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The Bleak Reality of Being Transgender and Chronically Ill – An Interview With Yves O’Rage

At first glance, 22-year-old Yves (pronounced “Ives”) O’Rage is anything but invisible. Between the striking eyes and the incredible bone structure, it would be almost impossible not to give him at least a second glance.

 

But, despite the fact that Yves is a model, as well as an intense and outspoken activist for the LGBT community, he is, in fact, invisible.

 

How is this possible? Well, Yves is transgender. Not only that, he is also chronically and gravely ill.

I met him on Instagram and have been a part of his struggles, victories, triumphs, and setbacks for about a year now, so, when he gave me the opportunity to share his story, I was more than happy to.

 

If anyone can shine a harsh and unflinching light on the discrimination against both chronically ill and transgender people (especially people who happen to fit into both categories), it’s Yves.

 

I Told You I Was Sick

What makes being transgender AND chronically ill such a unique challenge?

Yves O’Rage

Being trans AND chronically ill is challenging and depressing at times because I’m not validated as a trans man, and not a sick person, and especially not both combined. I’m also not believed by doctors or specialists… I’m quickly dismissed and not heard or seen. People see my [gender] identity before they see me, or my needs.”

ITYIWS

Do you have trouble distinguishing between the mistreatment you encounter due to your chronic illness and the mistreatment you encounter due to being transgender? Do you feel they overlap?

YVES

Yes. Both, actually. I’ve been denied medical treatment because I’m trans before, twice. So, I do always have that paranoia, but it does overlap.”

ITYIWS

What illnesses/conditions do you live with?

YVES

“HIT (Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia), DVT (deep vein thrombosis), a rare version of MTHFR (homozygous), Paget Schroetter syndrome, and an immune deficiency disorder, + more that I can’t remember due to memory loss issues.”

ITYIWS

In your opinion, what does society misunderstand most about chronic illness?

YVES

Society misunderstands what being Ill looks like. They assume what they see in movies and the media is realistic (cancer patients, pale, no hair) and anything else is not valid or scary because it is “unheard of”.

Illnesses, symptoms, and disabilities manifest in SO MANY different ways and, they are ALL real and valid. Also, we should not have to prove how sick we are to you to gain your respect or understanding… we’re not objects to make you feel better about your own lives.”

ITYIWS

In your opinion, what does society misunderstand most about being transgender?

 

YVES

Society assumes trans people need to fit and meet cisgender (born with a brain and body both matching assigned gender at birth) passing standards, when in reality we’re all so different and our journeys are different.

We’re not meant to fit into molds, and we don’t have to! People need to respect every trans person’s journey/transition. Being trans comes in many, many different forms, and they are ALL beautiful and valid!!

I’m a trans masc, queer man. And, I don’t pass as a “cisgender man”, but I’m still a man, and that’s OK. I still have feminine parts of me that I LOVE about myself and will never change.

Unlearn toxic masculinity behaviors and unlearn taught misogyny, and your life will open up!!”

ITYIWS

What common ground do you think people with chronic illness and people who are transgender (chronically ill or healthy) share? Why do we seem to understand and relate to one another so well?

YVES

We share the frustration of being ignored, invalidated, silenced, and dismissed. We also share HAVING to advocate for ourselves for our own survival.”

ITYIWS

If you were a public official, what would you change about the way transgender people are treated in the medical community?

YVES

I would immediately make health care more accessible to trans women, especially trans woc (women of color), trans sex workers, and trans people in general. I would also make it a requirement for the doctors to be at least some part of the LGBTQIA+ community because I’m fucking sick of white cishet (cisgender and heterosexual) men being in charge of trans bodies and lives!”

ITYIWS

Will you share a personal story of medical mistreatment you’ve experienced as a direct result of being transgender?

 

Photo courtesy of Soraya Zaman of American Boys Project

YVES

I was denied my testosterone and medication at a pharmacy because the person working “didn’t believe in trans people”, and I guess you can legally do that now. Thanks, Trump.”

ITYIWS

Tell us a little about you as a person. What are your likes and dislikes? Hobbies? Favorite music? Unique facts about you?

YVES

“My name is Yves, I’m a twenty-two-year-old trans masc, queer man, who is chronically ill, disabled, and mentally ill. I’m one year sober (yay!), and I’m a survivor.

I come from an extremely abusive household, and I was the first person on both sides of my family to break that cycle. I grew up to be the person I needed when I was younger, and I’m a fiercely loyal and loving person. I’m an intense energy, and I absolutely love that about myself. I’m a published artist, model, and photographer!

I’m weird and awkward but endearing. I’ve also been on my death bed twice, but survived barely both times. My current state of health is declining, but I’m trying to hold onto hope (because that’s all we have, right?).

I’m an animal lover (proud pet dad), a witch, and I’m a medium ( yes, I talk to dead people lol!).”

ITYIWS

What do you need right now to be healthier and safer?

YVES

Right now I need help with moving costs and starting over from nothing (I’ll literally only have a backpack and my cat). I’m trying to escape my abuser (violent history/abuse), and where I’m trying to move has better access to health care that is VITAL for my survival.

My friend needs a roommate, and I need to move THIS MONTH or she has to find someone else because of her own financial situation. So this is my lucky, one-chance opportunity! I need to move for both my physical and mental health.”

ITYIWS

Is there anything we can do to help you?

YVES

I need funds for my ticket, first month’s rent, and a bed, food and just general essentials!!! I’ll have nothing, but I’d rather start over with nothing but the clothes on my back than have to stay here any longer.”

ITYIWS

I truly appreciate Yves and his willingness to take the time (and the spoons) to do this interview with me.

To help get him in a healthier, safer situation, click on the links below and donate via PayPal or VenMo.

Donate Via PayPal

Donate Via Venmo

To learn more about Yves, check out his Instagram page.

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