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Southern Reproductive Justice and Trans Alliance by Sir Jesse of Decatur

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Southern Reproductive Justice and Trans Alliance

by Sir Jesse of Decatur

Transmen and XX chromosomal men are equally affected by laws designed to chip away at a doctor-patient relationship. People in the reproductive justice community should be allies to those who are trans, gender variant, or have had transgender experience. Often people who were assigned female at birth, or as some would say “born a female,” may have bodies that are configured to the vulnerabilities and horrors that arise when discussing topics of unwanted pregnancy and abortion. All of them, including ”the pregnant man” and others similarly situated, need access to healthcare and reproductive justice decisions.

In 2007, as a Transgendered Warrior, I served on the organizing committee for Georgians for Choice Walk for Women’s [and Trans’] Lives, which marched to the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta and, there, I addressed the assembled group as a representative of The Feminist Outlawz. The Feminist Outlawz is a collective of artful activists who are building Beloved Community in a transient world. Being part of the Feminist Outlawz is more of an identity than a group mentality: we welcome people no matter where they live, if they identify with being a creative feminist activist.

I spoke on the Capitol steps to describe the connections between reproductive justice and trans concerns. Here is some of what I said:

I am here today because I want to see more healthcare choices for all women and Transpeople. I’m talking about reproductive justice.

I have been heavily involved in the pro-choice community for five years and can report that we are all in Big Trouble! At the national level: Roe v. Wade is in danger of being overturned. At the state level: each year more legislation surrounding healthcare -- in general, and abortion rights, specifically -- is becoming more restrictive and placing undue burdens on those experiencing poverty.

At the street level: I see extremists terrorizing women at college campuses and clinics. They do not have the interests of the Beloved Community in mind. They Must Be Stopped!

They intimidate women, immigrants, youth and transpeople, with their classist, sexist and, often, religious dogma. They have passed, and continue to propose, legislation that will force people to seek illegal abortions. They are blocking the sidewalks of clinics where abortions are performed. They are camping out at college campuses with 20-feet tall photos of gruesome fetus remains.
They are organized. They can get over 100 people in front of a clinic on a Saturday morning, and routinely do.

They Must Be Stopped!

The problem is that THEY are everywhere and many of US are silent. THEY are your friends, family and neighbors who don’t want to talk about the issues involved in reproductive justice and the creation of a truly Beloved Community.

This is what a truly Beloved Community is: Where everyone has healthcare and choices of services. Where midwifery and homebirth are options. Where a patient and her or his doctor are free to make tough decisions, privately. Where family, friends and neighbors talk about how to reinforce the choices we have, and reach out to provide more choices to those who have so few. The Beloved Community is under attack and we must save ourselves.

Since 2007, much has changed in the arenas of reproductive justice and transgender rights. Soon after that march, Georgians For Choice transitioned into a powerful women of color led organization, Spark Reproductive Justice Now. This spring, SparkRJ brought forth many warriors for reproductive justice during its 2009 lobby days. I was particularly strengthened by the wisdom of Dr. Angela Davis, speaking in Atlanta on issues of reproductive justice and prison institutionalization. SparkRJ also organized a candlelight vigil for the slain Dr. George Tiller -- a true warrior for choice -- after he was shot and killed on May 31, 2009 while attending a Sunday morning church service in Wichita, Kansas. The reproductive justice community held a vigil to both honor the man who had died and invigorate the need for continued efforts toward a more just healthcare system in general.

Another development is that the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta created greater accessibility to meet year-round medical needs of transmen. The Center has now authorized the creation of information fliers for these services under the banner of Feminist Health Center Trans Health Initiative, dropping the gendered “Women’s” from its name – one small step for trans, one giant leap for feminists! I’d asked, for years, to have trans-inclusive identifiers on their literature and to consider a more feminist-inclusive name because not all XX bodies identify as women.

But there is troubling news, as well, and it comes from the opposition. One of the most vocal, aggressive and terroristic clinic protesters,Neal Horsley, has decided to run for governor of Georgia in the upcoming election. On one of his websites people can see evidence of his style of intimidation in our community by clicking on the Georgia flag. He aims cameras at patients, companions and family members, and offers funding for others to do so. The Feminist Outlawz did its best to block the cameraand to commandeer their bloody fetus photos. The Feminist Outlawz labeled the pictures as the antis’ “fetus-porn,” and sometimes we labeled their gatherings as "the Eric Rudolph youth movement" -- Rudolph is the confessed (and now imprisoned) bomber of an Atlanta lesbian nightclub, the Olympics and an abortion clinic in Alabama. Horsely’s anti-reproductive justice motivation encourages intimidation and invites terrorists to continue to harass and gather information about patients seeking medical attention.

As, I said in my speech two years ago, they must be stopped! Spark Reproductive Justice revolutionaries and Feminist Outlawz everywhere need YOU to take to the streets!

September 9, 2009

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Sir Jesse of Decatur is a youth advocate, feminist outlaw and artist living in Georgia. A teacher of at-risk youth, by day he is called "Mr. McNulty." A queer youth ally and artist by night, Sir Jesse is a volunteer at YouthPride and facilitates a weekly group called TransandFriends. He is also affiliated with Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, Trans Individuals Living Their Truth, Spark Reproductive Justice and the Feminist Outlawz, as well as other non-profit organizations. He has chosen public service careers for the last 22 years, working at the federal, state, county and city levels, and has a B.S. in Criminal Justice and a Master’s in Education.

Also see: "Trans Health Care is A Matter of Life and Death" by Eleanor J. Bader in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.

See "The Poet's Eye" edited by Judith Arcana in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.


Stacy Le Melle posted: 2012-12-06 12:48:20

My heart is still racing after finishing this, Mahnaz. I am deeply saddened that Samana and Khalid had to flee like this, and cut off their deepest family ties--this kind of severance is just that, a severance, a deep trauma for all. But I pray that this couple can make a new, beautiful life for themselves. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

Elizabeth Titus posted: 2012-12-13 16:32:28

Dear Mahnaz, I live in NYC and recently met an Afghan woman, Tabasum Wolayat, who graduated from Middlebury, where you are now. She is at Oxford University and we stay in touch. Because of brave young woman like Tabasum and you, who are getting college educations against all odds, I decided to focus my volunteer efforts on Afghan women. Your essay adds to my growing knowledge of conditions in Afghanistan. Many thanks and best wishes, Liz

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