Be a Trans Advocate
I really do hesitate to even write this post, as the topic is a rehash of one of the ugliest times for GLBT unity I've ever seen. Recently Matt Foreman said the following on the Michelangelo Signorile Show concerning the ENDA debacle: I think what really happened is the Speaker's people said 'look, Congress has a terrible reputation right now, they're not delivering for any progressive causes, what do we do to deliver for our progressive allies?' That means labor, health, and environment, and gays. And so, I mean... I don't know this for a fact, but I'd bet my life this is what happened. They went to Barney frank, they said, 'what do we need to do to pass ENDA?' Representative Frank, who's always been pretty squeamish on the trans issue, ... and I guess I can say these things because I'm leaving my job, ya know, said 'look the best way to pass ENDA and the easiest way is to take out gender identity.' And I don't think the Speaker's people thought this through, didn't think it through and said 'lets do it. ' Yesterday, Barney Frank came on Signorile's show to respond to Foreman's statement and said: He just made that up, that's not remotely how it happened. He also has no basis for talking about my attitude on transgender people because I've had one set of conversations with Matt Foreman about transgender people. In 2002, when he was the head of Empire State Pride Agenda, he lobbied hard to get through the New York legislature a bill that did exactly what our bill did last year, it covered discrimination based on sexual orientation, but excluded people that were transgender. Some people didn't like that. Tom Duane said at the time that Matt Foreman excluded him from meetings on the subject. Matt Foreman not only helped get that bill through, frankly, and this I disagreed with, as part of the deal to get it though, that year the Empire State Pride Agenda endorsed the Republican George Pataki for reelection over an outstanding African American Democrat, Carl McCall. So you had Matt Foreman guiding to passage an ENDA bill that didn't cover transgender, it was called SONDA for the State of New York, and in return, denying an endorsement that I think he should have gotten on to Carl McCall. The reason I talked about it with him was because called me around that time, this is late 2002, and said 'I'm being criticized for doing this, would you come to a meeting that we're having in New York to celebrate it and give an award for Gov Pataki to show that uh people shouldn't be attacking me for it.' And even though I did disagree with decision to make make the deal with Pataki, I do believe that you work together with each other, and you try to be supportive, and I went up there. Read more.
With passage of The Matthew Shepard Act in the Senate on Thursday, it should have been a time for celebration. But on the heels of the victory came the news that gender identity could possibly be stripped of from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The Advocate confirmed the story tonight saying: "The Democratic House leadership is considering stripping protections for transgender people from ENDA after a preliminary vote count found the measure would not pass if it had trans-inclusive language. 'The fact of the matter is, we’ve been canvassing this -- the votes just are not there for a trans-inclusive bill,' said Steven Adamske, spokesman for Rep. Barney Frank, sponsor of the original bill. Reps. Frank and Tammy Baldwin, the only openly gay members of Congress, called for the count after they learned House speaker Nancy Pelosi feared the measure lacked enough support to pass." Matt Foreman took the bold step this morning by posting to Bilerico.com "A non-transgender-inclusive ENDA? No way!" Around the same time, a statement was put out by the Executive Directors of nine national LGBT organizations saying: Our collective position remains clear and consistent regarding the status of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. Our organizations oppose the removal of protections for transgender people from ENDA. We would also oppose any bill that did not protect transgender people. We are shocked and upset that, according to the Washington Blade, influential members of the House of Representatives have apparently made a decision to remove protections for transgender people from the bill. If true, this decision was made without consultation with leaders of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. While we don’t doubt the sincerity of Congressional leadership’s intent to take action and be helpful to the LGBT community, we cannot disagree more with this strategy. We will continue to work with LGBT supportive members of Congress to urge their colleagues to immediately drop this strategy. Jody Huckaby, Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality Kate Kendell, National Center for Lesbian Rights Jon Hoadley, National Stonewall Democrats Rebecca Fox, National Coalition for LGBT Health Jeremy Bishop, Pride At Work, AFL-CIO Clarence Patton, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects Andrea Densham, Mautner Project Read more.
“So I get on my knees and pray … we won’t get fooled again!” — the Who Fresh on the heels of Southern Comfort Conference (SCC), many of the transgender community reveled in what seemed a penultimate victory: HRC – yes, the Human Rights Campaign – was actually appearing to take the transgender community as equals. (Obviously the ultimate victory would be equal rights for us all, jobs and all.) All of the years of HRC’s historic missteps seemed to magically disappear. We’re now a welcome, if amnesiac community for the Equal Sign people. During the speeches there was much congratulation and self-congratulation, and plenty of high spirits about the impending bills in Congress awaiting votes: Hate Crimes (already passed inclusively in the House) currently awaiting Senate approval, and the all-important Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) approaching the House vote. All seemed right with the world in Trans America’s focus point that weekend at SCC in Atlanta. All seemed eerily right to some of us long-timers with memories intact as well. Eerily too right. After the speech, everyone clapped, ate, enjoyed the rest of SCC and went home. Most of us waited with baited anticipation. Myself, I couldn’t get over how this reminded me of 2002. At the SCC in 2002, HRC came down and made the big presentation again, and ushered in the coming out of a brand new national activist on the scene, Mara Keisling formerly of then-disbanded WGTE – the group name under which a study in concert with HRC was conducted. She was planning to open shop with an org of her own. No more WGTE, now NATE or NOTE was the names she was hashing over at the time (later settling on NCTE). HRC was not going to deal with the existing trans orgs -- NTAC nor IFGE, while GenderPAC left the trans fold to focus on "gender." So Mara’s sudden emergence fit them to a T, literally, and was welcomed in the HRC fold. However, it wasn’t just HRC’s king or queen-making within the trans community that was the draw of this presentation. This was more about the study findings, ballyhooed as changing the minds of HRC about trans inclusion in legislation. Word went out, there at that conference, that HRC was behind transgender inclusion and would begin such a push immediately. The question from the skeptical among us was posed as to what would happen if this ran up the HRC flagpole, and they instead decided “Nah!” and let Mara twist in the wind. Mara responded that they wouldn’t dare try, “and if they did, rip them a new asshole for publicly trashing her political credibility.” I’ll never forget the look on David Smith’s face at her answer … curious. Read more.
According to the Washington Blade:"House Democratic leaders are strongly considering dropping anti-discrimination protections for transgender persons from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, after an internal Democratic head count on Wednesday found that the bill would likely be defeated if it included the trans provision, multiple sources familiar with the bill said. "In May of this year I reported of the whispers in the halls of Congress to drop transgender people from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Some went as far… Read more.
Just when you think you’ve heard it all …. Just a couple weeks ago, President George W. Bush let loose what we in Texas parlance (at least among polite company) term “a whopper” (no, not the hamburger). First he went on news saying how we needed to get more results from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s Administration, and start seeing real progress. This coming right on the heels of the Iraqi ministry taking a month of vacation while the life-or-death issues of this “fledgling democracy” teetering on the brink are put on hold with all the urgency of reviewing a bill on water allocation to farmers. Seemingly, give-‘em-hell-George appeared to be lighting a fire under the Prime Minister. Then at almost breakneck direction change, the Mr. Bush calls another press conference to reiterate his “unwavering” support of Al-Maliki, and blasting critics calling for his ouster. He goes on to chide the critics of Al-Maliki, noting, “it's not up to the politicians in Washington, D.C., to say whether he will remain in his position. That is up to the Iraqi people who now live in a democracy and not a dictatorship.” Odd that Georgie would bring that up because a mere year and a half ago, it was Ibrahim Al-Jaafari that appeared poised to be re-elected as Prime Minister in Iraq. Unfortunately for him, the White House wanted none of that. The Bush Administration insisted Al-Jaafari step down, and Al-Jaafari dug in his heels initially and refused. With no small amount of arm-twisting, and some help by enlisting the cleric Ali Sistani to show that Al-Jaafari’s obstinance would hold the nation back, the man who the Iraqi Parliament would’ve elected stepped aside. The man that Iraq’s Parliament on whole were not so keen on (especially the Sunni segment), was instead “democratically elected” – with a little help and wisdom from their neighbors halfway across the globe! Hey, we would expect nothing less in our own democracy, right? And while Bush’s words sounded like the typical beat-up-a-Democrat, Congress-been-keeping-me-back rhetoric, he was actually responding to critics within his own party. The astonishing part of all of this was … Bush did this with a straight face! More impressive, virtually no one called him on it! It’s something we’ve seen a startling increase in, especially in the 21st century: Real-Time Revisionism. Unlike other examples in history, these days revisionism can’t wait for the history-book writers to massage the facts in a decade or two. No, history is now revised now in the span of a mere year or two. This brand of nuanced politic-speak has been perfected to an art form by the Bush / Cheney Administration, most notably with the Iraq War mission creep. Revisionism has also become a well-used defense or attack strategy by the RNC, and to good effect. And in typical RNC fashion, as long as you say it loudly enough and long enough (especially if you shout the challengers down) it becomes fact. It’s notably helpful to have the press in your pocket, where they can participate in spreading the desired outcome of what’s already past. To be sure, this isn’t strictly a conservative trait. Indeed some of their counterparts have watched their success with revision and wish to duplicate for themselves. It’s become a concept that’s in vogue in the GLBT political community as well. It’s not a new approach by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as they’ve used this to lesser success over the years. Lately, however, it’s become much more forward, particularly with a sales push to the transgender community. Claims made about their historical “support” of inclusive language in either Hate Crimes or Employment Non-Discrimination bills fly directly in the face of reality. In later years they’ve taken note of the pressure of other GLBT organizations pushing them to get with the program that most others adopted years ago: actively pushing for trans-inclusive language. It hasn’t stopped them from trying to support language such as the Senate bill that has gender only as they attempted to slide with in the previous Congress. Now, with the assistance of a few trans leaders they tap to assist in getting their marketing message to the transgender community, the message is all about how they’ve supported us all along. Ahem, nice try. Read more.
September 3, 2007 · Marti Abernathey
While the Dems got through with their debates a week back, in the interest of fairness it behooves me to at least give the GOPpers a report with regards to Trans America. Two weeks earlier, they had their first network debate with all candidates currently declared (Fred Thompson is not one of those) in Iowa; the following week they conducted their straw poll there, with the expected victory for Mitt (the only presidential candidate ever named after a baseball glove) Romney. For the sake of fairness, the other top-tier candidates to date – Rudy Giuliani and John McCain – skipped the straw poll. Fred Thompson has not officially declared, so he’s officially not a candidate and polled better than the aforementioned other skippers. So what does this mean for GOP America? Moreover, what does this communicate to Transgender Americans? Read more.
It was striking seeing a blurb by a spokesperson in the Iowa Republican Party responding to the prospect of former-President Bill Clinton lobbying for his wife Hillary’s presidential campaign: “After Bill Clinton tarnished the name of the president of the United States, the Republican Party restored hope, respect and morality within the Oval Office by bringing positive ideas and conservative values back to the White House.” Reading this caused me to respond with one of those GEICO© caveman moments: “Yeah,… Read more.
Hillary Clinton is going to be the next President of the United States and look at all the trans friendly people who are endorsing her campaign. Can you imagine endorsing a candidate that doesn't support gays and lesbians? Why not? They don't have a problem supporting Presidential candidates that don't support transgender people, and why would you be surprised at that? Take a look at what's happening in NY with GENDA or Massachusetts where transgender people can still be fired from their jobs, harassed, beat up and murdered with no hate crime law to help with investigations or prosecutions. MASS Equality is having trouble trying to figure out what to do with their left over 3 million dollar budget. Their job is done, same sex marriage is legal, gays and lesbians have a non-discrimination law and a hate crimes law. Look out NY, same sex marriage will be next in your state too. Don't worry, they'll be back for ya...just ask Jeff Soref to help ya out, perhaps he'll even put in a good word for us so Hillary will support a trans-inclusive ENDA. I do believe there are a few members of Mass Equality on Hillary's support list too, let's all remember to thank them. While we're at it, we can thank Peter Rosenstein (another name on the "list") for his stellar support for trans-inclusion in ENDA and the Hate Crimes Prevention act. You can read about it here in his opinion piece: Should we support pro-gay legislation that does not include trans protections? Do I really need to mention Joe Solmonese's co-hostess on XM satellite radio? She gets the double whammy award for support. The list of undying support goes on and on and on but don't take my word for it, you have Google. Hold the phone! There is one transgender person on this list, go get 'em Melissa Sklarz! We like to try and change the world, one tranny at a time. Here's Hillary's support list: Read more.
"I know some of my transgender sisters question my commitment to their equality, but let me be the first (I think) to point out where the top-three Democrats on in inclusion of gender identiy in federal hate crimes legislation (where I support it) and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (where I support in principle adding it at some later date, but oppose its inclusion now)." - Chris Crain First of all, it's not just the sisters that question you "commitment" to… Read more.
When Chris Crain left his position at Window Media, I thought the voice of "transjack" was dead. I couldn't have been more wrong. Today the Washington Blade published an op-ed by a long time Democratic gay activist and Washington D.C. mayoral adviser, Peter Rosenstein. He writes:"On the eve of the House taking up the Hate Crimes Prevention Act it appeared that passage was not assured in this form. Republicans thought they figured out a way to strip the bill of… Read more.