Clinging to a dangerous past: Dr Paul McHugh’s selective reading of transgender medical literature
June 15, 2014
Anti-LGBT bigot caught engaging in election fraud in Texas
June 30, 2014

Admit it, Obama is our Fierce Advocate

Recently Rebecca Juro wrote a post at the Advocate called “No, Obama’s Executive Order Is Not a (Total) Win” that I find extremely short sighted and politically naive.  Soon after the election in 2008 of President Barack Obama, many started to question President Obama’s claim as a “fierce advocate” for the LGBT community. I have my issues with the President (mainly on issues of privacy and his use presidential power). But in realm of LGBT advocacy, he has lived up to his claim of “fierce advocacy”. In terms of lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues, he has:

  • supported ending the DOMA
  • signed the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes Bill into law
  • signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
  • changed HUD regulations to protect against housing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation

but his administration also done quite a bit to help everyday transgender Americans:

and that’s just a small example of the advocacy this President has put in place for the LGBT community.  Juro’s comment that:

“It’s the one thing I’ve never understood about Barack Obama and his administration: How can Obama and his spokespeople talk like they fully support LGBT equality but then spend years dragging their feet implementing one of the easiest forms of LGBT progress to bring about? Why wasn’t this executive order signed into law the day after Obama took office? No one seems to know.”

seems to be free of any kind of acknowledgement or analysis of political reality. Any comparative analysis of previous presidents, even taking into consideration the political climate, shows that Obama is (by far) our “fiercest advocate”. In fact, he’s much more trans inclusive in his policies than many so called “LGBT” organizations. He’s actually HIRED a trans woman  to an important administrative post. How many in the LGBT orgs in the non-profit sector can make that same claim?

Juro continues:

“We want it all and we want it now. And we demand political leaders who understand that we are as entitled to that as any American who takes their own civil rights for granted. It’s what being a real progressive is about. Anything less isn’t justice, and it isn’t equality.”

If she wants a “real progressive” in office, maybe Juro might consider doing some of this:

(a trans activist out canvassing neighbourhoods for political candidates)

Instead of just squawking about what the President hasn’t done, maybe she might try getting out and working for progressive candidates?

Political gains aren’t something that happen in one big chunk, but in a piecemeal fashion. No civil rights movment has ever just came in and demanded rights, but they’ve worked to get them. In the trans community it happens because of the political ground work of  people like Diego Sanchez and Barbra Casbar Siperstein on the national level and Kathy Padilla, Jenna Fischetti, and many other trans* individuals on the local level working with (and for) politicians to secure trans protections.

The fight is far from over, but to claim this isn’t another great win from a “fierce advocate” is to ignore/deny history. This Pride month I’m celebrating all our victories, and I’m grateful that Barack Obama is our President.

Go head and admit it, Obama is our “fierce advocate”.

Marti Abernathey
Marti Abernathey
Marti Abernathey is the founder of the Transadvocate and the previous managing editor. Abernathey has worn many different hats, including that of podcaster, activist, and radiologic technologist. She's been a part of various internet radio ventures such as TSR Live!, The T-Party, and The Radical Trannies, TransFM, and Sodium Pentathol Sunday. As an advocate she's previously been involved with the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance, Rock Indiana Campaign for Equality, and the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition. She's taken vital roles as a grass roots community organizer in The Indianapolis Tax Day Protest (2003), The Indy Pride HRC Protest (2004), Transgender Day of Remembrance (2004), Indiana's Witch Hunt (2005), and the Rally At The Statehouse (the largest ever GLBT protest in Indiana - 3/2005). In 2008 she was a delegate from Indiana to the Democratic National Convention and a member of Barack Obama's LGBT Steering and Policy Committee.
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  • While I have responded to this on Facebook, I suppose it’s appropriate that I respond here as well.

    Leaving aside Marti’s personal issues with me (which I absolutely do believe color her perceptions here), let’s take on the charges:

    Marti argues that I don’t give the President credit for what he has done to help trans people. No, not in this article because that wasn’t the topic. I wasn’t writing about whether Obama had done anything beneficial for trans people at all (and let’s not forget that much of that progress didn’t come directly from him but from federal agencies such as the EEOC), I was asking why it took him well into his second term in office to protect thousands of LGBT workers with just his signature an what that means in real terms about his support for trans rights and equality. I think it’s a fair question.

    I don’t discount the progress that has been made, but when we’re still literally celebrating the President simply saying the word “transgender” because it happens so rarely, I think it’s important to publicly express our dissatisfaction with that state of affairs and the political marginalization of trans people it reflects.

    If there’s anything we’ve learned as a community over the last generation, it’s that when you’re willing to settle for less than you deserve, you shouldn’t be surprised when less than you deserve is exactly what you get.

    We deserve better, from Obama, from Congressional and state and local-level Democrats, and from our country as a whole. I don’t apologize to anyone for proudly being among those who are demanding exactly that.

    • (and let’s not forget that much of that progress didn’t come directly from him but from federal agencies such as the EEOC)

      It’s absurd to assert that “federal agencies” actions and the actions of the Appointees running them are separate from the Administration. No one will look back in history and distinguish those actions from the Obama Presidency. And none of those agencies would have taken those actions if it wasn’t the policy of this Presidency. If they had, they’d be asked to resign. Is this truly your view of how government operates? Or are you just trolling?

      Nor did anyone here clap their hands numb because the President uttered the T word.

      Nor did anyone say – I’m happy to settle for less.

      But, do enjoy your war on straw. You proud head high holding person who is demanding equality while others do nothing….but demand equality, have a strategy and actually achieve it.

      There’s areas where the President can actually act unilaterally. – and in those areas we have made significant – historic gains. As far as legislation – we have opponents who were willing to sink the full faith and credit of the country over much easier to pass bills than ours.

      State Dept/travel/documents? check.
      SSI no match? check.
      Health care? Because of the ACA I got my first mammogram paid for that should have been done 17 years earlier. Check.
      Medicare. Check.
      EEOC and employment protections. Check.
      Appointments. Check.
      Non discrim language in ACA that will hopefully be expanded just as the state nondiscrim language has lead to inclusive insurance bulletins. Check.
      HUD and Housing protections. Check.

      Seriously. Major moves forward on all policy fronts on all trans issues. Even military service will be reviewed.

      Yeah – this guys a piker.

      We want nothing less than full equality. But you have to e blind not to see the advances here. The web of protections woven together for trans people are nearly as expansive as a full civil rights bill; lacking only public accommodations. And in effect (though not necessarily permanence) far more expansive than enda. Which wouldn’t cover housing or public accommodations and has the terrible religious exemption.

      Something the EEOC decision doesn’t have.

      Not a lot of low hanging unilateral policy fruit left on that tree.

      Yeah – that guy sucks on trans equality. (that’s called sarcasm)

    • Come again?

      Obama To Sign Executive Order Protecting Transgender Federal Employees
      Jennifer Bendery 06/30/2014
      WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced Monday that he’s preparing an executive order to ban workplace discrimination against federal employees based on their gender identity.

      The move comes after a 2012 ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the federal ban on sex discrimination covers transgender discrimination. Those affected by that rules change say the government hasn’t been enforcing it and they continue to be discriminated against. Specifically, transgender federal employees have been paying tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket health care costs related to their gender transition.

      Sarah Vestal, a transgender woman in California who works for the Treasury Department, told The Huffington Post in April that an Obama executive order would help because it would show he’s serious about stemming discrimination within the government.

      “It would help eliminate the structural discrimination,” Vestal said. “Transgender people in the federal government are pulling their hair out.”

      The president’s announcement comes two weeks after he signaled plans to sign another executive order barring discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors. He referenced that executive order on Monday, but has yet to say when he’ll sign either of them.

      Obama made his remarks during a White House reception marking June as LGBT Pride Month.

      • Obviously, like most of us I knew nothing of the gender ID EO when I wrote that piece. Watch for a follow-up.

    • Dee Omally

      Rebecca, and Kathy…thank you for all that you guys have and are doing…and indeed, as one who suffers from runaway keyboard 😉 I understand how writing much, especially given trans equality needs, especially in juxtaposition to LGB advances, is seemingly never enough.

      Still, thank you sisters for all that you contribute. Doing or writing nothing, especially in this “tipping point” year for us…is an option only for those who selfishly have “already got theirs”. I admire your passion…and in the end, except for those who “truly believe” that trans slurs have a respectful place as verbal punches to “toughen up us bitches”, we will all stand (or fall) together, in the name of those who no longer stand (deceased) and those who will succumb to physical or discriminatory trans violence this year and into the future.

      All that we do amounts to “softening up the beachheads” for the trans children who follow, although of course their generation sees, like all generations, the same issues differently. Unlike us, trans children discovered, thanks to the internet, that an early transition was indeed possible. It is from our efforts and their activism that are finally turning the tide in favor of human equal rights, long elusive, for trans Americans.

    • At the risk of repeating myself Even though it’s a different action:

      Justice and Identity

      by Secretary Tom Perez on June 30, 2014 · 0 comments

      As we celebrate Pride Month and approach the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the Labor Department is reaffirming its commitment to equal opportunity for all. That’s why we are updating enforcement protocols and anti-discrimination guidance to clarify that we provide the full protection of the federal non-discrimination laws that we enforce to transgender individuals.

      Pride flagThese changes reflect current law. In Macy v. Holder, for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that discrimination because a person is transgender is sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Civil Rights Center, along with the Employment and Training Administration, will issue guidance to make clear that discrimination on the basis of transgender status is discrimination based on sex. While the department has long protected employees from sex-based discrimination, its guidance to workers and employers will explicitly clarify that this includes workers who identify as transgender. The department will continue to examine its programs to identify additional opportunities to extend the law’s full protection against discrimination to transgender workers.

      Our workforce and our entire economy are strongest when we embrace diversity to its fullest, and that means opening doors of opportunity to everyone and recognizing that the American Dream excludes no one.

      Follow Secretary Perez on Twitter as @LaborSec.

  • This opinion piece is in response the exchange between Rebecca Juro and
    Marti Abernathy that took place in separate articles in ‘The Advocate’ on
    June 17 2014 and on on June 19 2014.

    While Rebecca’s article touched on the fact that the changes Obama
    has created will have little effect on the lives of the poorest
    trans and gender variable people both articles fail to give credit where
    credit is due.

    Societal change, particularly societal change that effects the profits of the
    most wealthy comes about through struggle. Many people were killed or had
    life changing injuries in the struggle for the 8 hour day. Many civil rights
    workers never came home from the hospital after brutal beatings at the hands
    of police protecting the status quo. The same is true of the struggle for gay
    rights and the related struggle for trans rights. Many trans women who were
    pillars of their communities have been victims of murder as have more trans
    activists than many realize. Worldwide and in the US, a lot of our best
    advocates have been murdered.

    In the instance of Obama he has played a similar role as President Johnson
    played in signing the Voting Rights act into law. Few people give Johnson credit
    for being a ‘fierce advocate’ for civil rights. In fact he had a reputation of
    being a somewhat racist southern Democratic machine politician. It was the hard
    work, blood and sweat shed by civil rights activists and the changing attitudes
    of an American populace horrified by scenes of horrific violence against Black
    people in the South that permitted Johnson to ‘evolve’ his views. Few people
    give Johnson the credit for the gains of the civil rights movement. Why should
    we give Obama credit for the hard work and sacrifices of our people ?

    Marti takes a cheap shot at Rebecca when she suggest that she should go out and
    work for some progressive candidates. It’s not in submission to the needs of
    politicians that we gain power as a community. It’s in developing our voices and
    mutual aid networks. It’s in our advocates who react quickly and firmly to any
    threats to our community. Everyone speaking openly about our issues and everyone
    developing our community helps build our power. Even the much villified
    ‘cultural warriors’ on twitter and other social networks have helped create the
    environment for Obama and other establishment politicians to ‘Evolve their
    views’ to include us in the human race.

    For a lame duck president to sign a piece of paper takes little courage or
    conviction. Lets give credit where credit is due. The tail does not wag the
    dog. The dog wags the tail.

    — Marina Brown

    # Marina Brown is the Liberty Union Party candidate in Vermont for Lt Governor #

  • Dee Omally

    It is a tactic of both friend and foe to slow crawl and low crawl toward the objective. Whether in the pursuit of conquest, recovery of geography, or any other objective, strategy is precisely the same. Obama, no doubt personally enriched by the LGBT community, stepped into office keenly aware of how terrified most Americans were of the LGBT shadow, especially the T.

    Who can ever forget, except of course tragically many G brethren today when it comes to we the T, the common stereotype that gay = sex offender = danger to children. Over and over we heard that gays could not serve in combat, were a threat to children in the classroom, and a threat in the men’s showers. Obama knew different. He instinctively knew, as we do, that the sole distinguishing characteristics of gay and transgender persons were and are but two: sexual preference (orientation) and gender “preference”, to simply. Of course to trans persons, gender is no preference but a reality far beyond mere feelings and belief.

    Like anyone in pursuit of achieving an objective, Obama flew under the radar for years, relative to LGBT issues then slowly sequentially began to effect positive change for the LGBT. He had to slow crawl so as not to silhouette himself then rush in and achieve the objective with the “element of surprise.” The problem with Ms. Juro’s piece, although understandable, is that it compares Obama with Obama: you promised us the cake but gave us only a few slices. What Marti says, in contrast, is that we must not compare Obama with his promises, for everyone quickly learns that our system of government, if it has one flaw, is that all candidates must promise the moon, and yet will deliver but a meteorite. We must compare the 44th president (Obama) not with the 43rd, but with ALL 43 presidents combined. After crunching the numbers, Obama is our fierce advocate, and probably the only one for a very long time. I truly believe that just before he leaves office to write his memoirs, he will sign an Executive Order that will update the military’s perspective of trans persons such that it aligns with modern psychiatry: that gender dysphoria is not a mental disorder.

    • Dee Omally

      *…to simplify [2nd p/graph]

  • This goes out to the author of “No, Obama’s Executive Order Is Not a (Total) Win”.

    I mean when Yahoo NEWS is more enlightened than you, maybe you ought to reconsider your career path…

  • Really.

    The removal of the ban on GRS for fed employee health plans!

    Substantive also includes his hiring trans people for some important positions.

    And symbolism is never to be underestimated in politics. He made us part of the political discussion on an ongoing basis as a matter of normal business – like other citizens.

    He has consistently invited trans people to the White House for important functions. This sends an important message to the world at large and to our youth.

    He’s held meetings at the White House with diverse groups of trans leaders on how our needs and issues interact with federal policy.

    And, hugely – all of the agency nondiscrim policies and the EEOC decision that flowed from his appointment of Chai Feldblum.

    We enjoy employment nondiscrim protections NATIONWIDE – while LGB people are struggling to catch up.

    His strong defense of that decision by the Justice Dept when the City of Philadelphia law Depr tried to challenge it in the Bobbie Burnett case that caused Philly to back down? A thing of beauty.

    Mighty, mighty advocate for trans rights. Not surprising for someone who was raised for a time by a trans person in Indonesia. Just not flashy. Well – you know the old joke about thunder and lightening. ; )

    And not saying that advocating for change and faster change isn’t needed. Just that whining while having no strategy or bringing no political capital to the table isn’t what one would call an effective strategy of fostering change.

    But, that’s hardly a stunning insight.