we cannot understand the proliferation of hundreds of anti-trans policies across the united states without considering the political strategies and choices pursued by mainstream gay and feminist movements.
trans people aren't just being persecuted by "bigoted conservatives," we are also made vulnerable because of very real political decisions and strategies by liberal cisgender gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.
with its continual desire to domesticate queer life -- marked by claims to privacy, marriage, respectability, and nondiscrimination legislation excluding the right to public accommodations, -- the gay movement left behind trans and gender non-conforming people who are unable/unwilling to conceal/privatize our gender difference. rather than fighting for the right to public accommodations, to be queer in public, to be different in public, to be different all together -- the gay movement has consistently prioritized privacy, monogamy, and gender conformity.
this is not just at the level of ideology, but also funding and resource allocation. trans people find ourselves confronting some of the most profound legislative challenges to our personhood with scarce resources because the majority of funding was directed to marriage equality campaigns. when marriage equality was achieved, the donor base of our organizations (largely white cisgender men and women) left claiming that the movement was "over." this awakening that homophobia is "still alive" under the trump administration overlooks the reality of how trans and gender non-conforming people (and especially Black & PoC transfeminine people) have been here suffering continuously and disproportionately before and after this administration.
often the way that marginalized groups gain victories is by differentiating themselves from others: saying, "we're the good ones, we're not like X." time and time again the gay movement has aggressively differentiated itself from trans (and especially gender non-conforming people) to make itself more palatable to cisgender straight society.
assimilation requires both an appeal to dominant norms and a thorough and systematic rejection of difference. it is easier to be accepted when you say, "we love just like you," rather than "we look different than you, we act different than you, we are different than you."
today trans and gender non-conforming people must carry the symbolic burden of difference -- a burden that was imposed on us not only by the various colonial and patriarchal histories that render us anomalous, but also by the anxieties and insecurities of cisgender gay, lesbian, and bisexual people themselves.
it would seem to me that the mandate of #protecttranspeople rings hollow without a serious interrogation of how trans people have become so vulnerable in the first place.
how can you protect us when you are actively hurting us with your investments in the ideologies (sameness), frameworks (gender binary), and strategies (privatization) that engender harm against us? fighting for trans people is not about incorporating us into rhetoric only -- it's about a thorough re-calibration of strategy and priorities.
what would it mean to move toward a politics of trans solidarity not informed by a misguided sense of shared struggle, but rather one of complicity? what would it mean to move away from just focusing on trans violence as "prejudice," toward understanding trans violence as a structure -- as a series of decisions that have left trans people most visible in public and most synonymous with difference (read: most likely to be targeted)? what would it mean to name that trans and gender non-conforming people have always experienced the brunt of "homophobic" violence because of this?
love won because gender didn't. love won because gender didn't!
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