The Queer and Trans Fight for Liberation — and Abolition
LGBTQ activists have a long history of protesting against the violence of police and prisons
This article is part of Abolition for the People, a series brought to you by a partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, a Medium publication for and about the lives of Black and Brown men. The series, which comprises 30 essays and conversations over four weeks, points to the crucial conclusion that policing and prisons are not solutions for the issues and people the state deems social problems — and calls for a future that puts justice and the needs of the community first.
In recent years, more and more police departments have rolled out rainbow-painted cop cars for Pride, “Safe Place” campaigns with rainbow cop-shield stickers, and other messaging that portrays cops as pro-LGBT. Is this progress? Are the police a positive force for queer and trans well-being?
Queer and trans activists have a long history of protesting against police violence. In fact, annual Pride celebrations mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion: In June 1969, at a bar called the Stonewall Inn in New York City, queer and trans people fought back against the ongoing violence they faced at the hands of the police. For a long time, queer and trans people, especially Black and Indigenous people and other people of color, have been some of the leading activists in movements for police and prison abolition (think of Angela Davis, Miss Major, Andrea Ritchie, adrienne maree brown, Mia Mingus, Alisa Bierria, Angélica Cházaro, Tourmaline, and Beth Richie).
In the half-century since Stonewall, much has changed for queer and trans people. Social norms, media representations, and some laws have reduced the stigma associated with our communities. However, poverty, housing insecurity, discrimination, and violence are all still a reality for queer and trans people, especially trans people of color, queer and trans immigrants, and queer and trans people with disabilities. Unfortunately, police harassment and violence, as well as brutal violence in prisons, jails, and detention centers, remain a central source of harm for queer and trans people.