Hillary Talk, Not Gender Talk, Not Frank Talk
February 8, 2008
Targeted Families, Targeted Lives
February 13, 2008

HRC3 ≠ Bright Future For Transgenders

“This is a story of the lives and loves, and hopes and dreams, of young Batswana [sic] in the context of the changing cultural norms and values of modern times. Each of the dancers are shaped and challenged by the forces upon them: love, power, money, lust, and authority. They must choose their destiny by making difficult choices and search for what they truly believe in.” — plot summary for the documentary, Re Bina Mmogo (2004)

It’s been a really blue funky week and a half for me. Seeing John Edwards drop out of the race just over a week ago, I’m left with nothing but second choices for the upcoming presidential election. I feel as if I’m wakening from a really bad hangover.

My personal preference was for a presidential candidate who would address the rampant inequities, to eliminate poverty and end the disenfranchisement and disparity in this entitlement-oriented society. The last thing I wanted was a choice of gatekeepers for the corporate power stranglehold status quo.

With my last best hope for that out of the campaign at virtually the same time my job ended, it’s been consideration time over the two primary candidates who are left.
Sen. Barack Obama seems like a decent enough selection, but then the sublime (and not-so-sublime) race baiting started up from the Clinton campaign – specifically by Bill Clinton himself. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s closeness to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is bad enough, but this was a further turnoff. Soon that was followed by the opposition in the guise of Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) and others turning it into tit-for-tat mud war with the two campaigns voting blocs breaking into race vs. gender lines.

So much for us unifying.

To Obama’s credit, he’s been mostly above this fray and has done a remarkable job keeping this from being a “black presidency” / race-oriented campaign. While it’s been toned down a bit from the supporters on both sides, it feels more like a volcanic dome for now with a still volatile magma bubbling underneath awaiting catalyst.

More baffling is why Obama has not tried to capture the elemental message of Edwards’ campaigns (both ’04 and current) and indeed Martin Luther King Jr’s. dream in this, Black History month: to give voice to the ills that currently wrack this nation’s economy. The rhetoric of wanting to work with and negotiate compromise with Corporate America – the very parties who’ve overwhelmingly benefited from and by-produced this avariciously stagflated malaise – is troubling. These guys are pros at business negotiation, and they never go to the table with intention of losing anything, period. To break even or gain are they’re only options. Negotiating with them means the workforce stands to break even at best, or worse, lose even more. Neither option is palatable.

Sen. Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama also caused me to step back for a second look. Kennedy’s great on most social issues, but is about as intransigent on opposing transgender rights as it gets in Democratic circles.

While I haven’t particularly cared for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s politics heretofore (most especially her “working with the system” approach mirroring Obama’s rhetoric), I also had to consider the fact that she’s the hopes and dreams of the Women’s Movement, personified by the National Organization for Women (NOW). That’s no small consideration as NOW has stood by the transgender community through thick and thin in recent years. Understandably I have a good deal of respect for them.

Meanwhile, the African American organizational leadership has done precious little for the transgender community – even for the African American trans community – recently. It would’ve been nice to have a prominent organization chime in during this session’s House ENDA debacle where Barney Frank (seemingly in concert with the High Impact Coalition) managed to pull a number of significant African American legislators in the House into a bloc opposing transgender inclusion in ENDA. Rep. Clyburn himself was one of the chiefs among those.

Then again, none of the above occurring should necessarily read anything into the Obama campaign as they’re disconnected incidents. Similarly NOW’s desire for a Hillary Clinton presidency shouldn’t be read as saying Hillary and NOW are on the exact same wavelength. Lord knows that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has sunk their hooks eye-deep into Clinton as well, which also doesn’t bode well but may similarly be discounted as completely unconnected.

So now that Super Tuesday’s come and gone, and both candidates are close in delegate count – with an recent slight shift in momentum towards Clinton, I began giving both campaigns a serious look. Meanwhile, a friend of mine who knew of my transgender status and I believe knew I was an Edwards supporter sent me a statement from Sen. Hillary Clinton to the LGBT community via the Bilerico Blog, title of which was “I Want To Be Your President.” This was doubtlessly an attempt to sell me on supporting the Clinton campaign.

The statement started off impressively enough. Clinton noted that “[f]or seven long years, the Bush Administration has tried to divide us – only seeing people who matter to them. It’s been a government of the few, by the few, and for the few. And no community has been more invisible to this administration than the LGBT community.” At prima facie it’s powerful statement with a very cohesive quality.

Then I caught myself and read it again. Indeed it does say LGBT. However, what we’re seeing play out currently in Congress on Employment Rights is about sexual orientation only, and the Transgender community is still completely inconsequential (if not outright invisible) to this effort. It’s not simply the Bush Administration trying to divide us. It’s Democrats – worse, gay Democrats. Kinda renders the good senator’s moving statement rather inert.

A little later, she follows it up with “I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ….” Really? So maybe, Sen. Clinton, when you were saying LGBT, it was one of those statements you just blurt out from habit, without really thinking about what LGBT (specifically the T part) infers?

Nope. Near the end of the same statement Hillary proudly claims “[w]e’re going to expand our federal hate crimes legislation and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and assure that they are both fully inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.”

So maybe she’s not paying attention to the actual text of the legislation she’s “proudly” co-sponsoring? I can only speculate on this. Didn’t she get into trouble for supporting legislation giving presidential authorization to Bush to unilaterally decide upon war with Iraq? One would think she would be more diligent about legislative text after such an incident.

Sen. Clinton proclaimed “I am proud to have fought Republican efforts to demonize and marginalize the LGBT community, and I will continue to do that as President.” Good, good. How about the marginalizing of us from the Democrats’ efforts? Say, like, maybe taking a stand against these progressive legislators supporting anti-discrimination for gays and lesbians in employment, but still saying we can’t have trans folks in the workplace in positions of responsibility? That would be helpful! Then again, Clinton herself answered in a Town Hall (to a transgendered questioner, no less) that she supported a fully inclusive ENDA in theory, but had concerns about trans people in certain positions of responsibility…. But she’s also “fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of LGBT Americans.” The doublespeak is starting to bleed through a bit too conspicuously.

The good senator couldn’t help but to gush over her credentials, to have “spoken in front of so many LGBT audiences” such as “the Human Rights Campaign, Empire State Pride Agenda ….” Hmmm. there’s something to win back the transgender hearts – two prominent organizations that also support non-inclusive, incremental, “sexual orientation only” rights. Really warms your heart, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s just heartburn – I can’t decide.

Somehow, either Penn & Associates (Clinton’s Campaign advisors) or the LGBT Steering Committee is failing badly at what Hollywood calls “continuity.” Did they really think that lucid trans folk would find these claims attractive? Boy, I just love being considered as clear-thinking as a box of rocks! I suppose you’ve got to admire their chutzpah, if nothing else – nice try!

To close the deal, our Mrs. Clinton then vows “to have openly gay and lesbian staffers serving at all levels of my campaign.” Finally! Now that’s a statement I can believe without hesitation. Sure, there is no “transgender” mentioned there – but at least she was honest in this particular part. To me, falseness is deceitful hoax. With certainty there is at least comfort in knowing.

Is it sad that Sen. Clinton believes that any openly transgender staffer – even at an entry level – is a total non-starter? Surely! But we transgenders need to understand that at the current level, we are only “rhetorically” equal – not “egalitarian” equal. It was something that Sen. Edwards pointed out while in office, and that also earned him the cold-shoulder from the likes of HRC, et. al. Heaven forbid that transgenders end up in positions of responsibility! Can you imagine their embarrassment and shame? (Pardon me while I extract tongue from cheek.)

Actually, this entire Clinton “statement to LGBT” could well have been written by HRC. No surprise, though. Hilary Rosen (former board member and mate of former executive director, Elizabeth Birch) is the Chair of the LGBT Steering Committee for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Thus we complete the trinity of HRC to the third power: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Human Rights Campaign, and Hilary Rosen, Chair of the LGBT Steering Committee (okay, that last one was a bit of a stretch). Nevertheless, they feel it’s foregone conclusion, it’s in the stars and in the numbers and that their dream agenda of LGB incremental rights is eminent and will come to pass.

Both of my contacts on the Hill noted that it was the dream game plan was to not have a transgender-inclusive piece of employment legislation crossing the desk of “President Clinton” (as one staffer put it one year ago). According to one of the contacts, .the lobbyists and a couple of the leaders in the House appear to be seeking ways to inconspicuously “ease away from [gender identity].”

As I write, we’re seeing this scenario play out before us in the House and shortly the Senate as well, and not strictly with ENDA.

Even former HRC board member, Donna Rose, also noted in her blog that “I’d be remiss if I didn’t share that a large group of LGBT steering committee supporters is floating a string of emails in the background recommending that she use the term “gay and lesbian” instead of GLBT when talking to broader audiences.” I couldn’t help but note that Donna also got the same “I Want To Be Your President” statement being passed around (widely it seems as hers came from a different source).

As it turns out, my friend’s forwarding of the Clinton statement did make up my mind. It did not form my decision as she likely intended. After yet another rather HRC-centric statement coming from the Clinton campaign, I’m tossing my lot in with Sen. Barack Obama. Hopefully we might see a more Edwards or Kucinich or Richardson-level of support for transgenders from Sen. Obama.

One thing that is for certain: a vote for Sen. Clinton may as well be a vote for HRC and it’s incremental and non-egalitarian approach to equality. It’s a case of “just buy the campaign message and don’t ask questions.” They’ll manipulate and bury our issues, we’ll never be heard from and then hope disappears.

The last thing I want to do is give HRC any easy victories courtesy of the transgender community. If they can brazenly work to marginalize our organizations and leaders and to thwart rights for transgenders, then we shouldn’t be faint of heart nor have misgivings when it comes to returning like in kind. With Obama we have at least a sliver of hope. It’s certainly better than the current alternative!

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose ….” — Me and Bobby McGee, Kris Kristofferson

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” — Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

cross posted from TransPolitical

  • Angela Brightfeather

    Like Vanessa, I was a John Edwards fan. I have spoken to his people here in NC and John was the first condidate to authoritatively come out and say he is for Transgender inclusion in ENDA, much to the cringing dismay of both Clinton and Obama.

    But lets be a bit practical for a moment ad lay down our Transgender status (if that is possible) and look at the actual accomplisments of those left in this fight for our vote.

    I can testify directly, having been a constituent of Clinton when living in Syracuse, NY, that she ahs done little to nothing to revitalize that rust belt area. It is still depressing to go there and visit my family. the houses are still as old and shabby as they have always been and the roads are still as bad and the lack of any industry there continues to promote the sense of decay and rot that has prevailed since Clinton took office.

    Not having lived in Obama’s state, I cannot testify to the conditions there, but I have a hard time believing that they are worse than Upstate NY.

    OK, now lets put on our Trans identities again and look at the fact that Syracuse, NY and Onondaga County which are at the heart of Clinton territory, have been historically threatening and openly hostile to Transgender people.
    The GLB organization powerful in that area is the Stonewall Committee of Onondaga County and they are linked to HRC who are linked to Clinton and they openly fought 11 years ago against gender language in the city and county Fair Practices Act protecting GLB only people, while promising to come back later for the T’s.

    So, while Obama has bragged about his state being protective of Trans people and having played a direct part in that legislation in his state, Clinton’s state is the home of the Pride Agenda and an exclusive SONDA bill and her onw district is void of any trans protection and openly hostile to the idea of any protections.

    That is why I am for Obama and Clinton has lost my vote.

  • Angela Brightfeather

    Like Vanessa, I was a John Edwards fan. I have spoken to his people here in NC and John was the first condidate to authoritatively come out and say he is for Transgender inclusion in ENDA, much to the cringing dismay of both Clinton and Obama.

    But lets be a bit practical for a moment ad lay down our Transgender status (if that is possible) and look at the actual accomplisments of those left in this fight for our vote.

    I can testify directly, having been a constituent of Clinton when living in Syracuse, NY, that she ahs done little to nothing to revitalize that rust belt area. It is still depressing to go there and visit my family. the houses are still as old and shabby as they have always been and the roads are still as bad and the lack of any industry there continues to promote the sense of decay and rot that has prevailed since Clinton took office.

    Not having lived in Obama’s state, I cannot testify to the conditions there, but I have a hard time believing that they are worse than Upstate NY.

    OK, now lets put on our Trans identities again and look at the fact that Syracuse, NY and Onondaga County which are at the heart of Clinton territory, have been historically threatening and openly hostile to Transgender people.
    The GLB organization powerful in that area is the Stonewall Committee of Onondaga County and they are linked to HRC who are linked to Clinton and they openly fought 11 years ago against gender language in the city and county Fair Practices Act protecting GLB only people, while promising to come back later for the T’s.

    So, while Obama has bragged about his state being protective of Trans people and having played a direct part in that legislation in his state, Clinton’s state is the home of the Pride Agenda and an exclusive SONDA bill and her onw district is void of any trans protection and openly hostile to the idea of any protections.

    That is why I am for Obama and Clinton has lost my vote.

  • Felix,

    How about being the chivalrous as only the Brit’s know how to be? Please recognize many of the Transgender in the USA are foremost the product of abuse and rejection. What they have a hard time accepting is the possibility that some may accept them as they are. Further, some have a difficult time accepting that not everyone may hold the same values or perspectives. I know that over a pint of stout on the Isles much is accomplished, and in my experience, much mutually enjoyed. Here, however, is a constant scramble of hormones, or lack of hormones….

    You do not know in the last years I have been approached by many, but not moved by but a few. A Trans-man, a scientist, I would love to grow with, was special. A tall and rich cowboy who lifted me by the butt and kissed me, a college coach who kissed me, and a friend who asked if I could be kissed, all are part of my past. Yet, none expressed anything about me; it was all about their needs and desires. Too bad!

    Oh God, how I would that someone would want me for who I am, and not for what they want. I bring this up so you may understand the materialistic and self centered attitude that is so prevalent here in the USA. In a relationship, usually one party expresses their desire for the other to be what they wish for them to be, and not for who they are. Regardless, of whether one has a “dick” or a “vagina”, no matter, it is all about what someone wants. Who the f—, ever considers what I, or you, may want? It is all about what they want… So, so much for the idea of love. Bottom line is that if we cannot experience love, then how do we show love, and by what measure do we show love? Wouldn’t it at least be nice to say, “I love you.” Then again, what kind of lesser sense of care and affection could we suppose to share with each other? No less than the first article of thought which was brought forth. No love for the Transgender among the political boobs, nor HRC, nor those who should know better…. Here? Nope!

  • Felix,

    How about being the chivalrous as only the Brit’s know how to be? Please recognize many of the Transgender in the USA are foremost the product of abuse and rejection. What they have a hard time accepting is the possibility that some may accept them as they are. Further, some have a difficult time accepting that not everyone may hold the same values or perspectives. I know that over a pint of stout on the Isles much is accomplished, and in my experience, much mutually enjoyed. Here, however, is a constant scramble of hormones, or lack of hormones….

    You do not know in the last years I have been approached by many, but not moved by but a few. A Trans-man, a scientist, I would love to grow with, was special. A tall and rich cowboy who lifted me by the butt and kissed me, a college coach who kissed me, and a friend who asked if I could be kissed, all are part of my past. Yet, none expressed anything about me; it was all about their needs and desires. Too bad!

    Oh God, how I would that someone would want me for who I am, and not for what they want. I bring this up so you may understand the materialistic and self centered attitude that is so prevalent here in the USA. In a relationship, usually one party expresses their desire for the other to be what they wish for them to be, and not for who they are. Regardless, of whether one has a “dick” or a “vagina”, no matter, it is all about what someone wants. Who the f—, ever considers what I, or you, may want? It is all about what they want… So, so much for the idea of love. Bottom line is that if we cannot experience love, then how do we show love, and by what measure do we show love? Wouldn’t it at least be nice to say, “I love you.” Then again, what kind of lesser sense of care and affection could we suppose to share with each other? No less than the first article of thought which was brought forth. No love for the Transgender among the political boobs, nor HRC, nor those who should know better…. Here? Nope!

  • *Wonders why leigh is looking at photographs of chicks with dicks.*

  • *Wonders why leigh is looking at photographs of chicks with dicks.*

  • Actually, I was thinking more like something that took place March 7th in 1965. It was called “Bloody Sunday” and some 600 folks just said, “come what may, we have taken enough and we will be heard.” It started in 1955 Tennessee and grew to a revolt by 1965. Then it was Govenor Wallace, KKK, and others who would deny the most basic rights to Americans and citizens. Now we have HRC and the dis-honorable Congressman Barney Frank who are no less as much the bigots that preceded them. (Sturmabteilung!)

    We need to take a walk down the middle of the street and face them, everyday, and every where they may try to hide. If someone gets fired for transitioning or being Transgender then we need to let the world know about it. And not let them forget it.

    The unions (AFL/CIO) were born out of the coal miners rebellion in 1922. They were comprised of American soldiers who were being denied basic civil rights. So are we! And like them of their day, many of us were soldiers too.

    Something to think about, but not for too long. I am so tired of the let’s sing Kum Bye Ya and play happy family with the likes of HRC and the political cronies. Baloney, Every time one of these clowns tries to stand up we should be there to call them for what they are. And if you follow their activity, you will see that is how they themselves garnered their power. They use fear, threat tactics, vilify and promote disinformation any way possible to take what ever ground they can. (Note: This is not about gays, it is about a consortium whose goal is to drive for political power.) This about clear danger to the Transgender! If Congressman Tom Lantos were here he would tell you about his day, and who were the thugs of the Holocaust…..

  • Actually, I was thinking more like something that took place March 7th in 1965. It was called “Bloody Sunday” and some 600 folks just said, “come what may, we have taken enough and we will be heard.” It started in 1955 Tennessee and grew to a revolt by 1965. Then it was Govenor Wallace, KKK, and others who would deny the most basic rights to Americans and citizens. Now we have HRC and the dis-honorable Congressman Barney Frank who are no less as much the bigots that preceded them. (Sturmabteilung!)

    We need to take a walk down the middle of the street and face them, everyday, and every where they may try to hide. If someone gets fired for transitioning or being Transgender then we need to let the world know about it. And not let them forget it.

    The unions (AFL/CIO) were born out of the coal miners rebellion in 1922. They were comprised of American soldiers who were being denied basic civil rights. So are we! And like them of their day, many of us were soldiers too.

    Something to think about, but not for too long. I am so tired of the let’s sing Kum Bye Ya and play happy family with the likes of HRC and the political cronies. Baloney, Every time one of these clowns tries to stand up we should be there to call them for what they are. And if you follow their activity, you will see that is how they themselves garnered their power. They use fear, threat tactics, vilify and promote disinformation any way possible to take what ever ground they can. (Note: This is not about gays, it is about a consortium whose goal is to drive for political power.) This about clear danger to the Transgender! If Congressman Tom Lantos were here he would tell you about his day, and who were the thugs of the Holocaust…..

  • leigh

    oh wait .. perhaps stop traffic is not such a good phrase to use … I seen some of the photographs !

  • leigh

    oh wait .. perhaps stop traffic is not such a good phrase to use … I seen some of the photographs !

  • Regarding all of the political BS! First if there was any concern within the politcal parties for the issue of transgender, it would have been placed within the platform agenda. It has not, nor ever has had any serious, or even casual mention.

    If anyone one is even remotely thinking that we are on anyone’s radar, they are fallaciously askew.

    “Liberty is a word we use, when we have lost our freedoms!”

    “Gender is not a right, it is what we are, and what blood we are willing to shed so as to be.”

    “The only fire that will burn in the heart of Congress is the one we are willing to set ablaze, which they cannot smother!”

    “HRC and the likes of Barney Frank are no less as corrupt as was the Sturmabteilung.”

    So much for the political crap…. “NOW” is the time to stand together, stop traffic, and not go away!

  • ShannonB

    Latest updates right off the press:

    http://www.washblade.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=16508

    Asked about prospects for the measure, Clinton said she recognizes it will be “challenging” but that she plans to work with HRC and others to help advance it.

    As for other pending gay rights legislation, Clinton said she was not aware of a timetable for Senate consideration of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed the House last year after supporters removed a provision aimed at protecting transgender workers. She declined to comment on the House strategy of stripping the trans provision, but urged the Senate to consider a trans-inclusive bill.

    I, with the rest of my state(WA) by a 2-to-1 margin, voted Obama.

  • I plan on voting for Obama too. My first choice would have been Gore if he ran, but my next choice would have been someone like Edwards or Kucinich.

    It is still early in the day so my brain is not fuctioning fully, but I seem to recall that Obama has made some pro-trans statements. I expect someone will remind me of them in the other comments though.

    One of the things that struck me about the Clinton campaign was a women’s list I am on. When people were talking about how wonderful it was that she was running I factually pointed out her record. The replies basically boiled down to yelling ‘but, but, she would be the first female president’. Maybe I should have been bad and stated that, by the same logic, they would have to vote for Condi if Hillary was not in the race?

  • Kara Harkins

    I plan on voting for Obama too. My first choice would have been Gore if he ran, but my next choice would have been someone like Edwards or Kucinich.

    It is still early in the day so my brain is not fuctioning fully, but I seem to recall that Obama has made some pro-trans statements. I expect someone will remind me of them in the other comments though.

    One of the things that struck me about the Clinton campaign was a women’s list I am on. When people were talking about how wonderful it was that she was running I factually pointed out her record. The replies basically boiled down to yelling ‘but, but, she would be the first female president’. Maybe I should have been bad and stated that, by the same logic, they would have to vote for Condi if Hillary was not in the race?