Finding Comradeship and Building Trans Solidarity with ROC DSA

Trans flag with Rochester flower. Title: Finding Comradeship and Building Trans Solidarity with ROC DSA. by Travis Covitz

by Travis Covitz

Editor’s Note: The author was recently featured in a piece from The Guardian, “Trans people are finding safe haven in an unexpected place: upstate New York.” Rochester (ROC) DSA stands proudly with our transgender and gender non-conforming comrades, and will continue organizing for their safety and right to self-determination. A better world is possible. Join us.

As a transgender person, being politically involved is important to me – especially at a time when trans rights are being heavily legislated. Belonging to political organizations helps give me a sense of meaning as well as community. So naturally, when I moved to a new city where I knew nobody, I sought out the local DSA chapter.

Members of ROC DSA helped me move furniture, introduced me to restaurants, and just generally made me feel welcomed. I was not the only trans member and I felt very safe being openly trans. But knowing there were many more trans people in Rochester beyond the membership of ROC DSA, I drifted away to explore the various transgender community groups. Exploring what Rochester had to offer, I learned more about other left-leaning political groups, and even attended a school board meeting to hear what issues were impacting locals. These experiences helped me learn what I value in an organization, and how I want to spend my finite time.

When I heard the news of Israel’s genocidal war against Hamas, I felt helpless. But I knew where to turn: ROC DSA. Through its connections to National DSA and collaborations with other pro-Palestinian groups in Rochester, ROC DSA has elevated calls for a ceasefire and decolonization. Their leadership has been empowering, providing opportunities to take action and overcome my sense of helplessness while reinvigorating my passion for the organization.

Some might feel that I have little reason to be politically active, since NY is a trans sanctuary state. However, the trans experience intersects with healthcare, housing, policing, and more – all issues fundamental to DSA’s struggle for justice. Additionally, the rights of all marginalized peoples are interconnected, and as a white transgender person, I see it as my duty to fight for justice for Black and Indigenous people of all genders.

I appreciate ROC DSA for the culture cultivated by its membership. After spending my time in other areas, I experienced zero shame upon returning to a more active and engaged role. ROC DSA’s prioritization of political education and accessibility has helped me to grow. In turn, my comrades have enthusiastically learned from the perspective I am able and encouraged to provide. While I am a fan of ROC DSA’s clear structure, I know that isn’t for everyone. Therefore, I appreciate ROC DSA’s willingness to collaborate with organizations sharing similar goals. When we organize together, we all win.

I strongly recommend joining ROC DSA to Rochester newcomers like myself. Even before I knew where to get a garbage plate, this multigenerational space made me feel like part of the Rochester community.

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