This comes from a hashtag I saw on Twitter. #TransDepath, speaking of the depathologisation – (what a long and boring word) of transgender people. The idea being that calling people ill for being themselves is apparently the worst thing you could do. Which I frankly can’t help but find plain retarded. Allow me to explain why.
I’m trans, as are at least 15 or so of my friends. We’re mostly British with some of those good for nothin’ foreigners thrown into the mix too. One is actually a german who loves to joke about the Nazis, always hilarious to chat with. Pretty much all of us have relied on our country’s health services to help us deal with our condition, of being trans. With this help, we’ve been able to access treatment such as hormone replacement therapy, some even surgical operations for sexual reassignment surgeries. Not to mention the countless hours of therapy between us all to help us not be so tragic to be around.
All of which would not have been possible if our condition wasn’t taken seriously as an illness. Without it we’re just people and would have had to bank roll the whole thing ourselves. Luckily for me, I’m already bank rolling my own transition for myself. Short story being the NHS diagnosed me and I’m still fighting to try and get medication and treatment prescribed. In the meantime, here’s a quick summary of about 1 years worth of my expenses on medication alone.
That’s roughly $551.41 or £454.12, just for one year, rather than the £7.40 I’d pay per prescription on the NHS. On the NHS I’d be paying roughly £200/year – less than half of what I’m paying to buy my medication privately, and this is only one year of it. I began transition in 2012, so 4 years would put it just shy of £2,000.
This is enormously important, because without trans being pathologised this would no longer be the case, and everyone would have to spend the money I’m spending on medication. This is a massive disadvantage against a group of people who can’t necessarily help their condition through any other known methods. For just shy of £2,000 I could have learnt to drive, bought a cheap car and widened my employment opportunities outside of my tiny rural-esque town. Instead I’m working from home, unable to get a real full time job. Because that money has to go on my medication, without it I get super depressed and really unfun to be around.
I understand where you’re coming from. Nobody wants to feel different, nobody wants to be picked on for having an illness and the stigma of it can be a big deal. But you’re looking at the problem of stigma against illness and trying to remove the illness part, rather than the stigma. We need to address people’s concerns regarding trans people, not just ignore that people have serious conditions.
Take people with Tourette’s Syndrome or even something as benign as mild psoriasis. Denying these as illnesses and conditions, denies those people help for them. Sure, you might get people who laugh at a Tourette’s kid, or think that sitting next to the flaky kid is bad. There may be a stigma about it, but depathologising these conditions doesn’t take away the reason the stigma exists – it just takes away support for the person with them. It’s clearly retarded to do so for any illness, and I believe trans is included in that category.
Pathologisation is the key to getting support as a trans person, and kicking those crutches out from people can have terrible effects on their general well being, far beyond the effects that stigma might cause. If you want to remove stigma, then work on removing stigma, but depathologisation really isn’t the answer.