Top Secret: The Transgender Workplace Discrimination Hearings
June 6, 2008
Right Wing Watch: FRC misrepresents New York State protections for trans youth in custody
June 27, 2008

The Death of United ENDA Part III: The Funeral

In March I wrote a post called “The Many Faces Of Mara Keisling: The Death of United ENDA?” in which I put forth the theory that the coalition of over 300 groups was dead. In April I wrote “Starting From Scratch:The Death of United ENDA Part II” in which I furthered my theory by pointing out the words of Matt Foreman (the departing executive director of NGLTF) that alluded to the death of United ENDA.

Yesterday I received an email from NCTE regarding the upcoming hearings :

“I am really proud of the role that NCTE played in getting us to this historical day. This is not only an opportunity to be truly heard by our fellow Americans, it will help to build the foundation for significant changes in federal laws protecting transgender people from discrimination. Witness have not yet been announced.” – NCTE newsletter

According to my sources, the role that NCTE and NGLTF has played in these hearings has been minimal. This only reinforced Donna Rose’s blog post from March 3rd which I referred to in my post.

“During our conversation today HRC came up several times. Joe (Racalto, Barney Frank’s senior policy adviser) went out of his way to assure me that HRC is taking the lead in these hearings in many ways. As far as our community is concerned I’ll take his word for it and let it all unfold….”

And most recently from HRC email:

“HRC has been a key player in working with Congressman Andrews, and well as Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in ensuring that this critical hearing took place. We have also has been working with a coalition of groups, including the ACLU, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in preparing for the hearing.

HRC is activating resources throughout the organization in support of this hearing. Our own Diego Sanchez, member of the Business Council and the Boston Steering Committee, has been invited to testify at the hearing. Workplace Project staff are garnering letters of support and written testimony from corporate America, and another member of the Business Council, Meghan Stabler, will also be submitting testimony for the record. The Religion and Faith Program has secured written testimony from Religion Council member Reverend Erin Swenson and is soliciting statements of support from other faith leaders and groups. Our Web Team is working to ensure that the hearing, and all of our resources on transgender issues, are highlighted on our website and the Communications Department is using its connections to secure extensive coverage of this historic event. And, of course, the folks in Political and Legal are working closely with witnesses, congressional staff and coalition partners to ensure the hearing is the most productive discussion of this critical issue possible.

More information about the hearing will be posted on the committee’s website here — http://edlabor.house.gov/committee/schedule.shtml — when it becomes available, and the subcommittee hearing will likely be webcast there as well.

We’re very excited that HRC is part of this historic hearing!

Keep in mind that in January of this year Keisling said:

“Our official position right now is we are extremely disappointed and angry at HRC. … The real bottom line is right now NCTE will not do anything that will rehabilitate HRC as a legitimate spokesman for transgender people … until they stop actively hurting trans people’, said Keisling. She characterized HRC’s advocacy of the sexual orientation-only version of ENDA in the House, as well as its expected lobbying to pass the bill this year in the Senate, as hurting trans people.

As for NCTE’s future plans for ENDA, Keisling said that after the election she expects advocates to lobby a new Congress and a new president in favor of passing a trans-inclusive ENDA bill.

‘It is our expectation that in 2009 Congress is going to hear from a very united LGBT movement,’ said Keisling. ‘Whether that includes HRC I have no idea.’ – Trans-HRC schism widens”

Those words ring solidly hollow, as the United ENDA coaliton now swings from the gallows. Especially given the fact that HRC admits that NCTE and NGLTF have worked together to organize the hearings.

“Herwitt said a coalition of LGBT and civil rights organizations, including HRC, NCTE, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, have been coordinating strategy for the hearing and have been meeting and talking regularly. ”

What is obvious in all this is how anemic NCTE and NGLTF have become (especially since the departure of Matt Foreman, and most recently David Noble, from NGTLF). It also shows that the HRC is still the gatekeeper to Congress. With the reality of that situation some very important questions need to be asked:

  1. Do we keep asking the HRC to include us?
  2. Should we try and shame them into caring about our issues as much as they care about their own?
  3. Should we continue to give money to groups that support this pathway to equality?

The answer to these questions are vital. The coming years will be a time to rebuild the movement. We need to talk about what our next move as a community is. Like any death, it is a time to reflect on how the end of this life mattered to us, and what we can do to change our own future.

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  • Pingback: The Question the GLBT Activists Ignore « Enough Non-Sense()

  • Seperatism is death.

    If we don’t hang together, well surely hang separately.

    (heh. Someone will be pissed at me for using that)

  • “But the $64,000 question is what do we do if we do that? So many trans centered orgs are tied to the larger GLB orgs.

    Yes, many if not most are tied to the GLB. I have spoken for the need for TS’s to stand on their own countless times on a bazillion blogs for several years only to be called every possible elitist connotation. It is refreshing to finally see a serious discussion on the issue at least being entertained.

    Their are tens and tens and TENS of thousands of pre and post op transsexuals who want nothing – NOTHING – to do with the GLBT but are concerned about their rights being compromised in one huge GLB genderqueer whirlwind. These folks would be way more inclined to become active if they were assured of being aligned with an organization that represented them and them alone.

    If one is transsexual, homosexual and an activist that is fine…but lobby for GLB rights as a homosexual, not a transsexual…lobby for transsexual issues as a transsexual, not a homosexual. Joining the two alienates the vast majority of pre and post op TS who are not homosexual and of who do not, or may not, support the GLB agenda.

  • Jenny

    “I disagree. I’ve been in bad marriages before. The best thing to do in a irreconcilable marriage is to get out of it and work on yourself, not continue to warn others how bad your ex is. I actually support HRC in its efforts with marriage (I identify as queer and support marriage equality) , I just thing transgender people need to build their own power.”

    Well said. It’s a bad marriage. Let’s get out it [HRC] and fend for ourselves.

  • Marti Abernathey

    [quote comment=””]HRC is a mystery to me. They toss us overboard during every storm then yell from the stern, “We’ll come back for you.”

    ENDA has simply become endemic of HRC’s view of, advocacy for, and contact with the transgender community.

    It’s long past time we toss them overboard.[/quote]

    But the $64,000 question is what do we do if we do that? So many trans centered orgs are tied to the larger GLB orgs.

  • Jenny

    HRC is a mystery to me. They toss us overboard during every storm then yell from the stern, “We’ll come back for you.”

    ENDA has simply become endemic of HRC’s view of, advocacy for, and contact with the transgender community.

    It’s long past time we toss them overboard.

  • [quote comment=””]Many of you are wrong, you dont know and you make assuptions. a hill staffer and friend told me that hrc did more to get the hearing than anyone. i am an ally to the community and just see you all dividing. get over it and work together[/quote]

    And just what did you think we were doing here?

    Getting over it means to work through it and resolve differences so we can settle on common ground and build from there.

    Which takes communication of one’s position and general discourse — sometimes fractious — to get to.

    “Hill staffers” are a dime a dozen and usually less informed than the average involved citizen. Want to make a difference, get Andrews in here, or Payne, themselves.

    Just not Frank. He can be left to rot on the side of the road.

  • Sara

    Many of you are wrong, you dont know and you make assuptions. a hill staffer and friend told me that hrc did more to get the hearing than anyone. i am an ally to the community and just see you all dividing. get over it and work together

  • [quote comment=””]

    As did MTPC, and did it much in the fashion that you speak. I’m not anti-HRC. Hell, I’ve worked with many HRC people in the Barack Obama campaign. I just want gender variant people to walk into the next part of the movement with open eyes, and to make that decision with knowledge and forethought.[/quote]

    Whereas I am anti-HRC. Admittedly, and wholeheartedly.

    See ya at SCC?

    I don’t think as poorly of NCTE, perhaps, but that could be because they are the only ones up there that even have a shpt as turning this around right now. If another group stands up, I’d gladly support them.

    Where you saw the HRC taking the lead (from their own posts), I saw NCTE and NGLTF taking the lead in the recent hearings (and weren’t they utterly great?).

    Frank, however, gets more of my ire than anyone else, as he’s not only the gatekeeper, but he’s also the one manning the turnstile that lets people through.

    Solomonese lied. Frank did the dirty work, though. Frank’s the one who counseled them.

    Its Frank that’s the problem, more than anything else. And removing him from office will make a huge difference

  • Marti Abernathey

    “My perception is quite different from yours, although neither of us can stand HRC. They *are* the gatekeepers. They are inside. They’ve put in the infrastructure necessary.But that doesn’t mean we have to *ask* them for shit.”

    Yes, it does. Even the organizations of United ENDA know the truth that you just laid out…they are the only gatekeepers.

    “No other group has the infrastructure right now. But what’s going on is they are building it, and the HRC has no other real choice but to help, because they have been hurt by the actions.”

    You don’t build infrastructure by grafting yourself into another group. I’m not really advocating against HRC in this post. I simply wanted to foster a dialogue in the community. People need to be equipped with the the facts before they decide the direction we go next.

    “Indeed, the best thing we can do is keep making sure that the truth about what they have done is repeated and made clear time and time again. Because a lot of LGBT folks *Do Not Know*. They haven’t heard a damn thing.”

    I disagree. I’ve been in bad marriages before. The best thing to do in a irreconcilable marriage is to get out of it and work on yourself, not continue to warn others how bad your ex is. I actually support HRC in its efforts with marriage (I identify as queer and support marriage equality) , I just thing transgender people need to build their own power.

    “But while our side builds that infrastructure, we cannot cut off our nose to spite our face. We us them, on *our* terms, not theirs. And they know that. They f’d up. And while they are too chicken to apologize and accept that responsibility, they are also trying to do something. THey know their words are hollow now.

    so we don’t ask their help. We politely inform them they are giving it. strangely enough, its working.”

    No, they don’t know that. There is a choice to make and it’s cut and dry. Either work with HRC, or don’t. We aren’t going to be in ENDA, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. The best thing we can do right now is talk about what we are going to do next and do so with open eyes.

    “No shaming. Screw that. We’ll just build our own damn services. Takes time and money, though — and what transfolk have that?”

    Ever been to a transgender conference? Saying that are community has no money is a complete and utter falsehood. We can build our own power, and can do it convincingly. It’s not a matter of can but of when and if.

    “What pathway and what groups? How do you know who does this? Taking their money doesn’t mean they have any say in its use. The halfway house I run — the only one in the country that is exclusive to the transgender population right now — would take their money in a heartbeat.

    For *us*.”

    As did MTPC, and did it much in the fashion that you speak. I’m not anti-HRC. Hell, I’ve worked with many HRC people in the Barack Obama campaign. I just want gender variant people to walk into the next part of the movement with open eyes, and to make that decision with knowledge and forethought.

  • 1. Do we keep asking the HRC to include us?

    No. And making assumptions without data or facts to support that we are now may be foolish.

    My perception is quite different from yours, although neither of us can stand HRC. They *are* the gatekeepers. They are inside. They’ve put in the infrastructure necessary.

    But that doesn’t mean we have to *ask* them for shit.

    They are not stupid.

    No other group has the infrastructure right now. But what’s going on is they are building it, and the HRC has no other real choice but to help, because they have been hurt by the actions.

    Indeed, the best thing we can do is keep making sure that the truth about what they have done is repeated and made clear time and time again. Because a lot of LGBT folks *Do Not Know*. They haven’t heard a damn thing.

    But while our side builds that infrastructure, we cannot cut off our nose to spite our face. We us them, on *our* terms, not theirs. And they know that. They f’d up. And while they are too chicken to apologize and accept that responsibility, they are also trying to do something. THey know their words are hollow now.

    so we don’t ask their help. We politely inform them they are giving it. strangely enough, its working.

    FOr now. And while it is, we are building our own infrastructure. Which will give us the ability to let them slowly die, as they will do.

    2. Should we try and shame them into caring about our issues as much as they care about their own?

    Just how will we do this? Even by liberal estimates, we hardly constitute one tenth of the population they are supposedly focused on. And even if we expand our definition of transgender as broadly as some do, then we are talking about only about a third.

    No shaming. Screw that. We’ll just build our own damn services.
    Takes time and money, though — and what transfolk have that?

    3. Should we continue to give money to groups that support this pathway to equality?

    What pathway and what groups? How do you know who does this? Taking their money doesn’t mean they have any say in its use. The halfway house I run — the only one in the country that is exclusive to the transgender population right now — would take their money in a heartbeat.

    For *us*.

    Mara might softball shit and cut deals and crap — but she’s not tossing us under the bus.

  • Kara Harkins

    Dusts off her earlier proposal since it answers the questions.

    1) We should make our plans with the assumption that HRC is there to block us. That way we win either way. If they continue on their path we already have a plan that does not rely on them. If they decide to help us, great.

    2) Just the fact that part of their claimed constituency is foregoing their assistance will do a lot to shame them without our having to expend the energy on doing so. At the least, they could wind up facing some *very* awkward questions!

    3) As to who we give money to that breaks down into 3 parts:
    HRC: no way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    orgs helping us: most definately

    orgs that take money from the HRC: They have their trough to feed from. I would feel that every dollar we give them is one dollar less that HRC needs to pay, although others in the trans community would be more leniant in their assesment.