Hiiiiii! I'm Joan Summers, but my friends call me Joanie.
I'm looking for $10,000 for procedures I have been denied as a trans woman by my workplace and health insurance provider. Any money I accrue over that amount, as well as any leftover funds, will be redistributed back into the community. I'm not alone in my need, and most importantly, trans women are my first priority.
I guess I should explain a little bit, but I was never very good at writing about myself, even if by day, I'm a staff writer at Jezebel, covering mostly celebrity gossip and fashion and trans politics. Everywhere else, I'm a union rep and organizer. When I'm not doing either, I'm taking care of my family, both the blood kind, and the ones I chose for myself. I put a lot on my plate!
2021 marks my 7th year transitioning, at least officially, although it's really been more like 15 years since I first came out to everyone as Joan, me, the girl with the loud voice and too big personality.
In the last 7 years, I've battled with joblessness, suicide, addiction, and most recently, sobriety. (I hit the year mark last week!) I'm not very good with money, to be totally honest, and I've spent most of my income on others, or on my demons, or on coping mechanisms to survive this hell world we've been trapped in. I've been hospitalized and almost locked up (for good) by doctors, when that sort of thing was more common for trans girls just looking for a little juice and a chance at a normal life. I was very lucky to fall in quick with a supportive network of elders and trans women who've been doing this for decades, and they showed me where to get the black market goods and which stores to steal my bras from.
It wasn't always easy... actually, I'm downplaying it. It was hard. It was hard in the beginning, and it's hard now.
But I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm now employed, and married, and I have semi-stable housing, although who knows for how long. Because transparency matters to me, I am a staff writer at a blog, although we definitely don't make as much as some commenters like to think we do. My take home is $49,000 a year after taxes and insurance, although it's really more like $40,000 or less a year if I factor in the people I take care of, the costs of being an alive trans woman, and whatnot.
We're on a single income, because of the pandemic, and have been for most of the year. And while I have "insurance," it only covers hormones and SRS, yet not the extra costs incurred by it, nor any of the other stuff most trans girls seek to feel ourselves in body and spirit. In the past year, I organized, quite publicly, to get my coworkers and I more equitable insurance, not just for trans people, but for everyone. The company denied that request emphatically, and in many ways, made it harder than ever to continue the fight for a just workplace.
And, a year into this pandemic, and seven years into my transition, I'm drained. I have no money, no prospects, and no real light at the end of the tunnel that screams: "Don't worry! You're gonna get there someday!" I'm not the only one, however, and that voice at the back of my head has told me to put this off every single time another anniversary rolls around. "Oh, I don't need it as bad as others." "I can wait." "It's ok, maybe next year, or when I get a better job."
Fucked up, isn't it, that we're all pitted against each other in the arena of healthcare. Thrown into the arena and asked to fight it out for whatever scraps are left.
To anyone who donates, I really appreciate it, more than I can say. Money is tight for everyone, and I certainly haven't been the best at spending it, as I said. I'm hoping I don't need all of it either, since I would like to give as much of it back as I can.
Thanks in advance, and good luck out there. See you on the other side of this!