Mobilize Labor to Defend Trans Rights!

According to the Human Rights Campaign, “2021 has been the deadliest year on record for transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the US.” At least 47 trans people were killed as of November, compared to 44 in 2020. What is the cause of this horror and hate? The oppression and terrorization of different layers of the population under class society is nothing new. In the context of the crisis of capitalism, far-right politicians and media outlets have intensified transphobic campaigns, fomenting prejudice and bigotry as a way of shoring up their base of support. This increase in hate crime is, therefore, not accidental or random.

Polling shows that two-thirds of Americans oppose transphobic bills, yet transphobia still rages. This year alone, more than 115 pieces of legislation have been introduced in 33 states to curb the rights of transgender people. In addition to attacks on their basic human dignity, these bills seek to limit trans people’s access to an already inaccessible healthcare system; restrict trans students’ participation in school sports; and even to restrict their use of public bathrooms.

These cruel, fearmongering laws serve no purpose but to scapegoat an already vulnerable population and divide workers. Attacks from Republican-dominated legislatures and the media are based on prejudice and scaremongering. They stoke hate from below and signal that violence against trans people is acceptable. But make no mistake: exploiting and oppressing the working class is a point of unity between both capitalist parties. As an example, some Democrats backed anti-abortion legislation in 2019. And today, several Democratic legislators from West Virginia, Mississippi, and South Carolina have backed bills that target transgender people. Meanwhile, the Democrats cynically present themselves as the champions of “inclusion” and “diversity.”

2021 has been the deadliest year on record for trans and gender-nonconforming people in the US. / Image: Victoria Pickering, Flickr

Sexist, racist, and transphobic prejudices fanned by elements of the ruling class and their representatives aim to break down the solidarity and unity of the working class and must be firmly opposed. Without organization and support from the rest of their class, the most vulnerable in society are raw material for the worst kinds of exploitation and oppression.

However, when workers begin to understand the exploitative nature of capitalism, they begin fighting back on a class basis. Workers around the country are drawing this conclusion as they move once again into strike action. Within the workplace, unions are a tool to defend the collective rights and conditions of the workers. This includes the fight against discrimination and harassment. Union contracts can and must be used to protect trans workers from abusive managers, to cut across prejudice and discrimination during the hiring process, and to make workplaces more accessible.

This is how things should be. However, because of societal discrimination and lack of educational resources, many trans workers are forced into low-paying, non-union jobs, and at times into “escorting” or degrading and precarious work. This is compounded by frequent lack of access to quality housing, healthcare, transportation, and even food, which leaves many trans people vulnerable. The objective ability to provide all of this to everyone is already in existence. And yet, for most people, a world of abundance for all seems like a distant fantasy. The only way to win all of this and more is through united mass action and class-struggle tactics.

Occupy Oakland General Strike Banner
However, when workers begin to understand the exploitative nature of capitalism, they begin fighting back on a class basis.  / Image: Rachel Librarian, Wikimedia Commons

The unions must take the lead in building broad solidarity among all workers, fighting for concrete improvements in the lives of the workers they represent. For example, schools across the country need trans-competent nurses, therapists, and robust after-school support groups for LGBTQ students. Teachers and their unions should join student strikes and walkouts to demand these services. Unionized state and municipal workers could use their positions as leverage to fight for simpler official gender-change processes.

Struggles such as these by unionized public employees can build class solidarity and expose the reactionary nature of the capitalist state. In the final analysis, to stop the egregious attacks on trans people and their rights, every corner of the labor movement should be mobilized to oppose these attacks as part of a general movement to guarantee healthcare, housing, education, decent wages and conditions, and equal rights for all.

But an economic and industrial fightback is not enough. To coordinate all these struggles, we need a mass workers’ party with a socialist program. Last year, SEIU gave $150 million in donations to Democrats in order to defeat Trump. Now that he is gone, the labor leaders are back to begging the Democrats for tepid economic reforms. Workers see the hypocrisy when labor leaders back this party. Many drop out of politics altogether, while others swing far to the right as they see no viable class-based alternative.

Instead of this utter waste, the $150 million from just one major union could have gone a long way towards jump-starting a truly inclusive and democratic workers’ party to represent the interests of the majority. 62% of Americans favor a third party, and yet the union leaders persist in supporting the political representatives of our exploiters. We need a clean and immediate break from class-collaborationist politics and class-collaborationist trade unionism.

The fight against oppression can only be won through a socialist revolution carried out by the united working class. / Image: Socialist Revolution

A world of incredible superabundance is possible, but only if we break with capitalism. The multinationals and banks offer us rainbow key-chains at corporate pride fests, and the liberal media tokenistically fètes individual trans millionaires—but none of this comes anything close to ending oppression for the majority. The capitalist Democratic Party can’t get us there either. Its transphobic officials and scheming machinery should be tossed into the dustbin of history.

Most workers, including our LGBTQ comrades, are struggling for the bare necessities. By nationalizing the Fortune 500 under democratic workers’ control, we could transform the economy and ensure everyone’s needs are met. For this, we need a mass workers’ party with a socialist program willing to fight to the end for a workers’ government. The fight against oppression can only be won through a socialist revolution carried out by the united working class. Such unity can only be forged in struggle against the oppression that divides us. Only through socialism can we guarantee everyone a life fit for human beings!

To fight for these ideas, the Marxists must organize both in and out of the unions. It will take class independence and class-struggle tactics, professional organization, and correct perspectives to win the working class and its mass organizations to an effective socialist strategy. Socialist Revolution and the IMT are organizing across the country and worldwide to build a fighting leadership for our class.

An injury to one is an injury to all!
Mobilize the labor movement against all transphobic attacks!
End all oppression through socialist revolution!

Are you a communist?
Then apply to join your party!