THE BLOG
06/09/2016 08:29 am ET Updated Jun 10, 2017

Endometriosis and Gender Nonconformity

Edwin Remsberg via Getty Images

As a basic white nonbinary person  -- someone who does not identify as a woman or a man, but basic nonetheless  --  I notice all of these pumpkin spice lattes, and I can't help myself from thinking that the universe was out to Starbuck's when I came into existence. I've dubbed myself as nature's drunk thought of a biological female. I mean, seriously? I'm a gender nonconforming queer with endometriosis. Fuck you right back, Mother Nature.

Also, I'm a mind reader. So, I'll explain. Endometriosis is often a misunderstood and under diagnosed condition affecting the organs of the female reproductive system or pelvic region. It's often painful (read: debilitating). And of course, as a gynecological condition, it is highly gendered.

"I'm a gender nonconforming queer with endometriosis. Fuck you right back, Mother Nature."

So, what happens if the person with endometriosis is not a cis-woman? After years of endless pain, tests, retests, invasive gynecological questions, narcotics, upsetting birth control effects (such as increases in bra size), and a "highly recommended" laparoscopy that left me with even more pain and discomfort, I'll tell you exactly what happens.

There is a population of trans and gender nonconforming (GNC) people who face endometriosis on a daily basis. Yet, our experiences with the condition go un-researched and undocumented every single day. Our erasure from the endometriosis community makes it damn near impossible to ask for proper medical treatment and support systems without constantly having to "come out," explain our gender identities, and justify our experiences with pelvic pain.

When I walk into a clinic called Downtown Women OB/GYN, I feel like a fraud, like I'm taking up too much space, or imposing myself on "authentic" womanhood. Still, I check that little box next to "female" with a displaced smile.

"When I walk into a clinic called Downtown Women OB/GYN, I feel like a fraud, like I'm taking up too much space, or imposing myself on 'authentic' womanhood."

During my diagnostic phase, I betrayed my gender identity out of fear. I was so afraid of being denied access to appropriate care or treatment. As a result, I ended up on a potent birth control that dramatically increased my bra size, and overall, left me with a body that's more disconnected than ever.

Recently, I was offered a hysterectomy because a doctor thought it would be an "easier solution to relieve pain." I don't want easy, and I'd like to maintain my fertility, thank you. Instead, let's consider a just solution that not only addresses pelvic pain, but alleviates social stigma for GNC individuals with endometriosis.

"I was offered a hysterectomy because a doctor thought it would be an 'easier solution to relieve pain.' I don't want easy, and I'd like to maintain my fertility, thank you. ."

It's problematic to attach gender to any disease (read: breast cancer, eating disorders, heart disease, etc.). Diseases aren't privy to the complexities of gender and race. It's our fault that we've subjugated medical conditions to the social constructions of oppression, power and control.
As a society, it's our responsibility to own up to our complicit behaviors. And yes, it's difficult to spark social change when this very debilitating condition affecting "women" is already marginalized. However, I want to believe that it's more difficult to let gender nonconforming people get further marginalized within this group, whether that marginalization is intentional or not. But by all means, you better get back to your pumpkin spice latte. I'd hate to keep you from that basic (read: something that everyone deserves access to) goodness.


ASHLEY R.T. YERGENS, from Faribault, Minnesota, debuted "Is this more ladylike?" at the Walker Art Center as a part of the 2014 Choreographers' Evening in November. Recently, Ashley showed "Crabs in a Bucket/Paige is not a Lesbian" at Dixon Place's 24th Annual HOT! Festival. Ashley's work is a byproduct of growing up on tater tots and WWE SmackDown, being queer in small town USA, and bonding with blue collars.

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This post is part of HuffPost's Journey Beyond the Binary blog series, an editorial effort to bring diverse trans and gender non-conforming voices to the HuffPost Blog during and after Pride month. As the LGBTQIA community celebrates great strides forward this June, it's important to acknowledge the struggles still pertinent to trans and gender variant members of the community. Please email any pitches to beyondbinary@huffingtonpost.com