The AWL has been discussing the theory and politics of transgender identity and rights. This is the policy we have passed; we are continuing our discussion.
1. We support transgender rights and express our solidarity with trans people. We oppose prejudice, hostility and discrimination against trans people, and advocate support and compassion towards them.
2. We accept people in the gender they identify as (including non-binary identities).
3. We reject the assertion that individuals’ genders are defined by or are bound to the genders to which they were assigned at birth, or to their past or current biological characteristics. We recognise that gender is generally initially assigned based on perceived sexual characteristics associated with binary biological sex. Later too, gender is often presumed on the basis of or associated with perceived or assumed sexual characteristics, often coupled with suppositions about the history of that individual’s sexual characteristics. Genders are, currently, strongly socially associated not just with divergent sexual characteristics, but with different practices and behaviours, clothing and presentations, social and erotic relations, and categorisations of people and identities. These varied and intertwined social phenomena are for many people tied up with their sense of self, their sense of how they relate to other people, and their desires for how they would like to be socially understood. We assert that how institutions and society recognise and categorise an individual’s gender should be solely on the basis of that individual’s declaration of how they self-identify.
4. We recognise and and oppose the currently existing social construction of gender, and work to eliminate the inequalities associated with it.
5. We recognise the flaws in current gender recognition law and support proposed changes to it, including self-declaration of gender. We have considered, but are not convinced by, arguments that these changes threaten women’s spaces or legal protection from sex discrimination.
6. We support the established labour movement practice of including trans women in women’s structures and on all-women shortlists, on the basis of self-identification.
7.We advocate that these issues be discussed in a rational and empathetic way and are addressed through such debate rather than through bureaucratic moves, censorship, no-platforming and violence related to this issue. There are a number of terms which are sometimes used unhelpfully, either to shut down debate or used inaccurately, simply for rhetorical force. That words are used in this way or are perceived by some as inflammatory does not in itself mean they should be abandoned. We seek to properly define words and use them accurately, and encourage others to do likewise.
8. We analyse women’s oppression as taking advantage of women's biological sex rather than being rooted in it. We believe women’s oppression to be linked to the biology of women in general rather than of each individual woman.
9. We criticise and will further examine the role that identity politics and privilege theory are playing in these discussions.
10. We assert that trans rights and women’s rights are not in conflict, and that movements for trans rights and women’s rights need not be in conflict. We contend that there has been a failure of solidarity on this issue, in particular by a proportion of feminists who oppose trans rights, and that centring class politics will enable us to unite against women’s, gender and all oppression.
11. We recognise that the oppressions of women and of trans, non-binary, intersex and gender-nonconforming people are rooted in restrictive and oppressive gender relations which are perpetuated by capitalism. This also leads to many commonalities between the ways in which people in these different groups are oppressed, although there are differences and particularities. These factors – as well as the fact that many trans people are trans women and oppressed as women – provides a basis for common struggle on many specific issues, as well as in the struggle to replace class society with a socialist alternative.
We agree on these key points but continue to discuss them and also to debate differences on various issues and nuances in a comradely way.