- The Guardian
- Issue #2058
Following The Sun a day earlier making public British Tory government plans to attack transgender children in almost every possible way at school through new “guidelines” for schools, PinkNews published a recording of Rishi Sunak mocking the leader of the Liberal Democrats for “trying to convince everybody that women clearly had penises” on the 19th June.
After the most recent manifestation of the right wing’s attack on transgender people, we would be remiss to ignore that our own Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, went on record in the lead up to the election saying that men can’t get pregnant, making public that he doesn’t believe that trans people are the gender that they identify with. This was unsurprising, given the gutting of LGBTQ+ rights from the ALP’s platform under Albanese’s leadership.
But why has there been such a successful sustained right-wing attack on trans people, and especially on trans women? The germ of our answer can be found in Engels, who said in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, “The first class antagonism which appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression with that of the female sex by the male.”
The oppression of the female sex by the male could well have been complicated by the existence of transgender and nonbinary people. There is evidence of their existence since Ancient Mesopotamia. If people’s gender did not align with their sex, then how could the oppression of women be justified? People surely associated the female sex with womanhood, as we do today, and conversely the male sex with manhood. It could not be said that it was exclusively the woman’s role to raise children on the basis of their ability to fall pregnant and give birth if there were transmasculine people who could do the same, and conversely transfeminine people who could not.
While it is important to recognise that there have been many societies that managed this contradiction in ways that did not oppress trans people, the method of managing this contradiction used by the societies that colonised the world was to eradicate trans people from the public view. Transmasculine people could perhaps be disallowed from child-rearing, but transfeminine people could not be made to fall pregnant and give birth, so we were painted as perverts and predators to justify forcing transfeminine people to live as men and extermination of those who refused. The same had to be done to people that exhibited all other forms of transgender existence and gender-nonconformity, as the idea that being transgender was either a lie or the result of indoctrination had to be upheld.
In a time where people are having fewer children later in life (or not at all) due to the cost of living in contemporary capitalism, the capitalist class must now do whatever they can to defend the nuclear family that Engels identified as the first class antagonism. Rather than make concessions to the working class that would enable people to live comfortably while raising children at a younger age if they choose to do so, they have renewed and intensified attacks on transgender people, and we must fight against it.