“As a trans woman it is almost guaranteed that I will be a member of the working class. My day-to-day worries include being misgendered, but I worry more about making rent. My fears include the people who stare at me as I cross the street--but I tremble when I see the cop glaring at me. I fear whether or not I can get hormones in the South but what concerns me more is whether I can afford my healthcare.
We have a Trans Day of Remembrance for everyone who was murdered or who took their own life—but this does not cover the toll of what this society takes.
What about those who could not afford healthcare and died of their cancers?
What about those of us who struggle to get a job?
What about those of us who have been killed on the job? What about those of us who die hiding who we are for fear of reprisal? What about those who have been immiserated by a system of exploitation because by accident of birth we were born to a poor family?
There will never be a flag large enough to protect the graves of those of us who die from a system that is not built for us. I and the majority of trans people like most of Americans, are members of the working class. The majority of trans people will have the same concerns that everyone cis person has—how will I make it again this month? Will I have enough to put food on the table for my family? Can the rattling in my car wait another payday because I’ve already spent everything I have?
Our class unites us.
Though many of you here are not trans I ask you to concern yourself with liberation. Not just the liberation of trans people—but for the liberation of the class that trans people find themselves part of.
Because there will never be enough corporations walking at Pride, there will never be enough rainbow flags hung, there will never be enough buttons with pronouns to address our concerns: our wages, hours, conditions, healthcare, rent and safety.
Last year we stood outside our official’s offices and railed against changes that threatened to end the state’s recognition of trans people. I’m still here. I’ll say now what I yelled then: we do not need allies we need accomplices. Since last year, the Department of Justice has argued that trans people should be denied protection from discrimination. The Bureau of Prisons ended protections for us. The Department of Education removed guidance on respecting trans children. The Department of Health and Human services proposed changing rules so programs they fund with our money can discriminate against trans people. The Police and ICE officers sexually and physically abuse trans people of color and then covers up their deaths without any chance at justice. These are material changes that affect the life of trans people. These affect all of us.
We need you to help fight for all of our liberation. Not just my freedom from transphobia but our freedom from the yoke that that weighs down working people’s necks by virtue that we are not the ones in power. Freedom from stop and frisk and freedom from murderous agents along the border. Freedom from the nagging fear about paychecks and healthcare costs. Freedom from rent checks that bounce because the utility checks were finally cashed.
Wealthy and powerful people will never have the fears that the poor and the marginalized have. The wealthy have their own solidarity. They protect themselves with an armor of money and capital that shields them from abortion bans, from healthcare costs, from the police, from imperialism and from borders.
We will never achieve our liberation if we do not fight together. You and I have been the ones to build this world. Now, I and many others have pledged our work to fight for our collective freedom. I ask you to do the same.
I call on everyone in this room and urge you: do not separate yourself from those who are your siblings. Shut down any attempts to do so. Because the only way that we have a world that we all deserve—queer and straight, cis and trans, black and white—is through all of us as members of the working class alongside one another, shoulder to shoulder in solidarity.
Solidarity is an action.
Build community with your trans siblings. Build unions with your trans siblings. If you have trans coworkers ensure that you are all being paid the same, fair wage. Make sure that your healthcare covers trans healthcare. Talk to your siblings and make sure they feel safe—hear their concerns and help make change together. When you see discrimination against your trans siblings stand athwart it. End your silence. Announce your outrage, defend yourself and your family because I promise I will fight like hell for you. I promise that my trans siblings will do the same. Help us guarantee that we never have to hold another Trans Day of Remembrance. The strength of our solidarity will shatter every chain that binds us.
All of us deserve a better world that is free from prejudice, free from oppression, free from coercion, of our bodies and our labor, free from tyranny. So I raise my fist and look you in the eyes. Raise yours high, because we have a world to win. “