HRC’s Project Win Back
Comments/Edits: 1 of 3.
Suggested Action Steps:
1. A professional survey to teach us just what the American people understand about trans and what they don’t. By region, by demographics, by religion, etc. Let’s do the state of the art survey so we know what we’re starting with. Questions like “what does transgender conjure up in your mind”? “What is the difference between gay and trans”? “Do you know that just as many females transition to male as vice versa”? Let’s get down to the core issues.
2. Then we research the 110+ jurisdictions with protections and characterize what was done right and what was done wrong. We need to work with other groups that have been doing this. I also don’t think it would hurt for Joe to sit down with them, apologize and begin the rebuilding. Trust is essential but will be hard to come by, and it would be a terrible waste of energy to try and go this alone. UnitedENDA should be a resource.
3. Use the above info to assist those states that have s.o. only laws such as MA, NY, MD and WI as a first step, or those states with active lobbying efforts.
4. Work with NCTE to find trans persons to target those 50 or so Congresspersons, and give them the data to help them lobby. But remember that nothing beats face-to-face contacts, and that means the rep and not the chief-of-staff or LA.
4. Work with GLAAD to develop video and PSAs for the targeted states and Congresspersons. We need to show them that we have materials that will help them withstand any hypothetical attacks.
5. Redouble the corporate work — they’ve been doing a great job.
6. Work with John Isa on the health insurance survey to increase coverage for medical and surgical transition.
7. Offer to assist NCTE for psychiatric members and those who would have contacts that could help us remove GID from the DSM. The APA Task Forces for the revision are now being formed.
Attached is comment document 2 of 3. (These intro sentences include edits)
In the wake of the House vote on ENDA, the Human Rights Campaign recognizes in a new and profound way the important role it must play in advocating in Congress, among the general mainstream population, and even within the GLBT community, for transgender protections.
We recognize that HRC’s decision to follow a different strategy to secure a fully-inclusive bill was hurtful to some members of our community and we regret that. Because we share the same goal of a fully-inclusive ENDA, HRC is immediately launching a new public education campaign designed to continue the mainstreaming of transgender issues, with three initial priorities:
o To forge stronger collaborations within the GLBT community
o To convincethe GLBT and progressive community of the necessity of understanding transgender issues
o To advocate for transgender acceptance among mainstream Americans
To meet these goals, HRC will engage with an organization-wide effort to redouble our educational efforts around gender identity and expression, while also continuing to enact changes that help build fairness and equality for transgender people at home, at work and in their communities.
II. Completing Targeted State Non-Discrimination Laws
III. Legislative Work – a 50 District Plan
IV. Redoubling our Corporate Work
V. Communications, Advertising and Media Promotion
VI. HRC Family Project Transgender Education
VII. Continued Publication of Educational Materials on Transgender Issues
Other thoughts (not sure where these fit above):
* Repositioning all of HRC’s messaging to be more inclusive of transgender people, and more humble/apologetic about HRC’s past exclusion of the transgender community
* Recognizing that transgender people are not “new” – that they were present at Stonewall and other early uprisings, and what kept them from being visible for many years (I’d be happy to elaborate about this)
* Encouraging transgender people to come out and tell their stories, perhaps providing forums where they can do so safely
* Requiring each HRC Regional Steering Committee to undergo transgender awareness training, and to actively work to increase transgender participation on the Committee
* Holding “lunch and learn” sessions at HRC headquarters, where staffers can hear from transgender people directly on topics such as trans law, history, insurance, healthcare issues etc.
* Urging HRC staffers to consider transgender people for job openings
This is the third of three comments/edits to our DRAFT Transaction Plan.
The first step in rebuilding our trust in HRC must be for HRC to own up to the fact that we were promised one thing and the promise, for whatever reason, was broken. Members of the transgender community I’ve spoken to want an apology and an explanation, and the explanation must be sincere and convincing. They want to see a stop to public announcements that contradict private activity which many believe is still going on. Until that is done, it will be near impossible to get increased participation from the transgender community.
And this is a sad state of affairs. Sure there are 200-300 organizations in United ENDA (depending on how you count them), but so many of them are small. None of them has the resources to mount a nationwide educational campaign about transgender. HRC does. Mainstream media has been wonderful to us this year. Barbara Walters 20/20, Larry King Live, Opera, the Discovery Channel, Ugly Betty, All My Children, and others have done a largely commendable job of bringing a positive view of transgender issues before the public. Yet we still have to overcome the image that Jerry Springer shows them on TV and the image we ourselves give the public with our Gay Pride and Halloween parades. We can tell our stories all we want on HRC’s web site and on Donna Rose’s proposed website. The only people we will reach there are those who are specifically looking for this kind of information.
At this time, I believe that only HRC has the resources to help us get the message out to mainstream America.
The second step would be to truly understand the transgender community . As you well know, many in the transgender community are unemployed or underemployed. They cannot afford the time or the money to visit their political leaders and speak for themselves. Many have been denied the opportunity for higher education and thus cannot express themselves as they would need to when speaking to politicians and business leaders. Many have been expelled or shunned from churches and do not know the bible well enough to defend themselves from religious attacks. Many, far too many, live with the internalized self-doubt and self-loathing that result from relentless attacks on their very existence. They cannot represent us as well as others might.
On the other hand, there have been more fortunate transgender individuals, particularly transsexuals, who have survived the attacks, found the strength to go on, found the opportunity for education, and found the conviction to live their lives as they should. They are accepted in their proper gender. These transsexuals are educated, with good paying, respectable careers. These people can speak for the community. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of them, the fight to get where they now are has been too long and too hard. They don’t want to fight anymore. They have changed their gender, their birth certificates, their college records and work histories. They have moved hundreds, indeed thousands, of miles away from home to start new lives. They want to live the years they have left in relative peace, in their proper gender. I cannot fault them for that. Just as no one should be compelled to live in shame or fear, no one should be compelled to ‘come out’ and expose themselves to renewed expressions of discrimination and bigotry.
To come out after successfully living a new life can ruin careers and families for them. HRC needs to appeal to these individuals to come out, but must be prepared to accept that few will heed the call.
Somewhere in the middle of these two groups are transgender and transsexuals who have managed to survive and now live openly. There are transgender who have education and who have careers that are relatively safe from ruin thanks to the work of HRC and NCTEquality, IFGE, and others. The combined efforts on workplace initiative have already resulted a great many employers adding gender expression to their workplace affirmative action policies. This has been wonderful. Capitalize on that. That may be the place for HRC to appeal to the transgender community to speak up and to speak out.
The third step would be to build trust through actions; communicate with our employers, develop new talent, and help us tell our stories to our lawmakers. Those employers who have signed on to equality will most likely listen to HRC. Convince those employers that allowing an employee a few days away from work to fly to Washington or their State Capital would be a good thing for business. There may be employees at those companies who don’t even belong to HRC. Seek out those who would like to speak up if given the chance. Give us some training on how to present ourselves. Help the employees with airfare and lodging when needed. Help us get the lawmakers to receive us and to talk to us. Arrange the sit down time that many cannot get with our lawmakers.
Give us the opportunity to put a face on transgender; to demonstrate to our State and National legislators that we are worthy human beings, worthy of protection from harm, and of freedom from discrimination.
I believe HRC needs these first three steps of rebuilding trust and demonstrating commitment before the fourth step, The fourth step is what you really have asked how to do. By this time transgender who have responded to your call will have acquired the self-confidence of knowing they can speak up for the community. You will have developed new talent in the transgender community. At this point you can ask them to serve actively in HRC and expect them to serve well.
HRC has the political and financial clout to do all this. We have two years to prepare for the next volley in Congress. I think this would be a good start.