Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

My post-Roe sterilization is a form of resistance

Share this Post:
Image by Daniel Crane
Image by Daniel Crane

A family member told me I had nothing to worry about, a week before Roe v. Wade was overturned. He and I both knew that the Supreme Court had a conservative majority, but it was so unbelievable that it would overturn a right that had been in place for decades.

I was born years after both Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. There had never been a time in my life where I worried about whether or not I'd be able to secure an abortion, so it felt unworldly when I interviewed protesters who told me they'd heard the same reassurances. A right that's been around for almost 50 years doesn't usually disappear, so there was a state of collective denial about the possibility.

In my second year of college, I was happily using an IUD. Permanent sterilization wasn't on my radar, because my IUD worked, it was less invasive than a surgery (which is also expensive), and birth control would always be an option. So if my right to abortion in every state had been upheld, I would have never considered getting my fallopian tubes removed.

However, there were a lot of practical reasons I decided to look into sterilization. I never wanted children. I wanted the ability to move to any state to pursue journalism. And a world without birth control side effects sounded blissful.

There were less practical reasons, too, and there was a lot going on outside of abortion rights to be angry about. While the pandemic was on the decline, shootings were becoming common again. The New York Times published an article about the housing crisis in the small town I grew up in, and a few months after realizing I'm Trans, bills against gender-affirming care started to circulate nationwide. Besides voting, there was so little I could do about any of it.

Getting sterilized felt like a little victory, a personal resistance — against both the people who had taken away my rights in the first place and every awful thing happening around me.

Once I started the process, there was more to resist. The first doctor I approached about the procedure was aware that I'm Nonbinary, because I had started the process to find a top surgeon a couple months prior. To be sterilized, I was told, I'd have to get a WPATH letter, which is a requirement for gender-affirming care like top surgery.

But the surgery I wanted had nothing to do with my gender: I wanted permanent birth control.

I wasn't treated as Nonbinary in health settings prior to this interaction, however. I had gone to urgent care and had to give both names for them to be able to pull up my record, my name and pronouns were often fumbled, and I would sometimes receive letters in the mail that laughably combined my two names into something illegible. I was only Trans when it prevented me from bodily autonomy, and an institution that had so badly wanted to treat me as cis added barriers to treatment readily available to my cis counterparts.

The interaction only invigorated my decision, and I looked for another provider. The second provider did not require a WPATH letter.

The number of people against my decision was surprising. I was told that at 21, I was too young to responsibly make that decision and that the emotional consequences would be dire if I regretted it. One of the most common questions was "Why not just use birth control?"

It's a fair question, especially in Washington, where I could have an abortion if I wanted one. Well, Justice Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion in the decision overturning Roe suggested that same-sex relationships, marriage, and contraception could be reconsidered in the future. Suddenly, articles detailing worry from advocates and health professionals sprung up in the New York Times and on NPR.

Birth control suddenly going away seems so unlikely — but so did Roe v. Wade being overturned. I can't help but think of the state of collective denial we were in, and take comfort knowing I truly won't have to worry about my right disappearing.