Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Why Didn't You Tell Us?

I have a confession and an apology to make to the transgender community.

I'm one of the people that was alerted to the fact that ENDA was in trouble back in May and there was a problem with us being included in it.

I've gotten a lot of questions in the post-mortem over this latest ENDA disaster about why those of us who discovered what was about to go down didn't do more to get the word out to the community and possibly avert what happened.

What for?

This community believed every negative word ever uttered about me, AC, Dawn Wilson, Vanessa Edwards Foster and anyone either associated with NTAC or who didn't buy into the 'HRC is our friends' mantra.

So my thoughts were at the time, why burn up my money, gas and valuable vacation time sticking my neck out there for peeps that didn't appreciate it?

Why set myself up to get criticized by a community that only a few months ago was loudly calling for NTAC to disband and join forces with the all-knowing, all-powerful insiders of the greatest civil rights organization since the African-American civil rights movement?

You believed the hypnotic 'HRC is our friends' PR spin and we were the salmon swimming upstream against the prevailing tide of transgender public opinion. You failed to ask the skeptically critical questions when the news coming from inside the beltway was "We're included, it's a slam dunk."

That slam dunk attempt got slapped into the cheap seats by Barney Frank.

The transgender community has an annoyingly bad habit in its internal discourse of discounting, shouting down or dismissing any voice that isn't white or has a penchant for saying what it doesn't want to hear.

That tendency bit them in the butt this time. The transgender community also has a major race problem that was exploited by our opponents on BOTH sides of this issue.

So when I (and others) were confronted with a situation in which I was being called 'crazy' and an 'uppity n-word' by a certain person being hailed by the community as the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, greatest civil rights leader since MLK, who they believed with all their hearts would lead us transgender people out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land of civil rights equality and can do no wrong, then what was the point of sounding the warning if they believed that feces?

It would have gotten the same reaction from the transgender community that AC, Dawn and I got from Babs Casbar in the Longworth Building cafeteria when we told her during the NTAC Lobby day what we'd discovered. When she asked where we'd gotten our info and we told her, her reaction was, "What do they know?"

Okay, this person is active in the Stonewall Democrats, and she didn't know who the Congressional Black Caucus was or the level of power this organization had acquired since the Democratic takeover of Congress?

Babs did send me an e-mail after everything blew up that we were right, but being right and having the ability to say 'I told you so' doesn't make me feel any better about this disgusting mess. Obviously the CBC reps knew more and were willing to share with fellow African-Americans what your vaunted 'insider' legislators wouldn't tell you.

So much for the image of NCTE being the 'insiders'

Even if we did tell y'all, all you peeps who drank the 'HRC Is Our Friends' Kool-Aid would have done is shrugged your collective shoulders, did a 'There they go again' Reagan imitation and blew it off because that info came from 'those crazy NTAC people.'

But it's not like I and others didn't try to sound the alarm. I wrote about the possibility of us being screwed in my TransGriot print column in THE LETTER that was published in July 2007. I posted it on my blog as well.

And here's the paragraph in which I sounded the warning:

But one thing I repeatedly heard in several offices I visited during the recent National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) Lobby Days May 15-17 disturbed me. Several staffers informed me that Senator Kennedy’s bill DOESN’T mirror HR 1592 by including the words ‘gender identity’ and the definition for it as set forth in Section 3.6 of the House bill. I hope by the time that this column is read that it turned out to be just a rumor and the bill does mirror the one that passed the House May 3.
But what if that information IS true?

There are some gay and lesbian people that would be ecstatic if that happened. Some of them have expressed the attitude that the term doesn’t belong in ‘their’ ENDA bill. That’s a fundamentally short sighted, selfish and myopic viewpoint.

That's what I wrote in July 2007. As a matter of fact, Dawn, AC and I along with other NTACers were disturbed enough to consider putting together a team of lobbyists to storm the Hill unannounced before the August recess. But since NCTE was on the Hill and the community conventional wisdom was arrayed against NTAC, against our better political instincts we punted the ball and let NCTE run (and screw up) the show.

In hindsight, we should have followed our instincts, ran our clandestine lobby day, reported our findings after it was done and said to you NTAC critics who would have bitched about what we'd done 'screw y'all, we're trying to get this ENDA bill passed.'

Others may not be forthcoming about their mistakes, but I will own up to mine.

I apologize to the community for not doing enough to FORCEFULLY get the word out there. That won't happen again.

But even if I or others come up with the info and put it out there, whether you like it or not, you are minorities now. It is critical to your survival and it's your responsibility as American citizens and voters to acquire info, use your God-given critical thinking and reasoning skills to filter it our and act (or not act) on it.

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