This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read, from Them, an LGBTQ online magazine, by Ita Segev, a “transfeminine anti-Zionist Israeli interdisciplinary performance artist.”
I am an Israeli trans woman who desperately needs Palestine to be free. ….I need this because I understand that trans liberation and Palestinian liberation are linked.
About 10 months ago, I figured out that I wanted to start hormone replacement therapy and in that way medically transition. There were many reasons for this decision, but one of them was the realization that growing up Israeli and trans in Jerusalem while being expected to become a Zionist man left an aftermath in my body. I needed help to heal, and sensed that growing a rounder, more tender body would help me connect with the justice-loving feminine child inside of me, and that having such a body would help me grow from that soft place.
I was already grounded in my anti-Zionist Israeli identity. After I moved to New York, I was thrilled to find how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement allowed me to work in a non-violent and tangible way under Palestinian leadership to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Yet I still secretly wished for a moment that would alleviate me from the difficulties of my past. And I decided the moment of starting hormones would be it.
And so I waited until the Jewish new year to go to my pharmacy, and start that phase in my transition. I imagined the little ritual I would do while taking that first teal colored pill — new year, new Jew, new me. But when the pharmacy handed me the bottles with my medication, I looked at the label that read “produced by Teva Pharmaceuticals” and my heart stopped.
Teva, a word meaning “nature” in Hebrew, is an Israeli-owned pharmaceutical company that I have vaguely heard about as a participant in the economy of the occupation. This must be a mistake, I thought.
“Excuse me,” I said when I went back to my pharmacist. “This estrogen is produced by an Israeli company, and I am a supporter of BDS. Could I please have a prescription from a different manufacturer?”
“This is the only manufacturer we carry,” the pharmacist quickly replied.
I was in shock. How could this be? I texted all my medicalized trans sisters on my way home and asked a simple question: “Who makes your hormones?” Many of them didn’t know offhand. It takes a great deal of struggle and an intense amount of questioning for many trans folks to get their hands on this life-saving medication, and once we do, we want to start immediately and experience an end to questions regarding the validity of our identity and our choices. But my sisters heard the urgency in my call and checked in. As the responses came, every single one was either Teva, or a company that a quick Google search listed as linked to Teva.
How did this one Israeli company play such a large role in the cross-gender hormone market? How did my body once again find itself as a battleground, a settlement, an ongoing pawn in this Zionist game?
I later got in touch with a Jewish, anti-Zionist trans student at Mills College, Daryn Copland, who reached out to me online. He told me that he had been dedicating the past year of his research to understanding the connections between cross-gender hormone production in the U.S. and in Israel. He told me that he too found out his testosterone was made by Teva and wanted to understand what we should do about it as trans folks who support the BDS movement.
This was no longer just about me feeling free in my body. A large part of the trans community in the U.S. is being forced to choose between our life-affirming transitions and our Palestinian siblings’ demand for freedom.
… I hope that all the trans, GNC, and queer folks reading this will help us make the message loud and clear — Zionism has tried to tie trans liberation to Palestinian oppression, but we refuse to accept this as our reality.
Oh no!!! Her body has become an illegal settlement! Zionism itself has oppressed Palestinians by cornering the market on sex hormones, somehow!
Should she take the hated drugs to become a woman, or stick to her principles and remain a man?
Apparently Ita is swallowing her pride – and the Israeli pills. But she justifies it by creating “performance art” where she embellishes a story she says she heard second hand, almost certainly not true, about an IDF soldier with no experience shooting a missile at and blowing up the wrong building in Gaza during a battle.
Her Facebook page shows that she is not making much money as a performance artist because she also is asking to find a job in “babysitting, hosting, ticket selling, teaching, workshop facilitating, assistenting [sic], coat checking, sales representetiving [sic] or other type of work” that pays $25-$30 an hour.
(h/t Aryeh Meir)
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