Debates around the questions of the oppression of trans people and the oppression of women are intensifying. Sometimes positions are being expressed in ways that do not help us to move forward in the struggle for liberation. Counterfire is publishing the following document as a contribution to the discussion.
1Trans people are oppressed.
2Trans people should be free of all discrimination, oppression, abuse, violence, or the threat of violence.
3It is the responsibility of the left and of the entire labour and progressive movement to oppose the oppression of trans people.
4There are competing theories about why trans people are oppressed.
5We take the view that it is the centrality of women’s oppression and the role of the family to the continued existence of capitalism which results in the straitjacket of gender which oppresses all those who do not conform to societal norms.
6We understand others have different explanations and we are firmly of the belief that all those with different views should be listened to with respect.
7There is among trans people competing views of why trans people are oppressed and these should be listened to with respect. We reject claims by any individual or organisation to speak for all trans people.
8We are familiar from debates on the nature of racism with a broad spectrum of explanations of racism~black nationalist, black separatist, Marxist, social democratic and liberal to name only some. All those currents are anti-racist positions and no one should be, or has been, excluded from the anti racist movement, let alone considered a racist, because they held one explanation of racism rather than another. The same should be true in the debate over trans.
9We are familiar from debates over sexism with a broad spectrum of explanations of women’s oppression~feminist, radical feminist, socialist feminist, Marxist, social democratic, liberal and so on. All those currents are opposed to sexism and no one should be, or has been, excluded from the women’s movement, let alone considered a sexist, because they held one explanation of women’s oppression rather than another. The same should be true in the debate over trans.
10Unity among the oppressed is possible, but never automatic. Unity has to constructed and can never be assumed. Any passing familiarity of the history of relations between the women’s movement, the black movement, and the gay and lesbian liberation movements knows that discussion and debate was frequently necessary for common interest to be forged. For that open, free and respectful debate is essential.