As I write this, the Republicans in the Missouri Legislature are planning to introduce legislation that would ban abortions after six weeks, modeled on the Texas law that would take effect this week. If this bill is filed, passed, and signed into law here in Missouri, it would change the lives of over half of the 500,000 Kansas Citians who call Kansas City home. It’s important that we show up, call, and email our state representatives to prevent this bill from going into effect here in Missouri. Moreover, it’s important that we also realize that as cisgender men, we could never undertand what cisgender woman, transgender indivduals, and non-binary people with uteruses are going through right now. It’s our duty though to show up, center those voices, and stand in solidarity with those targeted by this law.
The question I have been hearing over the past week is what can we as cisgender men do during the time of abortion bans in our country. The first place we can start is by understanding that cisgender women are not the only ones who are effected by abortion bans. One thing I have noticed is that for those who may not have the privilege of “passing” and those who don’t quite “fit the mold,” they often don’t make it into discussions around reproductive justice. This can be quite harmful to our transgender and non-binary community members who are also effected by these abortion bans. It’s important that we understand as cisgender men that cisgender women, transgender individuals, and our non-binary community members deserve to have visability. We can ensure that by keeping our language and spaces inclusive for all.
The second place we can start is by understanding that we are not supposed to have an opinion on this issue and that we have no space in this discussion. With great privilege comes even greater responsibility, and we must accept that we could never understand. Our privilege would be better used by showing up, listening, and amplifying the voices of those on the frontline of this. It’s important that we also step aside and give the stage to the many people who are touched by these abortion bills being implemented across our country.
The third thing we can do as allies to the movement is to talk to other cisgender men about reproductive justice. Let’s face it, another man is more likely to listen to one of his peers, and that’s where we as allies need to show up. We can’t leave all of this uphill work to be left on those affected by this, we must initiate the conversations in our networks. It’s important that we don’t delegate reproductive justice to just being a “women’s issue,” but one of great importance to us all. Personal freedom is personal freedom, and an attack on one often initiates a domino effect into other forms of attack upon basic human rights.
The last thing we can do is be bold enough to admit that we don’t know everything. This is especially true if the issue at hand doesn’t directly affect you. Having an opinion on an issue that doesn’t directly affect you is a privilege. One of the best things allies can do is to come to an issue with a sense of humility and curiosity. One of the most destructive things for an ally to do is to enter any reproductive freedom discussion with the notion that he already has all the information. It’s important that we’re humble enough to allow others to educate us and inform us. Please ask questions and be aware of the privilege we hold as cisgender men entering discussions with people with uteruses around reproductive rights. Our role as an ally is to support from the sidelines and to not insert ourselves into the center of the conversation on reproductive freedom. Empower the movement by getting out of the way and having the guts to own up to the responsibility that comes with great privilege.
I’ll admit, I’m no expert when it comes to reproductive freedom — and no cisgender man is — but the worst thing we could do right now is be bystanders in this fight.
Justice Horn is a Kansas City resident, vice chair of the LGBTQ Commission, former NCAA wrestler, and LGBTQ trailblazer.