If I was nervous about writing the previous post, I am beyond nervous about writing this one. I have been thinking if I should now for several months. The fact I even have to write it, and the knowledge of some of the reactions I may get depresses me beyond belief. But here goes.
I believe that it is vitally important that we as women with TS can discuss our lives and experiences as women and our biology without any apology or censorship.
Firstly from a health point of view, we need to be aware of our biology as women. We menstruate, we have gynaecological issues, some of us have been pregnant through IVF and given birth. I know all this from the experiences of my TS friends and indeed myself.
For example here is what I have had to deal with in last four years. When I was on one form of HRT ten years ago I only had sporadic periods. When my consultant changed my HRT, my periods got very heavy and I had regular spotting. After several months trying to get my GP to get this investigated, I had an investigative ultrasound. I was very nervous about what it may discover. While my womb was slightly thicker than it should be all was ok and the gynaecologist I went to suggested I went on a lower dose of HRT. However after almost two years I was still getting bad spotting. I brought this up My GP referred me to another Gynaecologist. When I explained what had been going on, he said I should have an investigative D & C. I did not expect to be called in for this four days later! As you can imagine, I was quite worried. The procedure discovered I had a cervical cyst (which can be caused by long term HRT use) which was promptly removed. I have had no problems since. But I had been through almost three years of investigations and worry. You may note that while my GP was sympathetic and responsive it took time for things to happen! I know another friend with TS also went through something similar as the same time.
Some women who are very dear to me have also had significant gynaecological issues and I hope my experiences have made me more sympathetic towards them. It is important that we can discuss women’s health issues and particularly the effect that these have on what is expected of us as women. I want to see beyond the health issues I face because of TS and understand and appreciate the health issues all women face.
But for me the medical issues are secondary to a more important issue. As a feminist (and ‘radical feminist’ at that) it is my understanding that there is something called patriarchy and that women as a class are oppressed. I recognise that within this women of colour and working class women face further issues but this does not mean that misogyny and sexism do not affect all women.
I could give so much evidence for this, just from the UK alone. There is the fact 140 women were murdered by their partners/ Ex partners in 2013 in the UK. (Thank you Karen Ingala Smith for your witness and work in ensuring this is recorded)
I could give the horrifying statistics for domestic violence in the UK- 80% of victims are women
I could say that there has still not been a single conviction in the UK for female genital mutilation, and that it is only recently through the hard work of courageous women like Leyla Hussein and organisations such as Forward – which importantly is run by women of African origins.
I could say that women in the UK still earn significantly less than men
I could give these statistics from Rape Crisis UK
Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year
This is just a very quick overview of the situation in the UK. I want to make that point that as women with TS, we are just as affected by issues of violence and discrimination against women as every other women. I know women with TS who have been directly impacted by these issues, just as I know many women who have been impacted by these issues. I want to stand with all women, not just in the UK but throughout the world.
I will not apologise for knowing women with TS are women. I will not apologise for knowing what women as a class have to deal with in a patriarchal world. I will not apologise for linking these two facts and wanting to make a better world for all women. I only make life for women with TS worse if I sit by and remain silent.