Transgender acceptance is driven by a conspiracy of metropolitan liberals and multinational corporates, goes a trope of the reactionary segments of the left and the pseudo-left segments of the far right, operating under a variety of pretentious self-description. The reasoning here is spurious, ranging from how companies sometimes pinkwash their brands during Pride to myths about pharmaceuticals, often with antisemitic canards about Billionaire philanthropist George Soros thrown in.
Such assertions hardly require engagement, resting atop fallacious associations and the bigoted paranoia fueling the anti-trans, gender-critical movement. But the lie becomes especially easy to see when companies demonstrate the contradictions that drive capitalism, as they are, in truth, motivated by an amoral need for profit that will see them superficially pander to progressive youth one moment and anti-woke mobs the next.
So we find The Washington Post’s Adela Suliman and Jennifer Hassan, as well as The Independent’s Namita Singh, commenting on a new Starbucks trans-positive ad campaign in India, intervening in the ongoing anti-trans culture war there, itself emanating from the ongoing moral panic in the United States. The advert is a touching story of a trans woman reconciling with a previously hostile father as he accepts her new identity. However, such sentiments can be harshly contrasted with the same company’s treatment of their former trans employee, Luna Spain.
Speaking exclusively with Vice’s Ben Hunte, Spain claims (corroborated by witnesses) that she had an altercation after being the victim of a transphobic hate crime. However, an edited and misleading video has resulted in Spain also being the victim of a further public harassment campaign, with the Daily Mail accused of putting her at serious risk by doxing her. Far from playing into the endearing image of inclusivity created by their pro-trans ad, Starbucks fired Spain, causing her to seek legal avenues against both the transphobic customers and her former employer.
This situation is typical. Yahoo Finance has reported on how the LGBTQIA+ advocacy group The Human Rights Campaign has removed its high rating of the company Anheuser-Busch after their refusal to properly defend transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney from a transphobic backlash following her advertisement of their Bud Light beer. More disturbing, a Walgreens security guard, working for a company that paints itself in rainbow colours during Pride Month, shot and killed the trans organizer Banko Brown, as reported by Sam Levin for The Guardian. Walgreens has ended their partnership with the responsible security firm, which does little to address this horrifying violence.
Hypocrisy is not the exclusive failing of corporations. Transgender people in the UK come under ever more extreme transphobic backlashes in the Disunited Kingdom, seeking anything to distract itself from its economic, political, ecological, energy and cultural woes. Consequently, trans communities face ever greater amounts of escalating abuse in daily life, as documented in a new report by Positive Futures and publicized by Sophie Perry for Pink News.
For most people, such a situation presents a case for showing solidarity to a marginalised group, but for arch-opportunist, the self-promoting Tory hack Penny Mordaunt, it establishes a dilemma as to whether she can best position herself against or for trans humanity to further her career and secure the coveted leadership position or even the premiership. And so, also reported in Pink News, this time by Emily Chudy, we find Mordaunt has u-turned on her previous anti-trans stance, which was itself a U-turn on her previous-previous pro-trans stance. Trans people, and voters, might be forgiven for feeling a little motion sick after all this twirling.
However ugly hypocrisy might be, sometimes it is to be preferred to the more brazen varieties of hate, such as that gripping America’s party of fascism, the GOP. Al Jazeera has given an analysis of how a continuing deluge of anti-trans legislation is setting the tone for the upcoming presidential elections in the country, where basic trans dignity and rights are likely to be under even more threat. Examining how the healthcare proposals specifically undermine trans people, Stuff has a piece that adds to the grim picture in the US. Meanwhile, Soleil Ho writing for the San Francisco Chronicle has gone undercover into the lair of the transphobic American right, exposing the callous cynicism of these attacks.
This campaign by America’s reactionary political class is also being augmented by a grassroots fascist movement, as documented in Texas by Evan Urquhart, writing for Assigned Media. Urquhart, a pioneering trans journalist seeking to counterbalance anti-trans media lies, has noted that “anti-trans activists have shared leaks of confidential patient documents and misleading videos from Project Veritas targeting specific doctors and hospitals and closing treatment programs.” These attacks indicate how creeping fascism operates at both street and legislative levels, leaving the oppressed facing more and more hostility and attempting to overwhelm the case for liberation.
In Pakistan, too, trans rights are under assault, as pro-trans activists attempt to overturn a Shariah court ruling that guts laws protecting trans people there. The Independent quotes The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan as saying that the ruling threatens the “erasure of an entire demographic and its fundamental rights.” Also taking up the case, Amnesty International research assistant, Rehab Mahamoor, has stated, “This verdict is a blow to the rights of the already beleaguered group of transgender and gender-diverse people in Pakistan.”
In Hungary, reported on in last week’s Trans*Mission Weekly Roundup, anti-trans laws banning gender recognition continue to make life increasingly perilous and debasing for trans people, as documented first-hand by Blanka Vay, writing for openDemocracy. Meanwhile, reported by Daniel Boffey for The Guardian, Slovakia is debating nearly identical measures that serve no purpose other than to subject trans people to institutional and social abuses.
The global and constantly increasing nature of these attacks on trans people, which fits into a broader picture of attacks against the marginalised, is in-line with Anti*Capitalist Resistance’s warnings about an international shift towards far-right authoritarianism in the context of a world-altering crisis of capitalism, as outlined by Neil Faulkner, Phil Hearse, Samir Dathi, and Seema Syeda in Creeping Fascism, as well as Faulkner, Hearse, Nina Fortune, Rowan Fortune and Simon Hannah’s System Crash. A*CR is continuing the vital task of theoretically understanding transphobia in its fullest context so that it can be fought everywhere it rears itself.
Contrary to the ludicrous claims of transphobes that the political and economic establishments are conspiratorially backing trans existence, the reality is that only concerted, mass solidarity can turn back the tide of hate that we are currently witnessing.
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