17 April 2012

Fake Butts And Real Troubles

Last week, when I was in Florida, the "Fake Butt Doctor" was in the news.

Oneal Ron Morris was accused of injecting patients' backsides with a mixture of cement, mineral oil, Fix-a-Flat tire sealant and Super Glue.  I don't think I have to say that the mixture is toxic; even if it weren't, I don't see how any but the most desperate of people would ever let themselves be injected with such a mix.

I was struck by two things about this story.  One, which the media played up, is the fact that Morris is a transgender woman.  One one hand, I was appalled at the news reporters for mentioning it.  After all, if she were a cis woman or man, no one would have mentioned it.  Also, if she'd been a gay man, lesbian or bisexual, I doubt that any reporter, at this late date, would have mentioned it.  On the other hand, I felt even more upset at Morris herself.  As a transsexual woman myself, I could only ask myself how she, who surely felt as desperate as her victims, could have so exploited them.  Given that some trans people who feel they have no other recourse will submit themselves to the risks of "doctors" like Morris, I couldn't help but to wonder whether some of her patients were trans women.

The other thing her exploitation of those people highlighted, at least for me, is the very desperation I've just mentioned.  I can't give you exact numbers, but I know that there are probably thousands, if not more, trans people who, for various reasons, cannot get cosmetic surgeries, let alone GRS/SRS.  Some will do just about anything to get those procedures:   That is one reason why many trans people, particularly the young, turn to sex work.  

However, even if they had access to the money they'd need for the surgeries, they would have to go through a lengthy and expensive screening process.  Many would be rejected for hormone treatment and surgery. Some should be.  But there are many others who have such adversarial relationships with physical and mental health care providers that they simply can't bear the thought of going through the screenings.  Also, some--again, the young in particular--see having surgeries as a "cure" for the emotional (and sometimes physical) scarring they've incurred as a result of repressing themselves, bullying or even banishment from their families and communities.  

Now, I don't know exactly who Morris' patients/victims were, so I do not know which ones might have fit the profiles I've sketched.  Still, I believe that no matter how scarred she might be from her own experiences, she should have been able to understand how desperate some of her patients/victims were.  To exploit that, as she did, is unconscionable.

The worst thing about this story, though, is that she's far from the only "doctor" to so take advantage of such people.  She is merely one of the latest, and her identity as a trans woman makes her a more sensational story than the others. 

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