Trans people are of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, races, and geographic locations, but the one characteristic I’ve seen that unites my own network and the trans community at large—more than might be expected in the general populace—is that they support socialistic policies and politicians, are DSA members, and subscribe to ideologies left of the Left. I believe an even greater number of trans people would identify this way if exposed to the message of socialism and shown how much it would benefit them and their community.
Transphobia permeates almost every facet of society. The National Center for Transgender Equality says that one in 10 transgender individuals have been evicted from their homes because of their gender identity. One in five have experienced homelessness, many because their own families have kicked them out. More than one in four have lost a job because of their gender identity, and three-fourths have suffered from job discrimination because they are trans. For trans people in multiple marginalized groups, such as trans people of color, these inequities don’t just stack—they multiply exponentially. Trans women of color are at particularly high risk for violence and homicide. The trans population is forced to fight against the inequities of our current system every day, and given the amount of discrimination and violence leveled against a population that doesn’t even reach 1% in any state, it soon becomes clear that the system is broken at its core.
In today’s world, being transgender is seen as a radical act. To be trans is to be pathologized at home, at school, at work, and by society at large as having made a conscious, extremist choice. Trans people, of course, do not see it as a choice, but as being our true selves. Against our will, we are placed in a box by the culture that surrounds us.
Perhaps the only upside is that this forces many in the trans community to more critically examine other “certainties” in our society, such as capitalism. If something as fundamental as the wrong gender was forced upon me, what else in our society may simply be a relic of an antiquated worldview? Personally, realizing I was trans recontextualized the world around me. It was a hard reset that allowed me to take a step back from the life I was living and see the ways I was simply parroting the white, middle-class worldviews with which I was raised.
There’s another, extremely practical, reason for the openness to socialism in the trans community: healthcare. Transgender individuals have the same health care needs as everyone else, as well as special needs. Like millions in this country, they suffer from lack of basic care. In addition, a study of 27,000 transgender individuals by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that a third had been refused medical care or had been harassed by medical professionals. Many trans people cannot afford or gain access to the care they need in order to transition. Trans suicide rates plummet dramatically post-transition, according to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Even with good insurance, the costs of weekly hormone shots, endless doctor visits, and surgeries quickly add up. I’m one of the “lucky” ones. For the last year, I have worked at Starbucks—one of the few companies with decent trans medical benefits— in order to avoid accruing a mountain of medical debt. While I’m thankful that I have the healthcare I need, I had to leave a higher-paying job in my desired field in order to work long and physically exhausting hours, just so I could afford to be trans. For people with conditions that don’t allow them to do this kind of physical work, such a job change isn’t even an option.
DSA and the trans community are natural allies. Many of DSA’s core values, such as protecting workers and advocating for universal healthcare, are aligned with the needs of the trans population. Actively pushing to include the trans population in DSA’s vision of the future is to everyone’s benefit.