By Jonathon Van Maren
On Twitter this week, right-wing wags sarcastically inquired as to long it would be before the “pandemic hits trans community hardest” stories began to emerge. It would appear that Vice has beaten Vox to the punch, and the inevitable stories have begun: One of their latest headlines solemnly declares that “As Hospitals Prepare for COVID-19, Life-Saving Trans Surgeries Are Delayed.” That’s a pretty reaching (and inaccurate) description of sex change surgeries, but Vice needs us all to know that the pandemic is particularly difficult for the LGBT community:
For transgender and gender non-conforming people, gender-affirming surgeries are life-altering procedures, which, for many, can greatly reduce gender dysphoria and improve their quality of life. But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, trans communities on Reddit and Twitter are being flooded with reports of postponed and canceled surgeries in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Thailand, and elsewhere, leading to enormous stress and disappointment on top of a global health crisis…These cancellations and postponements are taking place as medical systems across the U.S. are facing a shortage of supplies and beds. Hospitals are discharging patients faster than usual, and systems have quickly moved to postpone any non-urgent procedures to free up space. In the U.K., the National Health Service has moved to postpone all non-urgent surgery for at least three months. For trans people, this includes planned gender-affirming procedures. Patients whose procedures are just weeks away are still waiting to find out if they’ll happen as planned.
And so, predictably, trans activists are using the pandemic to flog their talking points: Sex change surgeries are life-saving and essential, these procedures should be recognized as such, and the fact that a double mastectomy on a physically healthy woman or the castration of a physically healthy male is not covered by health insurance is a disgrace. Also, in case this wasn’t crystal clear, these surgeries are essential care and it is awful that this pandemic is forcing the medical community to admit that, when pushes comes to shove, they are in fact not essential care.
As one Twitter commenter summarized it: “My breast implants were delayed so someone’s grandma with coronavirus could go on a respirator and that’s problematic and possibly feels TERFy.” As I noted earlier this week, when a disaster of this scope strikes us, we are all forced to realize that these boutique LGBTQ2etc issues are, in fact, the sad luxuries of a decadent culture with too much time and money on its hands.