Libertarians and Trans Rights

I wanted to write about something positive today. I noticed that most of the things I write about tend to have a negative tone, but existing in a society saturated with cissexism will do that to you. Perhaps I’m internalizing the idea that too much negativity is a bad thing. But is it really? I don’t know. Perhaps not.

Why am I feeling so negative despite my desire to be more positive? North Carolina, Mississippi, Kansas, Tennessee, etc. It’s old news by now that the religious right is hellbent on removing transgender folks from public life with the endorsement of the Republican National Committee. It’s no secret that republicans are openly hostile as a party. But do you know what has me as upset, if not more upset? Most libertarians would rather talk about Bitcoin than about trans rights. I hear almost nothing from more prominent libertarians who say they are for social justice. Maybe it’s just the circles I am in. After all, just because I haven’t seen libertarians fighting for trans rights doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t. Maybe libertarians really aren’t as bad about this as they appear to be. Or maybe they are.

Why do I care about what libertarians think or say? That’s a really good question I keep asking myself. I used to call myself a libertarian and was quite passionate about it. For years, I was anti-‘big government’ and even considered myself a market anarchist for a brief period of time. But then I noticed how terrible a lot of libertarians can be about ‘identity politics’. Issues dealing with racism, sexism, or transmisogyny are rarely discussed. And when they are brought up, libertarians (primarily white and male libertarians) flock to put down the one mentioning the issue in the first place–especially when that person is a woman.

In her blog, Cathy Reisenwitz laments the existence of white fragility in libertarianism:

“…it pains me that libertarianism is so full of little flowers so delicate that the mere mention of the realities that other people have to live every single day of their lives causes them to be so triggered that they have to flee an in-group that is mostly openly hostile to and in denial of identity-based oppression for an in-group which actively and openly advocates for identity-based oppression.

“It’s not just libertarianism. White fragility is very real. When polled, most white people actually believe they are the real victims of racism in America today. The mere mention of any attempt to correct for racism causes white job applicants to get so nervous they throw their interviews. White people aren’t even strong enough to think about the realities black people live every day.

“I’m fucking exhausted. I’m exhausted by white identity politics. I’m exhausted by the fact that in libertarianism open racism and sexism by old white men is hardly remarked upon but a woman who is openly opposed to racism and sexism is angrily shouted down and told to leave their whites-only safe space.”

I’m exhausted, too.

Quite honestly, the fact that libertarians talk more about raw milk, taxation, and monetary policy than about my rights as a trans woman is enough for me to know that libertarianism isn’t for me. It’s great that some occasionally stick up for me, but I don’t see what the point of liberty is if it’s not for everyone.

Others (who shall remain anonymous) of marginalized groups who also happen to be familiar with libertarianism share similar sentiments:

“The fact that the vast majority writing articles for Reason and organizing Freedom Fest and Anarchapulco care more about the federal reserve than people actually aggressively losing their basic civil liberties and human rights is disgusting. I’m pretty sure the routine murders of [trans women of color] is a bigger deal than Bitcoin. That’s what turned me off so much. Actual lives at stake aren’t as important as money and taxes, at the end of the day.

“And not only are those high profile individuals ignoring that loss of life and increasing invasion of rights, they are belittling those who are speaking up about it.”
When posed with a serious question regarding how ‘freedom of association’ might negatively affect trans women, I saw one libertarian suggest that trans women should keep their identities a secret so they will not be discriminated against. I kid you not. Someone seriously thinks that’s a reasonable solution to private discrimination. Others not as overtly unreasonable responded that discrimination actually isn’t a problem from a rights-based or libertarian perspective. It was clear that many of them addressing the issue either didn’t care or knew next to nothing about how discrimination hurts marginalized people. This was actually higher quality discourse than I typically see in libertarian circles. Many are outright hateful and hostile toward trans people.
Fortunately, I do have some examples of libertarians who speak up for women, trans folks, people of color, and others. The Association of Libertarian Feminists Facebook page consistently does this. However, I struggle to think of others and that’s a problem libertarians should care about.
If you are a libertarian and you care about the rights and wellbeing of marginalized people, speak up if you are safe enough to do so. If you are a ‘celebritarian’, you are in a unique position to do so. If you are interested in keeping people like me around, it would help us if we knew you had our back.

4 thoughts on “Libertarians and Trans Rights

  1. Thanks for mentioning the Association of Libertarian feminists, of which I am the Executive Director. I am also a social psychologist. IMO libertarians who are racist or sexist or attack those who care about such issues are at best inconsistent libertarians. Libertarianism is based on the philosophy of individualism. That implies that every person should be judged as an individual, on their individual merit. That leaves no room for racism, sexism or any other kind of ism. Those who attack people like Cathy are not the libertarian mainstream, let alone the leaders. They are the immature boys who have no position in the movement. They are the trolls who attack attractive women like Cathy not just because what she says is threatening to them but because they know women like her wouldn’t give them the time of day. They are mostly the pathetic losers whose raison d’etre is to attack those who are better than they are so they can feel better about themselves. [Now you see why I made sure I mentioned that I am a psychologist. 😉 ]


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