Sunday, March 13, 2011

If You're Not Going To Lead Alex, Get Out Of The Way

One thing a marginalized community has to always be vigilant about and swiftly call out is when the powers that be try to select leaders from the marginalized community they want to work with instead of having to negotiate and deal with leaders who come from the ranks of the marginalized group.

In the African American community we have had to combat this 'master's tools' tactic for over 150 years.   The Republicans have a willing cadre of negro sellouts they continue to push and praise in their conservamedia as 'leaders' we African Americans should accept because they said they were.   At the same time they denigrated our elected leaders in the Congressional Black Caucus, the various legacy civil rights organizations like the NAACP, and grassroots leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and Rev Al Sharpton that we deemed deserving of the title and we felt would be advocates for our community agenda. 

Don't think our Gay, Inc oppressors haven't tried to mimic this tactic as well in dealing with the trans community. HRC played this game with GenderPac back in the 90's, dissing NTAC after its 1999 formation and now are using this particular master's tool in the early 21st century with NCTE as their trump card du jour.       .  

It seems that Equality Maryland is using the same oppression toolkit in the ongoing fight between themselves and the Maryland and national trans community.   The contentious drama continues over the so-called HB 235 trans rights bill they authored and are pimping that has no public accommodations language in it.

The (In) Equality Maryland crowd has not only been arrogantly tone deaf about the concerns expressed by transpeople and allies opposed to the billl only because it doesn't cover public accomodations, the EQ MD people took it to another level by disabling comments on their website and scrubbing opposing comments off their Facebook page with the efficiency of the GW Bush misadministration.   .

I was alerted by a TransGriot reader about a message from EQ MD board member Alex Hickox plastered on the EQ MD website asking for people to speak up and support HB 235.

Only one problem.   Alex has not come out of the trans closet himself.  

So Alex, how are you going to claim that you are not only a leader for the trans community, but ask people to stand up and speak out about their civil rights when you aren't willing to transition openly and boldly speak out.? 
The excuse you gave as a reason for not doing so is an insult to me and everybody else who has put their asses, livelihoods and in Terrianne Summers' case, their lives on the line in order to advance the cause of trans rights in this country.      

Alex, I was seven years into my airline career when I put that on the line in 1994 to transition.   I did so in the middle of IAH, the third busiest international airport terminal in the United States while working departure gates that saw 30,000 people a day  transiting through there.  My CAL coworkers at the time watched me begin the process of body morphing into the person I am still evolving into today..   

Why did I do it?   Because it was past time for me to live my life as the person I truly was. .

I had a social justice and political streak before I transitioned, and in 1998 I started getting involved in state and national level activism in order to pass laws to protect the trans community from discrimination.   That decision would eventually cost me a job in an industry I deeply loved and defer the achievement of some dreams I've had since childhood. 

But I have discovered along the way that doing so was liberating to my mind, spirit and soul in so many ways.

Alex, I could understand you saying what you did if you were some average transperson who wanted to live his life and just wanted to stay closeted.   But you're sitting on the board of an organization that is pimping a position that is opposed by much of the trans community they claim to serve and aren't listening to.

That's a problem.   That problem is magnified when the same organization is presenting you as a leader and is engaging in oppressive behavior.     

Alex, if you are going to be considered as a leader, you have to be willing to in some cases to lead by example.   You have to be willing to put your own ass on the line for the sake of your convictions and subject yourself to the same risks that you are asking other people to take. 

You also have to be willing to tell allies to go to Hades when they are wrong and what bus or train to take to get there when trying to reason with them in the spirit of Kingian love doesn't work..

If you can't do that, you need to step out of the way and allow the people who do have the tough minded determination and the steel spines to do that to handle the community's civil rights business.

If you are on the Equality Maryland board, you should have spoken up a long time ago about this BS bill,  not acquiesced to it.    But then again, maybe they lied to you as well.

So with all due respect Alex, if you're not going to lead, get the hell out of the way. 

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