Thursday, November 08, 2007


The Kentucky Psychological Association is meeting at The Galt House in Louisville and yesterday Dawn and I were taking part in a panel discussion on transgender issues.

While I was getting dressed for the 3 PM start of this panel I'd flipped it to C-SPAN to watch the beginning of the ENDA debate before I exited the house. I arrived back at home just in time to see ENDA get voted on.

It's probably a good thing I wasn't home to watch the entire travesty unfold. I probably wouldn't have a television right now.

I have a good idea now how Dred Scott felt 150 years ago when Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote in dismissing his case, "that not only was he not a citizen of any state as a slave, he had no rights a white man is bound to respect."

That's the message that is resonating with me right now. 150 years later another group of white males, Barney Frank, John Aravosis, Chris Crain, Joe Solmonese and others in the GLB community are now telling me and other transgender people that not only do we not have any rights they are bound to respect, they don't care.

That is the symbolic message you sent to me, America and the entire world when you passed a non-inclusive ENDA yesterday in the House. Some of you are hailing that as a historic victory.

Yeah, right. Yippee. I raise a champagne toast to the fact that once again I've been screwed by the GLB community and I'm supposed to be rejoicing over it.

I'm supposed to be happy about the fact that you replaced an inclusive ENDA with 175 cosponsors for a flawed non-inclusive bill, got savagely attacked by Frank on the House floor as 'selfish' when we called you on it, watched the hidden transphobic hatred come bubbling to the surface from some GLB peeps, and watched as HRC came to our signature convention, collected a bunch of T-bills while LYING to the peeps assembled at SCC in Atlanta that they would oppose a non inclusive bill.

What crack pipe are y'all smoking?

From now on I don't EVER want to hear for the rest of my life the lie that your selfish GLB movement is similar to the 60's civil rights movement. You're not even close to having the moral fiber and spirit of inclusiveness my people exhibited in our fight against injustice.

As of 6:23 PM EST on November 7, 2007 you ceded any moral high ground you may have had when you threw transpeople under the bus to get a bill passed that doesn't even cover 'errbody' in your community.

So yeah, party hearty. have a good time. But mark my words, if Dummya even signs this bill into law (assuming it passes the Senate) I'll be sitting there with a smirk on my face, ready to tell you 'I told you so' when your unfriendly neighborhood homobigots start using the missing 'gender identity' or 'perceived gender identity' language to start terminating the 90% of gays and lesbians who aren't covered in Frank's Folly.

If you don't think that language is needed, ask Ann Hopkins or Khadijah Farmer.

My attitude this morning mirrors Miles Thirst, the ten-inch spokesperson for the Sprite ads featuring LeBron James.

"Congratulations on your no-prize winning hollow victory."


Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Monica,

The battle may be lost but the war continues.

Thanks for being such a great example of someone who is willing and does stand up for themselves. A lot of people complain about things but it takes a lot of strength and effort to actually fight the good fight.

You have definatly had a positive impact on me.


Unknown said...

Well, 3685 passed in the House. Barney Frank (D-MA) responded masterfully to a Motion to Recommit, arguing passionately that to send the bill back to committee was to deny countless gay men and women the protections that they desperately deserve. Had I been a member of the House, I would have supported his argument. I would have voted to pass 3685, a historic step for gay rights. So why do i feel like I want to break into sobbing tears? The answer is simple. In an unprecedented strategy in the struggle for human rights, an entire portion of the community that the bill was intended to protect was excluded – and the portion excluded undisputedly needs the protection more so than any other. The House was forced into that choice as a matter of political maneuvering by Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Solomnese. After the bill was passed they did not feel the remorse that I did. They were smiling at their victory. They continue to smile. The transgender community was left behind to struggle on their own.

I am glad that the bigots in the minority who would have denied equality to our gay brothers and sisters were defeated, and that the bill was passed. I would not have been able to oppose any legislation that would bring some measure of relief to the GLBT community. I have experienced discrimination as both a gay man and a transgender woman and I know that all discrimination is wrong. It is always the time to do the right thing, but that remains unrecognized even on this day. The exclusion of protection for the transgender community in 3685 was wrong; unjustifiably wrong. As wrong as declaring that a victory was achieved for civil rights or for human rights. The victory experienced was solely for gay rights, and it was accomplished by allowing exclusion of those rights to others within the GLBT community.

I hope that Frank and Pelosi and Solomnese enjoy their hollow victory, because the transgender community will pay for it dearly. Transgender exclusion in 3685 will be used as an example that we do not deserve equality, and that we are bad for election strategy. It will be echoed in decisions made by the judiciary. It will exacerbate what is already intolerably high unemployment and poverty. It will increase and validate bigotry. It will be argued that the transgender community was even rejected by the GLB community whom they supported. The credibility of our very humanity has - once again - been negated.

As a lone voice, it is unlikely that the transgender community will gain equal employment rights for a significant period of time - most probably decades, in the best case scenario - years. Yes, many of the members of the GLB movement will remain faithful in the fight for transgender equality, but transgender trust in those communities has been severely compromised. We were excluded at the eleventh hour, and that will be difficult to put aside. We were the “dumpees”, not the “dumpers”. The GLBT community has been receiving the benefit of a united front up until this time; it is unlikely that this devotion to equality for the entire community will continue. That lack of trust will inevitably be reciprocated. It has already begun. Every faction has been strongly delivered the message – “If expedient, your interests will be sold out.” What might appear to some as incremental progress, can only be perceived as outright betrayal and ten step backwards for those left behind. The GLBT community has been factionalized at what remains a critical time in our struggle to gain equality. We will all suffer setbacks.

Although I don’t possess a violent nature, this betrayal makes me want to throw bricks and break windows. I am sure I am not alone in my frustration with a society that would deny my community the right to exist. It is the same frustration that created the “gay” rights movement at Stonewall and at Comptons. It is the same frustration that initiated the riots in Watts and throughout our nation. It is frustration with a society that refuses to acknowledge our humanity or to allow us simple dignity. Educate congress about our issues? Like Barney Frank was educated? Or Nancy Pelosi? My message to Congress is this. We are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters. WE ARE HUMAN. We are human. We are…human. There is nothing more that can be said that could be more relevant. Right now, I am sorely tempted to deliver it with a brick. Instead, I think I am going to have that cry. I cannot help but think about the youngsters yet unborn who will continue to suffer discrimination. They will suffer because we were not strong enough to do the right thing and ensure that transgender protections were included in the legislation that passed in the House, on this historic day. I can still find a brick tomorrow. And maybe I will.

jeri hughes

Unknown said...

Thank you for a great post.

I am afraid jeri is right that this exclusionary bill will be used against the transgender community to argue we are not worthy of basic human rights. I am lucky to live in California where we are protected but am very aware that the forces of reaction are always looking for any opening to roll back our protections.

If anything good comes out of this debacle it may be the motivation for lazy semi-activists like myself to get off our buts and get really involved in our fight.



genevieve said...

With this defeat, it's time to take note of Barney Frank, Joe solomese, Nancy Pelosi and others who passed this nonsense. Somewhere down the line they will pay for this.

We transgender people need to press on and work to have gender identity included in future laws. We may have to go it alone but can we depend on those who lied to us and threw us to the curb. NO!

I agree with Monica comparing this with what Dred Scott dealt with 150 years ago. If it was for transgenders, crossdressers, and drag queens gay liberation would still be cofined to hidden clubs and societiews of yesteryear.


Unknown said...

i understand your anger and your frustration. i am not sure i can just put it aside, either, but there are a lot of good men and women in the GLB movement who appreciate our efforts and stood by us through this. steven goldstein, jody huckaby, tammy baldwin and many, many more. i want to quote steven goldstein from garden state equality:

"Transgender people have been there selflessly for the rest of the LGBT community time and time again. How could the rest of us not be there for them?

Friends, when the fight began for marriage equality in New Jersey years ago, when no one thought we had a prayer -- unlike today, when New Jersey is so well-positioned to enact marriage equality through legislation -- who were the vast majority of our volunteers? Transgender people. At our initial town meetings and rallies for marriage equality years ago, when all the volunteers gathered on site a couple of hours beforehand, I was often the only non-transgender person there.

In 2003, when politicians cut transgender protections from a domestic partnership bill (before Garden State Equality existed), the transgender community still helped to lead the way in fighting for the bill. That was as selfless an act as many of us have ever seen in politics.

And today, with LGBT activism in New Jersey having grown beyond what we ever dreamed, who are still among the most devoted activists in fighting for the rest of us? Who are still among our most reliable volunteers for every LGBT cause under the sun? Our transgender sisters and brothers.

For too many years, the transgender community nationally has been told to wait, be patient, your turn will come. How could we ever live with ourselves, considering how much the transgender community has given to the rest of the LGBT community, by telling our transgender sisters and brothers to wait any longer?

The fact is, our transgender sisters and brothers have been waiting and waiting and waiting since the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, a rebellion they led for us all."

i am never going to turn my back on my GLB friends. and I thank God that my friends didn't turn their backs on me. forget about the bigots claiming we should wait our turn or earn it. they are most probably closet cases, and they certainly aren't activists. if they were, they would not show their ignorance by making statements that transgender people haven't done their share. we have always been leaders in the fight for civil rights, and we will continue to be. like the gentleman from georgia said, "the time is always right to do right."

we were betrayed. we are hurt. we are not defeated. we will prevail.


Zoe Brain said...

Monica, no need to hold back like that, tell us how you really feel!

Actually, better not. I think your words would burn out my screen. Mine certainly would.

OK, where to from here?

One thing though: it wasn't the community, just HRC and Barney Frank.

Maddie H said...

The maneuvering and bigotry both have been upsetting to watch - trying to campaign to keep the inclusive bill and shoot down the butchered bill was frustrating, because - due to Barney Frank and HRC working to scuttle transgender protections - which I believe we could have had the support for, I believe we did the work, and I believe that transphobes like John Aravosis have spent so much energy attacking the idea that we have a place in the LGBT community because we have a place in that community, that we put in as much work for ENDA as anyone.

I'm worred that DC is right, that it will be used to deny us basic human rights and protections for years, that there won't be any coming back for us, and that HRC itself is simply going to move on to other things once it gets its butchered ENDA.

I really wish that we could just disenfranchise HRC entirely. They figuratively and literally stand on transgender bodies to score points, while at the same time stabbing us in the back.

I'm angry, and... I admit, I have only started really becoming politically aware (as opposed to sort of aware), and a lot of that comes from just reading your blog, Monica. My political awakening began the day I heard the rumors that the trans-inclusive ENDA was being split.

For that matter, are we going to hear about GENDA? Or is it just going to languish until everyone forgets about it?

Anyway, thank you for documenting this, the history, the bloody origin of NCTE, just plain showing how a fight for civil rights should work.

Monica Roberts said...

Will GENDA get a hearing?

That has as much chance of happening as Ann Coulter switching her voter registration to Democrat.

Not this year or in 2008. That's a presidential and congressioanl election year.

ENDA isn't going to pass the Senate unless they cut some major deals and get enough Repugnicans to vote for it. Even if by some miracle it does, Bush has said he ain't signing it.

Maddie H said...

Yeah, my question about GENDA was meant to be rhetorical. Even if ENDA passes, I never expect to hear about GENDA again.

Jackie said...

Anyone should be able to see that this was a wrong way to go on so many levels.
I wrote on this too, and of course I linked back to your post. Great post and responses.