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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 [unintelligible] 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.

I really can’t believe all the ridiculously negative things I’ve been hearing about the 2nd grade student that is transitioning at school. Here are a few examples:

Public schools have been involved in a sick propaganda campaign that encourages and collaborates with the advancement of mental illness in children. – Stop The ACLU.com

It is a basic fact of biology, sex is immutable. If you are born a male, you will die a male. There is absolutely nothing any mortal can do about that. Yet for some strange reason, we seem to think that are sex is like a pair of socks, which can be changed on a whim.

Putting a dress on a boy, having him the girl’s room and calling him a female name, can not and will not make this John Doe into Jane Doe. It has can’t be done and it has never been done. School systems should be in the businss of teaching life and not pandering to delusions. Putting a dress on a young man and calling him by a girl’s name will not make him into a female. It will only make him into a boy with a dress.We are what we are, and we can not change what we are by wearing or not wearing a dress. Stop pandering to utter foolishness. – Bits Blog

It makes one wonder what is happening to our culture when a 2nd grade boy decides he has to dress up as a girl and his public school chooses to accommodate his feelings. – Dallas Blog

The original purpose of the public schools was to indoctrinate children in being “Good Americans.” At the time, this meant Protestant patriots who worked for work’s sake. Now, public schools are still indoctrinating little “Good Americans,” but this time it means supporting the idea that man is first, last, and all-importantly a sexual animal whose desires, no mater how perverse, need to be sated without consequence or guilt. First, it was Sex Ed. Then condoms and abortion referrals. Then, GLBT clubs and gay proms. Now, this satanic doctrine is manifesting itself in the policy of a public school in Colorado allowing a sexually confused second grade boy to come to school dressed, and addressed, as a girl. – Fish In A Barrel

(As I’d mentioned, it’s time to move on from the previous discussion. I admit, I probably wouldn’t have reacted as badly if the debate hadn’t touched on something that was freshly raw for me personally, but as it is still a raw nerve, we’ll leave the HBS thing be. I thought I’d go with something far less controversial. Politics is being overdone right now, what with all the stuff on the primaries, so I thought I’d take on Religion. — Mercedes)

Modern churches do an excellent job of creating an equation between the questioning of fallible teachers, preachers, copyists and translators, and the questioning of God Himself. You can do one without necessarily doing another. But “all scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16) is usually used to rebuff any inquiries about the many interpretations of those scriptures.

Assuming that all scripture was given by inspiration of God, it should also be kept in mind that all scripture was also interpreted and worded by a myriad of authors, then recopied by hand for thousands of generations, passing through different translators and copyists, each with differing biases. All New Testament scripture was additionally collected at the Council of Nicaea, where it was decided which books (and which specific versions of them) to keep and which ones to ignore or destroy. This was done under the guidance of an appointee (Eusebius Pamphilus) of the first actual Pope (although they later retroscribed themselves back to the apostle Peter), the Emperor Constantine I, who wished to forge a new religion that was a synthesis of Mithraism, fledgling Christianity, and Constantine’s own worship of the sun god, Sol. He also intended to set himself up to be portrayed as the returned Christ (although it did not quite end up working out that way), which was understood at that time to mean an earthly King-level saviour.

And in addition to the hands that scripture passed through being imperfect, so too are those of the preachers who deliver it on Sunday. Religious leaders have repeatedly abused and misused scripture for their own ends, right into modern times — sometimes innocently but other times specifically for the acquisition of money, political power and fiercely loyal masses. 150 years ago, the church used scripture to justify slavery, alleging among other things that Black people had no souls. 100 years ago, scripture was used to resist emancipation, re-establishing womens’ role as a subservient one and portraying them as not worthy or intelligent enough to be able to vote. Even today, scripture is twisted to assert the subordinance of women. Can we question the church’s teaching while relying on our heart to sort the truth from the centuries of spin-mongering that has tainted it? I’d think we’d have to.

lgbcardWith 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

“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, [she’d] 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.

Give ’em an act with lots of flash in it

And the reaction will be passionate

Give ’em the old hocus pocus ….

Give ’em the old three ring circus”

— Richard Gere as Billy Flynn in the song “Razzle Dazzle” from the movie “Chicago”

What the hell is up with being trans?

Seriously, why is it such a heinous scandal to have someone attached to anything hinting of crossdressing or transsexualism? One would think that in 2007 we’ve progressed beyond that stage, but clearly that’s not so.

A couple of items jumped out at me this week prompting this rant. One was a tabloid (Star or Enquirer, can’t remember which) with a blaring headline replete with photos showing a sad looking Cher, and an alternate photo of daughter Chastity Bono in what appears to be a man’s suit. The headline was: Cher’s Heartbreak Over Chastity’s Sex Change Decision.

The other item concerns photos released of Oscar DeLaHoya and trumpeted as lead story on Entertainment Tonight for multiple nights in a row, even bleeding over into the nightly six o’clock local news at one point. The photos have what appears to be the boxing champ in a fishnet bodysuit, spike-heeled pumps and even wearing a wig with a jaunty fedora in one photo.