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This Pride Month, There is Hope In Fighting Back. Pride is in the Streets.

Pride is in the streets. It is the history of our community, it is the history of our struggle. Let us do them honor.

Sybil Davis

June 2, 2023
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This Pride Month comes amid a rising wave of anti-trans policies across the country. Over 500 anti-trans bills have been proposed in the past year, state after state is banning gender affirming care for trans minors, and many are beginning to also severely limit it for trans adults. With the recent presidential announcement of Florida governor Ron DeSantis, it’s clear that these anti-trans politics aren’t going anywhere soon. Right-wingers are harassing and attacking queer people, corporations are abandoning even the most self-serving attempts at inclusion, and the response from the Biden Administration has been limited to paying the most insultingly insufficient lip service  — only nine seconds on trans issues in the State of the Union as hundreds of anti-trans bills are proposed —- to clearing the way for more attacks — such as when they effectively released a playbook for how to ban trans youth from participating in school sports. In this context, it can be hard to feel safe — let alone pride or even the urge to organize and fight back. It’s an incredibly demoralizing moment to be queer and to support queer rights.

However, there is reason for hope. In the past year, we have seen the beginnings of actions against these attacks. Across the country, young people have organized school walkouts and protests against their rights being taken away. These young people are showing how to fight back against these attacks — through mobilization, protest, and disruption. Another source of hope should be the new labor movement, which has kicked off union drives across the country and led to disruptive strikes.  This includes the currently on-going strikes at University of Michigan — who are actively including strike demands around protecting LGBTQ+ people — and the Writers Guild of America — who have held trans-themed pickets. These workers, like the youth, are showing us how to fight back: by harnessing our power and refusing to take these attacks lying down. Uniting these movements — the fight for trans rights and labor — will be key to creating the strongest possible defense against these right-wing attacks.

We can also take hope from the struggles happening around the world. Earlier this year, the French working class rose up against the pension “reform” forced through by President Emanuel Macron. The resulting protests and strikes disrupted France for weeks. This is a roadmap for how to fight back against attacks from the state. We do not have to simply hope that elected politicians will deign to fight for us. Rather, we can rise up ourselves, disrupt production, fill the streets with protesters, and say that we will not accept this. This will both help fight back the current attacks and also build our power to go beyond just defending against right-wing assaults and fight on the offensive to actually win our liberation by bringing down this terrible system.

We can also take hope from the history of the queer movement. Our community is a community which has, time and time again, stood up to fight for our rights and refused to be erased without a fight. From the militant anti-police uprisings of the Compton Cafeteria and Stonewall Riots to the mass movement against the AIDS crisis to current organizing against the anti-trans attacks, we can see that the history of the queer community is one of struggle, resistance, and organization. We also have seen how the queer community has united with the labor movement — including the examples of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and the Marine Cooks & Stewards Union — to show that queer rights and workers rights are intertwined.  From Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera to the trans youth taking the streets now, our community has many examples of how to fight back, how to organize, and how to win important concessions from the state. We did not win the right to marriage, the right to transition, the right to be parents, the right to not face employment and housing discrimination by sitting on our hands and hoping politicians and the courts would do the right thing — no matter what the capitalists, their politicians, and their edited histories want to tell us. Rather, we organized, fought, and agitated until the state had to give us concessions. That is how we win our rights, by fighting. 

This Pride Month, we must look around and see the urgency of  building a movement for trans rights. Our history and other struggles show us how to build that movement, but they also provide warnings. We must see the warnings of how our movement can be co-opted and de-fanged. The Democratic Party and their allies in the NGOs want to direct all of our energy to the polls, they want us to place our faith in the courts and Congress to protect us. But these state institutions have not and will never work for us. Again and again and again. For every court ruling that supports gay marriage or halts an anti-trans attack, there are rulings that limit our rights or take them away completely. The courts, Congress, and all other institutions of the capitalist state  aren’t on our side. They are on the side of capitalism, which means they value capital’s stability and prioritize the capitalists’ ability to exploit and oppress us. When they give us concessions, it’s not because their hearts are in the right place or they are seeking justice, it’s because they are scared of what will happen if they don’t. 

From abortion to civil rights to queer rights, everything we have gained was won through struggle. In all of these struggles, the Democrats were obstacles at best and active enemies at worst. They oppose us when it’s politically convenient — just look at how they have shifted to go all-in on police funding in the last two years — and try to co-opt us when we’re dynamic and powerful. While they may not be the ones proposing the anti-trans laws, the Democrats are no more our friends than the Republicans are, because the Democrats rely on the Republicans always being more reactionary on social issues than them in order to continue to force us to the polls for the “election of our lives.” Even now, we can see how the Democrats are abandoning the fight for trans rights — from attacking excess “wokeness” to basically refusing to speak publicly against the bills. As we look to defend and protect trans rights this Pride, we must break with the Democrats, for they offer nothing but a dead end, misery, and more of the same.

Rather, we must fight to build our own organization — a party of the working class and the oppressed. We must fight to defend our rights and to build our own power. We must fight against capitalism which has poisoned and devastated the earth, which allows for constant attacks on our most basic rights, which forces us to work or starve, which has alienated us from our bodies, which limits our self-expression and development of our identity. Only socialism can remove the material basis for our oppression and give us the conditions to truly win our  liberation. So our party of the working class and oppressed must fight for socialism, for we have no other choice — it is that or barbarism.

This Pride, let us fight the demoralization in the streets. Let us fight for ourselves, for our siblings, for our community. Let us stand with workers and urge them to stand with us. Let us defeat these right-wing ghouls who want to strip us of our rights. Let us reject the Democratic Party and their dead end lesser evilism. Let us fight for a party of our own. Let us fight for socialism. Pride is in the streets. It is the history of our community, it is the history of our struggle. Let us do them honor.

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Sybil Davis

Sybil is a trans activist, artist, and education worker in New York City.

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