WASHINGTON — LGBT advocates around the nation cheered today as a Supreme Court decision cleared the way for increased transgender and transracial rights.
In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court declared that Syracuse, New York resident Ethan Peterson, who goes by the name LaTawnda Jackson, is entitled to free sexual and racial realignment surgeries from her healthcare provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield. In the majority opinion for Peterson v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Central New York, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that Blue Cross’ denial of coverage for Jackson’s surgeries was a violation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“Federal law establishes that health insurance companies are not allowed to discriminate based on preexisting conditions, race, gender or sexual orientation,” wrote Ginsburg. “Miss Jackson has every right to obtain surgeries that are necessary for her continued well-being.”
Jackson has become a civil rights icon for publicizing her struggles with racial and gender identity. Several years ago, she requested sex change and skin darkening surgeries from her healthcare provider, claiming that she was an African-American woman born in a white man’s body. Jackson claimed that the disconnect between her physical body and mental identity made it impossible for work at her job as a sales representative.
“My whole life I’ve been fighting for this,” a tearful Jackson said following the Court’s decision. “Race and gender are social constructs, and I have the right to be whoever I want to be.”
“This decision represents a true milestone in American history,” stated GLAAD spokesperson Sheila Carpenter. “Just as African-Americans were once enslaved by Jim Crow, so have transracial Americans suffered discrimination for years. It is astounding to see the Supreme Court acknowledge transracial citizens as full human beings.”
The decision was not without its critics, however. African-American groups have condemned the Court’s decision, claiming that Jackson is a “phony” trying to glom onto the struggles of a historically victimized minority.
“This ruling is beyond offensive,” declared Jareed Washington, spokesperson for the NAACP. “White people have stolen everything from us: our home, our freedom, our children, our dignity. Now they are stealing the very essence of our bodies.”
“Don’t you motherf**king come back to Philly, cracka!” screamed New Black Panther Party chairman Ahab Jabazz at a protest held outside the Supreme Court steps. “We know where you f**king live!”
Jabazz was referencing a 2011 incident where Jackson was viciously beaten by a gang of youths while visiting her boyfriend, Jebadya Johnson, in Philadelphia. The case garnered national attention when it was revealed that the youths had called Jackson a “p***y white boy f*ggot,” with prosecutors declaring the attack a homophobic hate crime despite Jackson’s transgender identity.
Additionally, writing for the Supreme Court dissenters, Justice Antonin Scalia expressed his fear that some individuals would take advantage of the ruling.
“Affirmative action has already established special privileges for minorities,” wrote Scalia. “What’s to stop white people from claiming that they’re secretly Hispanic, African-American or what have you to illicitly gain these privileges?”
An estimated two million Americans identify as transracial, claiming to be part of a race other than their biological one. However, many doctors and healthcare providers have refused to provide racial realignment surgeries. Among the surgeries that Jackson will undergo to change her race and gender, she will receive skin darkening treatments, collagen injections in her lips, and silicone implants in her buttocks to make them larger and more prominent.
Additionally, other non-heterosexual and non-cis groups hope that the Peterson ruling will lead to greater acceptance for them.
“I’m so proud to be an American today,” said Aidan Longley, president of the Otherkin Defense Network. “For too long we have been… f**k you, these questions are TRIGGERING me!”
President Obama also offered a short statement on the decision.
“I congratulate Miss Jackson on her victory today,” said Obama. “Step by step, case by case, we are building a more tolerant and loving America.”
Jackson has also announced that she will be writing about her experiences in an upcoming memoir, Sista from Another Mista: My Transracial Struggle.
“I’m gonna show those transracist, transphobic bigots what a sassy black woman can really do!” shouted Jackson to her ebullient supporters.