Sam Riedel has a good review of recent events which are representative of a broader pattern: Trans folk have a very uneasy alliance with left-leaning people in general, because left-leaning people in general haven’t shed the kyriarchy’s nasty habit of scapegoating us.
Much of my marching time was spent exhorting bystanders to cheer for trans rights. As we passed the iconic Stonewall Inn, I turned once again to my right and screamed “If you have rights because of trans women of color, make some fucking noise!” Hoots and cheers ensued, and we proceeded on our way.
Little did I know that less than two hours later, when #NoJusticeNoPrideactivists blocked the tail end of the parade to call attention to violence against trans women of color, deportations, and the ongoing corporatization of Pride, 12 of them would be arrested by the NYPD. As those same Pride bystanders — standing outside the bar where Black trans activist Marsha P. Johnson, “The Saint of Christopher Street,” resisted arrest and started a riotthat would change the world — watched the arrests, they cheered again. Not for the protesters, but for the police. Judging from photos, at least one of those arrested was a transfeminine person of color.
The message, though unintentional, was clear: The cisgender Left, those who claim to support trans people and our struggle for civil rights (and who make up the vast majority of those at NYC Pride), are quick to cheer our oppressors when that support becomes inconvenient. Bystanders were happy to acknowledge Pride’s sociopolitical roots as long as that acknowledgment was brief and didn’t get in the way of celebrating. As soon as political statements became an inconvenience, their support was swiftly withdrawn. Similar protests took place at other Pride events; D.C. attendees were quoted in the Washington Post yelling “Shame!” and “You’re going to ruin the parade!” to #NoJusticeNoPride activists.
I imagine this is what strategists feel like when one of their pieces is erratic and prone to flying off the chess board. I’ve certainly had to swallow a few bitter pills any time I dip my toe in to local anarchist organizing–the tendency to view any and all institutions as having no justifiable function results in some theories based on conspicuously thin evidence–and I’ve had anarchists rather bizarrely claim that I am victim to the
Illuminati “BigPharma.” They don’t seem to understand that the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest ethical problems are related to patents, intellectual property, and ownership; how these concepts interact with distribution or lack thereof; and how that distribution is not being accorded to physical need. Instead, biochemistry and pharmacology as scientific disciplines are capitalist lies!11!!1
Okay, bro. I’ll be taking your eyeglasses now, since medical aides are all a profit-conspiracy.
Read more of Riedel’s review here.