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Trans Lawyer Chase Strangio on Inclusivity: “People Like Me, Who Are Not Women, May Become Pregnant.”

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After the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that may overturn Roe v. Wade, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida introduced a bill Friday to prohibit employers from deducting expenses related to their employees’ travel costs when seeking gender-affirming care for their children out of state, as well as for those seeking an abortion. “It’s not just women who are affected,” says Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project, who comments on the measure and discusses the importance of using inclusive language around pregnancy. He says it is important to “hold space for people like me, who are not women, who may become pregnant. It allows people to have more access to care. It allows a more robust movement that lets more people in,” so that people can fight back collectively against attacks on reproductive rights, marriage equality and gender-affirming healthcare.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Chase, I wanted to talk to you about this historic week around abortion, the leaked draft opinion that the Supreme Court is going to overturn Roe v. Wade. And I want to talk about both abortion and gender-affirming care. We reported earlier that Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill Friday that would prohibit employers from deducting expenses related to their employees’ travel costs when seeking gender-affirming care for their children out of state, as well as for those seeking an abortion. So, if you can talk about what often in this last week hasn’t been talked about as much, because, well, the abortion issue has been preeminent: why it’s important to talk about trans care at the same time? And if you can also talk about inclusive language around pregnancy?

CHASE STRANGIO: Yeah. I mean, I think that if you look at the reality of how specifically the right has systematically over the last 50 years used state legislatures and the federal judiciary to slowly expand the power of the state to control people’s reproductive choices and erode the federal constitutional right to access abortion, that that very playbook is being utilized to constrain much more than access to abortion. It’s being used to constrain access to contraception. It’s being used to constrain access to the restroom if you’re a trans person. It’s being used to constrain access to healthcare for transgender adolescents.

And the reality is that the animating goal behind all of these pieces of legislation is to control people’s bodies, to enforce codes and norms of gender and sexuality that entrench power in the hands of the state, that enforce a heterosexual Christian nuclear family as the only model, that is part of a state-building project, by the way. And so, if we don’t connect these things, we are ultimately going to see the erosion of all of our rights. If you look at something like S.B. 8 in Texas, which went into effect months ago, that type of legislation, that creates a bounty provision where private citizens are deputized by the government to surveil and criminalize and enforce criminal penalties against their neighbors, that is exactly what’s happening to trans young people and their families in Texas and elsewhere. And then you look at the expansion of these criminal penalties in proposed legislations where we’re starting to see efforts to criminalize people for going out of state to access the healthcare that they need in the abortion context, in the trans context, these are part and parcel of the very same playbook. The same lawmakers that are introducing the anti-abortion legislation are introducing the anti-trans bills in the same committees in the same states. It is all part of the same strategy to enforce norms of gender, enforce norms of sexuality, that limit people’s reproductive autonomy and ability to self-determine their identities.

And the reality is, is that we have failed to mobilize collectively, and we have let the right divide us, which has been very effective for them and very unfortunate for us, because we’re looking at a situation now where we are going to see a Supreme Court that is ready and willing to erode not just the constitutional right to access abortion, but the right to access contraception, the right to access marriage equality, the right to determine whether and how we can access healthcare generally when that healthcare is about affirming who we are. So we should have a lot of questions for ourselves in these movements about how we’re going to fight back collectively and not rely on the discourse that the state is setting forth that is set up to divide us.

And when it comes to language and sort of the distraction of inclusive language in the public conversation, you can see — you have this opinion leaked early in the week last week where — and this is devastating for the future of so many people’s ability to survive and access safe medical care. And then you have some people focusing on the fact that, on occasion, we recognize that some people who are not women become pregnant. We may use the language of pregnant people. We may use the language of birthing people. That is just a fact. And the reality is, is women are people, by the way. And people may become pregnant who are not women. That we acknowledge reality on occasion to, you know, hold space for people like me, who are not women, who may become pregnant — that’s just a factual truth — it allows people to have more access to care. It allows a more robust movement that lets more people in, which is always to the benefit of everyone. But we’re not out here saying that we shouldn’t talk about women. People can still talk about women. These laws target women. There is an important conversation to be had about the systematic attack on women’s opportunities, on the regulation of women’s bodies. The reality is such, though, that it’s not just women who are affected. And by the way, the more we have this noninclusive discourse — it’s not just trans men and nonbinary people who are excluded, it’s the entire system of gender-based policing that is then invisibilized, because this harms all of us. And we all have a role to play in fighting back.

AMY GOODMAN: Chase Strangio, I want to thank you for being with us, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project.

Next up, an historic election in Northern Ireland, where the nationalist Sinn Féin party has won the most seats in Northern Ireland’s parliament for the first time in history. Back in 30 seconds.

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