denied coverage, and have to internalize why the state doesn’t think our lives and care have value.

TGNCI people who are low-income, immigrants, folks of color, disabled, or living with HIV should all have access to quality and affirming healthcare. If we want to really address the health concerns of trans folks, we must not just medicalize our health and survival, we must also be connected to what our spirits know we need, beyond what the medical industrial complex and the state say is possible. It is in this hope that we can make sense of ourselves, our own ability to know what we need, and not follow some uniform “transition” or trans health narrative; this is self-determination and navigating your way through violence to affirming, holistic healthcare is not a simple journey.

During a time when our physical and mental health continues to be an urgent issue, clearer laws, policy, access, and accountability around healthcare is a life or death issue for TGNCI people.

Here’s 5 ways you can help us address the barriers to healthcare:

  1. Thursday, April 27th from 6-9pm, staff and members of SRLP will be co-sponsoring and facilitating at the Manhattan Trans Forum where we will be helping hold break out space to review policies that will help ensure TGNCI New Yorkers have access to the care we need. For more information, click here.
  2. If you are TGNCI person interested in sharing your experience navigating healthcare in NYC or receiving services, please consider writing about your experience so we can share it with our communities. Contact SRLP’s Public Education Team with editorials, opinions, and any other creative or advocacy writing.
  3. SRLP’s free legal intake takes place every Thursday from 1:00-4:30 at our offices. If you have experienced any harassment or discrimination trying to access services or care, please come and get support!
  4. SRLP’s Movement Building and Public Education Teams are working on creating new trainings and Know Your Rights materials. Interested in having us come present to your organization or members about trans healthcare in NYC? Check out our website for information about bringing SRLP to speak.
  5. Stay tuned for SRLP’s “What’s up with Trans Healthcare?”, a series of events for TGNCI community and allies to share health information and resources starting in June.

For more information about events, speaking/training, your rights, or SRLP’s services, please check out our website.

In love and justice,

Sasha Alexander
Director of Membership

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