#M2013: Laura M on transphobia and resistance

Hanif Leylabi writes:

Laura M led off the Sunday morning meeting on transphobia and resistance by reminding comrades that ideas of gender are not constant. She pointed to societies in the past that had notions of gender quite different from our own, where people were much freer to express multiple gender identities.

Laura explained the diversity in concepts of gender by identifying gender as a social construct shaped by and rooted in class society. If attitudes to gender, including transphobia, are rooted in class society, it followed that the liberation of trans* people from oppression could not be achieved without the abolition of class society.

She catalogued the history of trans* resistance, noting that this began before the Stonewall Riots. Laura pointed to the Compton’s Café riots, when trans* people fought back against the police. She added thattrans* people were at the forefront of the the Stonewall riots, many fighting the police with stiletto heels in one hand and handbags laden with bricks in the other. The riots lasted three days and put gay rights (as they were called then) firmly on the agenda.

Crucial links between liberation struggles and workers struggles were explored and examples given of cooperation between liberation movements. Laura spoke about trans* activists such as Marsha P Johnson, whose suspicious death in 1992 was refused a proper investigation by the police. The current example of Lucy Meadows, a transwoman teacher hounded to suicide by the press, was also highlighted.

Contributions from the floor placed an emphasis on the need for revolutionaries to educate themselves on trans* issues. One worker asked how trade unionists could access training to ensure they and their colleagues were up to date in terms of procedures aimed at trans* inclusivity. I spoke about how my personal level of consciousness on trans* issues had came from activity in the LGBT movement – and that this showed that we must constantly learn from the experiences of the class.

Others reiterated the centrality of class struggle as being the only route to genuine liberation. This was a point Laura emphasised as she rounded up the discussion. She finished by encouraging trans* activists to be at the heart of anti-cuts movements and to learn the lessons of the Russian revolution: class struggle is the most fertile terrain on which to fight for liberation.

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