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February 12, 2010
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March 12, 2010

Genital Checking, Bad ENDA Language, and NCTE Lobby Days

Recently  I did an  interview with Ethan St. Pierre of Transfm.org.

You can listen to here:

We discussed a post at the Bay Area Reporter titled “Leaders: ENDA will get House vote this month“, specifically comments from the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), Mara Keisling.

Even as NCTE gears up for it’s  “Lobby Day 2010”, Keisling said of the changes to the ENDA language concerning transgender people:

“it might be harmless or it might be horrible.”

Yet she is asking people to spend thousands of dollars to travel to Washington D.C. to lobby for a bill that has language that could possibly be “horrible” for transgender people. This is a very reckless thing to do. If the language were to suggest that transgender people need to have proof of bottom surgery to use gender appropriate bathrooms or that an employer can demand proof of the state of a transgender person’s genitals, anyone that had previously lobbied for the bill would be supporting that language. Several well connected sources have confirmed to me that this is indeed the type of language being considered. There is no way to unlobby a bill you’ve already expressed your support for.

But it gets worse.

“Keisling said Frank has been ‘working very hard’ on the bill, ‘and we’ve been working closely with his office.’

‘I want to be clear, Congressman Frank’s not saying he wants bathroom language,’ said Keisling. ‘He’s saying they really think we need it to pass.’

‘They,’ she said, are the variety of Democratic leaders working on passing the bill. And the conclusion is that the clarifications are ‘not helpful substantively or legally,’ she said, ‘but they say they are helpful politically.'”

Frank’s intent isn’t really important in the fight for a truly inclusive ENDA. The logic that Keisling doesn’t know the language, but is “working closely” with Frank, is faulty. It’s more than faulty, it’s a lie. Either Keisling knows the language and is lying, or is lying about being in the loop. Both can’t true.

Regardless of that, Keisling is asking the transgender community to trust Frank that the language won’t harm transgender people. We tried that in 2007 (which Keisling also pushed) and look where it got us.

Please contact NCTE and request that they not lobby for a bill that will harm transgender people. Again, MULTIPLE HIGH LEVEL SOURCES have confirmed that the language being put forward will harm the majority of transgender people. Until this language sees the light of day, it should NOT be lobbied for.

51 Comments

  1. In special circumstances some species, such as the clownish, are known to change sex including reproductive functions. A school of clownish is always built into a hierarchy with a female fish at the top. When she dies, the most dominant male changes sex and takes her place. See Hermaphrodite for more details.

  2. Lynda says:

    The NCTE Needs To Do What Ever It Takes To Share the Language With the Transgender community They Need us more than we need them and if there not
    going to represent us screw them we can find or create a political group that will
    and that goes for any democrat that has refused to follow through on our issues

  3. Sista Rosie says:

    Obfuscation to a point of absurdity. Seems like I been following this fight for way too long. Are we the bitches of American Society, to be drug through the mire of endless internecine quibbling about bathrooms, body parts, gendered language of apartheid and a caste system to rival India?

    WTF…no more Ms. Nice Lesbian, post op transsexual victimization of us citizens of the United Corporations of Amerika…..Now I want you to go tto the window, open it up and shout at the top of your lungs….
    WERE MAD AS HELL AND WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT.

    This is really pissing me off. Can you tell? I think if I could get close enough to Barney to give him a big wet one, he wouldn't know his rifle from his gun. What kind of a fuct up country is this? No really, how fuct up can it get.
    I'm tired of begging for what is my birth right. The constitution, flawed as it is, still guarantees the right to happiness. Didn't say nothing about bathrooms.

    So c'mon Barney, tell us what is in the fukking bill so we'll all know just how long our leash will be in perpetuity.

    Ummmm, I, uh I was a little overwrought here, but in the end the need for civility can not trump the struggle for full citizenship.

    And one more thing. Gay men don't know squat about ME and my struggle.

  4. Sista Rosie says:

    I'm always ready to 'prove' I'm post op, [ old school Preecha girl]

    for a small fee of course. lol

  5. Zoe Brain says:

    Sulphur, Ethan, it’s Sulphur. As in “Sulphurous Curses”.
    :facepalm:

  6. Zoe Brain says:

    Sulphur, Ethan, it’s Sulphur. As in “Sulphurous Curses”.
    :facepalm:

  7. Monica, I could smell the ozone after that comment.

  8. Monica, I could smell the ozone after that comment.

  9. It’s patently stupid to lobby for a bill when you don’t know what the language is. Any Freshman level Poli Sci student can tell you that..

    The smart play would have been to hold off the lobby day until the language was released, but since when has NCTE been know to do anything the smart way?

  10. It’s patently stupid to lobby for a bill when you don’t know what the language is. Any Freshman level Poli Sci student can tell you that..

    The smart play would have been to hold off the lobby day until the language was released, but since when has NCTE been know to do anything the smart way?

  11. Kat says:

    “This is a very reckless thing to do.”

    The quisling? Reckless?

    I’m shocked! Shocked I say!

    Now, where are my winnings?

  12. Kat says:

    “This is a very reckless thing to do.”

    The quisling? Reckless?

    I’m shocked! Shocked I say!

    Now, where are my winnings?

  13. I don’t think anyone said there is language that would require “inspection” of a person. There is definitely bad language. From what I have been told there are certain parts of the language that need to be defined and are left open to interpretation by the employer. Such as this: an employer has to provide “reasonable” accommodations.

    The other problems are vague and we still haven’t seen the language. Miller’s office is still not moving on this yet.

  14. I don’t think anyone said there is language that would require “inspection” of a person. There is definitely bad language. From what I have been told there are certain parts of the language that need to be defined and are left open to interpretation by the employer. Such as this: an employer has to provide “reasonable” accommodations.

    The other problems are vague and we still haven’t seen the language. Miller’s office is still not moving on this yet.

  15. Chris says:

    Mara knows the language in the bill she has been involved in it and the discussions around it. There is no “inspection” of a person. Go call her, get an interview and ask her directly. Put it on record to stop making assumptions.

    • Marti Abernathey says:

      If you’re required to give proof of surgery, that is inspection.

      Mara has said PUBLICLY she doesn’t know what the language is. If she’d like to PUBLICLY go on record and say exactly what the language says, I’d be more than willing to listen/record/promote it.

  16. Chris says:

    Mara knows the language in the bill she has been involved in it and the discussions around it. There is no “inspection” of a person. Go call her, get an interview and ask her directly. Put it on record to stop making assumptions.

    • Marti Abernathey says:

      If you’re required to give proof of surgery, that is inspection.

      Mara has said PUBLICLY she doesn’t know what the language is. If she’d like to PUBLICLY go on record and say exactly what the language says, I’d be more than willing to listen/record/promote it.

  17. Zoe Brain says:

    This does seem to be the pattern of Democrat thinking these days. Nancy Pelosi’s website quotes her as saying in another, completely different context “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy. ” – http://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/pressreleases?id=1576

    I can easily imagine people voting against such a bill on the grounds that it would be unworkable. Seriously, it would mandate genital inspection to enforce, or, as an alternative, making it mandatory for TS people to reveal their medical history. Or for those not TS to prove that they’re not.

    Heck, even I’d vote against such a stupidity.

  18. Zoe Brain says:

    This does seem to be the pattern of Democrat thinking these days. Nancy Pelosi’s website quotes her as saying in another, completely different context “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy. ” – http://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/pressreleases?id=1576

    I can easily imagine people voting against such a bill on the grounds that it would be unworkable. Seriously, it would mandate genital inspection to enforce, or, as an alternative, making it mandatory for TS people to reveal their medical history. Or for those not TS to prove that they’re not.

    Heck, even I’d vote against such a stupidity.

  19. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by hardcorps80204: RT @transadvocate Genital Checking,Bad ENDA L… http://www.transadvocate.com/genital-checking-bad-enda-language-and-ncte-lobby-days.htm

  20. RR says:

    No, I do not trust Barney. But also, I can’t believe Mara would take us down a primrose path. As Zane states, there is no subtantiation of ‘something bad.’ My. I thought the drama days were over. On to DC.

    • Marti Abernathey says:

      It will come soon enough. the Ebar article said “Frank said Tuesday that there has been a general agreement reached to resolve certain language changes, including on the use of bathrooms.” and Mara’s admitting that she doesn’t know the language. So you’ll be lobbying for a bill that has changed language that addresses the bathroom issue. That is substantiated by Frank himself.

  21. RR says:

    No, I do not trust Barney. But also, I can’t believe Mara would take us down a primrose path. As Zane states, there is no subtantiation of ‘something bad.’ My. I thought the drama days were over. On to DC.

    • Marti Abernathey says:

      It will come soon enough. the Ebar article said “Frank said Tuesday that there has been a general agreement reached to resolve certain language changes, including on the use of bathrooms.” and Mara’s admitting that she doesn’t know the language. So you’ll be lobbying for a bill that has changed language that addresses the bathroom issue. That is substantiated by Frank himself.

  22. Zane says:

    I’ve listened to the interview, read the content here – both in the post and in the comments – and can’t help but to think back on a similar post related to the Hate Crimes legislation that was enacted in the fall. There were similar issues taken with the language of that bill that I have seen presented in this post – many of which, it turns out, were unfounded.

    I don’t work in the movement. I’m not self-employed and I am transitioning on the job. Oh, and I fully stand behind those who have and will continue to make efforts to push ENDA legislation through the Congress.

    No legislation is perfect. No action is ever 100% what one wants up front. However, boycotting Lobby Days and lobbying actions because of the fear of what changes to language may be there seems misguided to me. Here’s why: without sharing personal stories with the staff of the representatives and senators, what shows them that the legislation is actually important to everyone? If no one takes a stand, no one shows up, what message does that send?

    I cannot be swayed to believe that acting in one’s own best interest is the wrong course of action – especially when one is asked to do so out of fear of what might be there. At this point, I haven’t seen/heard any real substantiation of fact of what the bill contains, merely conjecture of what playing politics might look like. At this point, if a bill hasn’t been introduced, Lobby Days create a unique opportunity to keep the language out of what makes it to a vote.

    • Marti Abernathey says:

      Well, you’re wrong on a couple fronts. One is your point on my hate crimes position. If this language had been litigated and my position proved false, you’d be correct. It hasn’t, so you’re not.

      Secondly, I could care less if you believe me. I trust my sources on the Hill. They were right in 2007 and they’re right today. Lobbying for a bill that, even by Mara’s account, that might have “horrible” language is not something I think is prudent or wise.

      • Zane says:

        Alas, your position hasn’t been proven true either though – but that’s just nit-picky 😉 As is this: I did not say that I would lobby in support of a bill that contained the language; I said that I would lobby to ensure that my own voice was heard and to stress the importance of not including that language in anything that were to see passage.

        The concern is real & legitimate. The reality, however, is that not speaking up for something stronger is to stand behind whatever comes down the pike.

        • Marti Abernathey says:

          Zane, I’m all for speaking up. I’ve lobbied the Hill and my home offices as well. I’m not saying we shouldn’t lobby, just not next week if we don’t have the language.

  23. Zane says:

    I’ve listened to the interview, read the content here – both in the post and in the comments – and can’t help but to think back on a similar post related to the Hate Crimes legislation that was enacted in the fall. There were similar issues taken with the language of that bill that I have seen presented in this post – many of which, it turns out, were unfounded.

    I don’t work in the movement. I’m not self-employed and I am transitioning on the job. Oh, and I fully stand behind those who have and will continue to make efforts to push ENDA legislation through the Congress.

    No legislation is perfect. No action is ever 100% what one wants up front. However, boycotting Lobby Days and lobbying actions because of the fear of what changes to language may be there seems misguided to me. Here’s why: without sharing personal stories with the staff of the representatives and senators, what shows them that the legislation is actually important to everyone? If no one takes a stand, no one shows up, what message does that send?

    I cannot be swayed to believe that acting in one’s own best interest is the wrong course of action – especially when one is asked to do so out of fear of what might be there. At this point, I haven’t seen/heard any real substantiation of fact of what the bill contains, merely conjecture of what playing politics might look like. At this point, if a bill hasn’t been introduced, Lobby Days create a unique opportunity to keep the language out of what makes it to a vote.

    • Marti Abernathey says:

      Well, you’re wrong on a couple fronts. One is your point on my hate crimes position. If this language had been litigated and my position proved false, you’d be correct. It hasn’t, so you’re not.

      Secondly, I could care less if you believe me. I trust my sources on the Hill. They were right in 2007 and they’re right today. Lobbying for a bill that, even by Mara’s account, that might have “horrible” language is not something I think is prudent or wise.

      • Zane says:

        Alas, your position hasn’t been proven true either though – but that’s just nit-picky 😉 As is this: I did not say that I would lobby in support of a bill that contained the language; I said that I would lobby to ensure that my own voice was heard and to stress the importance of not including that language in anything that were to see passage.

        The concern is real & legitimate. The reality, however, is that not speaking up for something stronger is to stand behind whatever comes down the pike.

        • Marti Abernathey says:

          Zane, I’m all for speaking up. I’ve lobbied the Hill and my home offices as well. I’m not saying we shouldn’t lobby, just not next week if we don’t have the language.

      • Zane says:

        Alas, your position hasn’t been proven true either though – but that’s just nit-picky 😉 As is this: I did not say that I would lobby in support of a bill that contained the language; I said that I would lobby to ensure that my own voice was heard and to stress the importance of not including that language in anything that were to see passage.

        The concern is real & legitimate. The reality, however, is that not speaking up for something stronger is to stand behind whatever comes down the pike.

  24. I can’t believe Ms Keisling is actually suggesting we lobby for a bill we haven’t even read yet. I suppose she also thinks it’s fine, as well, to sign contracts without reading them. On top of that we’re being asked to trust Barney Frank? Does she really think we are that stupid??

    I’m afraid if the lobby days are boycotted, which seems reasonable at this point, the lack of warm bodies will be touted as evidence of a lack of support by our community, giving a feeble excuse to drop us from the legislation, something we know is still not unpopular enough for Frank and his neo-Mattachine friends try again. On the other hand, as Marti said, lobbying for a bill whose language is unknown is still lobbying and is next to impossible to “take back.” It seems a lose lose situation, something that some cynics (not me, of course :P) might see as the whole idea.

    If the bill’s new language isn’t made public before the lobby days, they ought to be postponed. If it isn’t and the lobby day dates are not changed then the lobby days need to be boycotted and a new set of lobby days need to be planned and organized by some other organization – if at all possible – to offset the message of a previously low turnout.

  25. I can’t believe Ms Keisling is actually suggesting we lobby for a bill we haven’t even read yet. I suppose she also thinks it’s fine, as well, to sign contracts without reading them. On top of that we’re being asked to trust Barney Frank? Does she really think we are that stupid??

    I’m afraid if the lobby days are boycotted, which seems reasonable at this point, the lack of warm bodies will be touted as evidence of a lack of support by our community, giving a feeble excuse to drop us from the legislation, something we know is still not unpopular enough for Frank and his neo-Mattachine friends try again. On the other hand, as Marti said, lobbying for a bill whose language is unknown is still lobbying and is next to impossible to “take back.” It seems a lose lose situation, something that some cynics (not me, of course :P) might see as the whole idea.

    If the bill’s new language isn’t made public before the lobby days, they ought to be postponed. If it isn’t and the lobby day dates are not changed then the lobby days need to be boycotted and a new set of lobby days need to be planned and organized by some other organization – if at all possible – to offset the message of a previously low turnout.

  26. Mercedes says:

    Um, they want people to lobby for a changing bill without knowing what they’re changing? That’s just f-d. If those are the terms we do things by now, I have a car I could sell them, sight unseen.

    There is no substance to the bathroom argument at all, only fear. But if they write it into the legislation, then perceptually, it’s like an admission of guilt, and you can bet that that will be exploited to its fullest. We’re already seeing Ron Gold’s words being used against us by the Christianists.

  27. Mercedes says:

    Um, they want people to lobby for a changing bill without knowing what they’re changing? That’s just f-d. If those are the terms we do things by now, I have a car I could sell them, sight unseen.

    There is no substance to the bathroom argument at all, only fear. But if they write it into the legislation, then perceptually, it’s like an admission of guilt, and you can bet that that will be exploited to its fullest. We’re already seeing Ron Gold’s words being used against us by the Christianists.

  28. Mara said that the language: “it might be harmless or it might be horrible.”
    If she cared about our community instead of fund-raising she’d call lobby days off.

    When it comes to our rights the people who are supposed to be speaking FOR us don’t get slack. If the organizations in DC are so proud of the legislative language why aren’t they letting the community in on it? WE are the ones being affected.

    As Marti points out, once you lobby, you can’t undo it. If the language is bad, we have a right to know before we walk into an office. We have the right to decide whether to support it or not. We shouldn’t be coerced or scammed by our supposed leaders. This is FRAUD!

  29. Mara said that the language: “it might be harmless or it might be horrible.”
    If she cared about our community instead of fund-raising she’d call lobby days off.

    When it comes to our rights the people who are supposed to be speaking FOR us don’t get slack. If the organizations in DC are so proud of the legislative language why aren’t they letting the community in on it? WE are the ones being affected.

    As Marti points out, once you lobby, you can’t undo it. If the language is bad, we have a right to know before we walk into an office. We have the right to decide whether to support it or not. We shouldn’t be coerced or scammed by our supposed leaders. This is FRAUD!

  30. Judith Bienvenu says:

    Politics is not a science. Gotta take your best guesses and run with them. If Mara told everyone to not come, and then we needed lobbying, she’d catch it for that too. In this economy, I doubt folks are going to blow their life savings on this particular trip. If you’re here and got the time, great. I’d cut Mara some slack.

  31. Judith Bienvenu says:

    Politics is not a science. Gotta take your best guesses and run with them. If Mara told everyone to not come, and then we needed lobbying, she’d catch it for that too. In this economy, I doubt folks are going to blow their life savings on this particular trip. If you’re here and got the time, great. I’d cut Mara some slack.

  32. Polar says:

    I decided a few months ago to say nothing further re ENDA until we see the real final language. I don’t trust Quisling, and usually find it best to expect the worst of Frank, and if the final language ends up as stated above, I will actally lobby against passage, including giving information how to fight it’s passage to the xtian opposition.

  33. Polar says:

    I decided a few months ago to say nothing further re ENDA until we see the real final language. I don’t trust Quisling, and usually find it best to expect the worst of Frank, and if the final language ends up as stated above, I will actally lobby against passage, including giving information how to fight it’s passage to the xtian opposition.

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