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    September 27, 2007

    Is ENDA about to go trans-free?

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    The Washington Blade is reporting that House Democrats are preparing to remove transgender rights from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act after an internal tally yesterday showed there weren't enough votes to pass the trans-inclusive version introduced this session. 

    No surprise there, although it's noteworthy that at this stage, they're just trying to get ENDA through the House, much less the more conservative Senate, and much less by margins high enough to survive a filibuster or presidential veto. If there were ever doubt about whether the political support is there yet for transgender workplace rights, this should settle the matter.

    Also not surprisingly, nine glbT groups, with an emphasis on the "T" to the exclusion of the others, have issued a statement opposing the removal of trans protections and vowing to oppose ENDA if it only protects gay people.  The signatories on the statement include:

    National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
    National Center for Transgender Equality
    National Center for Lesbian Rights
    National Stonewall Democrats
    National Coalition for LGBT Health
    Pride At Work, AFL-CIO
    National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects
    Mautner Project

    Missing, of course, are our friends at the Human Rights Campaign, even though the HRC board voted during Cheryl Jacques' tenure to take a similar "trans or bust" stance on ENDA.

    Fortunately, Barney Frank and the House Democratic leadership are more realistic politically and hopefully HRC's usual pragmatism will keep it on board, even if trans protections are removed. If HRC holds tough, no one will sing their praises higher than your's truly, though to me the decision is a political, moral and civil rights no-brainer.

    UPDATE: The Task Force has come out with a finger-wagging press release that ought to embarrass Matt Foreman, the group's E.D.  As head of the Empire State Pride Agenda, Foreman succeeded in getting historic gay rights legislation through the New York legislature and in the process sacrificed inclusion of protections for transgender New Yorkers. 

    Now he has the nerve to call the same strategy "unconscionable" when employed by gay-friendly House Democrats trying to get ENDA passed for those gay Americans not fortunate enough to live in places like New York with gay rights protection:

    "If media reports from the last 24 hours are accurate, it is unconscionable that congressional leaders would rush to a decision to strip protections for transgender people at the same time as states across the nation are adding these protections at an unprecedented pace."

    Give your moral high horse a rest, Matt, and please work out the liberal guilt over your (utterly justifiable) tactical decision in New York without putting at risk the passage of historic federal gay rights legislation.

    Foreman calls it "incredibly ironic" that House leaders are considering jettisoning trans protections in ENDA on the same day the Senate voted 60-39 in favor of cloture on the trans-inclusive hate crimes bill. The real irony here is how he condemns those who are following in his own political footsteps.

    As far as ENDA vs. hate crimes, he knows better. Protecting transgender Americans from being beaten up based on their gender identity has always been more politically palatable than navigating the dress code issues, restroom policies and other tricky aspects to transgender workplace rights.

    That's why I've written (for years now) that including trans protections in ENDA is a much bigger problem politically than in hate crime legislation. Maybe now some of our idealistic friends from the left end of the spectrum will see why.



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    1. beergoggles on Sep 28, 2007 9:05:33 AM:

      As much as I would like to see 'trans' included in ENDA and other legislation, I do believe that the incremental approach is working.
      If we can get ENDA passed without 'trans' inclusion while Bush is in office, once we have a Democratic president, getting trans folks included in it should end up being a no brainer.

      Slow and steady guys, no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this.

    1. Tim C on Sep 28, 2007 10:43:33 AM:

      Politics is the art of the possible. At this time, it is not possible to pass ENDA with transgender protections included. So, is it proper to sacrifice everything else for the number of years it is going to take to get a majority in Congress comfortable enough with the transgender issue to pass an ENDA with transgender coverage, or do you take what you can get now, which can make a big, positive difference in the lives of a lot of people, and continue working for the rest into the future. I think anyone who is more concerned with actually passing beneficial legislation than making political statements will opt for a transgenderless ENDA now and to bring in a bill including gender identity when it becomes possible.

    1. aebrain on Sep 28, 2007 11:27:15 AM:


      I mean why
      bring in a bill including gender identity when it becomes possible.?

      Crane said

      I also don't buy into the notion that we owe it to you to work as hard for trans-ENDA as our own. Where the hell does that come from?

      Now they're supposed to believe that they'll get support "when the moment is propitious"?

      Pious platitudes and promises to help in some nebulous future haven't been honored in the past. There's a history here. So what has changed?

    1. beergoggles on Sep 28, 2007 12:59:13 PM:

      Pious platitudes and promises to help in some nebulous future haven't been honored in the past.

      Really? I thought the very fact that ENDA is being passed by the Senate and House is proof that those platitudes and promises are coming to fruition. What makes you think further promises won't materialize?

    1. Ingrid on Sep 28, 2007 2:25:27 PM:

      Before SONDA was passed on the floor of the NY Senate in 2000, Tom Duane stood on his high horse and begged to have transgender included in the bill. His pompous diatribe almost derailed the vote and Matt Foreman was one of many who rolled his eyes and was visibly upset. How quickly we forget. Politics teaches us that we get what we can get when the time is right. The fact that politicians are not comfortable with includig the T reminds us that at one time they weren't comfortable with the G & L. So what's so terrible about letting the bill go forward without the T included? Transgender folks will have to fight like gays and lesbians have been doing for years, why is that such a terrible thing?

    1. Aliem on Sep 28, 2007 2:48:30 PM:

      When someone changes their position in favor of equal rights, we laud them. The recent press conference by Republican San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders was rightly hailed as a step in the right direction: someone having the courage to say and do the difficult for the simple reason that it is right.

      Yet, when GLBT leaders go out of their way to support equal rights for the people they represent, they're lambasted even if that change is in the right direction.

      It seems that some gay people - Crain among them - will never be happy until they're in the position of perpetuating bigotry against transpeople from the protected position that we all deserve.

    1. Kathy on Sep 29, 2007 1:38:02 PM:

      Votes might be there, who knows. A transinclusive hate crimes bill passed the Senate.

      Frank's a well known transphobe who might very well have difficulty counting.

    1. libhomo on Sep 29, 2007 3:58:24 PM:

      Your bigotry against our trans sisters and brothers is sickening. You need to examine what could have happened in order to turn you into such a hateful and prejudiced person.

    1. libhomo on Sep 29, 2007 3:59:44 PM:

      Ingrid's ignorance is frightening. Transgender people have been fighting as a part of us for the same rights for decades.

    1. Darlie on Sep 29, 2007 5:53:11 PM:

      "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." - Martin Luther King

      Good luck Chris. We hope you achieve everything you are looking for to be considered " normal". You are finally going to fit in with them and I'm happy for you, enjoy it.


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