AnalysisFeaturestrans rights

Trans people need a real fightback campaign against Democrats’ anti-working class policies

The Democrats’ favorite slogan to scare voters into voting for their candidates has already become a joke to millions of Americans: that it’s “the most important election of our lifetime,” but that hasn’t stopped them from recycling it once again in an effort to get President Joe Biden re-elected this November.

This time around, the scaremongering is particularly focused on LGBTQ people, and the claim that a genocide of transgender people is all but imminent if Donald Trump or another Republican becomes elected president. The question is not if the Republicans intend to eliminate trans people from public life in the United States, but if the Democrats can be trusted to stop it, and if a better option doesn’t exist.

A tired old line

This tactic isn’t new: the leftist writer Hal Draper acerbically asked of the Democrats in 1967, “Who’s going to be the lesser evil in 1968?” noting that even then, liberals had been warning for years that a fascist takeover of the country was imminent if Americans didn’t hold their noses and vote for a Democrat.

Let’s begin by conceding what is undoubtedly true: The Republican Party is hostile to all forms of LGBTQ equality, has worked to destroy or limit LGBTQ rights wherever they have come to power, and plans to do so if they acquire control over Congress or the White House. It’s also true that a relatively small number of Democratic lawmakers, especially at the state and local level, have mounted fervent opposition to the GOP’s anti-LGBTQ efforts, and several states with Democrat-led governments have passed significant bills defending LGBTQ rights.

Biden is virulently anti-working class

Let us also assume, for the sake of argument, that the Democrats’ claim that at a national level they have successfully defended LGBTQ rights from GOP attacks is true and that only a Biden 2024 victory would secure the meager rights and legal protections of transgender Americans.

However, in doing so we could not also ignore the other bigoted, right-wing policies that Biden has pushed over the last three years in office, which have been enormously harmful to huge parts of the working class.

That has included the Safer America Plan, adored by the far-right, that put another 100,000 police on the streets as revenge for the 2020 uprisings, when tens of millions of Americans protested against white supremacy and racist police terror in the nation’s largest mass protest movement in half a century. Not only are police a key instrument of racist violence and white supremacy, they are also the enemies of the entire working class, including trans people. Police are infamous for targeting trans people for violence and harassment, such as profiling trans women as sex workers and assuming every trans person is mentally ill and therefore a danger to others. Those police officers are now being used to enforce the myriad of new anti-trans laws created in recent years.

Biden has also now openly embraced Trump in crafting a fascistic border security policy, putting him even further to the right than Congressional Republicans. In the 2020 election, Biden campaigned directly against Trump’s “cheap xenophobic” border policies, using Day One Executive Orders to undo some of the most hated measures. This alone casts doubt upon every claim by Biden to oppose policies Trump supports, including on trans rights.

Over the past six months, we have also watched Biden fully support and fund a genocide in Palestine as well, funneling tens of billions of dollars of weapons to Israel while protecting it from any international consequences. Over 30,000 Palestinians have been murdered.

Biden has also presided over attacks on tens of millions of poor Americans, which includes LGBTQ and especially trans people, at much higher percentages than their straight or cisgender counterparts. Roughly 30% of trans people live in poverty — nearly triple the 11.5% poverty rate of the whole U.S. population. Biden’s attacks have included allowing the eviction moratorium to be destroyed; ending the child tax credit that lifted millions of children out of poverty; kicking over 2 million people off the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; and slashing pandemic-era funding for a huge number of programs from Medicaid to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and more. These have doubled the child poverty rate on Biden’s watch and created the largest-ever single-year increase in poverty on record.

In short, voting for Biden to ensure “trans safety” would come at the expense of Black people, Palestinians, immigrants, and poor and working Americans of every race and gender, including trans people. Thus, this “safety” would exist only for a relatively small number of affluent white trans people. For anyone with an ounce of solidarity in their bones, this price is too steep. Trans revolutionary Leslie Feinberg taught us that “we can never throw enough people overboard to win approval from our enemies.”

Fair-weather friends at best

Unfortunately for the Democrats, even their claim to be reliable defenders of LGBTQ rights cannot be taken seriously. Biden has not only refused to help trans people during this far-right onslaught, he and other Democrats have shown they are willing to compromise with the far-right on trans rights.

When Biden was elected, he pledged to pass the Equality Act in his first 100 days in office. This vital bill would have prevented a huge number of the state-level attacks on LGBTQ rights by banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination in a wide swath of U.S. public life. Instead, Biden decided preserving the highly undemocratic Senate filibuster rule was more important, so the bill has stalled so long the Democrats lost their House majority. Other protective bills have met the same fate, including the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have nullified the Supreme Court’s striking down of abortion rights — something else the Democrats claim only they can adequately protect.

In addition, Biden’s Department of Education — totally unprompted — handed anti-trans bigots a “roadmap” to discriminate last year by re-interpreting Title IX to allow school athletics programs to ban trans girl athletes from girls’ sports teams. Remarkably, the order came on the same day the far-right Supreme Court refused to overturn a lower court’s blocking of such a ban, making this yet another instance where Biden has taken a position further right than the right wing.

Recently, U.S. media reported the Biden administration was deliberately delaying implementation of this rule change until after the November 2024 elections because “it seems to be too much of a hot topic,” as one anonymous insider put it. This is an incredible two-faced betrayal from a president who has repeatedly told transgender people, “Your president has your back.”

Democratic state lawmakers have also been wavering on trans rights. In Maryland’s House of Delegates in 2022, the Democratic majority killed their own trans healthcare bill in a likely attempt to keep a pro-trans vote off their records during an election year. More recently, Democrats in New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Texas have all helped the GOP pass anti-LGBTQ bills.

Amid the massive attacks on trans rights in dozens of U.S. states, Biden’s government has done little more than file lawsuits against state governments challenging particular laws. He has not used any of his executive authority on practical answers, such as using or opening clinics on federal land to continue providing healthcare services for trans people — a solution that would help those in need of an abortion as well — or even helped sympathetic states shoulder the financial burden of helping trans people fleeing persecution.

So the Democrats want us to vote for a party that has almost completely refused to help trans people amid open calls for our elimination, that has actively worked to terrorize or abandon large parts of the working class, including many trans people, that has already excused, enabled, and embraced one genocide in Palestine already — all because they say they’re the only thing preventing genocide of trans people by their opposition? This is political hostage-taking, and we deserve so much more.

A real fightback campaign

Fighting back only as a community of trans people, who make up less than 2% of the U.S. population, our community has no chance of victory. But we never fall under just one umbrella: as part of the working class who must work paycheck to paycheck for our survival, we go from being a tiny minority to one section of the great majority of humanity. This gives us incredible strength — the strength enough to fight and win against fascism, a strength only the working class has ever been able to wield.

Fortunately, we don’t have to just choose between two evils, one of which is ostensibly lesser, and both of which answer to a tiny club of billionaires.

Claudia De la Cruz is running for president on the ticket for the Party for Socialism and Liberation in November 2024 — a lifelong activist with a proven record of uncompromisingly fighting all of the far-right’s fascistic policies. Her program calls for national legislation ensuring full equality for LGBTQ people — just part of a comprehensive plan to not just reverse the wide-ranging attacks on our fundamental democratic rights, but truly empower our communities.

With a grassroots campaign, Claudia is answerable only to the working class, making her fundamentally different from those politicians bought and paid for by the ruling class, who make big promises to LGBTQ people during election season that they never seem to be able to deliver once in office. 

Trans people’s needs are those of the entire working class: equal housing and healthcare, education, equal pay, public facilities for all, clean air and water, and an end to the scourge of war. Only when our class is united and fighting for our collective liberation can we defeat fascism for good, end the wars, and permanently secure the rights of all. Our labor has built all of this society, we ought to run it.

Related Articles

Back to top button