In April 2022, the Alabama state legislature, like many across the country, passed a devastating anti-trans bill to ban gender-affirming health care for minors. Specifically, AL SB. 184 made it a felony for medical professionals to provide trans health care to minors or for their parents to help them get it, under threat of up to ten years imprisonment or a fine of up to $15,000.
Additionally, all school staff were required to disclose any information to families regarding how their child chooses to express their gender or sexuality at school. In May, however, a group of four Alabama parents brought a lawsuit, Eknes-Tucker v. Marshall which has resulted in a temporary hold on the new law while the trial plays out.
This provides an opening to build a serious fightback against SB. 184. Socialist Alternative Alabama is a small but mighty force, and we are dedicated to building the fight to defend trans rights from these horrific right-wing reactionary attacks which endanger minors, their families, and their healthcare providers, and which only serve to continue the scapegoating and fear-mongering around trans people.
In November, when a state court of appeals was hearing arguments on whether to uphold the temporary injunction on the ban, we co-organized a caravan of cars alongside trans advocate group TAKE Birmingham to the state courthouse in Montgomery, where a crowd rallied and spoke out on how to build the movement needed to fight back against these right-wing attacks on women, LGBTQ people, and workers’ rights.
While we should target courthouses and legislative offices with big demonstrations as they threaten to push through these high-profile attacks, we must also look for any opportunity to build solidarity and a fightback against bigoted and transphobic ideas. That’s why on April 11, we held a counterprotest when Mike Pence came to speak at the University of Alabama as part of his tour titled “Saving America from the Woke Left.” Socialist Alternative members joined students and staff to speak out against Pence’s hateful rhetoric, discussing how best to build the movement needed to end the codification of transphobia into law.
Going forward, we are working in a Trans Rights Coalition with student and activist groups across the state to hold escalating actions culminating in August when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to reach a decision on Marshall. Until then, we will be protesting, rallying, and speaking out in different cities in Alabama each month including Huntsville, Mobile, Birmingham, and Montgomery, pointing the way forward for a movement which can fight transphobia, homophobia, and all forms of oppression.
But what happens if the decision does not come down in favor of trans youth and working people? It’s no secret that the court system is not designed to serve working and oppressed people; we learned as much last spring when the Supreme Court overturned the 50-year-old Roe vs. Wade decision federally legalizing abortion. Win or lose, we have to continue organizing to fight for the kind of systemic change trans youth and all LGBTQ people need, and demonstrate how it serves establishment politicians’ interests to keep the working class scared, precarious, and divided.
High school and college students, teachers and professors, and school staff must stand together and fight to protect trans rights. Around the country, high school students have been organizing walkouts in protest of copycats of Florida’s notorious “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and pointing to the need to unite with their teachers in this struggle as well. This is an absolutely crucial step, as is linking demands around repealing all such bills with demands for trans-inclusive Medicare for all, fully funded schools and social services, and good union jobs for all with protection from discrimination, which would be necessary real improvements for LGBT people.
As we know all too well in Alabama, the Democrats have no interest in putting up a meaningful fight against reactionary Republicans at any level. Working people and youth need a new, independent party which is run democratically and able to take action to win real gains, instead of dangling our rights and dignity in front of us during election season before leaving us in the lurch, offering no real opposition at all to the Republican establishment.
As socialists, we know it will take a genuine mass movement to undo the damage being done by the culture war the right wing is currently waging, and the Democrats who enable them. We have to point the way toward a better world with strong demands around affordable gender-affirming care and protections for trans youth and the adults in their life helping them transition safely and happily, and show how at every turn the capitalist ruling class and political establishment will crush these efforts and cut across the necessary solidarity we’re building. We’re fighting for socialism because we know a better world is possible, and we know solidarity across all sections of the working class is what it will take to win it!