England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

One year after Brianna Ghey’s murder: How can we win justice and trans liberation?

By Daisy Avril Rhei, Socialist Alternative Leicester

The murder of Brianna Ghey in February last year was a shocking and tragic loss of another young trans life. The trans community is facing increased prejudice and violence as a result of the divide-and rule tactics of the ruling class. We must cut across the right’s attempts to divide us, and instead build a united struggle in solidarity with our trans siblings. We need to work towards establishing democratically organised campaigns with a clear, militant strategy that fight against transphobia, misogyny and all oppression.

Following Brianna’s murder, thousands of people across the country took to the streets, holding vigils to mourn her but also to demonstrate for justice. This frustration, sadness and the demands for change have not gone away, especially considering that many more trans people continue to face hardship and discrimination.

Fight the Tory culture wars

Transphobia is on the rise, with record numbers of transphobic hate crimes recorded last year. This has been spurred on by the Tory culture wars, cynically exploiting the social pressures that build up within an unfair capitalist society where people feel like they are competing for limited resources.

At PMQs on Thursday 7 February, PM Sunak made a vile transphobic dig at Kier Starmer, whilst Brianna’s mother was present in the room. “He (Starmer) has broken every single promise he was elected on… (including) defining a woman – although in fairness that was only 99% of a U-turn.” Starmer previously said that 99.9% of women “haven’t got a penis”. 

There were bursts of laughter from the Tory bench; Sunak’s brazen and immoral behaviour ought to be condemned. The Tories rely on transphobia to firm up a divisive voter base; they have no real interest in the working class’ needs. Saying this, neither does Labour, but they are a hair’s breadth better than their opposition.

From financial strain and crumbling public services, to capitalist overworking culture and the threat of climate catastrophe, workers know this system isn’t working. Many will be looking for explanations and a way out.

The Tories’ culture war rhetoric looks to divert the anger of ordinary people, leading to scapegoating and misdirected violence. Transphobia and gender violence are some of the manifestations of this chaos. Socialist feminists fight for every reform that improves the quality of life of our trans siblings, and against any injustice that they face.

The outpour of anger after Brianna’s death, much like after the deaths of Sarah Everard, George Floyd and others, showed not just a willingness to fight transphobia, misogyny and racism, but also a willingness to fight the underlying system that reinforces these problems.

To win these fights we will need to harness that anger, beyond sporadic outbursts, into a continued campaign. A campaign that will fight against gender violence, attacks on our rights, and all forms of misogyny and transphobia in society. A campaign with democratic structures, bold demands and accessible tactics to benefit the working class.

Socialist Feminist Alternative are fighting to create a longstanding campaign, including having built for protests around the International Day of Elimination of Gender Violence on 25 November, and now building for International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March.

For 25 November 2023, International Socialist Alternative and ROSA International (across many countries where we are active) established coalitions with local feminist groups to conduct demonstrations, speak-outs and protests. We strive to continue this work, and build for explosive activism on International Women’s Day on 8 March.

Spreading the movement into schools and workplaces

Sexism and transphobia exist across all areas in our lives. This is why the campaigns we strive for should not be limited to occasional demos. The struggle should be taken into schools and the trade union movement.

Following the leak of transphobic Tory guidance for schools in 2022, staff and students have resisted illegal safeguarding violations and unfair policies regarding uniform choices and toilet access. Socialist Alternative members in the National Education Union (NEU) successfully pushed through motions of trans solidarity, to which many NEU branches signed and committed themselves. They were joined by Socialist Alternative members in UNISON and the PCS who are also fighting for the unions to lead the fight against attacks on trans rights.

Across society, there is a real thirst for change among working people. Our task is to activate and organise working-class people to fight capitalist injustice with clear direction and a socialist strategy

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