Reflections from a Black Anarchist Disabled Transfemme

Estelle Ellison
4 min readFeb 21, 2023

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Ableism is innately anti-Black. It takes capitalist norms of productivity and judges us according to our ability to create value for someone other than ourselves. Likewise, ableism imparts a deplorable quality to our perception of rest. These framings are anti-Black because they are born from techniques originally designed for the institution of chattel slavery: the foundation of capitalism.

Ableist resentment is merely one way fascism imbues the population with disdain for anyone who may seek care within a system that is built upon death and extraction more than the “average” person who only seeks care to keep up with a respectable pace of work.

Not unlike other reactionary instances of oppressed marginalized groups being incited to look at each other as the cause of their suffering, ableism exists to normalize a way of survival under capitalism that is, by definition, hostile towards any level of productivity that does not bring about perpetual profit or funding.

In an anti-Black world shaped by a white supremacist imagination, a respectable Black person is someone who works without the need for accommodation or rest. Black capitalism may allow care and rest insofar as it is contextualized as a mere pause in an otherwise wealth-deserving intensity of work.

Rewards under capitalism are all anchored by a deprivation of rights. In this way, rest without guilt or anxiety about the uninterrupted threat of incarceration is largely reserved for the wealthy who take from those who are coerced into laboring to survive capitalism with little promise of rest and care throughout life.

Thus, ableist resentment plays a key role in establishing the widespread belief that we are deserving of everything we have and that we are not deserving of everything we don’t have. This very intentionally frames disability as undesirable; as something that makes you the most undeserving of everything “normal” working people are allowed to have.

Ableist resentment helps make capitalist productivity a closed circuit of belief systems. Its societal purpose pairs very well with hatred of trans people. Where ableism helps establish a general worldview that centers death, productivity, and extraction as unchangeable features of our lives, hatred of trans people helps cement gendered roles for labor and behavior that maintain the structure of capitalist institutions.

Cis heteronormativity is as compulsory as ableism and anti-Blackness. Hatred of trans people is born from the internalization of a cis-identity that capitalism has designed to encapsulate entire generations of lifetimes within its oppressive cogs. During this fascist period, hatred of trans people is a convenient way of broadening the number of participants in patriarchal violence. This is because it pits trans people as a cause of patriarchy, rather than acknowledge that trans people are one of several primary targets of patriarchal violence alongside queer folks and cis women. Just as respectable Blackness is synonymous with labor, gender is supposedly only respectable when it is cis, misogyny notwithstanding.

For me, these intersections of my own identity are all best served by anarchism. I do not believe that borrowing power from exploitative and violent institutions will get us free. I do not believe the state cares that I am disabled nor do I trust it to keep me alive when my disability won’t allow for productivity. I do not believe turning away from interpersonal violence in movement spaces will bring about the end of prisons. I do not believe the representation of trans people in a capitalist media spectacle will save us from a historic tide of fascist violence. I do not mistake inclusion in a world dominated by capitalism, anti-Blackness, ableist resentment, and the hatred of trans people for freedom.

I do not see the value of condemning those who choose to act outside the realm of respectability and create collective forms of power that are not beholden to capitalist institutions and interests. I am watching liberal pacifism fold ever more neatly into neoliberal fascism. The arms of the state are closing in, welding productivity to a mass disabling event, and I wonder if reformists truly believe voting will save us. Rather than beg the state to save us, I put my faith in those who do not shy away from the finite liberatory tasks that lie before us at this very movement. I do not want to pick and choose which reactionary values to rely upon for my survival at other people’s expense. I want to shed them all so that I can have room for the values and practices that will bury fascism for good.

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Estelle Ellison

Time dissuades us from getting free... Black Trans Disabled Writer (She/They)