The Cost of Existing: How Much Does Transitioning Cost?
“Gender”, as they say, is a socio-cultural construct, and few understand this fact as well as members of the Transgender community. For an outsider, a social conformist, being a Transgender entails changing one’s “sex”, becoming a woman from a man or even the other way around, as simple as that. But what goes on underneath that simple definition? How exactly do the members of the Trans community have it?
What is Transitioning?
Transitioning, as a process, is rather relative, because it can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different Trans individuals. For instance, for some it can be something as simple as changing their names legally, using the alternative pronoun or wearing makeup. For others, it can be something as drastic as undergoing extensive surgeries to alter their body, that is, undergoing sex change operations. Now, on an average, a vaginoplasty along with a labiaplasty can cost something around $20,000 in America and breast implants and augmentation can cost a staggering $8,000.
For most transgender individuals, spending this kind of money is unimaginable, because most of them do not come from a privileged background. In a world where homophobia and sex-based hatred still exists, Trans individuals face isolation and social stigma every single day of their lives. For instance, the truth is that there are almost no Trans individuals working in high end offices or holding important positions in corporate sectors. Just look at the movie industry, how many Trans individuals are given roles in films?
As a result of this, they have to compromise, doing lesser paying jobs. In fact, in a bunch of interviews done in order to raise awareness about the recent increase in the LGBTQ hate crimes, most Trans women admitted to having turned to prostitution and sex work because it was the only option they had, and because no one would accept them in their offices because of their gender non-conformity to societal norms.
But it is not just the surgery part that is scary and unaffordable. As most physicians suggest, someone undergoing any sort of surgery, needs a little bit of therapy in order to come to terms with their changed bodies. Now imagine how much of help someone who goes complete transformation may need!
As a result of this, such people are facing double displacement – alienation from society as a result of their sexuality and alienation from the realization of their actual self. This is no way to live.