Along with many other organizations, the Buffalo Anti-Racism Coalition endorses the Buffalo Public Schools’ new gender-identity policy, mandating, among other things that transgender persons be allowed to use the restrooms corresponding to their gender-identity.
The Buffalo Anti-Racism Coalition is dedicated to the end of racism and white-supremacy. Furthermore, however, we assert that no change will come unless and until we all fight together against our oppressors and all the ways we are oppressed. We cannot win this struggle without addressing all the other forms of oppression faced by people of color and working class people. Trans people of color, in particular, are victims of assault and violence at a rate wildly disproportionate to the rest of the population and are subject to vicious forms of discrimination in virtually every aspect of their lives. Indeed, the Human Rights Campaign reports that seventeen transgender persons have been killed in 2016 so far—almost all of those victims were people of color.
Those who oppose the new policy often invoke prejudices that suggest that transgender persons are more likely to sexually assault or abuse children or to harass cisgender people in public restrooms. All of these claims, however, are baseless and echo well-known myths from the past that sought to ban gay and lesbian people from many occupations due to their supposed predatory nature. In reality, the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of sexual violence are straight, cisgender men known to the victim. Moreover, the typical victims of assault and harassment in public restrooms are the very communities that the new gender-identity policy are intended to protect.
In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We cannot be silent when transgender people are mistreated, brutalized, and indeed murdered. None of us are free until all of us are free!