Labour and Trans rights within the context of the Tory government’s alt right cultural war

One step forward, multiple steps backward. A fragile and uneasy relationship….

-By Dora Polenta

The whole essence of liberational/subversive politics is to free people to be themselves.
This freedom to be able to live and express ourselves as we feel can only exist if we reject pragmatic presentism and cruise towards Queer futurity. We should not stifle our politics by a myopic focus on the present, which is short-sighted and assimilationist.

For some queers, particularly for queers of colour, hope is something one cannot afford to lose. Giving up on futurity is not an option. The here and now are not enough we urgently need the revivification of the queer political imagination. A queer movement pushing boundaries to reveal new dimensions, opening a window to the future….

An amethodological, noisy meeting with former Labour LGBTQIA+ co-chair and transofficer Dr Heather Peto, embracing our uncertainties, ambiguities, open question marks and contradictions. A meeting sitting on the uneasy terrain of problem posing rather than on the familiar political comfort zone of problem solving.

“What would happen if one trans-woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”
Join us in a collective attempt to feminise the debate, sketch out queer potentialities/futurities, splitting our personal/social/cultural/political worlds wide open….

The context…
Boris Johnson’s government has dropped changes to the Gender Recognition Act. Changes drawn up under Theresa May’s government would have streamlined the legal process of changing a birth certificate by removing some barriers like medical diagnosis and lengthy and intrusive evidence procedure. Consultation on the updated Gender Recognition Act closed in 2018, but the government has since dragged its feet on implementing it following a spectacular and well-organised backlash from opponents.

The Labour leadership seems to be doing its best to avoid taking a position on the issue, raising concern that previous support for changes to the GRA have been dropped. Labour’s ex shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds’ criticism of the government was to say it was wrong to announce changes to an “extremely sensitive” policy area by leaking them to a newspaper…

Back in 2018, 200 women were planning a ″mass resignation″ from the Labour Party over the party′s stance on including trans women on all-women shortlists.

A group calling itself ″Mayday4Women″ claimed they ″had over 200 women (100-plus happy to be named, 100-plus anonymous) who intended to collectively resign should the next National Executive Committee meeting pass self-identification for All-Women shortlists″.

On their Facebook page the group repeatedly referred to the issue as being one of ″men self-identifying onto All-Women Shortlists″.

The mass resignation was originally timed for International Women′s Day. It didn′t materialise. One person who was suspended pending investigation by the Labour Party resigned before the outcome of that investigation.

This ″mass resignation″ is one depiction of what has been a horrible campaign by some in the Party against trans people, mostly trans women. People involved in the campaign routinely and deliberately call trans women men.

This is a terrible failure in solidarity for our trans comrades. We should campaign for changes to the GRA, and we must also go much further.

The labour movement should be looking to integrate fights against oppression and bigotry into the broader class struggle. We should support changes which make it easier, cheaper and less degrading to change our legal gender. Self-declaration helps trans people by removing some difficulties in social recognition of their identities, helping to counteract their marginalisation.

We must challenge misinformation and scaremongering about single-sex spaces. It is austerity and chronic underfunding that endanger domestic violence services and refuges, not trans women. We must campaign for better provision of holistic gender identity services and trans healthcare, which are currently seriously underfunded and inaccessible.

This should be provided in an NHS in public ownership, with adequate funding and under democratic control.

Unions, the Labour Party and the labour movement must organise to tackle transphobia, sexism and harassment at work and in wider society.

The trans movement, the women’s movement, the migrants’ movement and other social movements meet and intersect at many points. But all these movements have a common denominator, the labour movement, building the movement of movement

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