By Luke Grayson
As someone who benefits from white privilege, it is hard for me to want to take up conversational space when there’s a very important, very real, global conversation going on regarding black lives right now.
But I am reminded trans lives are also under attack by the same government, for very similar reasons, even though the Supreme Court ruled this month that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex.
Both of these demographics are having to have very similar conversations within and surrounding our communities, and even further at the intersections of where they meet, such as a in a person who is trans and black.
Just days prior to the Supreme Court ruling protecting LGBTQ persons from discrimination, President Trump reversed the Obama-era healthcare protections that changed the legal definition of “sex” to include gender identity, making it illegal for doctors and other healthcare providers to deny care to someone whose identity they personally disagree with.
As a trans person, going to the doctor is always anxiety-inducing. You never know what the doctor’s beliefs are, and how that will impact how they treat you, regardless of how they have treated you in the past. Will the people I see be dismissive and/or homophobic? Will they have an ambivalent view point? Will they be supportive? Will I have to file another complaint? The answers are not always obvious.
Within the trans community, you learn about the “Trans broken arm syndrome” early on. This is the experience of going to a doctor for something, such as a broken arm, and having that doctor take one glance at you or your chart and say, “Oh your arm is broken just because you are trans” or “This is caused by transitioning.”
Facing this at every turn, it makes it nearly impossible to want to access needed medical care, and, often times, this mindset will prevent someone from being able to access care. Regardless of all of these protections, when I go meet a doctor for the first time, I always have to ask, “Is this against your personal beliefs? Are you actually okay treating a trans person, and regardless, will your judgement and therefore my treatment be clouded because I’m trans?”
I have to ask before I even dare bring up what the problem is that I am seeing them for because I am not going to waste my time and use up massive amounts of emotional energy on someone who will only fight me, not fight for me.
Even with federal protections against discrimination, doctors act this way. While it wasn’t perfect, it did curb the attitudes of some doctors. These experiences happen even with state-wide protections. Fortunately, these experiences are less extreme for me because I live in Washington. I have only heard stories of how this is expected to turn out in other states, and I am fortunate to only be hearing about it instead of having to worry about it first-hand like some of my friends.
If federal protections were gone, states alone would have to uphold these protections. With the Trump administration trying to roll back protections for nearly every marginalized group, I can only hope that some states do what is right and uphold what has been.
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Luke Grayson-Skinner is a 20-something, disabled, queer and nonbinary trans person who has been in Spokane since 2012 and is an advocate for the LGBT and transgender communities, foster youth and those experiencing homelessness. Luke is also a slam (performance) poet and visual artist who experiments with acrylic paint, spray paint, graphite and other mediums, who created a spray paint mural at the Spokane County Fair in 2022. Luke doesn’t currently know quite what faith-base they “belong in,” but grew up in an Evangelical church that they left when they moved to Spokane and has attended an open and affirming UCC church off and on for the last 8 years. He will be relocating to Oklahoma next summer to be closer to his family. Luke uses they/them and he/him pronouns.