Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living! The Struggle for Transgender Rights Today

Photo by Ian Erix

2016 was the deadliest year in history to be transgender in the U.S. 27 murders. In four months in 2017, we have already lost eight. This reality transgender people face cannot stand.

Abroad, things are not better. A deeply disturbing video from Brazil of a group of men torturing a transgender woman was seen online by millions. Transphobic bigotry knows no borders.

This Violence is Societal

A critical thinker will ask why. Is it a backlash to the increased visibility of transgender people in entertainment? Is it a reactionary rebuttal to social justice discussion that places transgender and nonbinary people at the center? We must examine where violence against transgender women flows from.

Questions around the impetus of individual hate crime perpetrators cannot be engaged with outside the frame of the society that gives rise to violence itself, capitalism. Hate is not innate or even accidental. It must be cultivated. Look at the ratcheting up of demonization and scapegoating around the Republican-sponsored “bathroom bills.” These are political attacks wielded by the most powerful in society against some of the most marginalized. The causal links between this and the violence against trans people are undeniable.

An Injury to One, Is An Injury To All

A way forward will require building a sustainable movement. The resistance movement against Trump and big business must highlight the violence toward transgender women and fight for transgender rights.

We need transgender organizations that are not beholden to corporate money, nonprofit organizations, and Democratic Party politics. We need grassroots organizations that are independent, leadership that is accountable, and a program to organize in the transgender community around housing, health care, jobs, and unimpeded bathroom access. To extract such concessions from the ruling class, it will require sustained organizing, agitation, and challenging business as usual through protest and demonstrations.

Under capitalism, transgender people are sanctioned because their bodies and minds do not fit within the scope of the gender binary as it is understood under this system of oppression and bigotry.

It will be incumbent on us not just to fight and win these reform, but to secure them with a sustainable political force. Only the potential power of ordinary working people dedicated to ending the barbarism of oppression, inequality, and violence against transgender people once and for all can stop this misery. Let’s fight for a socialist world.