Thousands of transgender, nonbinary and gender expansive people and allies rallied in Washington, D.C. on September 28 to take a stand against the war on trans people. The National Transgender Visibility March on Washington was the first of its kind.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation joined an estimated 4,000 people from across the country, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco, who converged on the nation’s capital to demand the Trump administration to end its attacks on trans people. They rallied on Freedom Plaza near the White House and marched to the U.S. Capitol, demanding an end to the epidemic of transphobic violence along with the assaults on transgender rights and legal protections by the Trump administration, as well as passage of the Equality Act.
“How many of us have to die for you to get involved?”
“We are declaring a state of emergency on this epidemic of trans violence against our sisters. There have been 19 Black trans women murdered in 2019. So we are here to issue the call to stop killing Black trans women,” a speaker on behalf of the event’s organizing committee said. “We have come here to say ‘we will not be erased!’”
After about an hour of rallying, protesters stepped off down Pennsylvania Avenue, led by a banner asking “How many of us have to die for you to get involved?”
The PSL’s message of revolutionary social change in defense of LGBTQ people was well-received by the crowd, which joined PSL members in chants of “Stonewall means ‘fight back’” and “Trans power now!” PSL carried a banner listing uprisings by LGBTQ people, including the 1969 Stonewall Uprising but also the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria Riot and others, summarized in Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong’s maxim: “It is right to rebel!”
The Supreme Court threatens LGBTQ protections
At risk are long-standing protections for LGBTQ people that derive from readings of key civil rights legislation as including sexuality and gender identity, especially Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court will hear cases on October 8 that risk overturning these protections, enabling employers to fire LGBTQ people over their identities.
In a twisted case of using trans people’s efforts for greater rights as an argument for oppression, the Trump administration filed friend-of-the-court briefs last month with the Supreme Court. In these briefs the administration urged the Court to rule against LGBTQ people in the upcoming case, arguing that trans people seeking greater legal protection through bills such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and its current form, the Equality Act, is proof that Title VII doesn’t already cover sexuality and gender identity.
Pass the Equality Act!
The Equality Act is a landmark LGBTQ civil rights bill that would provide explicit federal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in May, but will likely face trouble in the conservative-controlled Senate, and U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed his firm opposition to the bill and promised to veto it.
“Once passed, the Equality Act will clarify and expand legal protections to the millions of Americans who face discrimination because of their sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, education, businesses that serve the public, federal programs, credit, and jury service,” according to the National Center for Transgender Equality, which notes that the law “will send a nationwide message that this mistreatment is ethically and legally wrong.”
NCTE reports that only 21 of 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have explicit legal protections for transgender people.
Defend Trans health care!
Access to medical care for LGBTQ people is also under attack. In June, the Trump administration released a proposed regulation that would reverse Section 1557, a 2016 nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, that protects LGBTQ people. A period of public comment on the proposal ended last month, with key national medical groups, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Nurses Association, and National Disability Rights Network, releasing statements in support of Section 1557 and opposing the Trump administration’s proposal.
Fight for socialism and LGBTQ liberation!
While legal protections are invaluable for oppressed and exploited people, as communists, revolutionary socialists understand that legal protections by themselves cannot end bigotry, mistreatment, and inequality caused and perpetuated by the capitalist system. Moreover, we cannot look to the institutions that manage the capitalist state to save us from the ravages of other parts of that state – we must build people power, in alliance with all working and oppressed people, to radically restructure society on a socialist basis through revolution.
The demand for this revolutionary restructuring is more pressing than ever. Trans power now!