On Feb. 6, hundreds of trans people and supporters flooded the Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, ahead of right-wing Gov. Kevin Stitt’s state of the state address and the opening of the state’s legislative session, where several anti-trans bills are pending.
Chanting “Trans lives matter” and “This is our house,” members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies gave a forceful response to the anti-trans panic that has escalated to unprecedented levels in the past year.
Since Jan. 1, nearly 300 anti-trans laws have been proposed in statehouses across the U.S. Several have already been adopted, including a total ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth in Utah.
In early 2022, proposed laws mainly focused on banning trans youth from using school restrooms or playing sports. Now, just a year later, many states are advocating outright bans on gender-affirming health care for trans people – youth and adults alike – and so-called drag bans that would make it illegal for trans people to speak, perform or live publicly in any capacity.
Following the example of Texas, several states have called for measures to punish parents, doctors, and teachers who support trans youth and even to take kids away from supportive parents. Thousands of families of trans youth are pulling up stakes to flee to safer states. Many others don’t have that option.
Civil rights attorney and trans activist Chase Strangio summed it up in a Twitter post Feb. 6: “The following states are closing to banning – and in some cases criminalizing and deeming child abuse — medical care for trans adolescents: MS, TN, SD, ND, WY, ID, WV, OK, MO, MT, ID. The following states have: AR, AL, UT, TX. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the media coverage?”
Nor is the danger confined to the legal arena. From California to New York, drag shows and other queer events have been besieged by right-wing protests, including openly white supremacist and fascist groups like the Proud Boys, sometimes armed.
In almost every case, these hate groups have been met by far larger crowds of community defenders. But the ultra-right has the manufactured outrage of politicians and corporate media at its beck and call.
The new ‘build that wall’
In 2016, billionaire oligarch and demagogue Donald Trump campaigned for the presidency around the slogan “build that wall” – a call to not only ban refugees and migrants from entering the U.S. but to use them as a scapegoat for all the ills of capitalism.
On Jan. 31, Trump released a video announcing what his 2024 campaign slogan will be: trans genocide.
The Advocate reported on Feb. 1: “Posted on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump called access to gender-affirming care ‘child abuse’ and ‘child sexual mutilation.’ The former president … said he’d forbid government agencies from promoting ‘the concept of sex and gender transition at any age.’
“In the pledge, Trump said he’d cut off federal funding to doctors and health care groups providing gender-affirming care to minors. He also said that if teachers or school officials ‘suggest to a child that they could be trapped in the wrong body,’ then ‘they will be faced with severe consequences including potential civil rights violations.’
“Trump said that his administration would push for ‘positive education about the nuclear family…’
He added, “I will ask Congress to pass a bill establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female, and they are assigned at birth.”
Trump’s main opponent for the Republican nomination in 2024 may be Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is equally bigoted against trans people. DeSantis enacted the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law prohibiting discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools, banned Medicaid patients from accessing gender-affirming care, and has attacked teaching the truth of U.S. history regarding slavery, the genocide of Indigenous peoples, and more.
Florida teachers have been banned from letting students read books in their classrooms until they have been vetted to remove anything pertinent to Black history, women’s liberation, and LGBTQ+ lives.
Every week sees new cases of slander meant to manufacture outrage against trans people and medical providers, like the case of Christynne Lili Wrene Wood in Santee, a San Diego suburb. Wood, a retired African American city worker and trans woman, was thrust into the center of a national hate campaign and local lynch-mob atmosphere for using the women’s changing room at the local YMCA. The campaign against her was fueled by the likes of Tucker Carlson on Fox News.
In a statement expressing solidarity with Ms. Wood, San Diego LGBTQ+ organizations said: “It is also important to recognize the racial implications of this incident – a white woman claiming the mere sight of a Black woman’s body as threatening is a dangerous perpetuation of racism. The reality of anti-Black racism in this country continues to be a pervasive and unavoidable aspect of our American culture, and contributes to the consistent danger that Black people – particularly Black transgender women – face every day.”
Christian nationalist groups targeting Ms. Wood are mobilizing on Feb. 8 to have the Santee City Council shut down the YMCA for allowing trans people to use its facilities. Counter-protesters are mobilizing in support of trans lives.
Join actions in D.C. March 31-April 1
Actions like the one in Oklahoma City are needed – more of them, many more – in every state capitol coast-to-coast. And those actions must grow with solidarity from organized labor, communities fighting racist police brutality, and the censorship of Black history in schools, women’s rights, and anti-war organizations.
An important call to action has been issued by the Trans Radical Activist Network for a national mobilization in Washington, D.C., on March 31 and April 1. TRAN has retitled the Trans Day of Visibility on March 31 as the Trans Day of Vengeance.
The actions in Washington can be an important first step in organizing a nationwide fightback movement. Visit TRAN or Struggle-La Lucha in the coming weeks for details about the events and how to get involved.
The attack on trans lives has escalated into a crisis, and no one can predict the outcome. There is no time to wait for elections that may or may not swing toward one party or another, especially when the Democratic Party’s national leadership and President Biden have shown themselves incapable and unwilling to take the growing threat seriously.
Capitalist rule, the power of bosses over the workers and oppressed, is built on a foundation of divide and conquer – setting one group of workers against another. Fascism as a movement is divide-and-conquer in its most extreme form.
Today, trans people in the U.S. are on the front line. The history of fascist movements in the 20th century provides ample proof that when one group is targeted for extermination if the working class does not rise to the challenge, it only opens the door for the next wave of repression.
After trans people, other members of the LGBTQ+ community, the women’s movement, Black and Brown communities already besieged by racist cops, and the labor movement will be among the next targets.
An injury to one is an injury to all. It’s time for the working class to mobilize to stop the attacks on trans people.
Join the Struggle-La Lucha Telegram channel