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  • « A curious time to rally round the gays | Main | Thank goodness for Capehart, too »

    September 28, 2007

    Thank goodness for Barney!

    Posted by: Chris

    Barneyfrank As expected, House Democratic leaders have agreed to remove transgender protections from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act after determining that the votes weren't there to pass a trans-inclusive ENDA.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

    "People now accept the fact that we just don't have the votes for the transgender," said Barney Frank (D-Mass).

    Nervous Democrats had been hearing about Republican amendments to the employment bill, Frank said, "that would talk about schoolteachers, and what happens when the kid comes back from summer vacation and teachers change gender. We just lost enough Democrats and we couldn't be sure of the Republicans."

    The schoolteacher scenario is a familiar one for gays, of course, and it took years of work in the social and political sphere to overcome the base prejudice that underlies that sort of objection. And the simple and unfortunate reality is that transgender activists haven't finished doing that hard work yet.

    Instead, they've focused their energy, and a whole lot of venom, at guilting gays into allowing them to ride on our coattails -- as if we could pull off such a power play when in 2007 we've still not managed to pass a single piece of federal civil rights legislation.

    I absolutely love Barney's response to complaints from some gay and trans activists that House Dems have caved for fear of a tough vote.  That's just "stupid," he said.

    "Have they been living in Sweden and thinking they were in America for the last 20 years? We're going to go ahead with sexual orientation for the first time in American history. Why would timid people be pushing people to do that?"

    It's worth noting that Barney and House Dems did pass a trans-inclusive hate crime measure, which should prove their trans-friendly credentials. What's more, Barney hasn't "forgotten" trans rights, as most trans activists and gay apologists have pre-accused the rest of us of doing. He's promised to introduce a separate transgender ENDA and to hold hearings in support of it.

    For those like Matt Foreman of the Task Force begging for a little more time to rally House votes, it's time to smell the coffee.  Even if that could be accomplished, the votes most assuredly aren't there in the more conservative Senate, and certainly not the 60 votes to avoid filibuster or 67 to overcome a possible Bush veto.

    Meanwhile, the Blade has updated its story on a trans-free ENDA with the word from the Human Rights Campaign that it did not "assent" to removing trans protections. Not only does that prove HRC is out of the loop, it means they're sidelined by an internal board debate over the ridiculous question of whether to support ENDA if it only protects gays.

    "We are consulting with our friends in the community and allies on the Hill about our next course of action," HRC spokesman Brad Luna is quoted as saying. That must read Martian to those new to the down-is-up, black-is-white world of gay politics.  Where that famous MLK quote that none of us free until all of us are can be twisted to mean that no incremental progress toward freedom is conscionable unless and until we can simultaneously achieve it for everyone.

    But as regular readers of this blog know, the HRC board under Cheryl Jacques voted in 2004 to actually oppose ENDA if trans rights are excluded. Salvaging HRC's political credibility now will require a reversal of that silly position, and meanwhile the most basic of gay rights bills is without the active backing of the nation's largest gay rights group.

    I would say, in closing, that "the time has come" to pass ENDA, but as a respected Democratic friend of mine recently reminded me, the time actually came and went a decade ago.  Still, it's gratifying to see mature political leadership willing to make the compromises needed to move the ball forward.

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    Comments

    1. Joanna Wagner on Sep 28, 2007 5:38:35 PM:

      I couldn't disagree with you more. Did you know that the modern lgbt rights movement began with protests by transgender people? Who statrted the riots at Stonewall & Compton's Cafeteria? Riding your coattails, indeed!

      I believe we are all queer in this fight and my gay & lesbian friends would agree.

      The argument for unity is made quite well in this quote from attorney Jillian Todd Weiss.

      "Are Transgenders Gay? The “Trans 101” answer is no, because gender identity is unrelated to sexual orientation. Many transgender activists, in attempting to explain “gender identity” in a simple manner, unintentionally use logically conflicting concepts that are the source of confusion about transgenders. One of the popular notions among transgender activists is that gay (referred to as "sexual orientation") and transgender (referred to as "gender identity") are completely separate concepts. In this conception, "sexual orientation" refers to the sex of one's partner, whereas "gender identity" is one's psychological identity as male or female (or, as is sometimes said, masculine or feminine). Educational materials stress that employers must be taught that gays and lesbians are not the same as transgenders, because one is about liking boys or girls, and the other is about being boys or girls. The difficulty with this notion is that it contradicts the popularly held belief among transgender activists that gays and lesbians should be part of a single advocacy community with transgenders. If sexual orientation and gender identity are completely separate, why are transgenders any concern of gays and lesbians, except insofar as gays and lesbians are sympathetic to any oppressed but unrelated group? The tension between these two notions is a significant source of tension between transgenders and gays/lesbians. Some in each group believe in common cause, and some in each group are against it. Almost no one recognizes the source of the tension.

      In an attempt to resolve this tension and harmonize the conflicting principles, a few perceptive transgender activists now argue that "gender is a gay issue," meaning that the oppression of gays and lesbians occur primarily because of their failure to fit into stereotypical gender norms. In other words, the oppression of gays and lesbians occurs primarily when straight people see an effeminate gay man or a masculine lesbian. Such oppression is not on the basis of sexual orientation, because it is not based on that person's partner, but that person's gender expression. Thus, not only transgenders, but also gays and lesbians are oppressed on the basis of gender, making gender a gay issue. Putting aside the problem of finding empirical evidence to support this theory, it contradicts the notion that gay and transgender are completely separate concepts. If transgenders should be included in a single advocacy community with gays and lesbians because gender is a gay issue, and sexual orientation involves gender identity, then how can it be claimed that sexual orientation and gender identity are completely separate concepts? Why is it so important to separate sexual orientation and gender identity in the first place? Most straight people think they are similar and related already, so why go through the torturous educational exercise of convincing everyone they are completely separate? What's wrong with saying transgender is a version of gay expression?"

    1. Josie on Sep 28, 2007 7:20:10 PM:

      I have a *lot* of lesbian friends who are not trans, but who do not conform to heteronormative gender stereotypes. I tend to face less discrimination than them, just because I'm a femme. I'm just as gay as any of them, and I verbally out myself as lesbian constantly, but I still face less bigotry because my gender performance is less obviously subversive. I think that the "gender identity" portion of this bill may be the most important part, and I am deeply disgusted by those that are so eager to abandon it. Barney has never been much of a friend to trans or genderqueer people...

    1. Mad Professah on Sep 29, 2007 12:44:56 AM:

      I agree with Joanna Wagner eloquent explanation of the connections between gender identity and sexual orientation. I agree with the notion that prejudice against transgender and LGB people is based in inherent notions of gender. Unfortunately, current legal jurisprudence does not embrace this notion and thus legislation with separate categories of sexual orientation and gender identity is needed to operationalize prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people.

    1. Dave on Sep 29, 2007 1:34:34 AM:

      I do not give a crap about all the legalese B.S. I just know stupidity when I see it. I am not trans myself-don't even know any, I am just a gay man living his life, but I do not like giving people up. Maybe it is my blue collar, red state background. I like straight talk and not b.s. I know sometimes we have to compromise, but basic human rights should not be compromised away. Bareny Frank has proved himself another weak willed Congressman, he has not done nothing but hurt himself in the eyes of the majority of the gay community.

    1. Roberta Sklar on Oct 6, 2007 5:45:53 PM:

      Chris-- Lets propose taking out the G from LGBT and passing an Enda that protects LBT"s-- OK with you? Or does it sound preposterous?

    1. Citizen Crain on Oct 6, 2007 6:05:36 PM:

      Roberta, that would be preposterous because "sexual orientation" as a protected category protects Gs, Ls, Bs and Hs (heteros). So, no, you can't do that.

      Sexual orientation and gender identity are different categories; GLBs on the one hand and Ts on the other are different. Yes I'm aware that some folks view being GLB to be "gender non-conforming" but that is a theoretical argument. I do not buy one iota into the notion that my being gay is at odds with my being a man. I would hope you feel the same about you're being a lesbian.

      Regardless, you do a disservice to the vastly larger number of GLB constituents you have in the 31 states with no workplace protections to make them wait until Congress and the President are ready to protect transsexuals, transgenders, cross-dressers and the like in the workplace.

      And what's really disappointing, Roberta, is that you have signed on to Matt's campaign of LIES that suggest there is "unity" among GLBs on this "trans-or-bust" strategy. It is arrogant and immoral to try to silence the raging debate on this ENDA strategy by claiming unity when it's clearly not there.

      Now that I've answered your question, can you tell me how you justify the lies you are telling?

    1. Kathryn on Mar 29, 2008 7:25:51 AM:

      As a woman, wife, mother and grandmother, I beleive this homosexual and trans gender movement is dispicalbe and deplorable for children's growth, As all children come into exsistance of one man and one woman. To introduce children to homosexual practices is of a porn nature, not a family nature. Children need a father and a mother, the true diversity of the sexes to grow healthy and sane. This is the blueprint of life itself. To introduce children to un-natural sexual practices is a travisty of justice. Google Boston Children's Hosptial as they offer 7 year olds and up drug therapy to change their natural sexual orenitation to the other sex, which in itself is misleading and misguiding as it only change outward characterisics, not the actual sex of the person. This goes to show how sick these people truely are. Children must be afforded respect and protections of their innocense. Children need to grow normally and naturally as nature and development stages allow for. This homosexual and trans- gender movement is a totally deceptive munipulation of noramal human sexuality.
      Children are being abused and misguided about the most natural and normal process of life. They are being exploted by our politicains and courts, for the purpose of money, power and votes.

    1. David on Mar 29, 2008 3:01:36 PM:

      Hey Kathryn, come back when you learn how to spell.

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