Ever since the Supreme Court ruled on Dobbs v Jackson's Women's Health, I have heard a near constant refrain of we've been here before. And that's basically true: there was another time when abortion was illegal in a many states and inaccessible to some people no matter where they lived. But what gives me comfort and hope right now is that we actually haven't been here before. We have never been here, today, in this moment, before. We have never stood at the precipice of this exact moment with all these particular yesterdays at our back.
Which means... it's different this time.
It took me a while to see them, but the signs are clear. A few weeks ago when the supreme court draft decision was first leaked I didn't go to a women's rights rally, I went to a reproductive rights rally. That's a small word difference but a big ideological distinction. It's not just women who are affected by this madness, trans folks and non-binary humans also need access to safe, affordable abortions. And while this was also true half a century ago, the effort at that time centered around women and left those other folks mostly out of the discussion.
In 1973 we didn't have the expanded vocabulary we do today. Queer was still a pejorative and the gender binary was not yet up for broader discussion. Of course all the many flavors of human still existed, they just weren't recognized in popular language or mainstream media. But we've got the words today. And queer, trans, and non-binary humans are all over every kind of modern media. So it's different this time.
At the reproductive rights rally, one of the speakers made note of the folks who came dressed as characters from “The Handmaid's Tale” (Margaret Atwood's novel about a dystopian future ruled by patriarchal white supremacists who rigidly control people with the capacity for pregnancy and dictate how and when they will use their body for reproduction). The speaker pointed out that many marginalized folks have already been living a Handmaid's Tale-esq reproductive reality for quite some time.
It was a nice reminder that the tent is bigger now and there are more kinds of people standing together under it. It was also reassuring. The more factions supporting human rights for everyone, the more likely we are to succeed. It’s going to take everyone coming together to create the long-lasting social change we so desperately need in this area. Just like it will take everyone coming together to dismantle white supremacy and overcome racism.
There are some people still beating that tired, old drum of fewer rights for certain other people. But the resistance is playing a new tune with a completely different array of instruments because this time it’s different. That doesn't mean we're guaranteed to win, but it does mean the old script no longer applies. I’m comforted by the variety and volume of different voices writing the new one. Lead on, you beautiful blend of humanity, lead on.
Information and Inspiration
Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.