Comrade Roquiel, Student Marxists of Pittsburgh alumnus and Red Strike Project Pittsburgh member, delivered these remarks at the 4/18 rally against pseudointellectual and arch-transphobe Michael Knowles.
In 1845 Friedrich Engels described his concept of social murder as such:
“When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another such injury that death results, we call the deed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call his deed murder. But when society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, . . .places them under conditions in which they cannot live – forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence – knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual.”Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)
Engels accused the British ruling class of forcing its poor into conditions which they knew full well would kill them slowly and painfully, through police, through starvation, through lack of ventilation and shoddy infrastructure. As a class, the bourgeoisie killed, and still kill, across the world, and leave no individual to convict of murder.
So let me ask: What is anti-transgender legislation but a form of social murder?
What is an invitation extended to Knowles and company to speak publicly on campus, but complicity in social murder?
It’s common knowledge that access to gender-affirming care is lifesaving for transgender people. That isolation and shame and self-hatred worsen our mental health and make us susceptible to targeted harassment and violence. And if we can’t rely on a university, or a government, or the police to defend us from attacks, then the only option is to defend ourselves and each other by any means necessary.