The Cheap Distraction of "Gender Ideology"

Public Service Announcement: your government isn't interested in helping you

Amethysta Herrick
Amethysta Herrick
Shady characters seek to distract the unwary - image by the author via Midjourney

I am very angry.

Last week, I discovered the gender-affirming surgery I scheduled for 01 May 2024 is not likely to occur. In short, I cannot afford it; my insurance claim was denied.

There are reasons - ostensibly good ones - why my claim was denied. The insurance company will not cover my surgery because I chose an out-of-network provider when there is an in-network provider close to me.

I chose a provider three hours by plane from home because when I spoke to the surgical center an hour down the road, I was informed transgender care is performed on a waitlist basis only. I am on a waitlist for consultation, and they believe it will take a year to 18 months for enough cancellations to occur for me to speak to a surgeon. The entire wait before surgery was estimated anywhere between three to five years.

My transgender and nonbinary Sisters, Siblings, and Brothers outside the US may scoff at a duration that angers me so much. After all, in the UK, a wait of three to five years is pretty damn good.

I concede the wait is longer elsewhere, and add my real issue is that the wait also comes with a hefty price tag. Further, the denial of my claim underscores a greater underlying issue with transgender care not just in the US, but globally.

The high price of gender-affirming care

I do not know every figure on the projected bill for surgeon, hospital facility, and aftercare. Based on what I do know, after deductible, coinsurance, incidentals, and all other aspects of health care that insurance fails to pay for, I expect a bill between $25,000 and $35,000 for an in-network provider. Without insurance, the price tag is likely closer to $70,000 for a relatively simple, minimal-depth vaginoplasty.

Bear in mind these are prices I could acquire from both surgeon and hospital today. I'm expected to wait three to five years for this procedure. I have little doubt the cost of health care and the efficacy of health insurance will change between now and whenever I receive care. I doubt greatly they will change in my favor.

Thus I find myself in the odd position of a growing sector of the middle class. I am simultaneously too rich to receive health care, but not rich enough to afford health care.

To be clear, I understand - possibly even support - an insurance company choosing not to cover frivolous or dangerous health care.

I cannot understand an insurance company balking at care demonstrated to be effective. When gender dysphoria is mitigated, the result is improved outlook on life, increased happiness, and the lowest regret rate of any health care currently available. People treated for gender dysphoria go on to lead statistically longer and healthier lives, documented in data stretching back more than five decades.

The decline of US government

You read that right: the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) has studied gender-affirming care for 50 years. Five decades. We know how gender transition works.

But since Christine Jorgensen returned from Denmark to become a national celebrity in 1952, our government has declined to a state of torpor. Jorgenson’s transition from G.I. to blonde bombshell was hailed as a triumph of modern medicine and good ol' American stick-to-it-tive-ness in the 1950s. Today, Jorgenson would be reviled as an affront to religions and a danger to children in the general vicinity.

What changed? Widespread belief that people can and should be who they are has diminished. Our government now fears to allow people to be themselves - it may entail losing the control they built up insidiously since the 1950s.

I wrote last week human identity is encompassed by the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is, we must be free to own our bodies, free to own the results of our efforts, and free to live our lives the way we choose.

After almost three decades of paying taxes to my country, almost three decades of paying increasingly exorbitant health care premiums for increasingly shrinking benefits, my country has demonstrated it has nothing to offer me.

Political sleight-of-hand

My country is not concerned about my life, my liberty, my pursuit of happiness, my motivations, my desires - my identity. No. My country is concerned with the non-argument of "gender ideology." My country is concerned with distracting each of us from the obvious attack it makes on identity proper.

The political discussion today is not about being "a good Christian" - whatever that means. It is not about unbridled "wokeness" - whatever that means.

Instead, the political discussion is about ensuring no citizen in the United States is free to think and act in the way they choose. The distraction is a concerted effort at control at a level many of us would laugh to consider from a government allegedly based on the concept of individual rights.

But I’m not joking - our government is losing its control and must find new ways to maintain its stranglehold on our existence.

The non-argument around gender and identity is not a burgeoning concept in political philosophy. It is not a well-thought out sociological argument. It is not a political movement.

In fact, people who agree with their politicians, who believe and support these non-arguments - both liberal and conservative - receive little more than a snow job. The words our politicians speak are empty. They are devoid of meaning. They do not represent the human experience because they are a distraction.

The only solution

Now that I know I will continue not to receive assistance from my insurance company, what am I going to do? Simple: I'm going to go to a place where I can afford health care.

Outside the United States, a fascinating industry has grown to support those in Western society unable to afford health care. It's called Medical Tourism.

I will fly 20 hours to receive surgery other doctors are more than pleased to provide for people with modest incomes. Thailand is an excellent example - where they appreciate and even care for their transgender community.

Frankly, our leaders should be embarrassed to be shown up by surgical clinics serving a market the US cannot. These clinics are willing to innovate, to drive down costs, to do the work, and to provide a service too mired in politics to be done by others.

The grand irony, of course, is Thailand is a monarchy. The United States - supposedly a Capitalist nation - is getting schooled by clinics doing exactly what this country used to represent.

A difficult path to walk

I was well aware it would not be simple when I first set foot on the path of gender transition. I knew it would be difficult.

But I didn't expect my country to throw obstacles in my path at every possible venture. I didn't expect society to oppose me so vehemently for asserting the person I already knew I was. I didn't expect family and friends to be as hateful for becoming the person they've always known but never saw.

The Universe intends my path to be difficult. I sense there is a profound lesson for me to learn. I don't know what that lesson is yet.

But I will pledge this: when I have plowed through this quagmire, I will do my best to ensure this poor treatment does not last. I've done what I can so far, and I intend to continue.

There is so much more I could say, so much more to rail against this injustice. Unfortunately, however, I have to go.

I need to begin preparing my passport to find the transgender care my country chooses to deny me.


Amethysta Herrick

Ami is a transgender woman dedicated to exploring identity and gender. She is Editor-in-Chief of Purplepaw Publications, LLC.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the offical policy or position of Purplepaw Publications, LLC. Please view the Disclaimer page for further information.