Below is a statement of solidarity with trans people and the trans liberation struggle, distributed by RSM-Sudbury on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov 20, at a vigil held at Tom Davies Square. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and has become an annual event marked around the world.
On the Transgender Day of Remembrance, the Revolutionary Student Movement – Sudbury joins with trans people and allies in remembering the countless trans lives lost to the vicious system of patriarchal imperialist capitalism. Whether it is hateful violence, social neglect or suicide, the oppression that trans people face daily is as undeniable as it is outrageous. As an organization based on revolutionary anti-capitalist and proletarian feminist principles, the RSM strives to combat all forms of individual and institutionalized oppression, including transphobia, in order to build a genuinely liberatory unity among all working and oppressed peoples in their common struggle for emancipation.
In today’s society – an imperialist, capitalist society based on exploitation of the working class for private profit – the patriarchal oppression of queer people ultimately serves the interests of the dominant class: the minority of bourgeois profiteers. A basic function of systemic barriers, for example, is to bar trans people from sections of the capitalist job market, as reflected in the high rates of underemployment, poverty and precarity they face. They are thus pushed into the ‘reserve army of labour’, a necessary part of the capitalist system that drives down wages to ensure a favourable market for the capitalists. Trans people are therefore overwhelmingly part of the proletariat, which is borne out by the fact that in 2012 the median reported income for trans people in this province was only $15,000 per year, with a sizable proportion relying on social assistance.
Historically capitalism has found many uses for patriarchal ideology and practices. On this continent, the foundations of the present-day capitalist ‘prison-house of nations’ were laid on top of the ruins of Indigenous societies which were in contradiction to the new order envisioned by the white European settlers. The imposition of the patriarchal gender-binary through direct and indirect violence played a key role in this project of colonial domination. And despite some liberal reforms, it remains a painful reality for most gender-nonconforming people, especially those who are proletarian, racialized or nationally oppressed. Recall the murder in 2012 of Filipina trans woman Jennifer Laude by a United States Marine, one of countless soldiers sent by various colonial and imperialist powers to oppress the Filipino people over the centuries. And in so-called ‘Canada’, too, the gender-fluid traditions of two-spirit Indigenous people put them especially at odds with the gender-disciplined labour force demanded by capitalism today.
That is why a consciousness of class and class struggle in all their various guises is fundamental to building a movement that can really stamp out transphobia, as well as all other oppressions that result from and sustain the imperialist, capitalist, settler-colonial organization of society. Doubly so, because the capitalists and their political lackeys have to some extent managed to co-opt some demands of the LGBTQ2S movement that they find less threatening, in an attempt to present bourgeois democracy as the best possible framework for resolving the contradictions of the sexed and gendered division of labour. They have even tried to mobilize LGBTQ2S supporters for imperialist interests under cover of ‘promoting liberal queer rights abroad’! All this must be vigorously opposed. We must remember that although capitalism may allow for the assimilation of sections of the trans community into the bourgeois order, it can never ensure the full liberation of all trans people. Anti-capitalism and proletarian internationalism thus remain indispensable components of trans liberation.
The radical problems that most transgender people face demand a radical solution: a revolutionary mass movement lead by the proletariat and aimed at destroying the roots of all oppression – a movement that dares to struggle for socialism. Yet not only do trans people need socialism; socialism also needs trans people and their full participation in the struggle to build it! To ensure this, we revolutionaries must take a critical look at our own spotty record on the question of queer liberation. Past ‘communists’ have often adopted a tragically incorrect theory and practice on this front. Their male-chauvinist and cis-sexist deviations drove away the rebellious energy of gender-oppressed people, doing great harm to the movement. The RSM is completely opposed to that phony brand of radicalism! We acknowledge that we have much to learn from the long struggles and rich perspectives of trans people. That is why we are here today, to show our solidarity, and to learn how we can struggle alongside trans people for a completely new world.
Down with transphobia and patriarchy!
Fight against chauvinism in the revolutionary movement!
Unite our common struggles against imperialism and capitalism!