Transgender liberation, class politics & anarchism

  • Posted on: 25 March 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href="">Workers Solidarity Movement</a>

<b><i>&ldquo;It is a tragedy, I feel, that people of a different sexual type are caught in a world which &hellip;. is so crassly indifferent to the various gradations and variations of gender and their great significance in life.&rdquo;</i></b></p>
<p class="p1"><b>Emma Goldman &nbsp;(prominent Lithuanian-American anarchist) 1916</b></p>
<p class="p1">Trans (or transgender) is a term for people whose gender identity and gender expression are different from the sex assigned to them at birth. Trans people have a history of receiving bigoted responses from some sections of the left, of the lesbian and gay community and some strands of feminism. One attack on transgender people has been based on the idea that trans people, by &ldquo;changing gender&rdquo;, reinforce existing rigid gender roles. Moving across borders of perceived gender does not reinforce existing gender-roles, any more than migration across borders of nation states&nbsp;reinforces the system of nation states. Many trans people are actively involved in fighting current, sexist gender stereotypes.</p>
<p class="p1">Anarchists believe that we will not achieve an equal society by ignoring issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia or by pretending that they will automatically be resolved by revolution. We do not tell minorities to wait until after the&nbsp;revolution for their demands to be met. We see class as the central and fundamental form of oppression, but we do not see it as the only form of unacceptable hierarchy and we do not see it as possible to separate class issues from those of gender, sexuality, race or sex. Trans liberation is a class issue. Wealthy trans people can, for example, afford private surgery, use private transport and choose where they live, thus avoiding potentially dangerous situations. We see means and ends as intrinsically linked, and so a revolutionary movement that does not actively oppose transphobia will merely end up replicating the same oppressions that exist under capitalism.</p></td><td><img title="Oh Noes, Discrimination!" src=""></td></tr></t...

<p class="p1">Anarchism is a form of socialism, which believes in individual freedom as well as collective organising. The right of each person to make decisions about what happens to their body and to express their gender in ways that are right for them as an individual are a fundamental part of that freedom. We support the right of oppressed groups of people to organise themselves autonomously for their own liberation and we believe that such groups have the right to ask for and receive solidarity from the rest of the working class. Transphobia, like homophobia, sexism and racism, serve the interests of the ruling class, by dividing us against each other.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1">Recently, trans people have made huge progress in fighting for their liberation, and almost all major lesbian and gay organisations have become lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisations. Trans people&rsquo;s inclusion in those organisations has not been an easy battle though, despite the fact that transgender people (notably Sylvia Rivera) have been prominent in fighting for queer liberation, including in the Stonewall riots. One reason LGB organisations were reluctant to accept trans people was that they saw them as an obstacle to gaining respectability and becoming assimilated into mainstream capitalist society. Trans people are sometimes more visibly queer than lesbian and gay men, and in modern gay male culture, especially, there is an emphasis on gaining acceptance from straight people by being as traditionally masculine as possible.</p>
<p class="p1">Transgender people still face serious discrimination in jobs and housing. Trans people&rsquo;s actual (chosen) gender is not recognised legally in Ireland, while&nbsp;17 European countries demand forcible sterilisation of transgender people before granting legal recognition. Those trans people who do choose gender-realignment surgery are unable to access it in Ireland and have to travel to the UK. However not all trans people choose to undergo surgery and this does not make their gender identification any less legitimate. It is important to avoid reducing gender to a question of what genitals a person has. Persecution of minorities tends to increase in economic downturns and 539 trans people were murdered in Europe between 2008 and 2010. Transphobia must be fought wherever and in whatever form it appears. As anarchists, who do not practice electoralism, we are able to take a principled stand on unpopular issues, without worrying about it losing votes, and, as a result, we have a particular responsibility to take those stands.</p>
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<p class="p1 rtecenter"><img alt="" src="" style="border-top-width: 1px; border-right-width: 1px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-left-width: 1px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; margin-left: 3px; margin-right: 3px; margin-top: 3px; margin-bottom: 3px; width: 300px; height: 424px; " /></p>
<p class="p1 rtecenter"><strong><a href="">This article is from Workers Solidarity 126, March 2012</a></strong></p>


"We see class as the central and fundamental form of oppression..."

Yo, speak for yourselves, dicks. Politics of representation and all.

Did ya read the we in that quote? lol

Yes. The "we" refers to anarchists. Try reading. It's good braincercise.

i think that the person you're responding to was doing a riff on tonto's famed "what do you mean 'we,' white man?" quotation.
ie talking "we" can be begging the question of who is speaking, vs who is being represented.

but you go right ahead and be condescending, since you're in the mood.

It's an allergy brought on by the comments section here. My bad, Tonto-quoter. And thanks, Dot. Ice cream's decent enough today.

*we* believe *we* must drink all of the potion

This is a publication aimed at a general audience so of course there's going to be all sorts of problematic things about how they represent "Anarchists" the dilemmas involved with even trying to represent "Anarchists" and framing and shaping what the "general audience" or "public" the dilemmas with trying to appeal to whatever that is

exactly, most 'anarchists' sit in their dorms or infoshops arguing amongst themselves as to who is the most right on. The WSM distribute the paper this article is from door to door around working class districts in Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Derry, Limerick & Galway. Some similar weak ass criticism was made after they posted a photo of one of the mass campaigns they are involved in on there Facebook page and some north American sneered that the people pictured looked like T-Party types. They simply responded that from their PoV anarchists should be able to organise people like that rather than leave them to the right. Guess thats the difference between building a movement and trying real hard to be cool by dissing those next to you.

While 'trying real hard to be cool by dissing those next to you,' is a pretty huge problem of having online discourse with @s, I think the first poster had a point not a diss. He was objecting to their statement that anarchists see class as "the central and fundamental form of oppression," which is a pretty loaded statement that a lot of anarchists (most I know) probably wouldn't agree with. I'm certainly not hating them for delivering this door to door, that's great but I really don't think that class is the central OR fundamental form of oppression. IMO I don't think there is any central or fundamental oppression, it's all just oppression and there's no point saying it's more about class, or race, or gender, or environment.

i would agree with you, comrade, except that it's obvious that there has to be a specific emphasis put on class--one's relation to the means of production--since only the proletariat can be the revolutionary class which abolishes class society and no bourgeois person whatever their other oppressions has anything to do with this while on the other hand the other forms of oppression are all created simply to divide the class and produce cross-class alliances and so of course the revolutionary class includes people who are not oppressed on the basis of their gender, race, ability etc and so for these reasons it is abundantly clear that what you say is true that all the forms of oppression are no more or less important than the others BUT with the exception of class, which is the central issue as i'm sure we can all agree except for the petit-bourgeois identity politics liberals of course

blah blah blah class is central but I'm not a Marxist blah blah blah. Read some shit that was published over the last few decades "comrade."

You misunderstand. When anarchists say class is central they don't mean this in some sort of silly Oppression Olympics sense where various cool kids try to prove they are more oppressed then each other. (Some cool kids might do that but in that case they don't get anarchism). They mean it in the sense that it is the oppression that unites about 80% of the worlds population against the 1%. Understanding that is understanding how to move from liberal guilt politics to the politics of winning.

Oppression Olympics is just silly as all oppression is unpleasant for those targeted but is also experienced individually. How on earth could you chart which one is worse than an other and why on earth would you waste time trying to do so. We want to win and get rid of them all (as part of the process of winning and not simply as a result).

yeah comrade, 80% vs. 1% rhetoric isn't silly at all.

nope its not, there is a huge amount of statistical information and research that confirms that in terms of wealth & power that is ow the world is divided up. But what matters here is that 80% can defeat 1% and implement anarchism - that is why class is different

Yeah, I'm not into the class-centric analysis, either. Also, they write this:

"We see means and ends as intrinsically linked, and so a revolutionary movement that does not actively oppose transphobia will merely end up replicating the same oppressions that exist under capitalism."

If transphobia can hypothetically still exist in/after revolutionary movements overthrowing capitalism, then how is class still theorized as 'central' in their eyes? Seems contradictory. Perhaps they don't really believe class is central, either, but continue to toe the line?

Trans liberation is inextricably linked with class struggle. Neither is complete without the other. Pretty easy to understand no?

Why aren't there any deaf people at this meeting?

... and vice versa. That's why a notion of a 'central oppression' is weird.

"Recently, trans people have made huge progress in fighting for their liberation, and almost all major lesbian and gay organisations have become lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisations."

Are you kidding me? Are you trans? If so, do you grasp what liberation actually means? How the fuck have Trans-people (or anyone else) made huge progress in the struggle for liberation? News-fucking-flash Transpeople, especially women, have the highest incarceration rate of any other "identity" in the United States. More transpeople, especially women, are murdered because of their identity than any other prescribed or chosen identity. How does inclusion HRC, NGLTF, GLAAD, etc etc suddenly tacking "T" onto their platforms, while contributing nothing to the struggle for (trans)liberation a step towards liberation?

You're heading in the right direction. You just need to:
Read some shit, talk to some people, experience some shit.

the wsm is in ireland, a country still recovering from straight up theocracy.

i agree with your point here but arguments between friends and arguments between enemies are different, and should sound different.

Thanks. But one, I dont know these people. They are not my friends. Two, if you think I would have been that polite with an enemy you are sorely mistaken. Three, I doubt the Transpeople in Ireland are somehow more liberated than people in the US.

it's all relative. your opinion about what constitutes "huge" is just different than the WSM's.

No. They just have no understanding of what "liberation" is. Inclusion in mainstream gay and lesbian groups is not a small, medium sized, or "huge" step towards liberation. Inclusion means lip service and/or assimilation. Both of which are giant leaps away from liberation. This piece has proven WSM has little to no understanding of (trans)liberation even if they are taking steps to understanding trans-struggles.
These are not opinions, but accurate understandings of terms, history, current events, and lived experience.

What if "Inclusion in mainstream gay and lesbian groups" is an actual big step for some people who are trans? And what if that is a majority opinion, especially in the context they're working in?

What if that does not mean liberation? Because it doesn't

No one is saying that it means liberation. WSM is saying it's a "huge step" in that direction. What if there are actual trans people who think that it's a step in that direction? NOT that it's liberation itself, but one way to get there or a move to get there? And what if that process of inclusion is actually liberatory for some trans people and empowering to a certain degree?

Inclusion doesn't always necessarily mean lip service and/or assimilation. It doesn't automatically equate that. IT CAN if people don't push things further and just give up or are ok with being there...but that's up to trans people and their allies to decide.

But you can go ahead and continue being reactionary, if you'd like.

What if there are trans people who think that?
Then they are wrong.

-From a proud queer reactionary

What if there are actual trans people with horrible ideas?
Oh wait, that's like 90% of them, just like most every other arbitrarily chosen identity category.

abolish yrself.

i got yer back!

Inclusion in the queer struggle is surely a significant step towards liberation?

Unrelated to article...
Why have both articles about recent Montreal activity (the more recent sabotagemedia one and the prole stroll one) been removed from the site with no mention as to why? Is worker getting visits and removing them without comment? Not cool.

No. The site is eating up stories (for unknown reasons that I have been trying to resolve for weeks, including getting drupal developers involved). If you see a missing story please email the full headline to and I will pull it back from the backups.

Interesting... two stories on the Montreal riot, and one about the ELF in Guelph. Don't know about the other "eaten" stories, but thus far these are from Canada.

Dunno what to make of this, but this is intriguing.

The Never Alone Tour post did as well.

and st louis stuff too

Exact story titles please

^^^ Identity politicians, time to put your money where your fucking mouth is.

Really, the best way the queer will win against patriarchy is by cutting off the symbols of make domination... especially cop's and bureaucrat's dicks! If there would have been more Bobbit's in this world, the violent males would have become even more scared of trans and women, and would back off socially.

Feel free to draw back into alternative transgender counterculture, but all you've been doing is to create new forms of identity politics, serving only a as way to treat the "manly" guys or "girly" girls as shit, while you're blindfolded by queer-looking manarchists and trendy chicks.

Counterculture as tactic for social change is FAIL. Be whatever you want, but if you use that to support/legitimate group dynamics you are failing from the start. This is where the hipsters are from... where's the revolution now?

Liberation cannot be attained through conformism, no matter how alternative it may be.

"make".... I meant "male"! fuck!

I dunno, I kinda like "the best way the queer will win against patriarchy is by cutting off the symbols of make domination." Just my opinion.

symbols make total domination!!!

riiggghhtttt because "women" have absolutely no history of anti-trans rhetoric and action, and have absolutely never contributed to heterosexism, "cissexism" and heteropatriarchy

GTFO this aint 1972.

A person's penis is not a symbol of domination; it's a part of their body. The call for castration (that is, the call for sexual torture and mutilation) is horrific. The idea that a less violent, liberated world would emerged from widespread sexual torture and mutilation is... disturbing.

fuck yes! so tired of the rhetoric "lets turn the penis upside down, because its position upward is dominant and sexist, or get rid of penis imagery altogether". that shit is reactionary in my fucking opinion. you are censoring a fucking PART OF ME, dammit. ill have to talk more about this with my local LGBT activist.

This is really funny, so I cannot tell if it is sarcastic or someone's impressively stupid comment.

In Soviet St Louis, comments cannot tell if you are sarcastic or impressively stupid.

Where did I say they should castrate every single macho guy on the planet? I've been referring to agents of the organized patriarchy, like cops and bureaucrats. I know it's over-the-top, that liberation struggle should not involve removing genitals, but still who's being raped or beaten to death in gang bangs? Macho guys? No.

Lesser macho guys in jail? Sometimes.

But usually, it's women and trans.

Society is still violently abusive towards women and terribly gendered. My point was that the gender liberation people should go more on the offensive rather than withdraw into sectarian identity politics as too many are doing these days.

...but then again who am I to say what others should do.

Keep up the fight no matter what.

When those in prison are counted, the majority of people in the US subjected to sexual violence are men. Until recently there were no clear numbers on prison rape, but now that the numbers exist the US enters into the territory of being the only country in the world where more men are raped every year than women.

Again, I do not understand how/why you believe a better world will emerge from sexual mutilation and torture, even if that mutilation/torture is directed against 'agents of organized patriarchy'. One can only imagine the outcome of rule by 'agents of organized genital mutilation'.

"For 2008, for example, the government had previously tallied 935 confirmed instances of sexual abuse. After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances. These victims are often assaulted multiple times over the course of the year. The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women."

According to RAINN, there are 213,000 survivors of sexual assault. Their numbers do not include people in prison. Of those 213,000, 90% are women, so ~192000 women are sexually assaulted every year.

The prison population is overwhelmingly male, so by any reading of the numbers it's clear that most sexual assault survivors have been male for at least a decade. And the gap is widening. While rape outside prison has declined dramatically (again, according to RAINN: "Sexual assault has fallen by more than 60% in recent years"), rape inside prison has increased as prison populations have increased.


This is interesting. However the statistics are completely wrong. If there are only 213,000 survivors of sexual assault in the US outside of the prison population that means that less than 1 in 1000 people are survivors of sexual assault (since the population in the US is about 300,000,000). This is off by enormous margins. I would be surprised if fewer than 1 in 6 people in the US were survivors of sexual assault. Depends how it is defined, of course, but still, RAINN's numbers are clearly monstrously inaccurate. I would not say that any of this discounts the *possibility* that men are more often sexually assaulted than women, but it certainly does not prove it.

213,000 per year. The 1/6 number is a total number. So if person A is sexually assaulted in 1992, they are part of the 1/6 forever but only part of the ~200,000 in 1992.

even if it is per year (which the commenter above didn't say, they said "According to RAINN, there are 213,000 survivors of sexual assault."), it is still an absurdly low number (by a factor of at least x10 if not x100) for the # of rapes per year in the US

i thought the queer-looking manarchists and trendy chicks were the ones who most want to talk about cutting dicks off..?

"As anarchists, who do not practice electoralism, we are able to take a principled stand on unpopular issues, without worrying about it losing votes, and, as a result, we have a particular responsibility to take those stands."


free the genitalia at war in your heads.

omg , shut up al you fags!!!!!

identity politics sucks.. keep your leftist hands off anarchism.

Identity politics is a major part of anarchism considering its about opposing hierarchy. I am not merely implying equality on a personal level effects people on a broader scale, but that patriarchy is the basis for capitalism (but also any economic structure). It is the basis for classim. If you think you can oppose a government without challenging patriarchy you would simply be reinforcing a power structure that caters to upper middle class and rich white males aka the people who have the money and power and the other white males their laws favor.

yet you continue to make the distinction between the two

between the two what?

patriarchy and hierarchy

i don't believe i did. anarchism opposes hierarchy, which is in the form of patriarchy, that many anarchists ignore and dismiss as leftist, even though, as a working a feminist, I rarely see people address gender roles and the fundamental reason of oppression embedded in our lifestyles and morals. anarchism is very androcentric and neglects the voices of women, queer (i use queer in place of trans for a broader scope of people), different races, and even ideas which is contrary to the actual theory of anarchism.

see? you're doing it again!

why is it that one needs identity politics to challenge patriarchy?

gender roles. we are kept into submission by the guise of rigid formalities that takes its place in religion, family and government. look at the way women are objectified, the way we say "get some balls". that means men/men's body parts represent strength, mental and physical, and that it is valued over women/women's assigned traits. "pussy" means you are weak, and it is an insult. many people who use these terms believe in equality, yet because of gender roles which is enforced by patriarchy we feed hierarchy in our actions, which is personal. personal is political and the political is personal. only if we hold these views can patriarchy continue to manifest within government, which is based on religious morale.

that really isn't answering my question as recognizing, critiquing, and opposing gender roles and patriarchy doesn't require identity politics.

i don't get where you're coming at. identity politics, from my understanding, is critique and action that opposes patriarchy. its not just lefty politics, but how those politics are formed. it is a tool to oppose patriarchy.

it's just like how if you don't like star wars, you should show that by repping darth vader. or being a satanist if you're against christianity. or voting democrat if you don't like the republicans. THERE ARE ALWAYS ONLY TWO OPTIONS!!!

Oh for fucks sake, people still believe in identity politics?

Is it really so surprising given all of ways that people choose to interpret those two words and the personal nature of identity? If there's something easier for people to rally around than identity then its nothing i've heard of yet.

so what about all the dudely punk dudes who decide one day to add a softer yet more radical edge to their dudely steez by claiming female or non-gendered pronouns, without giving up the benefits of looking/acting male? this is honestly one of the worst things about the transgender mania and one i have seen little addressed. pledging allegiance to identity politics necessarily opens the door to other forms of authoritarianism, especially those that don't want to appear as such - authorities can flee visibility too...

OMFG! What does it mean to "look or act male"? Do I look male to you?

Hint: I probably don't, but I'm still a dudely dude, tits and all. Also, fuck you.

so, what you're saying is that you make date rape PC by having tits? Guess we can't tackle patriarchy, this dudely dude with tits would be oppressed. Guess we'll break everything down to a new gender binary and identity.

sometimes identities and things become so spectacularized that people need to identify with them to feel better about themselves. what is that thing that makes people uncomfortable with their bodies and identities?

capitalism. tell you what: you keep buying stuff to be dudely dudish, i'll try to destroy capitalism.

I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were completely insane. Carry on.

Completely insane? You need to work on your shit!

calm down brodude, i don't think you understood me (the op) - also someone else commented back by further confusing things. i'm talking cisbrodudes who still generally 'perform masculinity'; would you say that such a cultural norm no longer exists? maybe not in a unitary way, but still. in fact that's exactly my point. some anarcho cisbros simply proclaim themselves 'she' or perhaps 'ze' one day, nothing else changes about them and they still act like macho dicks who are even more absorbed in self righteousness. fleeing one identity into another, domination can make itself at home in any of them.

The constant accusations of identity politics coming from highly heterosexist and racist anarchist spaces really confuses me. I'm queer (& cis), and I fight homophobia within my spaces AGAINST the identity politics of homophobic straight anarchists. Being homophobic is part of their straight identity, I call them out, and I get accused of waging identity politics? Bullshit. I'm making room for myself in a hostile environment, because I think I deserve it.

its ok anon, you do deserve it, you deserve it and so much more. you deserve the world!

Hahaha this is the craziest comment I've read in a while. Show me an anarchist space that is "highly heterosexist and racist" and then find me a single non-white person or queer person that DOESN'T have your crazy politics who agrees with you.

I say with complete confidence that there is not a single anarchist space in America that is "hostile" to people that aren't heterosexual. This is probably the craziest thing you could possibly claim. Second of all, if there is ANY racism within any anarchist spaces anywhere, it is definitely not traditional racism, but it's weirdo tokenizing POC-worshipping racism that you probably support.

"I fight homophobia within my spaces AGAINST the identity politics of homophobic straight anarchists"

Hahahahahahaha no really say it again! So hilarious! That's quite a "struggle" you got going on there! Hahahahaha, bet the state is trembling!

where on earth do you live? being accused of homophobia/sexism/etc is like a social death sentence in most anarchist scenes i've ever experienced, people are terrified of it and it really does seem like a way for some people with certain kinds of politics to 'make room for themselves' by purging others who are less controllable or simply less perfect fit to what their idea of a righteous comunity is.

This article generating honestly some of the most crazy comments I've seen in a while. It shows how disconnected some "anarchists" are from reality.

in which way?

there's a traditional essentializt binary male vs. female.
there's another essentialist binary trans-male vs. trans-female.
and another trans vs. cis.
and another queer vs. straight.
and another...

All of the above essentialized identities demand they are supreme.


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