Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Incite!, New Orleans Womens Health Clinic and the Exclusion of Trans-Women

Well this isn't a post I ever thought I'd write... And I'll be honest, I'm hesitant to even write it. I feel like I'm on the wrong side of the fence, of ALL the fences, for this discussion. But an ally has to put her money where her mouth is when asked to, right? Right.

So. There's a bunch of shit going on right now. Many of you have probably heard about it already. Certainly if you're on my Twitter feed you have. But for those who haven't, a bit of background: the New Orleans Womens Health Clinic came into being in the wake of hurricane Katrina (and I asked for donations for them here, as well as donated myself, as hurricane Gustav looked to make a repeat of that disaster).

In their mission statement it says: "NOWHC provides sexual and reproductive health services to all women regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual preference, gender identity and expression, ability, faith, income level, citizenship status, work sector, or age – in a caring, respectful, and confidential environment."

Sounds, like, perfect, right?

But then: "We are currently not able to provide care to trans people who were male assigned at birth or who have had genital sex reassignment surgery. Please call for referrals."

This discrepancy was brought to light by Queen Emily, a trans woman of color who lives in New Orleans and was looking for health services.

Naturally, there was an outcry. An outcry which has taken several forms. The first reaction of some has been to want to defend Incite! and NOWHC, others have called for accountability via AMC which is happening very soon, and others have asked for those with connections to Incite! to help them get a meeting with those organizers. I strongly support those last two proposals, and I also want to stress that this is a discussion that really needs to center trans women of color. Because a lot of the conversations I have been reading, honestly? just haven't done that. This is also part of the reason I was hesitant to post, I'm not sure if another cis (especially white and cis) woman's voice is what this discussion needs, but voz_latina asked me to help spread the word about her proposal and so...here I am.

And, because as bfp reminded me on Twitter, there are serious and real life *consequences* for NO trans and cis women of color because of what actually happens at NOWHC from here on out. And yes, there really, really, are. And I think both the AMC proposal as well at the NY meeting proposal actually propel us forward, so that the NOWHC and Incite! understand that despite best intentions they are being exclusionary, and that exclusion could cost twoc their lives. That part really can't be forgotten in all the rest of the stuff that has been brought up around this issue.