"What should I be doing, as a queer person, to support Planned Parenthood right now, especially in light of recent events?”
-Question submitted by Anonymous
Grace Manger Says:
You should be speaking up and fighting like hell. And most importantly, recognizing that even if attacks on Planned Parenthood do not directly affect your daily life, you still have a responsibility to see underlying connections between all oppression.
Planned Parenthood is too often framed as a place for cis-women who sleep with cis-men and absolutely no one else of any gender or orientation. For this reason, the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood are all too easily seen as “a straight woman’s problem.” This, of course, is not true, and plenty of queer and trans folks go to Planned Parenthood for a long laundry list of reasons, like STI screenings and treatments for STIs, UTIs, and yeast infections; access to safer sex materials; and, at some clinics, even hormone replacement therapy. But but but! Even if they didn’t—even if Planned Parenthood offered abortion services only and nothing else—these attacks would still be a queer issue, and we would still have to voice our support and show up for the fight. Let me tell you why.
First, a little back story. This past summer, a series of illegally filmed videos were released online by a pro-life organization with segments cut and pasted together that gave the impression that Planned Parenthood clinics were profiting off selling fetal tissue. The truth quickly came out, including plenty of expert opinions that the videos were heavily altered and misleading, as well as a reminder that it is perfectly legal for a person to opt to donate fetal tissue for the purpose of medical research.
Republicans in Congress took this opportunity to introduce extreme pro-life legislation to cut federal funding of Planned Parenthood. This loss in funding would have meant lack of access to birth control and family planning services for the most financially in need, among many other basic healthcare services Planned Parenthood provides. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed this bill, but, thankfully, President Obama vetoed it.
On the bright side, more and more people are standing with Planned Parenthood and sharing their stories of how Planned Parenthood saved their lives. Additionally, in a twist of the best kind of irony, the two people responsible for these videos were indicted for tampering with government records, and one of them was also indicted for attempting to purchase human organs. On the dark side, though, opponents of Planned Parenthood have become violent and aggressive, terrorizing staff and patients outside of clinics and sending constant physical and cyber threats. On November 27, 2015, an armed man entered a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and shot 12 people, held others hostage, and killed three. It’s clear that these attacks are not ending any time soon.
In addition to all the many medical services Planned Parenthood provides, Planned Parenthood clinics are also community spaces where people can learn about their bodies—spaces where they are trusted to make their own decisions about their bodies. We live in a society that teaches women (in particular) that they do not have autonomy over their own bodies; Planned Parenthood is trying to turn that thinking on its head and defend what should always be ours to control.
Now, I know you didn’t ask for a current events lecture, but stay with me. Knowing the facts and educating yourself on these issues is so hugely important, because we can’t pick and choose whose equality is worth fighting for. We can’t say gay people should be able to get married and trans people should be able to safely use public bathrooms while looking away when black people are murdered in the street or when low-income women get kidney infections after repeatedly untreated UTIs. These injustices are related, and meant to divide us amongst our own personal struggles. But, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “None of us are free until we are all free.”
So, Anonymous, all of this is to say that you, “as a queer person” have a million ways to get involved. You can start by calling someone out if they make a callous and inaccurate joke about how Planned Parenthood “sells dead baby parts.” Arm yourself with knowledge on this issue so that you can confidently educate those around you. Spend some time thinking about how bigger themes on this topic relate to other queer and trans issues that maybe have directly affected you. You can also use the hashtag #IStandWithPP to acknowledge all of the life-saving services Planned Parenthood provides and show your e-support in this fight. When in doubt, you can just share this post with your friends and followers to pass the knowledge along through the Internet.
That’s a lot of heavy stuff I just threw at your face brains, but if you’ve read this far: Hello! And thank you! You’re great. Thank you for showing your support, and have the best day ever.
Grace Manger manages all content and development at The Parents Project. A graduate of Kalamazoo College in Michigan, she now lives in Portland, Oregon where she writes for Bitch Media and works as a case worker for Planned Parenthood. In her spare time, she can be found reading feminist theory, writing letters, and doing handstands around the world. Follow her on Twitter @gracemanger