Framing the Trans Movement as a Moral Movement

One of the things that I really love about the organization where I work is that we’re not afraid to use the word “moral” when talking about things like prioritizing the needs of the most marginalized, pushing for equality for trans people, and queer organizing.  Christian extremists have done an excellent job of co-opting morality in the public imagination, to the extent that when talking about trans pioneers in school, for example, is decried as “immoral,” we all know exactly what they’re talking about whether or not we agree.

But there was never one morality.  Morality has always been subjective.  Morality relies on a system of beliefs, a value system of right and wrong, and the extreme Christian right version of morality is just one version.  What we need to do as a radical trans queer movement is take back that word and start talking about why supporting trans rights, particularly the rights of those who have the least power in our society, is an absolutely moral position.  We need to take that language back and start talking about how cissexist and transphobic people are immoral, and why it’s wrong to oppose our stance.

I would love to hear any success stories from folks who have been able to use this language in their organizing, or any ideas you have about how to apply this strategy in practice.

About Avory

Avory Faucette is a queer feminist activist, writer, and public speaker. Zie graduated from the University of Iowa with a JD in 2009, focusing on international human rights and gender/sexuality issues in the law. Hir current work focuses on queer identity, policy, and marginalized identities under the queer umbrella. As a genderqueer person, zie comments frequently on non-binary identity, transgender and genderqueer issues, and media coverage of these populations. Zie also speaks at colleges, universities, and events on transgender and queer issues and conducts trainings on related topics.

Posted on August 13, 2012, in activism, trans. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The trouble with framing this as a moral imperative is that the conversation inevitably devolves into am argument over primary philosophy. I disagree that there is no universal morality upon which to base a conception of human rights, although I do agree that morality is necessarily subjective, and herein lies the difficulty for most people attempting to counter the absolute religious certainty of those who derive their moral rules from a non-evidenced, unprovable supernatural. Usually, the response is that we can’t ever prove an objective basis for morality. I happen to think this is slightly short-sighted, and results from an over-emphasis on deductive reasoning and a denigration of induction as a means for developing testable hypotheses about morality. Expect to hear Hume’s is-ought dichotomy repeated ad nauseam. To my mind, “is-ought” should not present any difficulty, but people hang on to “objectivity” almost as if it were a god…

  2. Can’t express how good it feels to come across this discussion of morality. I understand that a debate with those who get their morality from dogma will be frustrating at best. But the more interesting conversation is between us anyway, at least for now. Where do we get our morality from, those of us defined as amoral? In our fight for existence, expression, integrity, self respect, solidarity, activism, surely by now we can identify some collective moral guideposts? Don’t we do this in our chosen family networks?

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