African trans women: The struggle for national liberation and self-determination

There has been much discussion in both bourgeois and independent media centered around the bodies and identities of transgender people.

This has especially been the case over the course of the current political period generally characterized by deepening imperialist instability as well as conscious and unconscious struggle against the status quo.

While we see the visibility of transgender and gender nonconforming people in popular culture, we also see the LGBTQIA+ struggle for equality against discriminatory policies such as the so-called bathroom bills.

These bills, under the pretense of public safety, deny transgender and gender nonconforming people the right to utilize the public restroom accommodations that best correspond to their gendered identity.

Somewhere amidst the bourgeois feminist milieu is mention of the persisting murder, dehumanization and brutalization of African transgender people.

It is through African Internationalism that the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), the Uhuru Movement and its component mass organizations have on different fronts offered a dialectical and historical materialist accounting of the colonial, capitalist social system that gives life to the oppression of African and other colonized people throughout the world.

With African Internationalism, we are able to lead African people through the morass of bourgeois feminist opportunism and reactionary cultural nationalism back home to a revolutionary political philosophy and social movement that advances our ideological and organizational continuity as a people struggling against our wretched material conditions of existence.

APSP welcomes ALL Africans with open arms

The African People’s Socialist Party has provided leadership and put forward many ways in which African SGL and trans individuals can raise contradictions and offer solutions around these specific issues.

Represented by the 2014 International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) resolution to build and consolidate the Same-Gender-Loving and Trans Commission to protect and defend the revolutionary national democratic rights of the SGLT community.

Other avenues include various public educational forums calling for an end to the attacks against African same-gender-loving and trans people.

The African People’s Education and Defense Fund sponsored Black Power 96.3 FM weekly radio program “My People’s Keeper” hosted by Station Manager Diakiesse Lungisani also gives a voice to African SGL and trans individuals.

Despite diversionary criticism of our movement’s inclusion of trans and same-gender-loving people, we unreservedly affirm the leadership of African trans and gender nonconforming people that have assumed responsibility for the success of a unified struggle for genuine freedom and independence.

This is extended to the right of African trans people to exercise armed self-defense, such as in the cases of Cece McDonald or Ky Peterson.

Both were criminalized and prosecuted by the U.S. colonial judicial system for defending themselves from trans-antagonistic violence and sexual assault.

In fact, the necessity of revolutionary armed struggle for political self-determination is often either obscured or replaced with a politic of educational and policy reformism within the established bourgeois LGBTQ & women’s rights movements.

Africans transgender people can join the armed struggle against imperialism

The African People’s Socialist Party is clear however, as expressed in Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s Political Report to the 2017 Plenary of the African People’s Socialist Party in it’s understanding that “[r]evolutionary armed struggle against colonialism and capitalism is the only thing that has ever brought any real semblance of liberation to oppressed peoples anywhere on Earth and there will be no exception for Africans.

“There is no correct religion, culture or secret documents hidden from our access that, once discovered, can free us.

“Africans will have to assume full responsibility for our liberation by recognizing that revolution is the only solution and that we are going to have to pursue revolution through the purifying, cleansing, exuberant, process of organized, politically-informed, unrelenting, revolutionary violence.”

To restate the Party’s position on the equality of different sectors of the African nation:

“It is only through a successful struggle to defeat capitalist colonial parasitism that we can guarantee absolute, unequivocal, political, social and economic equality for African people.

“Furthermore, we believe that a fundamental test of the progressive or revolutionary character of any organization, party, movement, or society is its commitment, confirmed in practice, to the destruction of the special oppression of women.

“We are determined to elevate women to their rightful place as equal partners and leaders in the forward motion of the development of human society and as leaders, makers, and shapers of human history.”

This includes African poor and working class trans women and other women whose womanhood may not conform to the very white, Eurocentric conception of womanhood.

Their definition is generally accepted as the only or most legitimate expression of womanhood throughout the history of bourgeois society and has been imposed on African and other colonized and oppressed people throughout the world today.

Gender roles are a colonial invention

As African captives under colonial domination, much of the way we understand ourselves, our various identities and relationships to one another as a nation of people has been defined and determined for us by institutions and social forces external and foreign to our communities.

These external forces serve to reinforce or justify our exploitation and material conditions of existence under a social system born and maintained by our enslavement, colonization and imposed economic and political prostration.

Much of how we understand so-called masculinity and femininity has little or nothing to do with gender as such.

These terms have much more to do with capitalism and the legal and social conventions placed around our ability to produce the means of sustaining life for ourselves socially and collectively.

For instance, weaving textiles, making clothing, nursing, childcare and other roles generally considered “women’s work” in bourgeois society while “men’s work” includes the construction of infrastructure, laying roads and building houses.

Even benign characteristics such as favoring the colors pink versus blue are subject to bourgeois colonial interpretations.

In bourgeois society, gender and its commonly associated traits, roles and responsibilities have much less to do with what individuals desire, their physiological ability or the material interests of the colonized & oppressed, and much more to do with the need of the white ruling class to maintain control over the means of production in society.

Gender has been violently developed as a colonial norm

Additionally, gender isn’t simply defined by what many of us think we understand about biology or the ability to bear children or whatever biological function we have been taught ultimately determines one’s gender identity.

Many who share the same gender identity may experience some sense of sameness based on some shared biological function.

However, none of these functions contribute to most folks experiencing a sense of sameness with a dog, pig or any other non-human animal or contribute to Africans sharing the same social status as white people that may share the same biological function.

In reality, gender identity and gendered expressions are socially determined in part by a very subjective and intimate understanding of oneself in relation to other people and the various institutions in human society.

And in this society we live in today, the State, all of its institutions, its social and legal conventions, known as its superstructure, much of what passes for culture has achieved prominence and definition by violently expropriating African, Indigenous and other colonized people’s land, labor, resources, and right to self-determination.

Much of modern science regarding so-called female reproductive health is accredited to butchers like James Marion Sims, taught in medical institutions today as the so-called “father of modern gynecology.”

This white man tortured and experimented on enslaved African women against their will, and in most cases without anesthesia.

That says a lot about so-called modern science and our understanding of the human body and health.

The APSP’s stance is clear

Much of the way we understand ourselves is a direct product of the continuation of slavery and colonialism.

We have to be very clear on that in order to struggle for the level of principle, unity and organization that will wipe away all the arbitrary geopolitical and social borders that keep us locked into this existing state of seemingly permanent misery, poverty, and ignorance.

There is much more that can and must be said regarding this particular issue.

The African People’s Socialist Party’s position on the question is simply this:

We believe African trans people are part and parcel of a colonized and oppressed African nation, who like almost our entire population, are systematically denied the right to political independence, genuine self-determination and the organizational capacity to feed, clothe, house, protect, defend and otherwise govern ourselves as a free people.

Therefore, African trans people, particularly African trans women, are subject to the abject brutality, dehumanization and poverty afforded most people living under the boot of colonialism.

A contradiction that confronts our just struggle today is many African people have been bamboozled and don’t see African trans folks as such.

African trans people are often viewed as deceptive interlopers in our own communities and treated as disposable pariahs .

Thus African trans folks, particularly of the poor and working class, remain one of the most isolated and slandered sectors of our population, leaving African transgender people particularly vulnerable to horizontal and vertical State-sanctioned violence.

African trans women in the U.S. have life expectancies in the thirties and are disproportionately pushed into other forms of subsistence work, sometimes within the informal, illegal sex trade economy.

The struggle for African trans folks, like other oppressed and colonized people, is a struggle for independent black political power in our own black hands over our own black lives.

We struggle for the right to exist independently of the false assumptions and antagonistic ideas held by many about African trans people.

Our work and responsibility as African Internationalists, therefore, is to deepen and win this general position amongst the masses and struggle to bring as many of our people into active participation in the revolutionary transformation of the African nation.

We must also ensure the utter destruction of the existing capitalist colonial social system.

We must ensure the founding of a new world shorn forever of the oppressor and the oppressed.

Become an African Internationalist!



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