Include queer individuals in your abortion activism

Illustration of various abortion protesters over a dark navy background
Betsy Siegal/File

Content warning: Mentions of sexual assault, homophobia, transphobia, addiction, mental illness, abuse.

Last Friday, devastating news rippled across the country. The current U.S. Supreme Court announced it had repealed the ruling of Roe v. Wade. This ruling, established in 1973, decided that that if one chooses to have an abortion, that decision is supported by the constitution. Repealing Roe v. Wade has removed abortion access as a federal decision and instead placed control of abortion access in the hands of individual state governments, many of which have established “trigger bans” on deck with intentions to restrict — or even ban — access to abortion, threatening control over individuals’ bodily autonomy. 

As a result of this ruling, pro-choice individuals have expressed their anger, passion and activism nationwide. The pro-choice movement has been closely associated with feminism –  the narrative of which has been historically controlled by able-bodied cisgender white women. However, it is important to remember that not all people who need and get abortions are women, and that abortion concerns affect certain populations of people disproportionally, including those assigned female at birth, trans men, intersex people and gender non-conforming people. It is crucial to recognize all those who have been stripped of bodily agency, which is not exclusive to cisgender women, and to direct attention to those more vulnerable.

Increased rates of poverty, addiction, mental illness, homelessness and trauma disproportionately affect the queer community. Therefore subsequently adding to already existing obstacles within abortion accessibility. These individuals deserve the right to express their authentic identities without having to sacrifice inclusionary protection and activism among feminist movements. Feminism is a movement that has always called for gender equity for all those within, in between and outside the gender spectrum, and it is of paramount importance that this equity remain at the forefront of the abortion discussion. 

Just because it is easier to appeal to those in power by omitting the complexities of intersectional oppression does not mean that more vulnerable and marginalized members, such as people of color and transgender people, should — by any means — be put on the backburner. In order to truly express progressive activism, the pro-choice movement needs to be all-inclusive. 

Especially in trigger ban states, LGBTQ+ individuals face several heightened obstacles when it comes to accessing abortions when needed. LGBTQ+ individuals have less access to affordable healthcare, as it is often limited and withheld due to discrimination based on homophobia, transphobia and bigotry. While the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, was put in place to prevent this discrimination, congressional Republicans proposed many of their own versions of replacement legislation that would inherently repeal most parts of the ACA. While it was never passed, it is still deeply concerning to see attempts at revoking protections among conservatives for such individuals. 

According to a previous National Crime Victimization Survey, LGBTQ+ individuals are also more susceptible to experiencing sexual assault. This is related to numerous circumstances, but it is undeniable that subsequently more vulnerable communities are at a higher risk of experiencing violence and abuse. In locations where abortion access is limited or banned because of the inability to afford travel, shelter, or healthcare, it may be incredibly difficult to terminate a pregnancy, even those resulting from sexual assault. If these individuals are unable to access safe abortions, there is a serious risk that generational cycles of poverty, abuse and neglect will be maintained — not to mention the endangerment of their own life.

Abortion isn’t just a women’s right; it is also an LGBTQ+ right. It is a human right. The simplest way to help all affected populations is by using inclusive language constantly and consistently in expressions of activism, whether you wish to speak on issues yourself or are reposting the words of others. Cisgender women are doing those in need of alliance an injustice when queer individuals are left out of feminist activism and discourse.

For more tangible allyship, direct funds and aid towards LGBTQ+ centers, shelters, BIPOC organizations, and pro-choice organizations. While some organizations such as planned parenthood exist on a national level, there are niche organizations within them that aid certain populations. Those who have been affected by homelessness, mental illness, violence etc can seek security. If you are from a trigger state, contact your representatives. If you are not from a trigger state, research places within them and/or donate to organizations listed within them. This will allow those who are affected to get access to the resources needed to seek out a safe abortion such as funds, transportation, medical care, shelter, communal support, security and other necessities. If you are unable to donate, spread the word to those who can. 

Family planning providers must include gender-affirming care. Planned Parenthood offers hormone care to all those above the age of 18 and requires no mental health screenings. Additionally, for those who do not have health insurance, they can receive insurance under the ACA. Continue to fight to elect representatives who plan to maintain and protect the ACA as well as implement LGBTQ+ sexual education nationwide. When the government acts against the will of the people, allyship among all those affected is more than necessary to preserve the very liberty and freedom that we claim to represent.

London Perelli is an undergraduate student. Hear more from them on their blog, londonperelli.blogspot.com.