A Way Forward: The Vanguard for LGBT+ Liberation
By Comrade Tamber
In today’s world, many of us are familiar with the idea that becoming comfortable with oneself can be a rather difficult experience. What’s more, when one finally reaches a plane of fullness in who they are and are able to proclaim it loudly from the peaks for all to hear, one must then contend with the thoughts and opinions of others. Most of these “others” are people who don’t know you, understand you, nor have ever bothered to understand integral portions of what it is that makes you, you. This normally wouldn’t be such a big deal for most, but for many, this comes with the potential for danger, a potential only too familiar for those whose proclamation of identity can give way to something fatal.
Many will not know to what I refer, or perhaps couldn’t imagine a scenario in which being “out” with one’s identity might become an issue so bad that they could lose their life for it. Of course, this scenario could apply to a variety of people, but I specifically speak of the trans community here.
I am a trans woman. I came out late in life, already married and the parent of two children. My experience with coming out was interesting, to say the least, but I fully acknowledge that it could have gone much, much, worse: my wife was fully supportive, my friends had nothing but encouragement to give, and with the exception of my parents, those who took exception remained silent, or quietly removed themselves from my social media circles. However, my story here is not indicative of the average. All too often, trans people lose everything; their family, friends, and their jobs.
It doesn’t stop there, either. On top of all this, a trans person who expresses themselves the way they wish becomes a greater target for harassment, and it is not uncommon that this ends in death. Trans people are murdered or commit suicide at alarmingly high rates simply because they don’t fit society’s standard for what is “feminine” or “masculine”. In a lot of places, including where I live, a trans person seeking to use the bathroom closest to their gender identity is literally taking their life into their own hands if they don’t look enough like a “woman” or “man”. Reports abound of bombs being tossed into the women’s room, or even women assigned female at birth being cuffed and removed from the restroom for not looking “woman” enough.
Some of this is an every day reality for me. I don’t look “traditionally feminine” and I don’t possess the means to changes that. I must second guess everything that I’d like to wear. I must have the means to conceal what would be a give away to my identity in certain places. I can never use the restroom in public or else use the one with which I am least comfortable. And all of this is my reality because it is not unlikely that I will be beaten, arrested, or even killed.
I’ve had to often hide my identity and use my “deadname” (the name I was given at birth) among my wife’s coworkers, or in an interview. I have had to respond and keep silent when the wrong pronouns are used on me. When you do not know who is hostile toward you, sometimes the fear overrides the desire to be oneself. And though it may not seem like that big of a deal to most, it is a kind of erasure that only lends to the high rate of depression among trans people.
We in the trans community, and the broader LGBTQIA+ community, experience these kinds of things, and more, with regularity. We all wish to see the harassment end, the suicide rate to dwindle into nothing, and never have to fear due to our identities again. But this is a long fight, and if we wish to see it permanently end, we must take the right path.
There are many organizations out there who are committed to not just trans rights, but LGBTQIA+ rights in general. Many who march, make petitions, try to mobilize the vote, educate, etc. Their work is often good work, with the kind of goals that communists themselves should, and must, commit to. But this cannot be the only work that is done. What these specific identity groups do is treat the symptoms of the problem, hardly ever coming to recognize the problem itself. Without doing so, every step of progress these groups make is ephemeral, impermanent. Any hard-won ground can be easily taken away.
One can see that this is the case by simply considering the kinds of people that now fill the positions of power in the United States government It will not be long before the likes of the Vice President, whose support for massively debunked and highly unethical “conversion therapy” is no secret, turns the legislative tools of a bourgeois government on all the progress made these last eight years, and longer.
We in the trans community, and the larger LGBTQIA+ community, need to come to the conclusion that the capitalist system itself is the problem, and that none of our problems will be permanently solved so long as the system remains in place. The capitalist system will maintain itself as it always has, defending itself for whom it was originally conceived: the white, Christian, propertied man. Any deviation from this norm will always have to battle to get a seat at the table, and will only be granted what does not threaten the status quo.
Therefore, we must come to know an intersectional and revolutionary science bent on upending the system in its entirety. We must make our cause the cause of women, people of color, indigenous people, our other LGBTQIA+ comrades, and of the working class. In fact, every group I just listed has one thing in common: they are overwhelmingly impoverished and/or working class. We must make common cause with our struggles.
This is not to suggest that we should put our struggles as trans people to the side, like so many class reductionists request we do. No, this is coming to realize that our struggle is permanently intertwined with the struggle of the working class and all the other groups that suffer at the hands of colonial imperialist capitalism, and only together can we all know emancipation from our struggles.
But not just any so-called “revolutionary” approach will do. Some are better than others. Ultra lefts will always fight against organization, preferring to the spontaneity of riots and piggy backing on liberal movements. Can we afford to leave our struggle in the hands of those who refuse to organize in a meaningful way? Can we leave our struggle in the hands of ultra lefts, many of whom request we await some far off day in the future when the whole world is ready for spontaneous and simultaneous revolution? Can we leave our struggle to those whose very foundation is idealism, presenting no concrete plan forward, no material analysis with which we can work?
We must then come to recognize that we require an approach with a material and scientific basis in bringing about the significant change we require. We must grasp with both hands an ideology that possesses a track record of success, and we must come to know it thoroughly. We must align with the science that says we can have the changes we need here and now, given the right preparation and conditions, not some idealism that calls for a far off day.
LGBTQIA+ comrades: I suggest that such a revolutionary science exists, and that is the science of Marxism-Leninism. I also believe that of all the parties in the United States who claim to be committed to Marxism-Leninism, none is more correct, or more true to the science than the Party of Communists USA and its attendant organizations such as the League of Young Communists USA. No science and no organization will better work toward the conditions with which we can free ourselves from these toxic capitalist relations and oppression than they will.
If we ever wish to see an end to that which ails us, we must commit ourselves to the Party of Communists USA. If we ever seek to use the restroom of our identity and never worry that that will result in our death, or have our basic rights be recognized as permanent and inalienable, then we must unite beneath the banner of the Vanguard and fight for socialism-communism. We have to come together with a correct revolutionary science in the right organization, and this is it.
I hope to see all of you, my LGBTQIA+ comrades in good health and in safety, and I hope that you will all consider joining the Party of Communists USA or League of Young Communists USA to help us work toward a brighter future not only for us, but for everybody.