A couple of weeks ago, Ophelia Benson hounded an abortion doctor into blocking her because she insisted that using the term “pregnant people” somehow erased women. In the process, Ophelia gleefully erased non binary AFAB folk and trans men. When called on her bullshit, she tried to invoke Black Lives Matter, which went about as well as you would expect.
I doubt Ophelia is reachable, but some of the folks on the fence or not too far into this ridiculous camp may be, and for them, I wish to bring their attention to the following, which illustrates exactly why we include AFAB trans people when we fight for reproductive rights. Content note for rape and anti-trans violence.
I’m a man. And I had an abortion when I was 27.
I’m trans, and I was sexually assaulted by a group of armed men who apparently could see past two years of testosterone treatment and wanted to “prove” that I was “really” a woman. It happened in broad daylight in a park. There were people within earshot, and no one did anything. Among the many other issues that arose out of the assault, I got pregnant.
I never thought I would have to worry about that. After all, I’d been on testosterone for two years and I felt sure that my whole reproductive system had been suppressed by the male hormones. But, hey, apparently that wasn’t the case. It doesn’t really make sense to me even now; by all scientific rights, I should not have been able to conceive. Nonetheless, there I was, a man finding out that he was pregnant.
Getting that abortion probably saved my life.
It’s understandable that transmen can be left out of the conversation around abortion, though I think it’s unfortunate. I know I’m not the only transman to experience and unwanted pregnancy. At the same time, though, I don’t feel like I can go to Twitter and shout my abortion. I don’t want to seem like I’m pulling a what-about-the-men. And yet it’s difficult to see trans people so frequently left out of discussions about reproduction. [emphasis added]
Read that bolded part again, and then tell me what is fair and just about leaving out a marginalized voice just so cis women can have the abortion rights fight be all about them. Tell me why we have to further hurt already hurt people. Tell me how that benefits me. Because I don’t see it.
I’m a cis woman of reproductive age with a (theoretically) functioning reproductive system. I don’t want children, ever. I’m terrified to ever move from Seattle because if I get pregnant, I don’t ever want to be in a place where an abortion is difficult to obtain. I care passionately about a pregnant person’s right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term. So passionately, in fact, that I’m now something of an extremist – while other people are good with placing limitations on a person’s ability to get an abortion, such as fetal viability or other arbitrary cut-offs, I’m of the opinion that abortion is a person’s right up to birth. (Not that it’s likely a person would carry a fetus nearly to term and then decide they want an abortion at the last ditch, but hey, it could happen maybe once in a generation or so.) Point is, I don’t want to see abortion restricted. I want it to be safe, legal, and done as often as necessary. I don’t care how frivolous the reasons may be. I don’t believe human life starts at conception, heartbeat, or even viability. I believe it starts after birth, and before that, the fetus should have absolutely no legal right to a person’s body. And I wouldn’t be quite this extreme, only there are extremists out there trying to remove our ability to prevent pregnancy altogether, nevermind prevent us from having that unwanted pregnancy removed if we choose.
So I have skin in the game. I’m a cis woman with a uterus that could one day play host to an unwanted passenger. And it in no way erases me to pull my trans and non-binary AFAB fellow travelers into the same boat. I don’t have to give up my seat in order to make room for them. There’s plenty of room. And I understand that fighting for fertile cis women’s rights alone isn’t going to help them, because while we may win the battle for abortion rights, if we haven’t had them with us all along, we’ll have another battle to fight in ensuring that reproductive rights encompass them as well. They face challenges to accessing reproductive care that I don’t. If we can clear those challenges to their care away at the same time we’re ensuring cis women’s access, then that’s absolutely what we should do.
And it’s not like taking their item aboard is going to sink the whole boat. It’s not like the vast majority of people in this country who are against abortion will suddenly be more against it if they see a few trans people fighting for those rights, too. It’s not like those opponents are going to see the term “pregnant people” and suddenly forget all about the many cis women who are pregnant or capable of becoming so. I have a sneaking suspicion I could parade a thousand visibly-pregnant trans men through their living rooms, and they’d still think I was the only one in the room who’d ever be needing the number to the local abortionplex. When their whole focus is on controlling cis women’s fertility, they’re not going to have eyes for a trans man anyway. There’s no chance of erasure here.
And allies are never going to forget that the set of pregnant people includes cis women. So what the actual fuck is the problem?
Go read the whole of that anonymous trans man’s story. And if you’re still not willing to include all pregnant people in your supposedly feminist fight for reproductive rights, I hope shame stabs you through the heart one day very soon.