Replace “trans” with “foreigner” or “woman”

The bus that trans people were thrown under. Joke stolen from Stavvers.

The bus that trans people were thrown under. Joke stolen from Stavvers on twitter.

There’s an important coda to yesterday’s post. The poor and the vulnerable have often gotten ahead only by standing on the heads of those even worse off than themselves.

I’m not union bashing when I say that the growth of real job security post-war was at the cost of immigrants and women. Look at it this way. If it is harder to exit a job it is harder for everyone else to enter one. In a world where most working people are white, british born men that excludes women and immigrants.

There’s a reason that immigrants have been whitewashed out of the history of the labour movement. As Jamie says, it’s because a lot of rather awful things were done to them in the name of the labour movement, deportations were just part of it. We’re all rightly embarrassed, but it’s important to understand why it happened at all.

If you’re strong enough to organise and affect change then you’re probably not the most vulnerable. I’m not saying don’t organise, I’m saying check your privilege. [1] The victories won by the second worst off might help advance the worst off or they might not. It’s entirely situation dependent.

The victories won by the labour movement in the mid-20th century were spectacular. But they weren’t won by the weakest and they didn’t always benefit the most vulnerable, as Anna and Jamie’s pieces highlight. Thinking about this and yesterday’s post, a similar story can be told about the Equal Marriage Act.

Gay and lesbian people (and to a lesser extent bi people) have won a major victory. But trans people are still being discriminated against, despite everyone shouting about how we’ve passed “equal marriage.” That will rankle, and without the momentum of a much larger, more sympathetic, group behind them it will rankle for a lot longer.

For the LGB  bit what’s happening this week signposts the end of tolerance and the beginning of acceptance. David Cameron said (*cough* after me *cough*) that Tories should support gay marriage because its a conservative institution. He’s right. The gays have gone mainstream and this means a lot of trans people are getting left behind. Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident.


[1] I’m a historian, looking for bias in your sources (and your own thinking and writing) is just what you do. Is there even another option? I was shocked to see twitter erupt in displeasure over the phrase “check your privilege.” You have no other choice.


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