North New Jersey DSA

February 24th, 2022

The North New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) condemns Texas governor Greg Abbott’s grotesque attack on transgender children and their access to gender-affirming healthcare. In the days to come, there will be many assertions that trans rights are human rights. We agree with this but want to add: trans rights are a socialist issue. There is no place on the left for those who would deny trans liberation as central to the multiracial working-class movement DSA seeks to build. 

North Jersey DSA affirms that transgender rights and liberation are material issues inseparable from class politics or other forms of justice. From bathroom access to having one’s pronouns respected, from healthcare access and employment rights to all legal and social forms of dignity, we consider our trans comrades integral to the socialist struggle. We call on all fellow socialists to understand that, as Leslie Feinberg wrote in an epilogue to the classic trans novel Stone Butch Blues, “the course of our movement is not fixed in its banks like the Hudson River–it is ours to determine. From Selma to Stonewall to Seattle, we who believe in freedom will not rest until every battle is won.”

In their effort to criminalize trans healthcare and create a bureaucracy of anti-trans surveillance among the very authority figures young people are supposed to trust, Abbott and his loathsome cronies carry out the work of a modern Republican Party built on anti-queer violence. From the 1977 Florida “Save our Children” campaign carried out by Anita Bryant to convince parents of the imaginary threat of gay teachers, through the AIDS genocide of the Reagan administration, and on through the Trump years of eroding LGBTQ advances of the 21st century, the GOP has constructed itself through horrifying social violence against LGBTQ people. The Democratic Party, while generally less vicious, has colluded in this violence through its complacency, from its votes for the 1987 Helms Amendment that cut funding for effective AIDS education, to Bill Clinton’s craven failure to support lifesaving needle exchanges or gay and lesbian access to the military (which we seek to abolish), and more recently in Newark mayor Ras Baraka’s support for racist and classist “quality of life” police sweeps that have targeted transgender sex workers. 

The legacy of this oppression is not just in Texas but also here in New Jersey, where Proud Boys attend Woodbridge council meetings to protest Black liberation and also “sexual degeneracy.” It’s with us in Wayne, North Hunterdon, and elsewhere when LGBTQ books are targeted for removal from school libraries. And it’s with us in too many left spaces where some attempt to frame transgender rights as a “cultural” issue or a distraction from the real struggle. 

We call on New Jersey Democrats to offer more than platitudes of opposition to Texas. It’s not just ugly Republican laws that harm trans people, it’s also the basic everyday lack of healthcare access that falls most heavily on the least privileged. From Elizabeth, New Jersey’s own Marsha P. Johnson, icon of the Stonewall rebellion, through anti-neoliberal groups like Queers for Economic Justice, healthcare access has always been central to trans and queer political demands. Breaking the all-too-literal deathgrip of our healthcare-for-profit system would save trans lives. We demand that Phil Murphy, Cory Booker, the nepotistically-appointed heir-apparent Robert Menendez, and other leading Democrats match their facile rhetoric of love and inclusion with concrete policy, beginning with an endorsement of Medicare for All. 

North Jersey DSA encourages everyone to support the life-saving community work of such organizations as the Newark LGBTQ Community Center, with whom we are proud to have partnered on such events as the 2020 Walk for Black Queer Lives. We also invite transgender, nonbinary, and cisgender comrades, queer and straight comrades, to get involved with DSA and help shape our work. We send love and solidarity to LGBTQ people in Texas, New Jersey, and everywhere. These ghouls will not win. A better world is possible.

Statement originally posted here.

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