A systemic view of hierarchy shows that patterns of dominance which echo throughout society reach their fullest vitriol when directed at the most vulnerable. Looking at those at the bottom of our patriarchal dominance structure in the U.S. reveals the corrupt logic at the heart of the system. Here, I tackle this worldview through the lens of separate issues, in an attempt to tease out greater patterns. I explore how many other issues should be important to trans* people, and why trans* liberation should be an important part of these other struggles for equality, as well. Many of these issues are intersectional, as well – people who are marked in multiple ways feel the doubled sting of multiple prejudices.
Here are the dots:
- Economic issues are trans* issues. Almost 30% of trans* people live in poverty, twice the rate for the population in general. 30% of us have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Many others are underemployed – it is not uncommon for a trans* person with a Master’s Degree to be working a minimum wage job, with little or no prospects for improvement. Supporting a system which is as drastically hierarchical as we have now means supporting a system which necessarily keeps large segments of the population impoverished, in the name of keeping wages low and profits for the 1% high. The lower down you are on this food chain, the more you will be marginalized, economically and in power. If you are low enough down, it’s very easy to get trapped in feedback loops of poverty and debt, from which it is nigh on impossible to extract oneself.
- Immigration issues are trans* issues. As with all populations, the most vulnerable invariably receive the blunt end of law enforcement. Trans* individuals who flee their own countries out of fear of their lives – or many of the other reasons people emigrate – receive less than a warm welcome in the U.S. Housing and employment issues multiply for trans* people who are also immigrants, especially those who are undocumented. Often, trans* people held in immigration centers are grouped with the wrong gender, adding increased danger of violence and harassment.
- Prison reform issues are trans* issues. Many trans* people are marginalized in society, economically and socially. We are frequently housed in wrong-gender facilities, leading to rape and abuse. We are often denied appropriate medical services. As with other minorities, trans* people are treated very differently from the rest of society by police, the courts and the entire criminal justice system. Frequent victims of assault and violence, those trans* people who defend themselves are often subsequently target by the law as the perpetrators, as happened to CeCe McDonald.
- Racism issues are trans* issues. Trans women of color (twoc), in particular, are one of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. The double-whammy of racism and transmisogyny leave many black trans* women economically and socially marginalized like no other population. The majority of murders of trans* people are twoc, many times because so many members of this marginalized group are forced into sex work and other questionable dealings, just to survive. Many minorities find comfort and solace with family and church, but often times trans* people are excluded from even these basic supports.
- Feminism issues are trans* issues. Patriarchy does not want the elimination of women, it simply wants women to keep ‘their place.’ Issues of reproductive health, body shaming, tone policing, victim-blaming, imbalanced dress codes, patterns of speech dominance, etc, etc, etc, etc, are generally geared towards this one goal. Keeping women in their place. I have walked the world perceived as male, female, and trans, so I know quite personally how these dynamics play out. The patriarchs and sexists hate trans* people in all the same ways they hate female empowerment, just more so.
- Abortion rights issues are trans* issues. Rich, white men making medical decisions for the rest of us? The ability to have control over decisions regarding your own body? Need I say more?
- Environmental issues are trans* issues. We are locked in a hierarchical system of dominance. Trans* people pay the price for this, with their lives and their quality of life. As do women, people of color, immigrants, and the environment. A worldview which only marks someone’s – or something’s – value by how much profit it can bring will only lead to exploitation, be it of human lives or the environment. We are living in a system where quality of life does not matter. Where human lives do not matter. Our society values personal, individual gain above all else. And our society is rigged in favor of those who exploit everything in honor of the One, True God – profit. The environment and those pesky, marginalized people of all stripes can go stuff it.
- Medical issues are trans* issues. Healthcare issues are trans* issues. If you are marginalized, it is likely that your healthcare coverage is dubious, at best. If you are trans*, even if you are covered by insurance, it is likely that you will meet with plenty of prejudice at all levels of medical care. In addition, marginalized people often suffer higher rates of physical and mental distress, due to the daily effects of their marginalization.
Here is the connection:
I’m sure many more issues tie in, as well. When you are marginalized, you are marginalized in many ways. If you are marginalized in multiple ways – the core of intersectionality – you are marginalized in many ways, but in multiplied form. The problem isn’t merely transphobia. The problem isn’t merely income inequality. The problem isn’t merely racism. The problem isn’t merely misogyny. The problem is a system which values profit over people. The problem is a system which relies on various systems of hierarchy to keep people divided. The problem is a system which relies on exploitation – of people, resources, the world – generally to prop up a very small elite at the expense of the rest of us. The problem is mainstream compliance with these systems of dominance and control by most members of both parties. The problem is a mindset which passively accepts this as “just the way things are.” Acceptance of this model is complicity with patterns of dominance which affect us all. Unless, of course, any of my readers are in the 1%.
The solution? Transcend the chaos. Free your minds to the possibility of a better world, of a better worldview. Then get active to make it happen.
There’s a lot more of us out there who want this than most people realize, but this revolution will not be televised. I would not expect very much challenging the dominant worldview to find voice in corporate media, or in the polls, or in any of the narrowly defined ‘debates’ among politicians and pundits entrenched and enriched by this very system.
Talk instead to the idealists, the activists, the artists and poets, the dreamers. We have seen the path that rampant authoritarianism has brought us, and there are no friendly sides to this beasts, no matter who brings it in. We can do better. This better world is possible, but it will not be granted to us. We must fight for it. We must claim it. We will not do so incrementally, while still bowing down to a system based upon dominance and exploitation.
It’s time for a better world. Let’s make it happen.
Stay active! It matters!