YOUR STORY TO BE HEARD:
Trans Youth Health Testimonies!
We need your help ASAP reaching out to trans young people and their families about the importance of healthcare access.
On Monday, November 20, 2017, HB 1933 was introduced and passed by the House Health Committee. This bill would BAN gender-related healthcare coverage for trans children and teens in CHIP and all those in Medicaid in Pennsylvania. We expect the House to vote on this bill as soon as Monday, December 4th.
This cruel action would be devastating to young trans Pennsylvanians and their families who are on CHIP and adults who are on Medicaid. Since July 2016, CHIP has included coverage for gender-related healthcare, including medically-necessary mental health services and hormones. If this amended bill becomes law, it would cut off trans youth on CHIP from vital healthcare. That is unconscionable.
WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU!
It is highly urgent that we QUICKLY gather short testimonies of trans youth (or from family members) on why trans-related healthcare access is important. You do not need to be on CHIP or Medicaid to share your story.
Please share this form far and wide so that we can hear from those impacted by trans healthcare as soon as possible. The State House needs to hear the stories of young trans Pennsylvanians. We are working to have as many testimonies as possible read on the House floor. Testimonies may be edited for length or clarity when communicated with government officials.
You are welcome to share your experience coming and being out in your part of PA, but particularly we welcome reflections on the importance of healthcare access in your life – including mental health services/counseling, hormone therapy, and any gender confirmation procedures or surgeries. Examples of short testimonies are posted below the form.
We will not share your name unless you later give us permission to do so. We may follow up with you when you complete the form if you if you indicate you would like to remain in contact.
Questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A., 17, Allegheny County
If it had not been for CHIP covering my medical transition, I would not be alive today. From a young age I knew I was not living in the correct body, and experiencing puberty made this dysphoria far worse. I began falling into a depression, I began harming myself, having suicidal thoughts, and even acted upon them on several occasions. That was until I had found out that I could see a doctor to assist me in getting my body and soul to align. Hormone replacement therapy has changed my life in so many amazing ways. Thanks to CHIP, I can look in the mirror and sincerely say that I am myself, I can sleep easy knowing I am headed in the direction of my entire truth being lived.
Parent of A., 13, Montgomery County
My child sees the gender specialist down at CHOP. We have not started any hormone replacement therapy YET but it would be devastating not to have these things included in our healthcare. My child’s emotional well-being and life is at stake. [A.]suffers from anxiety and depression and has been admitted twice into inpatient facilities for suicidal ideation. Losing coverage for my child would be devastating. There is absolutely no way we could have afforded these treatments without the help of CHIP.
A., 13, Bucks County
Hello, my name is A., I’m 13 years old and I’m transgender. When I was little in school, people would ask me “are you a girl or a boy?” I would say boy, not knowing any better. That question, still haunting me today, evolved into “Do you wanna be a girl?” Again not knowing any better I would say no. These questions differed me from the other students yet luckily I always had good friends who supported me.
Through out my life I always said that I wanted to be a girl. When I was 2 years old I apparently found some silk scarves in my moms closet and immediately put them on my head to say it was my hair. I loved Ariel, Wonder Woman and Hawk Girl; not Batman, Superman and the Hulk. I wanted to wear girls clothing, play dress up, and be a girl in those pretend games we all played. One time when I was on vacation in Vermont with my parents I asked my mom “Can I be a girl mom? I feel like a girl.” and as we looked out into the snow covered sunset, she said “I don’t know.” And that confused me. I didn’t understand what the problem was. It seemed so easy. I felt like a girl and thought like a girl, most of my friends were girls; so why couldn’t I be one?
I got over it quickly though; mostly because I was only 6 years old at the time, but it never fully “went away.” I asked again in another year or so, then a few months after that, then a few weeks and finally it was all the time.. The feelings got stronger and I felt more and more uncomfortable in my own skin. I couldn’t look on the outside like who I always felt I was on the inside. That was always very confusing, because again why not? Why would people care what I wore or how I felt?
Then seventh grade happened. I couldn’t keep it in any longer just to appease people and their comfortability level. I finally voiced myself so strongly my parents finally said “okay” and we started the process. Doctors, therapy, and waiting. The waiting is the hardest part for me. Not knowing what could happen at any day, any second with my own body is very scary, but I know I have a great group of doctors and support and am finally on the right path. Finally on my path.
The world is changing, and with your help we can change peoples lives. We can change the perception people have of transgender people and the whole LGBTQ community. We need to support and accept and love everyone for who they are, differences or not. We could all live everyday for better and for worse, but together we can thrive.
Preston, 19, York County
My name is Preston Heldibridle. I’m 19 years old, I just graduated from high school in York County and I am transgender. I was also once a recipient of care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). As a young kid who juggled four sports, had chronic ear infections and got bronchitis twice a year, CHIP was vital for me and my family as it is for many other trans youth who depend on CHIP’s funding to get the care they need.
I spent the majority of my high-school years trying to figure out why I felt like my body didn’t feel quite right. After years of struggling, I finally realized that much of this anxiety and discomfort was rooted in the stark difference between who I knew I was inside and how people treated my based on my outward appearance. Once I was able to give the term “gender dysphoria” to my experiences, it helped to validate what I had been grappling with and gave me the courage both to come out as trans and to begin to take measures to help me feel more comfortable in my skin. I cut my hair, wore a binder to flatten my chest and felt the unbelievable relief that came with finally beginning to be at home in who I was and how I presented myself to the world. As my dysphoria gradually lessened, my grades improved, I was more fully present with my friends and my family noticed my mood improve significantly.
Transitioning hasn’t come without its own obstacles, however. One of the biggest challenges for me is the chest binder that I have to wear every day. If I wear it for extended periods of time, it can impede my breathing and bruise my ribs. Most students are at school or out of the house for much longer than eight hours on a daily basis, so this can cause a number of problems. The long-term solution for me and for many other trans youth is surgery (commonly known as “top surgery”), but even though it is critical for my mental and physical health to have this procedure, it is very difficult to make that happen. Top surgeries are expensive, and this puts my health and the health of other trans youth in the hands of the lawmakers who are currently deciding whether or not to cover gender affirmative surgeries under CHIP.