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(en) Britain, The Anarchist Federation (AFED), RESISTANCE #157 - Transgender tipping point, but what are we tipping into?

Date Fri, 07 Nov 2014 19:04:06 +0200


Things are looking up for trans* people, in the west at least. In the UK, the 2010 Equalities Act gave us some protection from discrimination, in the US, trans* healthcare will finally be covered by insurance and Medicare, in Denmark people can now self-determine their own gender without having to 'prove' a thing. All over Europe the law is slowly changing, discrimination starting to recede and trans* communities are growing not just in confidence, but also in number as the previously closeted come out and into their own. ---- The credit for all this goes to a huge number of trans* groups and individuals who've been battering at the walls for many years. With few allies or resources we've won important rights for ourselves. Those of us transitioning now owe a huge debt to our fore-sisters and brothers for all the work they have done to make our lives easier.

As Time magazine put it we are at a tipping point, where the uphill struggle becomes a downhill sprint. And for many of us this is, perhaps, the most dangerous time of all.

In August, Stonewall, the UK's biggest Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual campaigning organisation, invited a group of prominent trans* people to a meeting. There Ruth Hunt, Stonewall's new chief executive, apologised for Stonewall's previous exclusion of trans* people. She also offered to let us come in from the cold. The process of opening up Stonewall to trans* people has begun.

All of a sudden trans* activists can see glittering prizes. The money to sustain our organisations, access to law makers and researchers, the lobbying clout of a large and well- funded non-profit. With so many of our lives still blighted by discrimination, poverty, poor access to healthcare, housing and all the rest of it, no one is going to turn down these opportunities for real improvements in our lives.

However, the chance at equality on offer here is the same chance taken by the gay community over the last few decades. We will gain rights only to the extent that we accept the 'responsibilities' of capitalist society. We will become respectable only to the extent that we reject the unrespectable and mimic the values and actions of a society that, deep down, will still hate us. For this tolerance we will sacrifice all those who can't be tolerated.

The early signs are that any alliance with Stonewall will mean staying silent about sex work as they do. A quiet betrayal of trans* sex workers and the many cis sex workers who have supported us over the years. And this is just a beginning. The politics of respectability always means cutting ties with your unrespectable allies. Instead of grounds for alliance, our associations with the mentally ill, sex workers, the homeless and others become liabilities to be dumped. And as always the most vulnerable members of our community will be hit hardest.
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