Let's talk about pumping for a moment, shall we?
Imagine it this way: your neighbor Ted buys a tube of silicone caulk, squeezes it into a dirty coffee cup, pulls a smidge of it into a dirty needle, and jabs it into your breast. One misstep by Ted sends silicone straight into your heart - bam! dead - or to the pulmonary system, where the silicone leads to a slow death by suffocation. If that isn't the case, within ten years the silicone fuses to living tissue, often clogging blood vessels and leading to its own slow, painful death. The price we must pay for beauty, mercy me!
The trans community as a whole is often targeted by these illegal silicone pumping rings. One of the most frequent conversations I have as a transgender woman is the dangers of pumping; dozens of friends have begged, pleaded, and even promised beatdowns if I even considered attending one of these illegal parties. The persistent nature of their warnings really caught my attention; I didn't really see pumping as a problem in Indianapolis, little bastion of metropolitan chic it was. I asked, "Why so serious? It's not like we have people running pumping parties in little ol' Indiana!"
I really wish I didn't have to say this, but pumping parties do exist in Indianapolis. Furthermore, they are directly targeting the Indiana trans crowd for customers.
It's very difficult to get anybody to go on record about these parties. I have a number of sources telling me stories about being propositioned, pressured, or otherwise invited to a party. I have seen the results of these parties in both the short- and long-term. I've heard of people dying due to complications from these procedures, people losing body parts, the whole nine yards. This is not a friendly game of backyard tee-ball: these people are serious about their trade. Oftentimes, pumping parties are also tied up in other illicit markets: parties are often funded and publicized by the same people who deal in out-of-country hormones, prostitution, and, most frighteningly, the drug trade.
Their success among trans people can be attributed to two major factors. One, a lack of trans-friendly careers and doctors means that trans people are often forced to look on the street for transition needs. This is especially true in Indiana, where LGBT issues are outright ignored by most citizens. Two - and this is far more insidious - many people just don't care about the fate of transgender people. (So a trans person dies of an infection from an illegal practice. They had it coming!) Add to this an unhealthy dose of negative self-image, and the pumping parties practically have a captive market.
Ending the pumping party practice is equally difficult. For one, the parties fulfill a need that nobody else can: cheap, affordable, no-questions-asked cosmetic procedures, coupled with access to other illegal services. Even if every pumping ring was caught and disbanded, someone would still want that cheap cosmetic job. Making this harder still is the connections a pumping ring often has to organized crime: again, these people aren't operating out of a backyard shop so much as they are acting as satellite organizations for a deeper-rooted crime ring. This allows them to engender a culture of fear around their practice, effectively silencing anybody who would dare stand up against them. People who stand up to crime rings don't last too long, or so goes the public opinion.
So, in short, we can't stop illegal pumping, even though we know for fact that the rings exist. But we can try to keep pumping to a minimum. In the interest of public service, here are three simple things everyone should take away about pumping parties:
Know it exists. Before someone let me in on the secret, I would never have guessed that people went around injecting illegal silicone into people's bodies. (I mean, how stupid is that?) Knowing these people exist is half the battle. The other half - perhaps more important than the first - is to let others know about their existence as well. Pumpers often misrepresent their services to draw in naïve clientele, and it's up to us to let people know just how terrible the practice can be.
Know about the dangers. Here's the short list: you could die. You could die instantly, or quickly, or slowly. You could die choking on bathtub caulk. You could die of a window-caulked heart attack. You could die when the heavy-duty silicone fuses with the blood vessels in your hip, causing tumors that cannot be removed. The only safe way to have these procedures done is to go to a professional, who will use the correct tools for the job. Anything less is suicide.
Know what you're supporting. Pumping parties are often run by organizations specializing in other illegal goods. A contribution to the party is a contribution to people selling heroin, cocaine, or other heavy drugs. Oh, did I mention that these little operations are sometimes attached to larger crime rings? Just wanted to make sure that got through.
If you do decide that its worth the risk, please do check this site. I should also warn you that there are some graphic, post-silicone photographs here.