Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Many Transgender Young People Turn to Prostitution to Buy Illegal Hormones

"It's very class related... When we look at who murder victims are, they're generally young low-income trans women of color and very often immigrants. If you're any of those things you are more susceptible to violence and disrespect. If you're all of those things, you probably feel like you have a bull's-eye on your back."

Cast Out of Their Homes and Unable to Find Work, Many Transgender Young People Turn to Prostitution to Buy Illegal Hormones
May 10, 2007, ABC News

Kenyatta can't talk long; she has a date.

"We call them dates," she said of the men with whom she has sex for money.

Anxiously, she brushes her long dark hair off her slight shoulders and out of her smoky eyes.

Once you know that Kenyatta, 22, was born a male, her large hands and Adam's apple seem obvious. But at first -- and even second -- glance, there is little to suggest that she wasn't a girl her entire life.

She prostitutes herself "about twice a month" in order to buy the black market hormones that enlarge her breasts, raise the pitch of her voice and keep hair from growing on her face.

"Honestly," she said, "I have to pull a trick to pay for hormones."

Kenyatta is one of 25 young people spending the night at Sylvia's Place, an emergency homeless shelter for New York City's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.

A third of the people here this Tuesday night, like most nights, are low-income transgender women who were born male. Kicked out of their homes and ostracized by their peers, they look to each other for solace and to the streets to make a living.

In an effort to make their bodies more feminine, some "trans women" take unregulated doses of hormones bought on the black market and pump industrial silicone -- the same stuff used in brake fluid -- into their breasts. Many have hurt themselves or attempted suicide.

Being transgender is costly. It costs people their families, homes, health, educations and jobs.

It also costs a lot of money.

To pay for their transitions, many of these young women have not only lived on the streets but worked there as well. They sell their bodies to afford the treatments and trappings necessary to make those bodies look to the world as they do in their heads.

Wealthier parents with a child who begins to present as transgender, sometimes as early as 5 years old, will seek information on the Internet, with a family physician, or through a community organization. But many low-income parents can't afford access to those resources.

Children from poorer families are more likely to be thrown out of their homes and end up on the streets.

Though the transgender community in the United States is small, roughly estimated at between 1 and 3 million people, it represents a broad diversity of people.

"Transgender can be anything from feeling internal body dysmorphia [an altered body image] to acting on it, as with cross-dressing, to actually changing your body through hormones, silicone injections and surgery," said Cris Beam, a journalist who spent seven years following a group of transgender youths on the streets of Los Angeles for her book "Transparent."

Those who want surgery and can afford it can spend $10,000 to $20,000 for a sex-change operation.

But for most transgender people, surgery is not an option. Their primary concern is simply making ends meet.

"The vast majority of [transgender] people are poor," said Chris Daley, director of the Transgender Law Center. "Being trans affects their economic health and means unemployment and underemployment. There is a real material cost in transitioning."

In San Francisco -- arguably the most transgender friendly city in the country and home to the minority's largest population -- 60 percent of transgender people make less than $15,300.

Experts and advocates say that people obviously in the middle of transition are often discriminated against when looking for work. Those with jobs often cannot get their health insurance to cover the cost of hormone therapy.

"They're often turned away from places like McDonald's if they're visibly trans -- the most basic workplaces and most basic jobs," said Ray Carannante, associate director of the Gender Identity Project at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in New York.

"They're out there and they often have to rely on sex work. Very often, trans young people have to rely on sex work regardless of what other skills they have."

Britney Spears, who took her new name from the pop singer she loves, was born 22 years ago in Queens, N.Y. Then named Nick, she began wearing her younger sister's clothing when she was 5 years old -- at home and even at school.

When her mother died a few years ago, Britney went to live with a grandmother in Baltimore who later kicked her out.

Now unemployed and living at Sylvia's Place, she tried working at McDonald's and "even [has] the scars to prove it."

"I worked at McDonald's, but it was horrible," she said. "They made me dress as a boy. When I went to the interview, I was all dressed up and I looked beautiful, but the manager said, 'Don't do it around the other workers cause it makes them uncomfortable.'"

Black Market Hormones and Silicone Injections

Many transgender people use hormones to alter their sex characteristics. Estrogen adds breasts to men, stops facial hair from growing and raises the voice.

Costs for hormones vary from place to place and depend upon a person's needs. Medicaid will not pay for most hormone treatments because it considers the therapies optional.

Most transgender people cannot afford to see doctors and get the necessary tests. Instead, they buy hormones on the black market -- usually hormone replacement therapies for menopausal women smuggled into the United States from Mexico.

"The costs vary," said Carannante. "I might be able to get hormones on the street for $20, but someone else might pay $100 dollars for the same thing. The majority of trans youth of color are not getting hormones by prescription."

Janet, 25, hasn't uttered her birth name in almost a decade. She began her transition to become a woman at 14. At about the same time, she began robbing houses to afford black market hormones.

She has criss-crossed the country and bought illegal hormones in California, New York and Texas.

"Just go into any transsexual bar and someone there will be selling," she said.

The only time she ever received hormones by prescription and at regulated doses was at a county jail in San Francisco. After being raped in another prison, she contracted HIV.

On the black market, she said, 1 cc of estrogen costs around $15. A physician might charge more than five times that amount.

She has also spent $800 on laser hair removal and at one time considered pumping industrial silicone into her breasts.

Dr. Ward Carpenter, a physician at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center who works with transgender patients, said there were numerous risks associated with both silicone injections and unregulated hormone use.

"Silicone is a huge health problem & One patient has had 20 surgeries to remove all the silicone injected into her hips 30 years ago. It solidifies, becomes very hard, and clumps into rocks," he said.

"Silicone has a tendency to migrate in the body," he added. "It can be injected in the hips and then you end up in the emergency room with silicone in the lungs."

There are also health risks associated with illegal hormones. Progesterone has been linked to breast cancer and estrogen can cause deadly blood clots in the "lungs, legs, heart and brain."
Class Matters

Low income "trans men" also face challenges in their transition from females to men.
Born Raquel Samantha Hall, 20-year-old Kels never felt comfortable in his body.

"My body never felt right to me," he said. "I always wanted to dress boyish and do boyish things. The body I'm in, I hate. I don't like my breasts or my voice.

"I want to chop off my breasts, but that will cost $8,000. I don't even have good enough credit to get $8,000. I don't even have good enough credit to get a credit card."

Affording their transition is not all low-income transgender people have to worry about.

Young transgender children in wealthier families often receive the benefit of their parents' education and access to information.

Children attending smaller schools in wealthier districts are more likely to have adults advocating for them than those in poor areas where funding is spread thin, said Daley.

Transgender people also must regularly contend with acts of violence. The young people interviewed by ABCNEWS.com all said they had been verbally harassed and some had been physically assaulted.

"For the last decade or two, about one trans person is murdered every month," said Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "We know that number is actually higher because a lot of trans people's murders go unreported either because the police are confused or are trying to help victim's family by masking the person's identity."

"It's very class related," she added. "When we look at who murder victims are, they're generally young low-income trans women of color and very often immigrants. If you're any of those things you are more susceptible to violence and disrespect. If you're all of those things, you probably feel like you have a bull's-eye on your back."

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Danielle Grant 23, of Las Vegas is a RAPIST, She and another man used a date rape drug on Victim at Sahara Palm Apts 2900 El Camino ave. apt 170, Danielle L Grant sodomized the victim with a plunger. A Very SICK person. She is lite skinned 4 '9 to 4'11 and she drives a black ford Focus, She works as an dental assistant during day.Somestimes works as a Las Vegas Escort/Prostitute .STOP her please. Victom is too ashamed to go to police, Danielle L Grant MUST BE STOPED. She is a Known drug dealer and addict (ecstasy,lortab)She was on drugs durring this crime.If you have information on her criminal activities Please contact the Las Vegas Police Dept.

Anonymous said...

[url=http://www.toysrhers.com/BDSM.html]BDSM Porn [/url]

Anonymous said...

Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic however I'd figured I'd ask.
Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a
blog article or vice-versa? My blog discusses a lot of the same topics as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other.
If you might be interested feel free to shoot me an
e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!
Fantastic blog by the way!

my site: cooking games
Also see my page: cooking games

Anonymous said...

Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
The text in your content seem to be running off the screen
in Opera. I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I'd post to
let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the issue resolved soon.
Many thanks

Look at my web page :: logrush

Anonymous said...

It is гeаllу a chef's phrase for 'a put fοr every little thing and all sortѕ of thіngs іn its plасе'. Sizzling air balloon rides around the gorge are also particularly renowned. The Emancipation of Mimi is the tenth studio album by American singer Mariah Carey.

My blog post - pizza stone recipes bread

Anonymous said...

Everуone loves it when рeople get togethеr and shаrе thoughts.

Grеat ѕіte, continue the gooԁ worκ!



my pаge; englishkcc.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

What's up to all, because I am really eager of reading this webpage's post to be updated daily.

It carries pleasant stuff.

Take a look at my web page ... instagram followers

Anonymous said...

Nicе post. I learn somеthіng totally neω аnd сhаllenging on blogs I stumblеuρon everyԁay.
It ωill аlωaуs bе hеlpful to reаd through articlеs from other wгiteгs and use ѕomеthing fгom other sites.


Μy weblog: yuplay.com

Anonymous said...

My partner and I stumbled over here from a different page and thought I should check
things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.
Look forward to looking at your web page yet again.


my webpage :: buy followers on instagram

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this site.
I'm hoping to view the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own blog now ;)

My site; how to get a lot of followers on instagram

Anonymous said...

I аm truly dеlіghtеd to glance at this webpage poѕts which carries plеnty of usеful informatіon,
thanks for рroviding suсh statistics.

Fеel frеe to visit my web sіte; http://www.tultepec.com.mx

Anonymous said...

My ρartner and I stumbled ovеr here by а dіfferеnt page and thοught ӏ may
as ωell checκ things out. Ι lіke whаt I ѕee so
now i'm following you. Look forward to looking at your web page yet again.

Here is my blog post Chemietoilette

Anonymous said...

Right herе is the right web ѕite foг anyοne who
wants to find out about this topіс.
You гealizе a whоle lot its almoѕt tοugh to arguе with you (not
that I really wοuld want to…ΗaHa).

Υou definitely put а brаnd neω spin
on a subϳect whіch has bеen discusseԁ for many yеarѕ.
Great stuff, just grеаt!

Ηere iѕ my ωeb ρage ... Chemietoilette

Anonymous said...

Right herе іs the right web sіte fοr anyone who wantѕ tο find out about thіs topіс.
You realize a whole lοt its almost tough to argue wіth
you (not thаt I rеally would ωant to…HaНa).
You definitely put a brаnd neω ѕpіn on
a subjесt which has beеn discusѕеd for many yеaгs.
Gгeat stuff, just great!

Ѕtop by my site - Chemietoilette

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I have recently been searching for information about
this subject for ages and yours is the greatest I've came upon till now. But, what about the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the source?

My blog post - Flippingpad.com

Anonymous said...

When I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new
comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time
a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment.
Is there a way you are able to remove me from that service?
Thanks a lot!

my web page; buy twitter followers no password

Anonymous said...

Very good blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring
writers? I'm planning to start my own website soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
Would you advise starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid
option? There are so many choices out there that I'm completely overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Also visit my blog post - how to buy followers on social media service twitter

Anonymous said...

Hi would you mind stating which blog platform you're using? I'm planning
to start my own blog in the near future but I'm having a difficult time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something unique.
P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

Feel free to surf to my page - how to buy real cheap twitter followers

Anonymous said...

You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this
matter to be really something that I think I would never understand.
It seems too complicated and very broad for me.
I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to
get the hang of it!

Here is my web site; way to buy real cheap twitter followers free

Anonymous said...

We're a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your web site offered us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

My blog post ... twitter retweets free way to get more instagram followers