On Oct. 21, the New York Times reported that the administration is working to redefine gender so as to strictly relate it to supposedly well-defined biological sex. The administration memo obtained by the Times states, “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.”
The memo flies in the face of existing sex and gender science. Pomona College neuroscientist Rachel Levin commented that the proposal is “highly inaccurate and just an insult to science. Basic science.” (statnews.com)
The reactionary memo also attempts to roll backward the decades of struggle led by trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) communities to resist transphobic violence.
However, trans people cannot be redefined out of existence. Since the memo was exposed, thousands have taken to the streets across the U.S. in protest. Organizers have called for demonstrations on campuses and in communities to say that trans people will not be erased.
Most recently the [email protected] Coalition, a trans, women-of-color-led organization, carried out a banner drop at the World Series game in Los Angeles on Oct. 28. The pink and blue striped banner that was unfurled read, “Trans People Deserve to Live.”
In Pittsburgh, SisTers PGH led an action in front of the Allegheny County Jail, lifting up the conditions facing trans inmates inside. Demonstrators were met by police as they chanted, “We want justice” and spoke to the mistreatment facing trans inmates — many of whom were being wrongly housed based on assigned sex instead of their gender. By the end of the evening, 11 people were arrested.
The administration’s memo comes at a time when conditions facing TGNC people are becoming increasingly dire. As of Oct. 29, more than 10 trans women of color have been murdered in the U.S. These murders are being committed by unchecked right-wing vigilantes. The state has no interest in properly identifying those murdered or seeking justice for their deaths.
In Brazil on Oct. 29, the extreme right-winger and openly proud homophobe Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of the largest country in South America. More than 300 LGBTQ people have been murdered in Brazil during 2018.
The crisis facing TGNC communities is becoming more dire as openly fascistic leaders around the globe gain ground using anti-trans, anti-queer, anti-woman, anti-worker and white supremacist programs.
Violence against trans people is class oppression
As the struggle for trans lives intensifies, it is crucial that the issue of transphobia and gender-based violence be connected to an understanding of capitalism and class oppression. Most importantly, it must be understood that violence against trans people is class oppression.
More and more, trans people pose a direct threat to capitalism because transness defies patriarchial-capitalist constructions of gender. Defying the decay of this profit-driven system, trans lives demonstrate that the attempt to punish people for determining their own gender identity and expression is a futile attempt to control and undermine our class as a whole.
Coercing trans people to be cisgender as part of a binary gender system — to be what they are not — is nothing more than a campaign for capitalist interests. This includes the push for the hegemonic nuclear family to produce more workers who can then be controlled and exploited under capitalism.
The denial of autonomy and self-determination for trans communities is an attack on all workers, is the mirror of greed, and is the unashamed attempt to alienate workers from their labor by alienating them from their own bodies.
Even the most basic demand of the movement — that “trans people deserve to live” — speaks to the crisis facing our entire class. Capitalism is not fit for human life. Instead, our class — the working class — is the entire landscape of human possibility, expression, relations and experience. Trans people have fought throughout time to not let this be stolen.
Together, we can all fight to make sure the fullness of human possibility is not stolen by the death machine of capitalism.
Our strongest defense in this period of unwieldy violence is solidarity. Because trans people are a part of every aspect of human life, workers rights are trans rights. Migrant justice is trans justice. Resisting war and imperialism is resisting the deaths of trans people. The call to abolish police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a call to abolish the oppression of trans people.
Unity across our struggles will be the deadliest threat to capitalism. It will allow us to fight back against this administration’s act of war on trans people. If we organize as if our lives depended on each other’s lives, this will forge a stronger, united path toward revolution.
November 20 is the Trans Day of Remembrance, an international day of action paying honor to all TGNC people who have been murdered and lost to transphobia. We must not let this administration’s attacks thwart our resistance or erase the legacy of TGNC people who have always been on the frontlines of fighting against white supremacy, capitalism and class patriarchy.
Trans people deserve to live. Trans people deserve revolution.