THE BLOG

Why I'm #ProTransProChoice

01/27/2014 04:38 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

I love the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Planned Parenthood. They've personally made my life better on so many levels. I trained with Planned Parenthood in high school through their "Teens Taking Action" program and learned how to spread information about health to my classmates. I love NARAL -- I spent much of my past summer with the North Carolina chapter. In fact, it was NARAL NC that got me thinking about the way pro-choice organizations exclude transgender folks. I recently attended a very moving ceremony for transgender day of remembrance with NARAL friends. As we walked back to the car, we talked about how we, as cisgender people and pro-choice activists, could actively support the transgender community.

I say all of this to assure the pro-choice community that Beck, Calliope and I did not start this petition from a place of spite. Rather, we are asking NARAL and Planned Parenthood to use transgender inclusive language because we know how influential and important they are. We know the impact that these organizations have on the lives of people of all ages. We believe in their ability to expand their reach.

I don't ask this of them with the view that I've never made similar mistakes. I carry a "She Decides" tote bag and have used the hashtag #StandwithTexasWomen during Wendy Davis' filibuster. I have used cis-centric language consistently over the past few years. I've struggled with talking about choice in a transgender inclusive way. There's a NARAL sign that says "Women Count, Vote Pro-Choice" in my dorm room.

That's not because I believe transgender people don't deserve to be included in the rhetoric of the movement. There's just not that much gender neutral pro-choice merch to display with pride. It's either take my "She Decides" bag to class or not represent the pro-choice movement at all. That's not a choice I enjoy contemplating. I think that we should trust cis women, but we should also trust transgender men and gender queer folks who are also affected by restrictions to reproductive choice.

The goal is not having a perfect record of perfect activism. Nobody has that. Including transgender folks in the reproductive justice movement complicates things -- and that's a good thing. It might make the work a little more difficult. It might require longer brainstorming sessions for campaign slogans. It might require dedicating time as an organization to teaching folks "Transgender 101."

And in my opinion, that's worth it. Transgender folks deserve that extra work. After all, they deal with so much exclusion in the general public, it's not too much to ask that folks within the movement make a concerted effort to be inclusive. It's possible. I love the "Politicians Make Crappy Doctors" that NARAL uses -- which is sassy and gender neutral.

I know that NARAL and Planned Parenthood are not organizations staffed with folks who actively dislike transgender and gender queer folks. But like me, most of their staff has cisgender privilege. We can choose whether to be part of the problem of transgender and GNC exclusion, or be part of the solution. If you agree that Planned Parenthood and NARAL should take steps to become active allies to the trans* and GNC community, please join us in asking Planned Parenthood and NARAL to be #ProTransProChoice.