What will happen to trans people now?

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.

Why I am voting for Bernie Sanders

Tomorrow, in the New York primary, I will be voting for Bernie Sanders. I see few discernible differences on them on LGBT- specific policy. But Sanders’ policies on income inequality, on incarceration, on the fundamental role of government, are going to do much more for economically disenfranchised queer and trans people than anything in Clinton’s program. Clinton has been trying to sell us the idea that it’s just not possible to do better. I disagree. As Corey Robin puts it so well: “The American ruling class has been trying to figure out for years, if not decades, how to manage decline, how to get Americans to get used to diminished expectations, how to adapt to the notion that life for the next generation will be worse than for the previous generation, and now, how to accept…low to zero growth rates as the new economic normal. Clinton’s campaign message isn’t just for Bernie voters; it’s for everyone. Expect little, deserve less, ask for nothing. When the leading candidate of the more left of the two parties is saying that — and getting the majority of its voters to embrace that message — the work of the American ruling class is done.”

The conversation, distilled

Feminist leftist: I dislike what Clinton has done in the past and her politics now. Let me be clear, I do not support her campaign and I will not vote for her, I will vote for Sanders. But I would like to point out that there is still a lot of sexism circulating around her.

Regular leftist: You’re wrong to support Hillary because she is a woman. That’s identity politics of the worst kind.

Feminist leftist: I didn’t say anyone should support her just because she is a woman. I just said misogyny still matters.

Regular leftist: You’re trying to silence me by calling me sexist. I will not be silenced. Let me tell you why you shouldn’t support Hillary.

Meanwhile, on the right: “…ruthless hag…”

Regular leftist: [Silence].


Some support Clinton precisely because she is a woman. When this conversation appears in their newsfeed, when they hear the regular left argue against her candidacy by saying misogyny doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t ring true to them. When they hear that no one should vote for a woman simply because she would be the first woman president, that we should vote for the best person, they are reminded of how sex-blindness has worked out for them in their workplace. These supporters have probably paid little attention to how her actual politics might affect women, people living in poverty, working people, potential victims of US militarism during a Clinton presidency, Africans (“We’ve got to get over what happened 50, 100, 200 years ago and let’s make money for everybody,” said Clinton about the continent). But any potential to change some of these supporters’ minds by talking about how Clinton’s positions would not be good for most women has evaporated. For them, the regular leftist has no credibility. Clinton’s campaign benefits from discussions of sexism and by its denial.

It’s really not so hard or labor intensive to acknowledge the continued presence of misogyny in politics. So why not do it? Given that effect of these regular leftists’ arguments might be to increase or consolidate support for Clinton’s campaign, those of a more conspiracy minded bent might wonder if some of them were on the her payroll. A less paranoid explanation: misogyny.

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