Ruminations on Poverty and Being Trans
I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I’m not sure whether I have a coherent “message” for you this time. For over five months now I’ve been on an almost constant roll, not just on this site but anywhere that I write or respond, pointing out the dangers and repercussions of our newly elected “leader.” It’s neigh impossible to overstate how disastrous it is that the election delivered us this result even on an overarching level but specifically to the causes that most affect trans people. I realize that there are still some in the trans community who support the current administration, and as a person who spent decades as a dedicated conservative I do, in fact, understand the thought process that might have lured some among us to that decision (the whole small-government thing mostly) but as the days wear on, I’m more and more mystified at their persistence.
I don’t want to distract myself by getting into speculation about such motivations, but I cannot completely ignore the current political landscape and speak to the subject I’ve chosen. It was already an unjust burden to endure a presidency which seeks in every way, large and small (from reversing the Obama Administrations directive regarding trans students, all the way down to editing questions about LGBT people out of a government survey of problems concerning the elderly)to erase and repress the most vulnerable segment of the population. But on a parallel track Republicans are engaging themselves in naked wish fulfillment under the cover of Trumpian chaos and all their wishes involve limiting or eliminating our collective assistance to the less fortunate in favor of financial gifts to the wealthy.
How that intersects for the trans population is easy to see for those willing to look beyond the end of their own checkbook. Surveys and studies indicate that trans people are among the most economically challenged groups in the U.S. Deep cuts to Medicaid, for example, will leave thousands of us without even the most basic healthcare, to say nothing of often expensive transition related care. It’s true that not all states cover such care under Medicaid, but some do. Defunding Planned Parenthood eliminates another resource many rely on for such care. Reversing the government’s general anti-discrimination policies also creates elevated risk of joblessness in a population already deeply affected by unemployment (and the consequent lack of income and insurance).
Living, as I do, in a deeply red state that rejected Medicaid expansion (and does not cover transition related care under Medicaid anyway) and has no statewide anti-discrimination protections (indeed, only two cities in the state do) I will, ironically, not be impacted as greatly as women and men in other states, but that’s only because there’s so little to take away. I’m obliged to say “call your congressman” and you absolutely should, but if you, like I, are represented by a Republican then you, like I, are well aware that he or she really doesn’t care what you think. The agenda is all.
Here, then, my rumination turns personal. I’m not a few years into my 50’s, I’m in a deeply red state with an income well below poverty standards. And every day I begin my morning, and retire to my bed, dwelling on the several expensive things I still need to do to be at peace with myself. I honestly don’t see any way financially that I will ever be made whole, and I grieve for the time in my life when I need the care of others and no one will look upon me and take my identity seriously. It is ironic that sever dysphoria drove me to transition, and in doing so I found much relief, and then I watch the years steal my hope from me and I grow increasingly dysphoric and depressed at the realization that all my advocating, all my fighting, all my passion only serves to try and create a society I’ll never get to live in myself. All because of money, and the lack thereof.
I have too many obligations to just quit, but I find that I increasingly understand how strong the temptation must be for those who have none, and are likewise as trapped by poverty as I am. Do not take this as encouragement in those thoughts, I’m only saying I understand the struggle. If I were 30 years younger I could easily be philosophical because I sincerely do think the arc of history is bending in our direction. But I’m getting old, and I’m tired and I don’t know where MY hope is coming from.
Photo by – gabriol