The Importance of Choice and Bodily Autonomy

The Importance of Choice and Bodily Autonomy
Photo by Suhyeon Choi / Unsplash

I'm all about tattoos.

Seriously; I love my ink, I love seeing other people's ink, and I'm always absolutely thrilled to get compliments on my body art. I've had a lovely elderly woman approach me at a garden center to tell me she loved one of my pieces, and it totally made my whole year!

Tattoos, piercings, scarification, you name it. Humans have always found ways to decorate and beautify our bodies throughout history, and it's a tradition that I adore. It's a way to express myself and exert control over my own flesh, to alter my skin in a way that makes me happy regardless of what anybody else thinks.

My body is my own. It belongs to me, only me, and nobody else. It's the vessel for who I am; the exterior surface on which my interior self is painted. I enjoy being able to alter that vessel as I wish.

When I was a teenager, I approached my dad to tell him I was thinking about getting a tattoo and I wanted to know if he'd be okay with that. He joked that I wasn't allowed, but after laughing about it for a moment he said something magical:

"It's your body. Nobody can decide what to do with it but you."

Those words made a nest in my brain, and they've been stuck there ever since. To be told that I had total power over my own body and what I did with it, that I didn't need anybody else's permission? Oh, hell yeah!

That wasn't a common message for girls when I was growing up, when everyone around me seemed to have an opinion. Dress like this, not like that, what people think when they look at you is important, etcetera.

The moment I realized that was bullshit was so liberating.

Therefore, it likely comes as no surprise to anyone that I am firmly and resolutely pro-choice. If I get to have choices about how I decorate my body, then I have every right to make choices about everything else that happens to it too.

The decisions made about one's body when it comes to medical care should be made by oneself, in conjunction with the advice of qualified medical professionals. Full stop. Everybody else needs to mind their own business and keep their noses out of it.

I think that there is no greater example of freedom and liberty than the ability to control what happens to your own flesh. The moment that control is taken away, then you're essentially being told that your body is no longer your own property.

Since we've yet to find a way to split our minds and sense of self away from our physical bodies, that's about the most fundamental loss of freedom that I can imagine.

When I say that I'm pro-choice, I'm not only talking about reproductive healthcare. That's definitely a big part of it, but it's not the only part. I'm also talking about cosmetic surgeries and gender affirming medical care for transgender people.

There are lawmakers in the United States, Canada, and the UK who want to argue about whether transition should be allowed under the law. In my opinion, those people need to butt the heck out of the issue.

Again; the decisions should come down to the person who lives in that body, and the doctors that are working with them on the process. Bodily autonomy is a fundamental human right, and it should be respected and treated accordingly.

You don't get to take it away just because you feel personally uncomfortable about what somebody else wants to do with their own body.

If you don't like gender affirming care, then don't go through gender affirming care. If you don't want gay marriage, don't get gay married. If you don't like abortion, then don't have one.

But you don't get to tell other people that they can't, and that is not a complicated ideal to live by. You don't get to glorify the ideals of freedom and liberty and then turn around and tell people they aren't allowed control over their own bodies.

We have no right at all to force somebody to do something with their bodies that they don't want to do. That includes restricting them from body modification and healthcare, be it reproductive or gender affirming.

We don't kick up a fuss about someone having corrective surgery on a broken nose, and we shouldn't kick up a fuss about a grown adult deciding to have top surgery.

Leave them alone. Mind your own damn business. It's not your body, so you don't get a say.

Solidarity wins.