In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, (The Socialist Podcast) Heather returns to the show roots and celebrates badass socialist activist women. She is joined in the studio by Haley Marie, a recent transplant to the great nation of New Jersey. She originally hails from a far away land known as California, where she was very active in transgender rights activism.
Being a trans woman herself, Haley is very passionate about trans rights. She has faced discrimination both systemic and economic. Institutions frequently force her to confront her “dead name” – which is the name she was assigned at birth. This is an attack on trans people’s basic right of self-determination. In California, it costs over 400 dollars to get a legal name change, which is an incredible amount of money for those living in poverty.
Poverty in transgender populations
The poverty rate among trans women, especially trans women of color, is astronomical. Trans women are 76% more likely to live under the poverty line and are 14 times more likely to make less than 10,000 a year. Because of that, they are disproportionately forced into sex work for basic survival.
On average, a trans woman of color only makes 15 cents on the dollar when compared to a cis gender white male. We often talk about the fact women make 75 cents on the dollar but that only is accurate for cis gender white women. Every additional factor of oppression you add causes even lower annual income. All these issues factor into the heightened stress level on the trans population.
The rate of suicide is very high among transgender people, but studies have shown when we support and empower each other, that rate returns to normal. You do not have to be gender dysphoric to be transgender. Society puts pressure on all women to “preform femininity” but for trans women the consequences of not following those expectations can be deadly.
Haley shares a personal experience of when she was almost attacked and had a knife pulled on her on a train. Simply because of who she was, a group of men threatened her with violence. She was only saved by someone else getting on the train at the next stop. Sadly, Haley’s story is not isolated. It is all too frequent.
Interventionism vs Colonialism
Haley is currently studying to get her master’s degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and has some new ideas on how intervention can look in a socialist or post capitalist society. Historically intervention has been based on exploitation of indigenous people. Haley questions could we avoid colonialism and still be a force of good on the world state. Socialist societies can be very inward facing and insular but still must exist on a world scale. How do we balance the needs of foreign policy vs imperialism?
Haley talks about historic genocides, like Bosnia and Rwanda, and where they have failed. A lot of genocides can be explained by the legacy of western interventionism. Socialism can work toward curing that legacy, but a study of history is vital to deal with state sanctioned violence.
800,000 Rwandan residents were killed during the genocide, and Haley proposes that had the UN provided the troops that were asked for this genocide could have had a different outcome. This is very different from things like the Iraqi war type of interventionism.
After a few cocktails, the conversation diverges to being a dolphin or Wi-Fi enabled toaster so the women decided to wrap it up. Haley’s wrap up was a call to people in the position to hire people to please hire trans women and talk about trans issues. It all adds up to help elevate trans women.
To hear more coverage on transgender activism in NJ listen here