by CJ White and Elisabeth Wichser
Each year, the week of November 13 is celebrated as Transgender Awareness Week: a time for events, education, and advocacy for the transgender community. This week is followed by the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), a day to remember and memorialize people taken from us by acts of hate and bigotry, held on November 20.
However, this year, the celebration of Transgender Awareness week was cut short. Just before midnight on November 19, 2022, a 22-year-old gunman entered Club Q, a popular LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Wearing body armor and heavily armed, the shooter killed five of the club’s patrons and left 25 more injured. The timing of this violence is particularly horrifying and cruel and comes at a time of heightened hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community. ISG condemns this and other hate crimes and calls on working-class people to organize to defend our rights and safety.
Around the world, the rights of LGBTQ+ people are under attack from the right. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2021 was the deadliest year on record for trans and non-binary people. In the U.K., homophobic attacks doubled in the last four years. In Turkey, Hungary, and Italy, anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and policies are being couched in discussions of “tradition” and “family values.”
It’s no accident that wherever the far-right has been actively organizing, attacks on LGBTQ+ people have increased. For example, in Florida, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill criminalizes the age-appropriate discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation with students in public schools from kindergarten through third grade.
Workers struggle to find meaningful safety in a capitalist system built on violence and exploitation. The far-right employs what the corporate media refers to as “lone-wolf tactics” of violence against the LGBTQ+ and other communities to terrorize, intimidate, and divide workers. This is done not only to weaken solidarity amongst the working class, thus reducing the collective power of the working class, but to also enforce the straight nuclear family structure and the exploitation of unpaid domestic labor. So, ultimately, capitalism benefits from both legal and physical attacks on LGBTQ+ people, as well as women and people of color.
ISG stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community against hate crimes. We cannot allow this violence by the far-right and the capitalist system to continue to take the lives of LGBTQ+ people. Measures like gun regulation cannot resolve the inherent violence in the capitalist system, including hate crimes and mass shootings. Politicians and capitalists will not be motivated to serious action by hashtags, letter-writing campaigns, or lifestyle activism. The working class must demonstrate our solidarity and support of one another, pushing for diversity in identity, relationships, and family structure to be normalized and accepted. To combat the far right, mass protests and counter-protests are necessary.
While the far-right isn’t necessarily gaining ground numerically, they are becoming bolder and more public. There is mass support for defending and extending LGBTQ+ rights, but that energy needs to be organized and mobilized to protect our communities. Workers need to build a mass movement that can out-organize the far-right—fight for reforms that undermine the far-right’s ability to recruit disaffected people—as an important step towards replacing a system built on violence and exploitation with one that brings democratic control to the majority of society.
To be successful, there must be campaigns against violence toward the LGBTQ+ community, with unions, student groups, and left organizations uniting to organize rallies, marches, and protests to pressure the ruling class to act. We need mass campaigns, taken up by the unions, to fight for access to housing, inclusive, universal healthcare, marriage and adoption equality, an end to legal discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, the right to abortion, and many more systemic issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. No more lives should be lost to hate crimes and this violent, systemic oppression.
For further reading at independentsocialistgroup.org:
- “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Shows No Rights Guaranteed Under Capitalism
- Pride is a Protest!
- How Do We Solve Gun Violence?
Image credit: Ted Eytan via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0