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February 14, 2011
Do People Who Work at Sex Toy Shops Count as “Young Professionals”?
February 16, 2011

Why No ENDA? The Scary Trans Frank’en Penis!

There’s a meme going around the GLBT leadership out in the media right now that goes something like this:

“Democrats wouldn’t pass ENDA even when we had the votes and no one knows why.”

And what do our transgender leaders say about this troubling question?

Dana Beyer  blamed it on the  “national LBGT leadership”:

“This was strange, since after talking to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a number of colleagues said she was perplexed as to why the national LGBT leadership had abandoned ENDA in favor of DADT repeal. Congressional leadership hadn’t asked for a change. The whip counts showed more support for ENDA than for DADT repeal. It seems that getting the last few votes for ENDA could have been no harder than getting DADT repeal at the 11th hour.”

I’m hearing that GayInc isn’t too happy with that answer. Maybe they’ll like Barney Frank’s legislative aide, Diego Sanchez?

The thing that breaks my heart the most is that we did have the votes this time. Enda didn’t come up because of two things, primarily. One is health care which took so much longer, and number two is the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell the thinking that it needed to on the Defense bill and so when it came up it, it went. Both Congressman Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin do believe and we know because we counted, we believe we had the votes this past Congress and we ran out of time. So the short answer is the calendar,  but this time we actually had the votes, with even some Republican surprises to pass a fully inclusive ENDA bill. “

and of the fear of a motion to re-commit:

“Not only did we have the votes to pass a fully inclusive ENDA, but we also had the commitment of the votes, we had enough votes to defeat a motion to recommit that would have tried to strip away or hurt trans people. We had the votes, we just ran out of time. And that’s a terrible heart breaker.  We will be reintroducing ENDA. We are working with the community groups now and we’ll be able to say more about that as we get closer.”

or if you don’t like that,  Babs Siperstein:

“Try as I might, I could get no information about what was happening with ENDA. I heard that it was all about heath care legislation, but there was something more and no one was talking to me.”

Siperstein is not just some average Jo.  She’s on the Democratic National Committee.  She’s a Democratic insider saying she doesn’t know why ENDA wasn’t brought to a vote?  This points to either Siperstein being totally out of the loop (see also: token), or she’s being dishonest about not knowing.  Neither answer seems very comforting.

The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld:

“Second, although I have asked a good number of questions about ENDA and its prospects for a vote, I still can’t tell you why it never happened. Meanwhile, I can recall with decent clarity nearly every twist and turn of the battle to pass “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) repeal. This is not due to a bias on my part, but is rather indicative of the fact that no one seemed willing to talk with any specificity about what was or wasn’t happening with ENDA.”

And where does take that question? Gender identity. As Autumn Sandeen so eloquently put it:

“My reaction was to those paragraphs written by Kerry Eleveld were visceral. I heard ‘It’s time to open up the discussion again as to whether gender identity should be part of ENDA’ when I read the phrase ‘we need to have an honest conversation about our inability to discuss ENDA and transgender issues” in her piece. That’s my filter; that’s my problem.”

Sandeen also calls out Barney Frank for his planting the seeds of the “bathroom question”.

“Frankly, after so many promises by Rep. Frank and other congressmembers in 2009 and 2010 about how ENDA was going to be marked up “soon,” at the end of the month, next February (2010) — well, you can read about the long history of broken promises on ENDA here. It didn’t appear to be an issue that would definitely kill the bill until the postmortem at the end of the 111th Congress., unless you consider this comment from Rep. Frank found in a January 13, 2010 piece in The Advocate:

‘There continues to be concerns on the part of many members about the transgender issue, particularly about the question of places where people are without their clothes — showers, bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.,” said Frank. “We still have this issue about what happens when people who present themselves as one sex but have the physical characteristics of the other sex, what rules govern what happens in locker rooms, showers, etc.’

*Sigh.* Always the bathrooms; always the locker room showers.”

Our leaders on Barney:

“Barney Frank has said this before, and he was saying it again, even after he said that advocates had been doing a good job of educating. That was a bit of mixed messaging.” – Babs Simperstein

and

“Ironically, the man who did the most to derail an inclusive ENDA in 2007 led the efforts to educate himself and his colleagues about the trans experience, and worked hardest on its behalf this past session. Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) made the effort to become comfortable with trans people, exemplified by his hiring of Diego Sanchez. If only our community leaders did the same. It would be refreshing to see trans people leading national organizations. It would also be bracing to hear gay leaders speak passionately for full civil rights for trans and gender non-conforming individuals. Where there is silence, there is, naturally, the inference that the issue is of little importance.

To move forward, I echo Tom Carpenters’s call for an independent debriefing on our advocacy during this past congressional session. We must learn from the past, and do so quickly.” – Dana Beyer

Apparently that debriefing is in and it’s still trans penises in showers.  Endablog and Transadvocate blogger Katrina Rose put the harsh truth out unvarnished:

“Until St. Barney (and the other heads of the gay transphobia political hydra) told America to be afraid of something that doesn’t exist (sexually predatory pre-op trans women in women’s restrooms), America was more afwaid of the long-known, long-proven – and, in many circles, still asserted as a right concomitant with being gay – public/toilet sex practices of many gay men.

George Michael exists.

David Shaw exists.

St. Barney exists – to make sure that America doesn’t think about men like George Michael and David Shaw when ENDA and DADT are discussed, but do think about the mythological creatures that St. Barney has devised when federal and state ENDAs are considered.”

The biggest obstacle to a trans-inclusive ENDA will be a penis shaped barricade built exclusively by Congressman Frank.  What’s most sad is that no one in “transgender leadership” has the guts enough to say so.

14 Comments

  1. Samantha says:

    Enough votes to pass ENDA and it didn’t happen.

    Sad that my survival depends on political agendas.

    • Kat says:

      Specifically – political agendas that actually don’t include your well-being to the degree that the permanently-employed, gay-talking-head class claims that it is (if at all.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Makes sense that Frank hired Sanchez, then. Given Frank’s views (however inaccurate even what he assumes might be,) he’d undoubtedly refuse to hire a trans woman.

    The next person who claims he’s our champion and ally…

  3. As soon as I read the slur “GayInc” in an article, I stop reading.

    • Anonymous says:

      A slur that Pam Spaulding and others use with frequency? It’s not a slur, it’s a descriptive term.

      • As a descriptive term it is filled with innuendo that somehow gays who happen to have a lot of money have some secretive agenda that is somehow an impediment to the rights of LGBT folks who don’t have a lot of money. Based on my experience, that is an unfair and inaccurate assertion, and to me signifies an attempt to paint fellow American gay and lesbian individuals as the enemy.

        For example, I went ahead and finished reading this article, and Rep. Frank is painted as some enemy of transgender rights merely because he openly discussed actual concerns that his constituents have brought to him. As a candidate for office, I received all kinds of communications (email. letters, tweets, etc) from concerned Oklahomans about all sorts of matters. Were their concerns always justified in my personal opinion? No. But at the same time, it would be folly for me to not admit that there were people who had those concerns and try to figure out how best to deal with those concerns. Don’t you think that Rep. Frank has actual constituents who have brought him concerns about showers and bathrooms? I sure do. And I don’t think Rep. Frank is an enemy to the movement for merely discussing that folks have those concerns. It’s up to us to find ways to get education out into the media to help allay those concerns, now that he has provided us the window into what people are concerned about. Rep. Frank is not the enemy, and he has been instrumental in a lot of political gains made by LGBT Americans over the last decade or so.

        • Sandra M says:

          You are absolutely right, Brittany. This blog, and many others, has painted Barney Frank as the one who made bathroom use an issue, which is factually inaccurate. It is quite clear from his statements that he is merely giving an update on the status of the bill and issues that the bill is facing, and by being the messenger he became the enemy. I’ve seen this repeated over and over, as this blogger did (mostly cutting and pasting what others have written). If there is one travesty of the internet age, it is how quickly a falsehood becomes the truth for so many.

          • Anonymous says:

            Frank made an issue IN CONGRESS. You can pretend that’s not true, but it doesn’t make it so. #lgbt #transgender #barneyfrank

          • Anonymous says:

            Cutting and pasting what others have said. Darn internet, reposting other people’s words and holding them accountable. #lgbt #howdareyou #transgender

          • Kathleen says:

            “has painted Barney Frank as the one who made bathroom use an issue, which is factually inaccurate”

            That statement is factually innacurrate – one needs to look at the long history. When we were passing the bill to include gender identity & expression in the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance (it passed on 2002) some local gay leaders asked Rep Frank for a letter of support as the PA Family Asssociation was stating “even Barney Frank opposes” bills like this. In his letter – much to everyones shock – he went on about how he supported such measures – ad long as they didn’t include places where penises might possibly be seen.

            It was completely unneccessary and people were shocked he felt the need to discuss the issue – many of the gay leaders were quite pissed off over it – the letter was not used – of course. We were able to pass about 140 of these local bills with out carving out rest rooms – the main person in the public sphere who kept making it an issue was Rep Frank – and our opponents kept quoting him on it. That had a cumulative effect. They are much harder to pass now – and the issue is considered more legitimate.

            Rep Frank bears some responsibility for that . The entire MA lgbt leadership bears some responsibility for how difficult inclusion in enda has been, though. With their agreement from the 90’s going forward to keep trans lives & trans rights invisible while they worked on marriage – after passing the gay only civil rights bill. That info is directly from one of his staffers.

        • Anonymous says:

          Brittany, the agenda isn’t secret. 10 million spent on marriage ads isn’t secret. The National Policy Round Table isn’t a secret. The things that go on behind closed doors ARE secretive. This blog has been right MANY times because I and my sources are either on the Hill or have been on the Hill, in state, or in the meetings themselves.

          If you read this blog more you’d know that Barney Frank has a LONG history of trans penis panic. But during the past two years he’s been the most vocal about “Penises in showers” in the halls of Congress though. Even in 2007, I never heard of anyone getting asked about “penises in showers” while lobbying. It’s a meme that Rep. Frank helps to promote every time he brings up “the problem”. But laugh off questions of gay men and public sex which DOES HAPPEN.

        • Anonymous says:

          and furthermore answering the voters you represent or your fellow Congressmen is one thing, saying it in the press that the religious right uses as fodder for their hatefest is quite another.

        • Anonymous says:

          and furthermore answering the voters you represent or your fellow Congressmen is one thing, saying it in the press that the religious right uses as fodder for their hatefest is quite another.

        • Anonymous says:

          So Barney listens to his transphobic constituents and takes their concerns seriously, but not his homophobic constituents? How self-serving and vile. LGB(t) indeed.

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