Monday, October 15, 2007

The 2002 NTAC CBC Initiative Meeting Notes

TransGriot Notes: Just in case anyone wants to question whether the meeting happened, as the 'okey-doke' crowd in the transgender community tends to do, here's Exhibit A


These are the notes from a July 2002 meeting which took place in Atlanta with Rep. Cynthia McKinney.

Pay very close attention to the end of these meeting notes

Present at meeting: Congressman Cynthia McKinney, Sue and Bruce Nelson (PFLAG), Monica Helms, Dana Owings, Dawn Wilson, Monica Roberts, AC.

Meeting began 3PM 7-13-02

MH. Made intros. We are here to discuss T-inclusion in ENDA, or as part of a stand-alone bill

S&BN: We are members of PFLAG's Atlanta Chapter Board, and are representing PFLAG in support of this effort. PFLAG believes that T people deserve employment rights. We are not sure if ENDA is the mechanism that is needed, but we support the concept.

They questioned whether enough education on T matters had been done.

DO: I work for IBM, with a diversity program including GLB but not T as of yet. Protection for T people goes beyond TG people; it includes people who may not present in a traditionally feminine or masculine way. (HIT!)

DJW: People of color make the same stereotypes from pulpits with the
same prejudices

DO: We have a body of well-trained skilled people who have been let go from jobs for transitioning; people have also been let go for simply not presenting as "masculine enough" as men, and women for having short hair, mannish clothing, choosing to not wear makeup, etc. (the case of the New York hairdresser)

McKinney: Of late, the Capitol Hill police have been accused of discriminating against African-American employees for wearing their hair in a natural Afro style? This seems to be similar discrimination.

DO: We are asking for broad protections, mostly aimed at gender presentation, but yes, this should also be protected.

DJW: Discrimination is practiced disproportionately against African-Americans to begin with, and gender identity adds to and feeds the problem. I have faced prejudice since birth, but Caucasians who transition are suddenly slapped in the face with it, and don't know how to deal with it. (reference to On this website, people who are killed because of their gender identity are listed. A disproportionately large number on this list are
people of color and Hispanic.

MH: 235 names on this list, with 11 added in 2002.

McKinney: Were the assailants charged under hate crimes statutes, either state or Federal?

MR: In Texas, where I am from, T people were excluded from hate crimes legislation, and it creates a major loophole that the defense counsel for someone charged with a hate crime could use to win acquittal or a lighter sentence. In particular, that attorney could state that his client assaulted the victim not because of their
sexual orientation, but because of their gender presentation, and the hate crimes law would not apply, even if the victim were simply an effeminate male or mannish female.

DJW: You may be familiar with the case of Tyra Hunter, who died in DC because, following an auto accident, EMTs made fun of her gender status instead of rendering the emergency care they were paid to deliver. This is an example of the prejudice we transpeople of color face.

MH: On the ROD list, only 20% of those killed have had assailants convicted, and only 3 have received life imprisonment or capital punishment.

DJW: Many of the people on the ROD list were street workers; many of them ended up working the streets for money because of employment discrimination. We want to get to the cause of the problem first, not place band-aids on it. HRC does not wish to help us.

DJW: That is why we are asking if you could draft and distribute a `dear Colleague' letter, requesting a chance to educate the members of the CBC on the issues of trans people, particularly transgender people of color. We would also like a chance to do an educational session with the leaders of the NAACP and Southern Christian
Leadership Conference (SCLC). I am a professional lobbyist, former Senatorial aide for Senator McConnell, and an account executive by trade. Despite the fact that I hold responsible employment, I am deeply concerned about our young transpeople of color,and unwilling to wait longer for our inclusion.

MH: I also work with street youth, in the Atlanta area, and most of them are on the streets because of discrimination.

DJW: HIV and other STDs are rampant among the street workers. The streets are the only alternative, if someone cannot find work due to discrimination.

McKinney: Homophobia is rampant in the POC community. I am presently supporting Rev. Ken Samuels of the Victory Baptist Church in Atlanta, as he has been openly protested by members of fundamentalist white congregations and vilified by other fundamentalist clergy for his affirming stance on GLBT issues. They did not show up when I attended services at Victory, but I still support him.

DJW: I also belong to, and have been ordained by, an open and affirming denomination, the Disciples of Christ. Rev. Alvin Davis, in Atlanta, should know of Rev. Samuels, and I will contact him and obtain his support.

McKinney: I discovered Rev. Samuels' problem on the Queer Atlanta listserv, which I belong to. Lamont Evans posted to it….

DJW: Oh, he knows my friend Duncan Teague (everyone knew Duncan,including the Congressman). We will arrange some community support for Rev. Samuels.

DO: Some individual churches are open and affirming, and some are not.

McKinney: Has a dialogue been attempted with clergy?

MR: That is why we would like to become involved with SCLC

DJW: Religion is still vital to the African-American community, it is the center of it. Everyone needs something to believe in, and the racist and homophobic statements of Falwell and his friends have given Christianity a bad name in the T community.

DO: We know that our struggle for civil rights parallels that of African-Americans, and to a lesser extent Hispanics and Asians. It is our outward appearance that causes the discrimination.

MH: State Bill HB941 is pending in Georgia's legislature. It covers employment and housing rights, and includes gender in its language. It would not be a surprise if it passes before the Federal ENDA.

DO: 46 cities have protections in place for employment rights, and it is now 10% of the US population. Cities include New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, New Orleans, Louisville, Houston, Lexington, and San Francisco.

MR: One clarification: Houston's protection only covers city employees.

DJW: Barney Frank's problem with T inclusion remains the bathroom issue, yet these cities have solved that, proving that it can be done.

McKinney: So, why is gaining GLB support for T rights so difficult?

DO: They need more education on T issues, they have some common ground, but sexual orientation is not an appearance issue, like T is.

MH: Dana and I recently attended an HRC town hall here in Atlanta, and much of the discussion focused on T inclusion in ENDA. I was asked to join the panel. We have worked to educate HRC's members at dinners and town halls across the country.

DJW: We work to educate college faculty and students, and have been involved with conferences for young people, who in turn change the minds of the older folks in the movement.

McKinney: Did HRC's nonsupport of T inclusion in ENDA predate Elizabeth Birch?

DJW. No, it did not, it dated to 1995. Birch clearly is hired help,hired to deliver a message from HRC's board, although one she probably agrees with.

DO: There is talk that some HRC board members do support us, but we have no way to know which ones do not, and they are not willing to tell us who.

McKinney: Have you considered having a rich T person buy their way onto HRC's board?

DJW. Unemployment is the problem in our community, and few have the funds to do this. Why should we have to buy our civil rights?

MH: One weapon we have against HRC is a survey they funded in NC, that shows that a majority of the GLB community there sees a greater need for rights for T people than for rights for GLB people.

DO: Many Fortune 500 companies support rights for GLB people, and a growing number also add T to that.

McKinney: How much money would it take to get on HRC's board?

DJW: It takes about $50K in donations raised. Most T people are using their funds for the costs of transition, and don't have access to this type of money. That is why we wish to bypass HRC.

McKinney: Who are the main 501c3 orgs who are doing T advocacy in Georgia, Atlanta, and DeKalb County?

MH: There isn't one yet. Georgia Equality is T-inclusive. Trans-Action isn't incorporated.

McKinney: I want to find a 501c3 that we can help obtain funding to work with T youth.

DJW: It would be nice to be able to set up a training so that people in the T community could learn how to obtain grants. In particular, I would see a grant program set up for T students.

DO: Many T activists regularly do presentations before college groups.

McKinney: Gender Inc. doesn't have 501c3 status, do they?

MH: Would a national 501c3 be adequate for the purpose?

McKinney: Yes.

MH. NTAC has 501c4, rather than c3, status.

McKinney: We regularly help 501c3 organizations get started with grants by sponsoring workshops. Rhonda, in my office (intro's Rhonda), is my staff expert on nonprofit organizations, and she regularly helps groups apply for and obtain grants.

Here's what I will do for you: I will try to get a meeting set up for you with Marty King (Martin Luther King III) at the SCLC – I don't think that will be difficult. I will also try to set up a meeting with NAACP's staff – it is difficult to meet with Kweisi Mfume. I also am formally inviting you to Washington for CBC weekend September 11, and I will see that you get to address the CBC at once.

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