"Transphobia is a fascist thought"

What does it mean to be trans in a transphobic society? This is one of the many questions addressed Shon Faye (Bristol, 1988) in his essay 'Trans. A plea for a fairer and freer world' (Blackies Books). Throughout almost 400 pages, Faye analyzes the lives of trans people and ends up offering a manifesto for justice and solidarity among all social minorities.

Why, as you say, "liberating trans people would improve the lives of everyone in our society"?

Because the things that would improve the lives of trans people - one of the most socially marginalized and vulnerable groups, although not the only one - would also improve the lives of society in general. I am talking about access to housing, an absence of violence, the right to bodily autonomy, access to health systems. Deep down, the gender system not only harms trans people, but also women in general, people LGBTI and even men who are forced to repress a lot of things. Improving the essential conditions of life for trans people would uplift society as a whole.

You insist that you do not want to fall into commonplaces. For example, she prefers not to enter the debate about whether or not it is fair for trans women to compete against cisgender women (women whose gender identity matches the sex assigned at birth). Is this debate, now so much on everyone's lips, a real waste of time?

The sport elite and how trans people fit into it is an issue that affects a tiny number of people. I preferred to focus the debate on the real problems that affect trans people, almost all of whom will never participate in elite sport. And that's why I talk a lot about sex work, because the sex industry is one of the biggest employers of trans people. A huge number of trans people go through this industry at some point [casi el 50% de las personas trans han ejercido en algún momento la prostitución, según el estudio 'Transexualidad en España: Análisis de la realidad social y factores psicosociales asociados', realizado por la Universidad de Málaga en 2012]. The media, which is mostly made up of cisgender people, speaks only of their neuroses and fears such as bathrooms, locker rooms and elite sports. I wanted to focus on the problems that really affect the trans community, such as housing, work, welfare, precariousness.

"I wanted to focus on the problems that really affect the trans community: housing, work, precariousness"


It says that the poverty and homelessness are two trans issues. How?

Trans people are disproportionately affected by poverty and homelessness [sufren hasta el doble de desempleo que la población general, según el informe 'A broken bargain of transgender workers', de 2014]. One thing that is happening now is that trans people are coming out at an increasingly younger age, which is on the one hand good but on the other means that, being often rejected by their families and communities, they are left behind. the street before. And homelessness is something that can become entrenched in a person's life if it starts at a very young age. I really like going back to the LGTBI movement in New York in the 70s, with the Stonewall riots and the work of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Ribera. They were both people who went beyond gender standards and put a lot of focus on welcoming all these people who stayed on the margins. There the LGTBI communities began to work to give these people a home, to take care of each other. In the end, housing is a very important issue within the trans problem, but it is touched on very little because those who occupy positions of power within the media or LGTBI organizations are usually people like me, privileged, middle class; people who do not perceive this precariousness.

Why is it wrong to talk about the wrong bodies when referring to trans people?

It seems to me a very tortic metaphor. I understand that it is a way of explaining gender dysphoria [la ansiedad que sienten las personas cuya identidad de género difiere del sexo asignado al nacer] to people who have never felt it. However, it doesn't seem like a valid metaphor to me. First, because I don't believe in this idea of ​​a woman's brain in a man's body. Second, because it is something much more complex. yes i understand that [la disforia] It's something that affects trans people, a very powerful emotion that makes us suffer a lot, and that's why in the book I use the idea of ​​heartbreak, of breaking your heart. Like when you end a romantic relationship and that person leaves but that mourning for that life that you imagined you would have remains and that you see that it vanishes before your eyes. I think this comes closest to describing what gender dysphoria is: that feeling that there is a life you could be living but is somehow unable to live. And I think that, if we have so many trans people expressing this suffering, maybe we have to believe them without having to understand exactly what they are feeling and support them without the need for everything to be crystal clear.

"The liberation of trans people is encompassed in a liberation of the working class in general"


Why is the struggle of trans people also a class struggle?

When I worked as a journalist, I did it for left-wing media where you often found people who said that the trans issue was not social policy, but identity, individualist politics. And what I am trying to do here is defend that trans people, as the vast majority of precarious workers within this system, are part of any type of socialist demand or claim or for the improvement of society. Until we understand that the liberation of trans people - who have always needed the left and have been present in their demonstrations and demands - is encompassed in a liberation of the working class in general, we will not get out of there.

That is why he also says that there can be no trans liberation under the umbrella of capitalism.

Obviously, in the same way that I believe that women cannot be truly free under the umbrella of capitalism, because it is a system that exploits many for the benefit of very few. We live in a totally unsustainable system, which is destroying the planet, while a few, a tiny elite, amass ever more obscene wealth. Having said that, the fact that I believe that there will not be a total liberation under capitalism does not mean that I do not believe that we can do many things now to improve the living conditions of trans people and many more people in general. For example, in the form of public housing, legal assistance, health systems.

It is surprising that there is transphobia within the feminist and LGTBI movement. For what is this?

The truth is that it is very unfair and sad that, from the left, trans people suffer this rejection. It is to be expected that it will come from the right, but to find it on our own side and from feminism itself is very disheartening. It should be the same people who consider themselves leftists who stand up to this transphobia. And this is basically what I try to do in the book: give cisgender people information to stand up to transphobia. We trans people are already exhausted, it's up to cis people to do this job. It is very important to keep in mind that transphobic thinking is essentially fascist thinking.

"Why is our biological sex not something that we only discuss with a doctor? A legal race or legal hair color is not established in our documentation"


What do you think of the trans law in Spain?

At United Kingdom We went through something similar with a bill that basically intended to depathologize trans people and give them the right to self-determine their sex without a medical process. Unfortunately in the United Kingdom the law was not approved as in Spain. From what I understand, in Spain this bill, before being approved, provoked a whole debate in which many people were legitimated to give free rein to opinions full of prejudices. And yet, the idea of ​​separating the transition from the medical process [la ley trans española permite que una persona puede cambiar su nombre y sexo en el DNI solo con su voluntad, sin necesidad de informes médicos y años de hormonación] It's a very positive thing because it comes from a time when trans people were considered to be mentally ill. I hope that, now that the law has been approved in Spain, this debate will die, once it is seen that none of the doomsday predictions is fulfilled. In addition, I believe that this law or this type of initiative opens the debate on why the State should assign us a sex and why this should be reflected in our personal documentation. Why isn't our biological sex something we only discuss with our doctor? A legal breed or legal hair color is not established in our documentation.

Despite the increase in homophobia and transphobia, we are at a time when there is more LGTBI representation than ever. Isn't it paradoxical?

Both things go hand in hand. Increased visibility is a positive thing, but on the other hand it brings increased retaliation, as a reactionary response to that increased visibility, which wants to suppress it and put it back in the closet. I think it's a bit unavoidable. Now there are many brands that take advantage of the LGTBI pull and use many people from the group in their campaigns, and I think that if you raise and promote that visibility you have to take responsibility for protecting those people from the reprisals they may suffer.

"Being gay or trans is just one facet of your identity that is cut through by other things, like class or race"


It is worrying that in countries like France, for example, part of the LGTBI movement supports politicians like Le Pen.

It is important to remember that belonging to a minority does not exempt you from aligning yourself with the hegemonic power, since that gives you a status and protection that you would not have otherwise. Unfortunately, being a member of the LGTBI collective does not exempt you from certain political tendencies, it is something that we saw in France with Le Pen, in the United States or the United Kingdom. That is why I speak so much in the book about issues such as immigration, because it is important to remember that many times the people who are part of platforms that fight for LGTBI rights are usually white, middle-class, privileged people. I don't have an answer on what to do with this. I can only say that you have to have a conversation about this to continue moving forward because your sexual identity is not always going to be aligned with your political ideology. Being homosexual or trans is just one facet of your identity that is crossed by many other things, such as class or race, and perhaps in this sense the fact of being white, with papers and middle class weighs more than anything else. .

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