By RUWAN MUNASINGHE
On the evening of Sept. 23, Doona, a 19-year-old trans student committed suicide at Saint-Roche train station in the Montpellier, France. Doona studied Psychology at Paul Valéry University and lived in student housing managed under the oversight of the Regional Center for University and School Works (Centre régional des œuvres universitaires et scolaires) or “CROUS.” CROUS is a public establishment under the supervision of the Ministry of National Education of the French Republic.
Her suicide was preceded by two other suicide attempts on the 19th and 21st of September. She was subsequently hospitalized. Whilst in hospital, Doona suffered transphobic abuse from nursing staff at Montpellier University Hospital. Her abuse reached a level where she felt it necessary to escape the Hospital and flee.
After she was deprived of medical care and desperately pleading for help on social media, CROUS notified Doona that if she attempt suicide once more her housing accomodations and scholarships would be withdrawn. That was the day she ended her life.
This is not an isolated incident. The precarity of students has increased under the neoliberalism of Macron. Less than a year ago, a 22-year-old student in Lyon named Anas Kournif publicly immolated himself in front of a CROUS building. He was driven to this in desperation having lost his housing and struggling to find an income. He announced that his act was a denouncement of Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande, Emmanual Macron and the entire capitalist system. That week, students across France responded by pouring into the streets in protest of the poor living conditions of students. This was quickly followed by the huge pension reform strike in which students played an active role by mobilizing in the streets.
On Monday (Sept. 28) protests were held across France demanding justice for Doona. Their purpose was simple: to make it clear to all that transphobia has murderous consequences and that the state and CROUS are guilty. Salomé, a student and member of Anticapitalisme & Révolution (a Trotskyist tendency inside the New Anti-capitalist Party) who participated in a demonstration outside a CROUS building in Paris on Monday, told Socialist Resurgence that “the very institution created to help and support the students who need it most, is the one responsible for Doona’s death. They are responsible for the increasing precarity amongst students, for the low and inadequate financial aids, for unsanitary dorm rooms. And here, they are responsible for not taking care of a student facing suicidal crises, and even worse, for threatening her with her dorm room and financial aid.”
It is worth mentioning that amidst outcry, CROUS attempted to rid themselves of blame by pointing out the “benefits” and “support” Doona had received under their oversight.
This ought to send a sharp message to trans people and their allies worldwide. The capitalist state bureaucracy can never be relied on as an instrument to defend trans lives. Rather, the capitalist state apparatus is responsible in the brutal state of existence that trans people have to suffer under.
Indeed, the bourgeois state is one of the main instruments with which the capitalist class enforce their rule over the oppressed. It is only when the oppressed demonstrate their power in mass movements and when working people are organized as a class that the capitalist class may feel pressured into granting concessions via the bourgeoisie state.
This was demonstrated dramatically when in June of this year people all across the United States poured onto the streets during the week of Juneteenth in support of Black trans lives—including a massive action of 15,000 people in Brooklyn under the slogan “Black Trans Lives Matter” and a Black Lives Matter Pride March in Los Angeles, which attracted thousands. That same week, under the pressure of one of the largest mass movements of oppressed people in modern history, the right-wing-dominated U.S. Supreme Court decided upon banning workplace discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
Capitalism is a living hell for queer people. Now more than ever, it should be abundantly clear that the courts and the welfare state cannot deliver people from this hell; only working-class power can win rights and freedoms for queer people.