Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

#AllThatsLeftPod: How We Win the Fight for Trans Rights

In this episode of the podcast, we discuss both the right-wing and liberal attacks on trans rights, and the need for a movement and a working-class party with a socialist perspective to protect the oppressed.

Left Voice

June 28, 2023
Facebook Twitter Share
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Online


So far this year, Republican-led state legislatures across the U.S. have proposed a record 560 anti-trans bills, of which 80 have passed. These include bans on gender-affirming care for young people, bans on drag shows, and allowing or even requiring trans students to be misgendered at school. States like Florida under Governor Ron DeSantis have instituted so-called “Don’t Say Gay” laws which prevent teachers from discussing gender or sexuality, and include ban books.

On the Right, these proposals have come hand in hand with really extreme rhetoric. For example, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this year, conservative political commentator Michael Knowles said, “transgenderism must be eradicated.”

However, transphobia and the attacks on trans rights are not limited to the Far Right or to Republican politicians, even though these are some of the most extreme, high-profile instances. Recent years have also seen the rise of a liberal version of anti-transness, particularly from bourgeois press outlets like The New York Times and The Atlantic. These liberal anti-trans sectors don’t go as far as to support extreme measures like “don’t say gay” bills; rather, they claim that trans rights are perhaps going “too far,” and couch their concerns as “gender skepticism” and “just asking questions” — for example questions around young trans people receiving gender-affirming care or trans athletes being allowed to compete in sports. According to this liberal anti-trans perspective, the Left has become too radical, and is pushing people to the Right and into the Republican party. 

What is behind these escalating attacks on trans people, particularly from the Right? 

A key explanation that we discuss today is neoliberalism — more specifically, the crisis of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism developed as a result of the crisis of capitalist growth in the 1970s, and is associated with attacks on living and working conditions, as well as on unions. The era of neoliberalism has been associated with austerity, deregulation, financialization, debt, and precarious work.

At the same time, this neoliberal era was blanketed in “pro-diversity” rhetoric, especially from the Democratic Party, who spoke of “empowerment” and “multiculturalism.” Queer people, women, and people of color won key victories and were promised progress. However, importantly, this progress would come within the confines of capitalism.

In other words, to use feminist Nancy Fraser’s terminology, we were in an era of “progressive neoliberalism.” Progressive movements lent a charisma and progressive facade to lethal neoliberalism. These movements served the ruling class while containing the illusions of workers and the oppressed — and under “Rainbow Capitalism,” queer people were a new, profitable market to tap into.

Social movement leaders also played a major role here by supporting the Democrats, all while these same politicians were instituting policies that disproportionately harmed workers and the oppressed. For example, while Democrats famously kneeled wearing Kente cloth in 2020 and painted “Black Lives Matter” on the streets, they were cracking down on protests and giving even more funding to police and the military. And while President Biden poses with a Pride flag, his administration is doing nothing to protect the queer and trans people facing anti-queer legislation. 

But neoliberalism is in crisis, opened by the 2008 recession. This is characterized by, for example, inflation, distrust in government institutions, mass inequality, crumbling infrastructure, crises of care and social reproduction, ecological devastation, and ever more precarious working and living conditions. 

Anti-establishment Republicans, in particular, are rejecting these neoliberal attacks, and in doing so, they’re rejecting the empty progressivism that came with them. As Fraser notes, to Trump voters in particular, “feminists and Wall Street were birds of a feather.” 

Both Republicans and Democrats are trying to capture these disillusioned voters. The deeply divided Republican Party is trying to unite its different sectors — like the Trumpist sectors and the more establishment sector — under a battle against so-called “wokeism.” The Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to present themselves as the lesser evil on social issues, but have to accommodate this offensive against trans people.

In this episode, Left Voice members Reba Landers and Enid Brain go into much more depth on these topics and, importantly, what the tasks are for us as leftists when it comes to protecting trans rights and oppressed people. As Reba and Enid explain, Democrats are not our friends in the fight for trans rights — we need to unite our struggles in the streets and in our workplaces and fight for a working-class party with a socialist perspective.

Listen to the episode on Spotify on Apple Podcasts.

Support this podcast on Patreon

Facebook Twitter Share

Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.

Ideas & Debates

Toward a Revolutionary Socialist Network

In this article Warren Montag and Joseph Serrano respond to our call for a network for a working-class party for socialism. 

Warren Montag

September 27, 2023

China’s Rise, ‘Diminished Dependency,’ and Imperialism in Times of World Disorder

In this broad-ranging interview, originally published in LINKS, Trotskyist Fraction member Esteban Mercatante discusses how recent global shifts in processes of capital accumulation have contributed to China’s rise, the new (and old) mechanisms big powers use to plunder the Global South, and its implications for anti-imperialist and working-class struggles today.

Esteban Mercatante

September 22, 2023

What Is the Role of a “Green Card Soldier”? Interview with Sofya Aptekar

While both capitalist parties fight over diversity in the military, Sofya Aptekar’s new book, Green Card Soldier, looks at the experiences of immigrant soldiers in the U.S. military and how oppressed communities are used by the military to legitimize and expand empire.

Sam Carliner

August 22, 2023
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: Stalinism, Anti-Communism, and the Fate of the Soviet Union — An Interview with Doug Greene

In this episode, we interview author and historian Douglas Greene about his new book “Stalinism and the Dialectics of Saturn: Anticommunism, Marxism, and the Fate of the Soviet Union.”

Left Voice

August 14, 2023


President Biden visits striking UAW workers in Michigan.

Biden’s Picket Line Visit Doesn’t Mean He Is On Our Side

President Biden’s visit to the UAW picket line shows the strength of the strike — and why it should remain independent from him and the Democrats.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

September 27, 2023

Scabs Will Not Pass: Defend the UAW Strike With Organized Grassroots Power

The Big Three are escalating their use of scabs. The rank and file are fighting back.

Jason Koslowski

September 27, 2023
President Biden giving a speech on Friday, September 15, about the UAW strike. A UAW sign in the background.

Joe Biden Is Afraid of the UAW Strike. That’s a Good Thing.

A few days ago, Biden called on the bosses of the Big Three automakers to give concessions to the striking UAW workers. It’s because he’s scared of the UAW’s power.

Enid Brain

September 20, 2023
Migrants from Northern Africa sit in lines on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Crisis in Lampedusa: Down with Fortress Europe, Open the Borders!

The way out of the immigration crisis is through the struggle against imperialism. This is a declaration from the European organizations of the Trotskyist Fraction - Fourth International.