Jarrah Hodge of Gender Focus published an article in The Huffington Post today about a Calgary radio contest, “Breast Summer Ever” in which contestants vied for the chance to win cosmetic breast augmentation surgery.
According to the article:
The initial reaction from some feminist bloggers was to condemn the contest for perpetuating damaging standards of feminine beauty. For example, Gauntlet awarded AMP their “Outstanding Enforcer of the Patriarchy Award” for “telling women that they are not good enough the way they are and suggest[ing] other women follow in the winner’s footsteps.”
However, Jarrah continues:
The concerns raised about the contest were legitimate. But many entrants challenged the idea that cosmetic breast surgery is always something women to do conform to a beauty ideal and please men. “I’m doing it for me. I’m not doing it for anyone else out there. This is something I’ve wanted for ten-plus years,” said entrant Diana.
And the eventual winner of the show was a trans woman going by the name “Avery”. That hit very close to home for me, and now I feel compelled to write about it, as both someone dating a Canadian trans woman and a feminist who believes in bodily autonomy.
Jaime and I are very lucky to live in Canada, specifically, in British Columbia. If we lived one province over, then we’d be out of luck. Echoing Jarrah, I point out that the Alberta government cut funding for SRS (Sexual reassignment surgery) several years ago, leaving many trans people floundering. I know many would think, “why not just move to BC or Saskatchewan?” but leaving behind your job, family, and community takes a lot of money, free time, and resources many trans people lack, especially ones who are younger and may not have the means to attain financial independence. Jarrah again points out:
The Canada Health Act guarantees all Canadians access to comprehensive, universal, accessible health care. It’s not supposed to be limited based on how few people require the treatment or affected by discrimination. But coverage for SRS procedures is inconsistent across Canada and people in some provinces people are required to jump through more hoops than in others (for an overview, check out this interactive map via xtra.ca).
This is unacceptable. My Jaime may some day require surgery (SRS and breast augmentation) to help her achieve happiness and become comfortable with her body. The idea that her happiness and health are less valuable and seen by the Alberta government as not worth protecting because she’s trans makes me ill.
Now, onto the nature of breast augmentation. Jaime’s reasons for wishing to do it are quite clear; she wants them in order to be more aligned to her vision of the woman she wants to be. She has large shoulders, so larger breasts are also a practical way of making her shoulders less visually prominent and giving her a more feminine silhouette. She’s not doing it to please any man, being a lesbian, her reasons are purely to bring her vision to life. How could anyone object to that? It is truly a tragedy that Avery had to go out on such a large audience in order to get the funding she needed to align her body to make her happy, but maybe her win will be a wake-up call to Canadian allies on the importance of telling the Alberta government that this decision isn’t a money saver, but it is a life-ruiner.