Intersections and organizing
I have long held the position that while I am a trans woman (an inevitably political identity in a culture which seeks to eradicate us) and I do a great deal of what one might consider trans activism I always consider myself a social justice activist first. I march for things like poverty and immigration rights, and against the occupation of Palestine and corporate governance because I believe any significant improvement in the lives of trans people can only come if we engage social justice for all. As such, I quite enjoyed this piece by Proma Tagore, from No One Is Illegal Vancouver‘s blog on Queer organizing and Pride.
A quote from the essay:
Let us reclaim the radical foundations of Pride, in which people of colour, poor and working class people, and transgender and transsexual communities have historically led the struggle. These histories are often erased or co-opted by the white middle class.
Amen to that. The sad truth is that when I see concerted effort by LGB’s to erase or subjugate the lives of trans people and trans women especially, it is generally white, middle class cissexual gays and lesbians who are driving it forward. That is not to say I have not experienced transphobia from a range of people, but the ideological underpinning of LGB anti-trans sentiment is almost always by white people of economic privilege (Janice Raymond, Ronald Gold, to name two).
This often unconsidered aspect of class privilege is especially denied in western economies, where those with the most material gain (i.e. gay white men) are the most likely to defend that as the result of a meritocracy. In its extremes we see capitalist greed create groups such as the Log Cabin Republicans, LGBT people willing to engage those who would otherwise have them erased, purely to position themselves for material gain.
The essay I linked to calls for people of colour to organize, re-radicalize, and be visible during Pride, and I’d extend that to all of us marginalized under an LGBT community which has systemic biases against us. I’d be overjoyed if this Pride season we saw queers act up against corporate sponsors, against muzzling of dissent, and if we all remembered that modern queer rights started with a riot.
(Of course this does not mean all white LGBT people of a certain class are benefiting or supportive of this structure, but those folks also tend to know pointing that out is a derail and cookie-seeking and understand why I don’t engage it. If this isn’t about you, don’t make it about you, you know?)