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August 27, 2009
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September 2, 2009

Frank Leaps Transgender Lobbyists in Single Bound

Am I the only one who is a bit puzzled/miffed/baffled by Barney Frank’s insinuation in this exchange:

There is another difference from 2007. Frank now has a policy adviser who is a female-to-male transsexual. Diego Sanchez is the first transgender person hired for a senior congressional staff position on Capitol Hill.

Sanchez has done extensive face-to-face lobbying for ENDA, and Frank says that’s enabled some members of Congress to get to know a transsexual for the first time.

“He interacts with a lot of people,” Frank said. “Prejudice is literally ignorance.”

Frank says he now doubts votes will be cast against ENDA solely because it extends to transgender people.

Should we forget the fact that groups like NTAC, NCTE, and numerous individual activists have been lobbying Congress, both on the Hill and in their home states for 15 years? If this was simply a matter of Barney Frank hiring a transgender person, why didn’t he do it in 2006?

If anyone wonders if Frank’s words are a slap in the face, keep in mind he once said this:

“I do think that the hearing that we had — and by the way, we had a hearing in the House over the objections of many of the transgender leadership. But I really doubt their political wisdom…Because they said it was part of our deal to separate it from ENDA and they wanted to not have anything separate. We did a good job in that hearing and we helped persuade some people. So we’re making progress. We’d make even more progress if the transgender community was willing to do the hard political work. And not, frankly, think they can just talk a few leaders into handing this to them.”

I think the real genius in the hiring of Diego Sanchez comes from Sanchez himself. He said:

“He’s called on the entire community since then to lobby, work — and the community has said, ‘OK, we’ve got one game plan, and it’s Barney,’ Sanchez said. ‘There’s broader support this time.'”

Sanchez almost soothes over Frank’s slap in the face. If transgender activists hadn’t been lobbying Congress since 1995, it might have been enough.

  • Sometimes I just have to shake my head at politicians and politics in general. It’s a small step forward, bluster notwithstanding.

  • Sometimes I just have to shake my head at politicians and politics in general. It’s a small step forward, bluster notwithstanding.

  • As Marti is pointing out, Diego is doing a great job and is no doubt educating Congress and gaining access to offices where transgender organizations could not but at the same time Congressman Frank discredits the years of hard work and lobbying for explicit inclusive legislation that has taken place for well over a decade. It took a lot of hard worked to get Hate Crimes and ENDA where it is today
    and it took more than one man to get it there.

    • Marti Abernathey

      Exactly. Diego’s appointment is historic, and I’m not trying to diminish that. But Frank’s words are definitely a smack in the face to anyone that’s ever lobbied Congress in the name of transgender people…since what, 1995?

  • As Marti is pointing out, Diego is doing a great job and is no doubt educating Congress and gaining access to offices where transgender organizations could not but at the same time Congressman Frank discredits the years of hard work and lobbying for explicit inclusive legislation that has taken place for well over a decade. It took a lot of hard worked to get Hate Crimes and ENDA where it is today
    and it took more than one man to get it there.

    • Marti Abernathey

      Exactly. Diego’s appointment is historic, and I’m not trying to diminish that. But Frank’s words are definitely a smack in the face to anyone that’s ever lobbied Congress in the name of transgender people…since what, 1995?

  • I can’t say I’m shocked at a politician trying to take credit for other peope’s hard work. I’ve been working the LGBT community end of this since the 90s (you should see some of the missive I wrote for the local LGBT press in San Francisco) and particularly trying to help hold encourage the trans community not to give up hope, that someday the LGBt would turn to LGBT. The massive outpouring of support we got form 350 LGBT organizations during the HRC’s 2007 ENDA betrayal is evidence the tide is turning in our favor. Let’s not allow separatists on either end of the spectrum to hinder our progress. Yes, let’s call out Frank for his grandiosity, but let’s not toss the baby with the bathwater in the process.

  • I can’t say I’m shocked at a politician trying to take credit for other peope’s hard work. I’ve been working the LGBT community end of this since the 90s (you should see some of the missive I wrote for the local LGBT press in San Francisco) and particularly trying to help hold encourage the trans community not to give up hope, that someday the LGBt would turn to LGBT. The massive outpouring of support we got form 350 LGBT organizations during the HRC’s 2007 ENDA betrayal is evidence the tide is turning in our favor. Let’s not allow separatists on either end of the spectrum to hinder our progress. Yes, let’s call out Frank for his grandiosity, but let’s not toss the baby with the bathwater in the process.

  • Kat

    “Frank says that’s enabled some members of Congress to get to know a transsexual for the first time”

    Then that begs several questions – at least one for each session of Congress since 1994 – regarding why a certain organization whose opulent offices are on Rhode Island Avenue didn’t do a bit more in the way of hiring transsexuals over that period of time to do the ‘educating’ that said organization claimed that it had been doing.

    Well, it actually only begs the question if you’re still unwiling to accept its answer – which far too many in the trans community are.

  • Kat

    “Frank says that’s enabled some members of Congress to get to know a transsexual for the first time”

    Then that begs several questions – at least one for each session of Congress since 1994 – regarding why a certain organization whose opulent offices are on Rhode Island Avenue didn’t do a bit more in the way of hiring transsexuals over that period of time to do the ‘educating’ that said organization claimed that it had been doing.

    Well, it actually only begs the question if you’re still unwiling to accept its answer – which far too many in the trans community are.