June 1 marks the start of Pride month. Ex-President Donald Trump has been out of office over 130 days. But the relentless attacks on the trans community, especially on trans youth and trans women of color, show no signs of letting up.
In 33 state legislatures, 117 bills that deny basic civil rights to trans people have been passed or introduced. This makes 2021 a record-breaking year for such bigoted legislation, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Most of these bills target trans youth, who already have a disproportionately high rate of suicide.
All but two of the 33 states have bills to bar trans athletes from participation in sports not consistent with their sex assigned at birth — especially girls and women’s sports. The bills perpetuate the myth that trans women pose a danger to other women and girls —that they are really men who dress as women because they are sexual predators seeking access — or that they have some sort of unfair competitive advantage. Governors in three states have signed such bills, with innocuous-sounding names like “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” into law.
Neither science nor statistics support these backward stereotypes. “I think that these exclusionary responses are a solution in search of a problem,” said Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, interim director of GLSEN, an LGBTQ+ youth advocacy organization. “There is no categorical dominance by trans athletes, but we do understand the categorical benefits for young people who play sports.” (CNN, April 15) Girls and women do face many obstacles in sports — none of which have to do with the participation of trans athletes, and all of which stem from patriarchal discrimination.
Twenty states have bills to deny lifesaving therapy, including trans-affirming counseling and hormone replacement therapy, to trans adolescents. Arkansas’ misnamed “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act (SAFE)” became law after the legislature overrode Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto.
Other bills would block trans-positive school curriculum, prohibit schoolteachers from referring to students by their gender identity and prevent state ID cards, such as driver’s licenses, from reflecting a person’s gender identity. These legislative assaults come on the heels of previously passed “bathroom bills” that have kept half of all trans youth from using a bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.
All this is going on in spite of Biden’s March 8 executive order stating “all students should be guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
These harmful bills must be stopped — but only mass struggle can stop them.
Black and Brown trans lives matter!
Not even halfway into the year, 2021 has seen at least 26 violent murders of trans people, a large majority of them Black, Indigenous and Latinx trans women. If the trend continues, 2021 will be the most violent year for trans people since HRC began tracking their deaths in 2013. Last year had been the most violent year, with 44 killings; there had been 200 since 2013.
Contributing factors to the high level of vicious attacks on trans women of color include poverty and homelessness, abusive intimate relationships, lack of physical and mental health care, nonacceptance from biological families and dependency on sex work for survival. All these conditions are rooted in anti-trans stigma and discrimination and its intersectionality with racism and sexism.
Discrimination in many areas of life is well documented. A majority of trans people report bigoted comments from family members. More than 1 in 10 have been advised by mental health professionals to stop being transgender. Misgendering and dead-naming in the media is commonplace, including in fatality reporting.
Trans unemployment is three times the national average — and even higher when compounded with racist and sexist discrimination.
The police will not protect the trans community from bigoted violence. In fact they are among the killers of trans people, including Tony McDade, a Black trans man fatally shot May 27, 2020, by Tallahassee, Fla., police.
A militant mass working-class response to defend the trans community is urgently needed. The LGBTQ2S+, progressive and labor movements must demonstrate unity and solidarity against bigotry.
The LGBTQ+ Caucus of Workers World Party has initiated a call for a week of action June 14-21. We say: Defend trans youth! Stop anti-trans attacks! Black, Brown and Indigenous trans lives matter! Organize an action where you live.