No Trans Liberation Without Socialism - by Alexa Moore [from An Spréach Issue 2]
Liberal politicians will often focus on a small minority of headline grabbing issues affecting the LGBT+ community with the aim of portraying themselves as our allies; often ones which offer little to no material benefit for the community. Same sex marriage is often raised, especially in the North, as a clear indicator of whether or not a politician or political party is ‘on our side’.
The same is true for the trans community. While we are often ignored in wider discussions about the LGBT+ community, when politicians are questioned on trans issues they will often cite their support for gender recognition reform as a reason to trust them or see them as our allies. Theresa May has attempted to rebrand herself as a pro-trans figurehead using this issue, alongside senior figures of Fine Gael including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other right wing zealots and centrist liberals.
This narrow focus on a liberal reform masks the more material and radical needs and demands of the trans community. There is consensus within the community that the provision of healthcare to trans people is entirely unfit for purpose. Whether to reform or to demolish (I’m in favour of the latter), most if not all trans people agree that things need to change. The waiting list for the only gender identity clinic (GIC) in the North is around 2 to 3 years. Those who get in, eventually, face incessant, invasive and often disgusting and creepy questions about themselves, their relationship with their bodies, their sex life, trauma, among other topics which healthcare gatekeepers have no right to coerce out of vulnerable trans people simply seeking to further their transition in a way which makes them comfortable. Healthcare delivered based on informed consent, delivered by and for the trans community, delivered without the gatekeeping of cis clinicians is the only way in which trans people will truly have their healthcare needs met; Simon Harris’ “review” into healthcare provision to trans people likely will not challenge the clear power imbalance between medical gatekeepers and the trans community, and will not deliver this ideal model of healthcare provision. Even when liberal politicians do pay attention to this issue - which occurs once in a blue moon - they do so in a way which maintains trans peoples’ status as an oppressed class, and ensures that we are below them and their allies in the power hierarchy they are determined to maintain.
But even this, as huge an issue it is, isn’t alone the key to trans liberation. Both of these issues, gender recognition and provision of healthcare, are merely two of countless facing trans people and communities - especially trans proletarians, trans working class people, trans people of colour, etc. The oppressive nature of capitalism targets and attacks trans proletarians with pinpoint precision; rampant homelessness, poverty, employment discrimination, and exploitation plague the community as a direct result of capitalist oppression. Reform isn’t an option; capitalism cannot be reformed to not be exploitative as it, in its nature, demands the creation and maintenance of an oppressed class and an oppressive class. Even if, by chance, trans communities are elevated within capitalism to the position of the oppressors, would we be liberated? Or merely assimilated into the oppressive structures, ready and willing to marginalise those below us? We cannot demand more trans CEOs, more trans bourgeoisie or more trans cops as what we would be demanding is more trans people in a position to oppress others. That is not liberation.
We must be adamant in our demand for socialism, with the aim of overthrowing the ruling class in our own countries, ending imperialism, and undoing the damage it has done through reparations and reconciliation. By participating in a peaceful global society built on mutual respect and solidarity, we can achieve the global communism envisioned in the writings of Marx, and developed further by countless revolutionaries around the globe. This is the only path by which trans communities around the world will be liberated. We must accept and settle for nothing less. Only through the destruction of capitalism and the building of a socialist state will we be able to not only end imperialism and undo its damage, but also provide adequate housing, healthcare, recognition and support to trans proletarians, and rid ourselves of the necessity for the oppressed class and the oppressor class, thus delivering liberation and emancipation not just to trans communities but to all marginalised and oppressed communities.
Our fight for liberation must show solidarity with all oppressed people, not just in Ireland but around the world, especially those in already existing or those transitioning to socialist states, and those who are victims of targeted imperialist aggression. We must stand in solidarity with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which has been fighting against imperialist oppression since its inception. We must show solidarity with Cuba, the People’s Republic of China, Venezuela, Palestine and all nations struggling against imperialism. We can do this by countering the lies and propaganda spread about them, rather than fueling it by criticising these societies and states as “not real socialism” - only through the destruction of the imperialist powers attempting to eradicate them will trans and LGBT+ communities within these states be able to grow, thrive and achieve full liberation, and fuelling the imperial propaganda against them does nothing but harm. We must support them, while fighting our own revolution against capitalism and for socialism.
Ultimately, we as activists must make a choice between actual liberation and assimilation into the oppressor class. We must make a choice between actual solidarity and fuelling war efforts against victims of imperialist aggression. We must make a choice between socialist liberation and capitalist persecution, and we must make the right one.
Contributed to Issue 2 of An Spréach Magazine By Alexa Moore