Deaf trans person didn’t even know top surgery was an option because healthcare is so inaccessible
Amna is sharing their experience of being deaf and trans to call on trans communities, events and healthcare to become accessible to deaf trans people like them.
It wasn’t until last November that Amna realised he could get top surgery – because he didn’t have access to that information. And, they say, while they love their deaf community, they constantly face challenges in accessing resources and support within the LGBT+ community.
A 32-year-old living in Manchester, Amna spoke to PinkNews with the help of a friend who acted as a sign language translator – translating his answers, via sign language, into text. Amna points out that this interview would not have been possible without this translation.
By sharing their story, Amna hopes that more awareness will be brought to the “importance of equity and inclusion”.
PinkNews: Hi Amna. Thanks so much for doing this interview. First off, what are your pronouns please?
Amna: I actually just learned about all of the pronouns used in this community, so I’m still trying to figure them out as they’re new to my vocabulary.
For now, I’m going by they/he (interchangeably).
What has your path to coming out as trans been like?
To this day, I struggle with gender dysphoria (another word I just learned). Growing up as a sign language user, I did not have access to resources to understand what sorts of support were available. I also come from a Muslim family, and I did not feel comfortable discussing this with them.
I remember watching a vlog in sign language about an AFAB deaf trans person’s journey approximately six years ago, which sparked my curiosity. I had met several deaf trans women prior but I didn’t know any deaf trans men at that time.
How did you eventually find out that you could get top surgery, and how did you feel when you realised it was an option?
I also thought that hormone therapy (ie testosterone) was required in order to get top surgery, which scared me as I didn’t want to be disqualified from playing football for the Deaf National Team.
It was not until 25 November, 2020, when my friend shared PinkNews’ video feature on Elliot Douglas, a deaf trans man, when I truly felt seen. Validated. It was what I wanted, the joy of being deaf and trans. And that it was possible for me to have the same.
I just remember feeling the rapture of pure joy. The feeling of coming home to myself.
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This video was the catalyst of my decision to come out as a deaf trans person. The next day, I posted a video on my Instagram page to announce my decision to get top surgery.
What are the main challenges you face in accessing support from the LGBT+ community?
I would love to see this community come together to provide more resources in sign language.
To partner with (and pay) deaf trans individuals to provide accessible workshops, training, and information to the signing community, especially healthcare professionals.
Current psychological assessments are not designed for deaf people – do not take into account deaf culture and our language.
To provide sign language interpreters and captions for webinars, public events, etc.
To encourage each other to make online content accessible.
To make wellbeing and support groups accessible to the signing deaf community. I just learned of an online wellbeing program for trans individuals. The first thoughts that came to mind was, is this accessible? Will I have a sign language interpreter? Will they hold space for deaf signing trans people like myself?
What do you think the biggest misconceptions are that hearing people have about deaf people?
I want to acknowledge the intersectional identities that exist within the deaf community. Sign language is not universal. Each country has their own sign language (I know seven different sign languages).
Also, not all deaf people sign, nor can all deaf people, speak or lip read. Each deaf person’s experience is unique.
What can non-disabled LGBT+ people do to support their disabled siblings?
There’s a huge disconnect with the non-signing trans community and we need to work together to change that.
We need to create more content in sign language. As incredible as Elliot’s video was, the only way to understanding what he was saying was through my friend’s sign language translation.
Deaf trans signing communities belong, too.
Amna is crowdfunding for his top surgery here.
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