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Trans Day of Visibility 2024: Organize With the Working Class Against The Far-Right

Trans Day of Visibility this year comes in a context of an insurgent far-right. To defeat this right we will need to rely on our own power and join with the working class.

Sybil Davis

March 31, 2024
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A trans flag flies above a protest
Photo Credit: Nate Yonamine

Trans Day of Visibility in 2024 dawns in a moment of increased reaction. The far-right is advancing both in the United States and around the world. The recent murders of Alex Franco, Diamond Brigman, and an as-yet unnamed trans woman in Los Angeles show that it is still not safe for trans people. These recent murders come just after the death of teenager Nex Benedict, which showed how anti-trans discourse and fear-mongering about trans people can lead to harassment and violence.

2023 was a dark year for trans rights in the United States, with 87 anti-trans laws passing around the country. While 2024 has seen many anti-trans bills being defeated, the fact of the matter is that the anti-trans laws that have already passed impact 35 percent of trans youth and 24 percent of trans adults. These are sobering numbers that should drive us all to take up the fight for trans rights in our own hands.

Some —  like the major LGBTQ+ nonprofits — propose that we fight this fight primarily at the ballot box. They urge us to vote for the Democrats who will supposedly protect us from the surging far-right. But if the last few years have taught us nothing, they have taught us that we can’t defeat the far-right by voting, and we won’t protect our rights by holding our nose and voting for the lesser evil. Millions voted for Biden in 2020 to defeat Trump and the forces of reaction he oversaw, and rather than being defeated, we can see that the far-right is instead insurgent. 

Indeed, a look at the political situation reveals who the true allies of the trans community are. They aren’t the queer NGOs who are trying to whip support for Biden even as he funds a genocide and takes a hard-right turn on immigration. The Democrats certainly aren’t our allies as they have enabled (and funded) the rise of the far-right, and they are now taking up right-wing talking points around immigration — Biden even called undocumented immigrants “illegals” in the State of the Union! — and have been trying to distance themselves from the fight for trans rights as the notable absence of trans rights from their speeches indicates. Biden even laid out a roadmap for how to discriminate against trans youth in sports Rather than supporting the Democrats, we must build strong solidarity between those fighting for trans rights with other sectors of the working class and oppressed. We can see the beginnings of examples of this in actions like the “pride strike” called by Starbucks workers last year or the way that sectors of the queer community have been organizing for Palestine. The video that Starbucks Workers United put out for Trans Day of Visibility highlights how labor rights and trans rights are linked. Uniting our struggles and fighting together with the working class is how we will defeat the far-right. 

This Trans Day of Visibility, we must reject the dead-end of lesser evilism and instead build a movement for trans rights. To defeat the rising far-right, we will need to rely on our own power and seek to organize ourselves. This means calling on the labor movement to join the fight for trans rights and to use the immense power we have as workers to fight the attacks of the right back. We need to call on teachers, healthcare workers, and other sectors of the working class to take up the fight for trans rights, not as individuals but as workers who, by working in strategic sectors, have the ability to bring things to a halt.

To organize, guide, and strengthen the fight for trans rights, we will need to build institutions of self-organization — like the assemblies that are being built in Argentina to oppose their far-right, anti-queer president — where we can all go to democratically decide how to put forward the fight against the right. Concretely, this can look like school Gay-Straight Alliances organizing alongside teachers unions to organize the fight from each school. These institutions must be class-independent — meaning that they can’t be subservient to the interests of capitalists or the Democrats — and fight to unify the movement for trans rights with the working class. Just as we saw unions take up the fight for Palestine, albeit in limited ways, we must call on them to take up the fight for trans rights. 

As the election creeps closer, we will likely hear a lot more about how our greatest power is as voters, that voting will protect our rights, and that any refusal to back the Democrats is tantamount to sending trans youth to die. These are the same lies that we are constantly told and they are lies that exist to demobilize and co-opt our movements. Just as Black Lives Matter was driven into dissolving into the Biden 2020 campaign, the Democrats and their allies in the NGOs are trying to drive us into the Biden 2024 campaign. We must resist these attempts and instead fight to build our own institutions. Because, without ways to organize ourselves, we will never be able to truly win our liberation which will require toppling the entire capitalist system and the patriarchal violence and oppression it maintains.  

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Sybil Davis

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

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