Because I live in a little bit of a feminist urban bubble, I was first shocked, then pleased, and then saddened by the news that PEI will finally make safe abortions available in the province. I hadn’t realized that women in PEI who wished to have an abortion that their provincial healthcare coverage would pay for had to travel out of province for the procedure – hence the shock. I had naively assumed that living in a supposedly first world country meant access to safe medical procedures close to home – especially when they are time-sensitive. While I’m pleased that the procedure is now accessible to women whose tax dollars are paying for it, I remain concerned, and saddened, that the service is limited to a single hospital. While it’s good to know that women who request the procedure will not require a physician’s referral, the fact that abortions will only be available at a single medical institution suggests a lack of awareness on the part of the decision-making body. I suppose one should be grateful for a marginal increase in accessibility, but I wonder how much more political will is required for women across the island to have access safe medical procedures at locations are closer to home.
And on the subject of bodies and access – Caitlyn Jenner’s big reveal in Vanity Fair sparked a pleasant amount cheering and public approval, and Twitter took it upon itself to remind users to use the correct pronoun when referring to her in tweets. The outpouring of support was nice to see. So were the pieces from visible trans people, notably Laverne Cox and Lucas Silviera, each of whom took the time to remind us that, while Caitlyn’s public coming out raises awareness about some of the experiences that trans individuals live through, it is not representative of the vast diversity of experience, or the varying levels of access and the challenges that trans people face on a regular basis. What did make me think, and chuckle, was Jon Stewart’s response to the reaction the media had to Caitlyn Jenner. While not as scathing as it could be, Stewart raises valuable points about how we treat women – which tie in
with Silviera’s comments about beauty standards and physicality in a surprisingly coherent way.
While progress is slow and tolerance of diversity has yet to become complete acceptance of diversity, it is nice to see that it is still happening.