NCTE Lobby Days: Where’s Waldo, HRC, or Barney Frank?
April 18, 2008
Starting From Scratch:The Death of United ENDA Part II
April 25, 2008

Judy Shepard: Back Up HRC On Press “Misinformation” About Leaving Transgender Behind!

This week has been wild … far too many things to write about – not enough time. On top of it, my dad and Sally were in from Oregon the past two days – monopolizing my time since we rarely see each other.

On the subject of parents, Matthew Shepard’s mom, Judy Shepard was in town as the keynote speaker at Houston’s HRC banquet. I missed out on getting a chance to touch base with her again. We met in 2000 at the Martinez vigil in Cortez, Colorado as she was there with a contingent of other PFLAG parents, including Carolyn Wagner and Gabi Clayton. She was very sweet, we chatted quite a bit about what Paula Mitchell was going through, how it touched her own life and brought back some of the memories of 1998 for her. I’d mentioned to her my own sentiments about starting a march to Austin immediately after Matthew was found, and how we’d held a vigil in Houston which I volunteered at as many of the spontaneous events sprung up around the country following Matthew’s death.

I had kind memories of Judy from that visit (and another brief encounter in Columbus, Ohio’s PFLAG convention).

Then I got wind from a media friend in Dallas about her speech in Houston (after noticing our protest line outside).

About three minutes into the speech, Judy comes around to noting that:

“Joe [Solmonese] and the other lobbyists are just stellar,” and how they are there at the banquet to “celebrate the work they do for ‘us’ on the hill.”

She then adds that theirs is work that is:

“frequently misrepresented in the press.”

Judy notes “the way that people think we should force people to vote the way we want them to…. It doesn’t work that easy. It’s not that smooth.” Heard that line before? Yeah … me too. Someone drank the Kool-Aid.

From there on, it’s downhill.

“I commend all of you for understanding how important it is to support them (HRC) even when the press begins to rail at them about things they don’t understand. [about 4:30 into the speech]”

“We have an important job and an important message to keep morale up and keep the information correct.”

“We have a job to maintain that honesty and that sincerity.”

“You need to pay attention to what’s going on.”

“Marriage is not going to change everything for you (oddly she never brought up employment issues at all).”

“We have a lot of education that needs to be done, particularly around the transgender issue.”

“We need all of you to support what HRC does and to talk in a way that shows your knowledge of a situation. We need the right information out there.”

Talking about her visits to college campuses, Shepard says she can’t relate how many times she’s heard from them: “well HRC just deserted the transgender issue.”

To that, Shepard replies to them:

“Well no, not really. They didn’t do that at all! Do you read their policy? Do you read what’s on their website? Or are you just listening to the hype the popular press is giving you misinformation?”

To the banquet attendees, Shepard implored them that:

“we have to talk to people. We have to tell our stories. We need to be … authentic about who we are.”

She wrapped up with a call to arms for all HRC members:

“Y’all need to back up what’s happening, everywhere in every situation that happens.”

In a nutshell, it’s up to all HRC supporters to go forth and challenge every claim about their disparity and disparagement of the transgender community. This will be their messaging, and they will stick to it:

It’s all been a concoction of the press’ imagination, and an attempt to create controversy from something that never happened. HRC, not the transgender community, has been honest and sincere. We trans activists allegedly don’t know up from down and right from wrong, not even understanding what has happened to us legislatively or even from out well-meaning and knowledgeable friends at HRC. We should all read their policy and their website and not pay attention to exclusion from legislation, or lack of access to legislators whom we’ve clearly failed to educate this past decade and a half.

Meanwhile, marriage is possible in the near term for gays and lesbians, and there’s not much need to even discuss employment – not an issue at all.

Pardon me, while I pick my jaw up off of the floor.

Of all the people to be public, and to issue the call to all in HRC to take up the battle and defeat the transgender bullies and the illusory press – it’s Judy Shepard!?! Folks in NTAC, most consistently mistrustful of HRC, have had precious little contact with press – you won’t see one word from me on HRC in press since 2007. Ironically, most press on HRC and Joe Solmonese has come from Mara Keisling: hands-down the best friend HRC has ever had in helping market themselves with and make serious inroads into the transgender community!

And the press and transgender community have been unfair to HRC? And they need to now fight back?!? For honesty and sincerity???

Truly I feel like I’ve just been mugged, robbed and beaten senseless by Santa and his posse of gangsta elves. It’s like finding out the tooth fairy is actually a pervert who breaks into people’s homes to rape them while they sleep. The Easter Bunny playfully nibbles all he sees and spreads MRSA – the flesh-eating staph bacteria. How did this happen? Did I really miss this one that badly?

Doubtless this will also come as a shock to Carolyn Wagner, Gabi Clayton, Courtney Sharp, Sue Null, Mary Boenke and all of the trans-supporters in PFLAG-land. I’m stultified.

This speaks to the level of HRC’s persistence and myopic focus on their singular goals, regardless of costs, damage or image. They’ll worry about that last part, Rove-style, once they’ve won all and can buy a retroactive sanitizing of their history for posterity. Until then, regardless of what it takes, HRC will ‘vanquish all foes who stand in their way and seize victory’.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, these college challengers, the trans-friendly gay press, and we bully trannies, we stand in their way – we’re their foes too. Call the riot police ….

“It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State.” – Josef Goebbels

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  • Back off?

    When lies are told?

    Oh, hell no.

    Bigger picture? ENDA matters more than hate crimes.

    ENDA = life for transfolk.

    HC = those who hurt us go to jail — *after* they have hurt us. What good is that when we can’t even get the money from a job to pay for the very expressing of our selves?

  • Back off?

    When lies are told?

    Oh, hell no.

    Bigger picture? ENDA matters more than hate crimes.

    ENDA = life for transfolk.

    HC = those who hurt us go to jail — *after* they have hurt us. What good is that when we can’t even get the money from a job to pay for the very expressing of our selves?

  • Deborah

    [quote comment=””][quote comment=””][quote comment=””]
    She is a T supporter and sees the bigger picture. BACK OFF…Hate Crimes has not passed and she is standing right along the T’s to get bills that are important to her passed. Oh, and Hate Crimes, they will protect the T’s as well![/quote]

    I’m not about to back off when it comes to my basic human and civil rights, and I don’t appreciate being told to do so. I’m tired of being told to shut up and accept what life gives me. I’m tired of others deciding if and when I get the rights they take for granted.

    Unlike gays and lesbians, transgender persons are highly visible, like Jews, Muslims, non-whites, and other oppressed groups. This is particularly true during early transition. Even years later, our past can come back to haunt us in ways unimaginable just a few years back, especially electronically. REAL ID is but one example of the potential threats we face. We are the single most singled out classification of people that is routinely subjected to incredible levels of every imaginable abuse society can throw at us. The oppression for most of us begins when we are toddlers, and never lets up.

    38 states have laws on the books protecting sexuality, only 5 protect gender identity and gender expression. We are, in fact, being left behind, left exposed, and left in danger.

  • Polar

    [quote comment=””][quote comment=””]
    She is a T supporter and sees the bigger picture. BACK OFF…Hate Crimes has not passed and she is standing right along the T’s to get bills that are important to her passed. Oh, and Hate Crimes, they will protect the T’s as well![/quote]

    Hate crimes isn’t passing this year. Will T be in it next year? I hope it is, but where HRC and Barney Frank are concerned, I do not get my hopes or trust up. They lied to us and cut us out of ENDA last year without shame or apology; what will they do next year with hate crimes? I only trust HRC to screw up and screw the T community.

    What Solmonese did to the T community at Southern Comfort, and in the weeks thereafter, cannot be explained away by “I misspoke.” Any person who supports HRC monetarily and defends their political policies on T people, is an enemy of the T community. Judy Shepard’s criticism of the T protesters outside the hall was not only cowardly and indefensible, but was also politically 180-degrees away from the way HRC should handle protest situations. They should have brought in 2 representatives of the protesters and let them have a few minutes of podium time to make their point – but, no, HRC prefers the Karl Rovian strategies of suppression and prevarication.

    I remember when Judy Shepard was a friend of the T community, but no longer. I’m obviously sorry for her loss, but the T community has seen many losses in the ensuing years that were as blatant and vivid as hers, perhaps more so. Gwen Araujo’s mother would have been a much better choice.

  • Karen S

    [quote comment=””]Judy Shepard is an amazing activist who paid the ultimate price for having a gay son. How dare any of you challenge her message AND what she and her family have been through. Perhaps you don’t realize that over the last 10…yes, TEN years, she has traveled the country and been away from her husband to live out the legacy of her son.
    She is a T supporter and sees the bigger picture. BACK OFF…Hate Crimes has not passed and she is standing right along the T’s to get bills that are important to her passed. Oh, and Hate Crimes, they will protect the T’s as well![/quote]

    Yes, she is an amazing activist…and no one is challenging what she has been through. But…what Joe Solomonese and HRC did regarding ENDA was not defensible, especially in the manner it was done. It was divisive, almost schismatic, and transgender people rightly protested it.

    By the way, the families of many transpeople have lost forever their trans children to hate crimes, including self-hatred. It’s never a matter of who has suffered more…creating agony is wrong, period.

  • Thomas Johnson

    Judy Shepard is an amazing activist who paid the ultimate price for having a gay son. How dare any of you challenge her message AND what she and her family have been through. Perhaps you don’t realize that over the last 10…yes, TEN years, she has traveled the country and been away from her husband to live out the legacy of her son.
    She is a T supporter and sees the bigger picture. BACK OFF…Hate Crimes has not passed and she is standing right along the T’s to get bills that are important to her passed. Oh, and Hate Crimes, they will protect the T’s as well!

  • Thomas Johnson

    Judy Shepard is an amazing activist who paid the ultimate price for having a gay son. How dare any of you challenge her message AND what she and her family have been through. Perhaps you don’t realize that over the last 10…yes, TEN years, she has traveled the country and been away from her husband to live out the legacy of her son.
    She is a T supporter and sees the bigger picture. BACK OFF…Hate Crimes has not passed and she is standing right along the T’s to get bills that are important to her passed. Oh, and Hate Crimes, they will protect the T’s as well!

  • Thomas Johnson

    Judy Shepard is an amazing activist who paid the ultimate price for having a gay son. How dare any of you challenge her message AND what she and her family have been through. Perhaps you don’t realize that over the last 10…yes, TEN years, she has traveled the country and been away from her husband to live out the legacy of her son.
    She is a T supporter and sees the bigger picture. BACK OFF…Hate Crimes has not passed and she is standing right along the T’s to get bills that are important to her passed. Oh, and Hate Crimes, they will protect the T’s as well!

  • ’tis a shame. I remember when Judy Shepard was a good activist. She’s obviously sold out. Hope the Kool-Aid was tasty.

    • Karen S

      [quote comment=””]Judy Shepard is an amazing activist who paid the ultimate price for having a gay son. How dare any of you challenge her message AND what she and her family have been through. Perhaps you don’t realize that over the last 10…yes, TEN years, she has traveled the country and been away from her husband to live out the legacy of her son.
      She is a T supporter and sees the bigger picture. BACK OFF…Hate Crimes has not passed and she is standing right along the T’s to get bills that are important to her passed. Oh, and Hate Crimes, they will protect the T’s as well![/quote]

      Yes, she is an amazing activist…and no one is challenging what she has been through. But…what Joe Solomonese and HRC did regarding ENDA was not defensible, especially in the manner it was done. It was divisive, almost schismatic, and transgender people rightly protested it.

      By the way, the families of many transpeople have lost forever their trans children to hate crimes, including self-hatred. It’s never a matter of who has suffered more…creating agony is wrong, period.

  • ’tis a shame. I remember when Judy Shepard was a good activist. She’s obviously sold out. Hope the Kool-Aid was tasty.

  • Deborah

    But Mrs Sheppard, we are being left behind. This isn’t about press misinformation, a disinformation statement put out by HRC itself. This is about a political party and a civil rights group, both of whom claimed to represent us, disowning us because it is perceived as politically expedient.

    Congress and the Democratic Party had an opportunity to pass legislation that said all persons in this country are truly equal. They could have even forced the current regime in the White House to sign it into law, by attaching it to each and every single spending bill. Instead, the cowards in Congress and at HRC chose to pass a more politically palatable version, one that gives special rights to some while denying even basic civil rights to others.

    We donate annually to HRC with a promise that our needs and rights will be addressed. They lied. We donated to political candidates and parties with the understanding that they will work towards our equality. They lied. In more than half the states and territories of the United States, it is illegal to discriminate against someone on issues of sexuality in employment, housing, healthcare, and education. Of those states, only five have similar protections for transgender persons.

    So tell me, Mrs Sheppard, where is this misinformation about transgender persons being left behind that you speak of? The only areas we are ahead is in the shear numbers and per capita rate in which we are beaten, raped, and murdered because groups like HRC and parties like the Democratic Party disown us and throw us under the political bus every chance they get, usually after the sucked us dry of what little financial support we can provide.

  • Deborah

    But Mrs Sheppard, we are being left behind. This isn’t about press misinformation, a disinformation statement put out by HRC itself. This is about a political party and a civil rights group, both of whom claimed to represent us, disowning us because it is perceived as politically expedient.

    Congress and the Democratic Party had an opportunity to pass legislation that said all persons in this country are truly equal. They could have even forced the current regime in the White House to sign it into law, by attaching it to each and every single spending bill. Instead, the cowards in Congress and at HRC chose to pass a more politically palatable version, one that gives special rights to some while denying even basic civil rights to others.

    We donate annually to HRC with a promise that our needs and rights will be addressed. They lied. We donated to political candidates and parties with the understanding that they will work towards our equality. They lied. In more than half the states and territories of the United States, it is illegal to discriminate against someone on issues of sexuality in employment, housing, healthcare, and education. Of those states, only five have similar protections for transgender persons.

    So tell me, Mrs Sheppard, where is this misinformation about transgender persons being left behind that you speak of? The only areas we are ahead is in the shear numbers and per capita rate in which we are beaten, raped, and murdered because groups like HRC and parties like the Democratic Party disown us and throw us under the political bus every chance they get, usually after the sucked us dry of what little financial support we can provide.

  • I’m just wondering who she thinks “the popular press” is, who was pushing this supposedly false narrative.

    What, Colorez! or something?

  • I’m just wondering who she thinks “the popular press” is, who was pushing this supposedly false narrative.

    What, Colorez! or something?

  • Nothing the HRC does will ever be anything but poison for Transfolk.

    They feel its better to let half the transpeople in the US die than to make it a priority and stick to it.

    THey feel its better to lie and then deny it than to actually help a segment of the population they find icky, just as not too long ago they themselves were found to be icky.

    In two words: f’ ’em.

  • Nothing the HRC does will ever be anything but poison for Transfolk.

    They feel its better to let half the transpeople in the US die than to make it a priority and stick to it.

    THey feel its better to lie and then deny it than to actually help a segment of the population they find icky, just as not too long ago they themselves were found to be icky.

    In two words: f’ ’em.