WW editorial: Trans lives, revolutionary lives
Here’s to Trans Visibility Day! It was held on March 31. Maybe you didn’t know it happened?
It’s not a day that’s going to be very “visible” on big business media.
Because this day is organized by and for trans people speaking for themselves and their own lives, telling the world how they define themselves and celebrating the complex realities of trans lives.
The corporate media have obsessively presented trans lives as a circus for sweeps-week or narrated trans people as political footballs being kicked back and forth during rightwing attacks.
Instead, it is trans people who have insisted on this truth: They have been part of the fabric of human existence from the beginning of our species.
As trans comrade Gery Armsby commented on Facebook on Trans Visibility Day: “Throughout history human societies have ‘assigned’ socio-economic roles to people in myriad ways that we today understand as ‘gender.’ As all societies are subject to constant internal and external forces of change, it is reasonable to understand how gender roles are not now and never have been static, let alone binary. [Gender roles] certainly have little if anything to do with actual human biology. This is nothing new.”
In fact, in matrilineal preclass societies, before the rise of class patriarchy, it was the societal norm to have sex and gender complexity that might be called “trans” now. The many different varieties, names, customs and histories of this gender complexity continue today through still-existing Indigenous peoples, cultures and nations.
But, as Armsby noted in their Facebook comments, within the U.S. and elsewhere that class patriarchy has trampled, the struggle for that complexity “for many trans people, especially trans women of color — amounts to a life and death struggle for correct pronouns, for bathrooms and for whatever resources and measures [that] trans, non-binary and Two-Spirit folk believe are worth fighting for.”
The “external forces” at work in the U.S. have produced oppressive, narrow concepts of “man” and “woman” as public goals — to create colonial settlers, soldiers for imperialism and malleable workers.
It was no accident that, at the beginning of the 20th century, as the U.S. began to invade and occupy nations beyond its continental borders, President Teddy Roosevelt campaigned to “toughen up” young boys into “manly men.” As historian Sarah Watts notes, he wanted men in the imperialist United States to be “the true inheritors of the cowboy tradition of white, aggressive, armed, nationalist manhood.” (tinyurl.com/y4g3rxo7)
Trans lives give all of us the vision and hope of a world that rejects rigid, dominating and harmful ideas about masculine and feminine, male and female. As trans warrior, historian and activist Leslie Feinberg once said: “People of all sexes have the right to explore femininity, masculinity and the infinite variations between — without criticism or ridicule.”
Feinberg also knew that a socialist future offered the only possibility of a world where trans people, and all people, could live fully in their own beautiful, unique sex and gender complexity. Workers World comrade Feinberg died in 2014 with these last words: “Remember me as a revolutionary communist.”
In an early pamphlet, “Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come,” Feinberg wrote: “Like racism and all forms of prejudice, bigotry against transgender people is a deadly carcinogen. [As workers] we are pitted against each other in order to keep us from seeing each other as allies. Genuine bonds of solidarity can be forged between people who respect each other’s differences and are willing to fight their enemy together. We are the class that does the work of the world, and can revolutionize it. We can win true liberation.”