More broadly, both feminists and trans activists have to fight for the right to bodily autonomy. This is seen most clearly in struggles to access safe and affordable healthcare, whether that is access to abortions or access to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). While not all trans people pursue HRT and surgery, these are important parts of many people’s gender transitions, and under health systems that are partly or fully privatised, often come at a huge cost.
Trans people face significant health disparities due to financial and socioeconomic barriers, discrimination and lack of knowledge about trans healthcare by providers. Medical institutions have a long history of pathologizing trans identity by describing trans experience as a mental illness and by refusing treatment to trans people whose experiences don’t fit a narrow definition of what being trans means. The consequences of these systemic barriers and the overwhelming discrimination have real, material effects: a study of trans people in the US found that over half had seriously considered suicide.
The liberation of everyone
Under capitalism, workers will always be subject to the capitalists who control the resources humans need to be able to survive, and who thus determine what will be produced and what will be done with the wealth produced by workers. Politics are often confined to advancing the claims of specific groups instead of the abolition of the forces of exploitation which create the conditions for those groups to be marginalised in the first place.
Trans people have become tokenized as symbols of progress, but this ignores how trans people are actively organising to change the world. The important roles played by trans people in historical struggles have been hidden and are only now coming to light. In the US, it was the leadership of two trans women of colour, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, in the 1969 Stonewall Riots that started the annual Pride Parades. But radical trans activism did not end there. After Stonewall, Marsha and Sylvia founded the organisation STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) and the legacy of their activism lives on in organisations such as the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, queer- and trans-led prison abolition groups, Black Trans Lives Matter, and has inspired protests against attacks on sex worker and transgender rights in Brazil in 2019.
Transgender Marxism refuses to neatly separate trans people’s struggles into an isolated category. Instead, it embraces a politics of solidarity with others who are fighting the same forces of exploitation. Trans people are organizing on the ground as a part of working-class feminist, racial justice, environmental and disability-liberation movements. Trans Marxists know that the liberation of trans people has to go hand in hand with the liberation of everyone.