I had a medicinal abortion when I was 20. I was a poor undergraduate student in a crumbling relationship with poor mental health. Making the decision to have an abortion wasn’t difficult, but accessing it was.
I’m an AfroLatinx person with no health insurance (Florida chose not to expand Medicaid so I fall into the Affordable Care Act’s wage gap). The medicinal abortion route was a smooth $500 out of pocket and the whole time I was paying I was kissing my rent, textbooks, and groceries goodbye. Even still, I consider myself lucky because my partner at the time was able to split the cost with me; something available to far fewer people. How could I possibly manage self-care when I didn’t know how I was going to pay my bills that month?
It wasn’t just the physical and logistical aspects of having a medicinal procedure, but the emotional labor of navigating a space where I was constantly misgendered. Misgendering a trans person is an act of violence; to be repeatedly called by the wrong pronouns was almost as draining as the procedure itself. Around that same time, Florida passed legislation that required an individual to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound before undergoing their abortion. Experiencing that only set off far too many feelings of dysphoria, violation, and shame.
It wasn’t until about 2 years later that I finally started publicly speaking about my abortion experience. I had always been an advocate for reproductive rights, but it wasn’t until later that it became clear to me how casually cissexist and heteronormative that movement is. I’ve put in over five years of time and energy into reproductive health, rights, and justice initiatives, but many groups simply profit off of my labor without any regard for people like me. We are an invisible minority that need access to reproductive healthcare just as much, if not more, than the highly visible communities we see directly addressed in the media. I’ve made it a personal goal to shed light on how trans and gender nonconforming people are also very much affected by restrictive and oppressive anti-choice legislation. I share my story to give a face to a community frequently erased from conversations about reproductive rights. Cissexism has no place in this movement and I intend to show it the way out.