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.

It’s Not About Privacy

CW: transmisogyny and mentions suicide and assault.

Since losing the fight against marriage equality, the Right has shifted its attention toward the transgender community by attempting to repeal legislation protecting the rights of trans individuals. Sites on Facebook such as Just Want Privacy and Keep Locker Rooms Safe have sprung up urging people to resist progress.

Just Want Privacy’s stated mission is ,”to repeal WAC 162-32, the Washington Human Rights Commission’s rule mandating schools and businesses to open locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms based on the way someone claims to internally identify.” A recent effort in the Washington legislature failed to repeal WAC 162-32, but the fight still isn’t over. Opponents of the rule are still organizing in an effort to get it repealed.

Keep Locker Rooms Safe, “seeks to equip people with information and resources to effectively combat the Washington State Human Rights Commission’s recently adopted WAC, which compromises the safety and the privacy of residents across the state as it grants access to bathrooms and locker rooms on account of gender identity rather than anatomy.


Our stand is not against transgender people, nor do we believe they are sexual predators. Our opposition is to negligent and poorly written legislation that seeks to grant safety and privacy of a few by stripping it from the majority” (emphasis added).

 

In South Dakota, an anti-trans bill “that orders people in public schools to use restrooms that align with their gender at birth”in order to “protect the privacy of students” (there’s that justification again) was passed by the South Dakota Senate. The governor has yet to sign or veto the bill.

Is this really about privacy? Not at all. Are people pushing against trans rights against transgender people? Absolutely. How? Trans women are at a higher risk of assault than other groups are. If this were really about protecting the privacy of women and children, then they would not be fighting against the rights of trans women and children, they would be supporting us. Do these people even care about the facts? No, they don’t.

Trans women are not considered women. We don’t matter to them. They would rather we didn’t exist and they are doing everything they can to make the world even more intolerable than it already is. Never mind that 41% of trans people attempt suicide. You can quote that statistic all damn day long. They don’t care. That statistic could double and they still would not care. 

If you consider yourself a trans ally, do not be fooled by these transmisogynistic arguments. If you think trans folks should be considered equals while having a reservation about trans women in women’s bathrooms, you don’t think trans women are women and that they matter as much as cis women. Being an ally means being willing to support us and considering us full equals. Considering trans women equal to cis women would prevent the reservation from taking up any serious space in your mind for any serious length of time.