The United States government continually institutionally oppresses Transgender individuals. The current use of identity documents for medical treatment and health insurance keeps transgender individuals from receiving the health care that they need. The bureaucracy involved in correcting these identity documents is re-enforced by state governments and complicates the transition process for those who choose to have surgeries or hormone treatment. Not only is it hard to correct a gender listed on an identity document, but you also must conform to a marked binary gender.
To ensure clarity, I will give my definitions of the terminology I will use in this article. I define cissexism as considering cisgender individuals as superior to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, therefore oppressing them. Although some consider this synonymous with the term “transphobia” I choose not to embrace this terminology because it is a misuse of the word phobia. It shifts the blame to transgender individuals rather than those oppressing them. This is because the word transphobia deems transgender individuals as something that others can develop a phobia of and phobias cannot be criticized, whereas cissexism can.
I define someone who is cisgender as an individual whose gender expression is the same as biological sex they were assigned at birth. This would mean someone who is born as female and identifies as female or someone who was born as male and identifies as male. I define transgender as someone whose gender identity, as male, female, neither or both, is different then their assigned sex. In this article this will be somewhat of an umbrella term, including gender non-conforming individuals, individuals who have had sex reassignment surgery, and individuals who have not had or do not want sex reassignment surgery.
There is a very large range of what is required in order to change name and gender on drivers’ license. For example, in Connecticut you need is medical documentation to change your gender, yet in Texas an individual is required to show a court order including documentation of changed sex. This is problematic because not only does it take years to obtain a sex change if desired, not all people want to get a sex change. This process is also sometimes intertwined with the complexities of changing other identity documents, such as birth certificates. For example, in Montana an individual needs an amended birth certificate and a court order in order to change their license. This is an issue that affects the daily lives of transgender individuals. There are many situations where individuals need to show their ID. Having a form of identification that does not seem to be accurate to those checking it can deny transgender individuals many basic rights, or unfairly complicate processes that others can go through with ease.
Transgender individuals are also institutionally oppressed by the American Health Care system. The most common forms of discrimination of transgender individuals through health insurance include the denial of insurance coverage, the denial of coverage for claims related to gender transition, the denial of coverage for claims for gender-specific care, and the denial of coverage for claims unrelated to gender transition, which is done by doctors claiming that health issues are an effect of the transition (Glaad). In the National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on Health and Health Care it was reported that 19% of respondents were refused health care due to their transgender or gender non-conforming status and 28% of respondents reported that they were subjected to harassment in medical setting (Grant). Health care is a basic human right that transgender individuals are being denied.
This is a health and safety issue that needs to be addressed on the federal level. One of the most important steps in changing a societal view is changing the views of the institutions in that society. This is why it is imperative to take a critical look at the institutions that we currently have in place and how they are harvesting injustices. In order to offer transgender individuals equity we need to address their mistreatment through institutions by creating federal legislation. By proposing federal legislation, rather then state-by-state, our society could lateralize the equality that in necessary to treat transgender people fairly.
Grant, Jaime M., P.h.D, Lisa A. Mottet, J.D., Justin Tanis, D. Min, Jody L. Herman, P.h.D., Jack Harrison, and Mara Keisling. “National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on Health and Health Care.” National Center for Transgender Equality. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Oct. 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2013. <http://transequality.org/PDFs/NTDSReportonHealth_final.pdf>
GLAAD. “Leading the Conversation for Lgbt Equality.” GLAAD: Leading the Conversation for LGBT Equality. 20 Jan. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2013. <www.glaad.org>