I could care less what Trump did with sex workers in Russia–if the report is even true. But given his well-documented history of ripping off workers, I do want to know how much he paid them. Or, if someone else paid for them, how much he tipped them.
Here’s the short answer: trans people who were already especially vulnerable to discrimination and violence before the election–the homeless, the incarcerated, undocumented immigrants, sex workers, among others–are going to be even more vulnerable. For those with (some of) the security that class, whiteness, ability, employment provides, it’s not going to be the apocalypse, but there will be probably be some minor rollbacks and you should definitely get your federal IDs in order. (The National Center for Lesbian Rights has an excellent FAQ on that.) The election shouldn’t change our priorities–just as before, we need to focus our activism on the trans people at the margins.
There is no one who has more experience working with government–courts, agencies, legislatures–on trans policy issues than my very good friend Shannon Price Minter. A reporter asked Shannon, who is the Legal Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, what he thought trans people should be concerned about now. Here is his answer:
I remain optimistic that we will not see major rollbacks of the gains transgender people have made in the past two decades. Many of those gains are based on federal civil rights statutes and federal court precedent, which cannot be quickly undone. I am also optimistic that the US Supreme Court will affirm that Title IX protects transgender students in the case now pending before them. Many states have also enacted policies and laws protecting transgender people, and social acceptance has reached a critical mass that will only continue to grow. There is much for our country to fear from the incoming administration, but there is no immediate reason to believe that transgender people will be a particular target, though certainly we may lose some executive agency protections and will no longer have a strong champion in the White House.
I am most deeply concerned about the impact of heightened deportation on undocumented transgender people, many of whom have fled life-threatening situations. I am deeply concerned about transgender people on Medicare and Medicaid, and transgender people living with HIV, as proposals to privatize and cut back on these public benefits proliferate in the Republican Party. Many transgender people in this country are living in poverty and hanging by a thread. Any further erosion of our nation’s already paper thin safety net will be devastating for many transgender people who have been pushed to the margins of our society. There is also reason for concern about an escalation of police violence against transgender people, and particularly transgender women who are engaged in survival sex work and already face so much often race-based profiling and brutality, both from police and others.
It is distressing to see the far right’s elevation of issues around transgender people and restrooms eclipse these broader issues. Like others in our country, transgender people want to be able to live safely, to be able to work and have access to decent healthcare, and to be able to live with dignity. We don’t want to be in the crosshairs of a trumped up culture war.
So, there you have it from someone who knows whereof he speaks.
A final word. It’s only human to put oneself at the center of things–as a victim, as a hero. But let’s try to edit that first draft. If you weren’t especially vulnerable before the election, you’re still not that vulnerable compared to others in our community. If you’re not in the trans “precariat,” don’t panic, just act. Get your own ID ducks in a row, certainly, and then start to organize and be organized.
Understandably, there’s a non-profit money grab going on now. If you can give, give to the organizations that focus on the margins, not on the mainstream.
I must say, the cover art and production quality of Transgender Studies Quarterly, by Sue Hall, the master of design for Duke University Press Journals, is absolutely gorgeous. If you, like me, think a lot is lost when reading online, if you crave the visceral pleasure of holding in your hands a beautifully designed actual book–which our curated special issues essentially are–consider getting a subscription: $28 for students; $45 for everyone else. (And as always, if you have no digital access to TSQ through a library and you’d like to read an article or an issue, just message me on Facebook or email me at email@example.com.) Pictured below are the front and back covers of a double issue on Translating Transgender, guest edited by David Gramling and Aniruddha Dutta, which is at the printers now.