Last night we kicked off our bimonthly Arts & Activism series at Judson Memorial Church with the Housing Works theatre troupe's raw and powerful multimedia forum play Some Things $ Can't Buy, addressing the hurdles to healthcare access for trans women.
We had a great night, all thanks to the amazing actors, our wonderful Jokers, volunteers, and of course, the spect-actors, for sharing ideas, personal experiences, and resources! Here's the character Sylvia on line at the pharmacy. The pharmacist is looking up Sylvia's information only to tell her that her prescription is invalid due to the gender marking on her ID.
Spect-actor interventions included Wiaheed and Carlos stepping into Sylvia's shoes, asking questions and remaining persistent in their attempt to have their needs met. But as we know, it's not always up to the person who is experiencing the oppression to figure it out. There are larger systems at play that aren't easy to contend with or dismantle.
Many thanks to D'hana Perry, our guest speaker from Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, for sharing a wealth of knowledge around healthcare access for trans and gender nonconforming people in NYC, including changes to how you can receive a new birth certificate, how to apply for health insurance, and Medicaid hormone coverage. They also noted other layers and barriers for trans and gender nonconforming people receiving healthcare, including immigrant status, economic access, insurance denials, and depending on the state, the inability to invoke the anti-discrimination clause under the Affordable Care Act. For more information, visit the Callen-Lorde website! Some other organizations that are heading this work include Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy's Center for Sexuality and Gender.
We noted last night that there is a huge demand for injectable estrogen, yet pharmaceutical companies would rather focus their energy on other drugs and medications, which has caused a shortage that has been growing for nearly two years. Check out this recent article on Fusion addressing the shortage of injectable estrogen. Activist and founder of the LA-based TransLatin@ Coalition, Bamby Salcedo, states in the article “If pharmaceutical companies do not take on the fact that these are our lives that we’re talking about, if they don’t do the right thing to save the lives of our people, they are participating in what is called institutional violence... We need to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable. Our lives are in their hands.” Being trans and accessing what you need is a legal issue, it's a medical issue, and this conversation does not end here. Last night we were able to creatively brainstorm together, and we invite you to continue to think about these issues, how you are affected by the oppressive systems, and how we can collectively make change!
Were you in the audience and didn't get a chance to mention a resource or bit of advice? Take a few minutes to complete our online feedback form. If you didn't get a chance to make a donation, you can still do so now – help support FREE performances. And be sure to save the date for ACTIVATE, Theatre of the Oppressed NYC's annual celebration & fundraiser on Thursday, October 27th, 2016 at Downtown Art.
See you in action!
The TONYC Team