My gender is precarity.
Not all trans women are created equal. More and more I come to see how poverty and precarity define my life experience and being poor and trans, I do not live in the same world as people who are rich and trans. We do not experience the same risks, the same expectations. And we do not have the same hopes or dreams. Yet poverty and class are still unmentionable things. The people who decide which subjects are important, which double-standards we as communities will break down, do not prioritize class-oppression. I suspect it’s because they benefit from it.
I hear the voices of rich trans and queer people every day and it exhausts me. I get it, you have power and you have the power to elevate your own voices to get more power. You have the power to break the ceiling. We all get it. There are better things you could do with that power though. Your lip service to solidarity means very little to the rest of us while we’re still trans and poor.
Being trans and poor looks like hellish public transport at the end of the night because we can’t afford a taxi. Being trans and poor looks like barely accessing survival medical care, much less hormones, much less surgery. Getting the medicine, laser and clothes to pass as cis and get a real job and live your dream is a privilege; some of us are barely surviving. Being trans and poor means sometimes 60, 70, 80-hour work weeks since I was young enough to work and still living on a quarter of minimum wage. Yes, literally. It means sex work, it means crossing borders, it means illegality, it means precarity. It looks nothing like fancy universities and grants and family support and social capital.
Being poor and trans means working myself to sickness to produce a book so voices like mine can be heard. It means selling that book copy by copy by copy and calling in every possible favour because poor people don’t get publishers*, we don’t have powerful contacts and we don’t have wealth to spend on advertising ourselves to gain more wealth. It means doing it all myself, with a few beautiful exceptions. And worse, being trans and poor means when I have to ask for basic help from my friends, I’m filled with shame and self-loathing.
Being trans and poor means blaming myself for the systemic poverty that fucks me over and invisibilising all the ways rich people never earned their privilege.
Being trans and poor means being marginalized by my own communities, being among those most likely to be evicted from ‘safer’ spaces and most in need of safety. It means still being at the edge of the playground while the cool kids, the rich kids discuss abstract theory or their really cool music. It means seeing my needs come last, if at all. It means being spat on by communities that are supposed to be mine.
Being trans and poor means never calling myself a victim despite the realities of oppression under capitalism. I’m tired of it. It shouldn’t be this way. I’m told that I should be proud to be trans, that my gender is a beautiful thing in the world, all butterflies and unicorns. Fuck that. My gender is precarity, and that’s nothing to be proud of.