Exploiting The Transgender Dead: Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s Rent-A-Corpse Page
November 18, 2012
Gender Orientation, Identity, and Expression
January 16, 2013

The Human Rights Campaign Just Needs More Education About Transphobia

The Human Rights Campaign has a history of making moves that make it seem like it is becoming more and more trans aware/friendly/positive. After all, they hired Allyson Robinson:

and they gave Lana Wachowski the HRC Visibility Award:

So they’re on our team, right? They’re our allies?

Apparently team trans hasn’t “educated” HRC’s e-mail Communications Coordinator, David Salisbury. Salisbury apparently thinks this is appropriate behavior for an HRC employee:

Can you say institutionalized transphobia? Or maybe the Human Rights Campaign just needs more education….

Marti Abernathey
Marti Abernathey

Marti Abernathey is the founder of the Transadvocate and the previous managing editor.

Abernathey has worn many different hats, including that of podcaster, activist, and radiologic technologist.

She’s been a part of various internet radio ventures such as TSR Live!, The T-Party, and The Radical Trannies, TransFM, and Sodium Pentathol Sunday.

As an advocate she’s previously been involved with the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance, Rock Indiana Campaign for Equality, and the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition. She’s taken vital roles as a grass roots community organizer in The Indianapolis Tax Day Protest (2003), The Indy Pride HRC Protest (2004), Transgender Day of Remembrance (2004), Indiana’s Witch Hunt (2005), and the Rally At The Statehouse (the largest ever GLBT protest in Indiana – 3/2005).

In 2008 she was a delegate from Indiana to the Democratic National Convention and a member of Barack Obama’s LGBT Steering and Policy Committee.

  • Pingback: Crescens Blog()

  • I am not going to make friends by saying this but first let me say that I believe we in the transcommunity are many times our own worse advocate, many of our sisters dress as shown in this photo and we don’t do ourselves any favors, I would love to see all organizations take a softer hand when something is said or done that runs against our feelings and mission, it seems today that the general attitude is to ” distroy ” ” injure” or “hurt” the organization or person and not try to steer them in the right direction, and yes teach them ! People make mistakes, people don’t always understand, so I truely believe that lets start out with a teaching hand first, not with a baseball bat.

    • S

      I’m not sure I understand why it matters how our sisters dress. The cisgender men in this photo are *mocking* trans feminine expression and exploiting transmisogynist attitudes to make the point that wearing fur is disgusting/ridiculous–“disgusting” and “ridiculous” are the actual words used by PETA in explaining the intent behind having men cross-dress at these protests.

      Additionally, trans women have been educating animal rights activists on this *specific* issue since 1992 when the “Fur is a Drag” campaign first launched. That is twenty years of education proceeding this post. Consider checking out Ida Hammer’s articles on this topic, if you need specific examples of the education and dialogue that has already taken place.

      I expect employees of the largest self-proclaimed “LGBT” rights organization to be better informed, particularly if they are going to use the “LGBT” acronym.

  • S

    Has anyone else contacted the HRC about this or asked Mr. Salisbury to explain himself and apologize? I sent an email via their website’s contact-us form earlier today, however, it may make more of an impact if others do so as well. …assuming of course that Mr. Salisbury’s position as “email communications coordinator” doesn’t include sorting through those messages.

    If their workers are reading, I hope they take this seriously. Most LGBT activists do not want their donations to pay the salaries of people who mock trans women.

  • Tonia

    I think it is Marti who needs education. HRC is not a trans organization. It has virtually no trans members. It has virtually no trans volunteers. It has virtually no trans donors. It isn’t in any sense a trans group, so stop pretending otherwise. HRC focuses on gay rights and it is entirely proper for it to do so. To the extent that there are gay trans people, they will benefit from those efforts.

    If trans people want progress on trans rights, the solution is to volunteer and staff and fund trans organizations. But that would actually require work and effort, something that Marti can’t stomach. She prefers to sit back and whine about how everyone is doing everything wrong, even while she does nothing.

    • ” HRC focuses on gay rights and it is entirely proper for it to do so. ”

      No, it is entirely criminally fraudulent to do so, given that it publicly portrays itself as trans-inclusive and solicits money based on such public portrayals.

      Nice try, Vic.

      • Tonia

        Who is Vic? Anyway, they don’t fundraise on trans issues. It wouldn’t make any sense for them to do that, since LGBs do not care about those issues, or if they do care, would give them a low priority. And HRC gets essentially no money from transfolk.

        Why can’t transfolk properly fund their own groups? They shouldn’t have to rely on handouts from Jon Stryker and other wealthy cis gay men. Let’s stop dreaming about having HRC do our work for us and start living in the real world.

        • “they don’t fundraise on trans issues”

          Tsk, tsk, tsk, Vic – you really do make this too easy.

          At the top of HRC’s website – through which they solicit/accept moolah: “Working for Lesbian, Gay,
          Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights”

          • Tonia

            I am willing to dialogue with you, but if you think it is funny to misgender me by repeatedly addressing me with a male name (and not even my pretransition name) please know that it really isn’t funny. It is extremely hurtful to me, as it would be to any transwoman. I don’t know why you would come to a trans site and do this.

            Not every word that appears on a website is a solicitation for money. That is really a silly claim on your part. If they sent out a fundraising letter or email saying, send us money because of all the great work we plan to do on trans issues, then you would have a point. They don’t do that because transfolk don’t contribute to them and with maybe a few exceptions aren’t even on their mailing list. The LGB donors do not consider trans issues a priority, assuming they even consider them proper issues for HRC at all. So soliciting money based on trans issues would make no sense.

            I ask again, why don’t we fund our own organizations? I wonder if Marti ever send $5 to any of our organizations, or whether the 2 of you prefer to do nothing other than complain about how the LGBs are forking over more of their money and doing our work for us.

          • You’re slipping, Vic. That’s not even a nice try.

            And, BTW, for those reading this who are on the verge of being seduced by Vic’s claim that I’m misgendering, please reacquaint yourselves with all of Vic’s comments at the original ENDABlog – wherein Vic pretty well conclusively demonstrated that “he” was actually one or more of the transexterminationist radphlegms.

            “Not every word that appears on a website is a solicitation for money.”

            And that irrelevancy pretty well proves a level of legal anti-competency that is as good as a fingerprint.

            Have a nice day!

          • Valerie

            Kat, this is out of line. We don’t misgender here.

          • I’ll ask you as well: Do you actually know who Tonia is? I don’t. Refer back to the original incarnation of ENDABlog and all of the “Vic” comments – from someone who claimed to be a gay male but in all likelihood was not.

          • Tami

            u r a horrible person. srsly.

          • Jade

            Hey evil witch–try misgendering me. Please fucking try it!

          • Natalie

            WTF? You do NOT misgender anyone. Do you understand? I don’t care if they are your worst enemy and you are having the most emotional argument of your life. You do not do it. This commenter has identified as a transwoman and has asked to be addressed as Tonia. So that is what you call her, you fucking, transphobic, disrespectful asshole.

            You have totally crossed the line and it will NOT be forgotten.

          • missanthrope

            This is just wrong. You don’t pull that here. Apologize now or this will be a permanent mark against you.

          • Do you actually know who Tonia is? I don’t. However, the person’s syntax and attitude are reminiscent of the person(s) who incessantly commented (from at least five different e-mail addresses and from many more IP addresses) at ENDABlog using the name “Vic” and who claimed to be a gay man even though there’s a consensus among ENDABlog readers that the person(s) behind the “Vic” comments were radphlegm(s). So, exactly how it is misgendering to refer to someone who might well be a transexterminationist female (or females) by usage of a fake male name that said transexterminationist female (or females) used to construct a fake gay male sockpuppet identity?

          • missanthrope

            Have you lost it? For some reason, you think this girl is a commenter from your blog from who knows when who was actually a cis woman but who claimed to be a gay man? And you put all of this on Tonia, ignore her trans identification AND her user name and call her by a male name? And you keep doing it even after she asks you to stop?

            I may not know who this commenter is. I don’t know 75% of the commenters on any particular post. I am not even 100% sure that you are who you say you are. It doesn’t matter. Once a commenter identifies as trans, there is NO excuse for misgendering. Ever. And yes, Vic spelled the way you spelled it is a male name, short for Victor. Just apologize to Tonia and put it to rest. Or don’t and let this follow you around forever. Shame on you, Kat.

          • magiicksgurl

            fuck you. No misgendering here!

    • valeriekeefe

      I am a trans lesbian, and I do not benefit from HRC’s efforts because my government remains steadfastly cissexist when it comes to determining my legal sex.

  • If the campaign said “Fur is Gay” would HRC be in an uproar? ( I know Wanda Stokes would be)

    If the campaign said “Fur is Ghetto” (with participants in “black face” ) would there not be a righteous uproar?

    • “with participants in ‘black face'”
      I’m contacting my bookie now to place a bet that within the next year Shirley Q. Liquor will be the token bit o’ trans inclusion at one of the Rhode Island Avenue Cesspool’s champagne-n-caviar ‘we’re nothing but a gay marriage organization now’ events.

  • Natalie

    I’ve actually become quite good friends with an HRC employee as of late. She is in upper management with a sub-organization and works fairly autonomously, so perhaps she’s not the best indicator of their culture at large. But, we have had an incredibly warm and fruitful professional relationship. In fact, since she is older and I am in my early twenties, she’s become sort of a mentor to me.

    I am fully aware of the ways in which the HRC has failed tran* people, and so is she. And, according to her, a lot of other people at the HRC are becoming more aware of this as well. I have friends that work for the SPLC, too. And, that organization, as well, has had to do it’s share of soul searching over the past few years to bring its actions more in line with its ideals.

    I know that I am privileged to be transitioning now, as things are improving across the board, but I can’t help but feel hopeful about the directions these organizations are going.

    This spring, Welcoming Schools (an HRC sub-organization), will be making a sequel to it’s “What Do You Know?” short film about trans* people. It will feature school children from Alabama and Massachusetts sharing their knowledge of trans* people. I am very excited about it and cannot wait for the work to start on it. Welcoming Schools is a fantastic organization and I know for a fact that they have made gender nonconformity a major issue that they try to address with school children and teachers.

    As far as the image goes, I don’t see anything particularly problematic, myself. I love drag queens. When I came out, in my little small southern town, the local queens took me under their wings. For the record, I am not a drag queen, and I would make the worst queen in the world. And, they knew that. They were just friends who were kind to me and taught me what they could. Some of my closest gay male friends today love to dress in drag. It’s a tradition with a lot of deep roots and hidden cultural nuance. It’s also just tons of fun.

    If you find drag offensive, I do see where you’re coming from. I don’t particularly like it when people think that I’m a queen, which does happen from time to time. In fact, a woman at Ulta asked me where I performed a couple weeks ago. I’m a musician, so, after the initial confusion, I was a bit offended, but it was an honest and well intentioned mistake. She was an ally and we ended up having a good chat over the next half hour.

    I would just, very humbly, suggest that you do a bit more research into drag, maybe go see a couple shows, buy a queen a drink and chat with them. I’ve found that many (though of course not all!!!!) of them are pretty knowledgeable on gender and feminist theory and eager to learn when they’re not. Though, I am a deeply Southern girl and the LGBTQ people here of all walks and backgrounds tend to take refuge in each other. Things may be very different in other parts of the country.

    I do just want to make sure that everyone understands that my disagreement is totally from a place of sincerity and respect. The last thing that I want to do is try to invalidate anyone’s opinions or experiences. I just wanted to add my two cents. 🙂

    • S

      What makes the photo offensive is that these folks aren’t drag queens. They are appropriating trans-feminine expression to say that the fur industry is bad/”a drag.” It would be like straight men saying “Fur is Gay” and dressing as stereotypical gay men for their protest. If you check out some of PETA’s statements on the “Fur is a Drag” campaign it becomes more obvious that this is about showing trans-feminine expression as ridiculous and disgusting than this photo alone perhaps communicates.

      • missanthrope

        This doesn’t make any sense. “Drag” has a secondary meaning, something unwelcome or tiresome. That secondary meaning, to my knowledge, developed independently and has no relationship to the association of “drag” with cross-dressing. I have never heard anyone of any sexual or gender affiliation object to the use of the word “drag” to mean unwelcome or tiresome. “Gay” by contrast developed its negative secondary meaning only because it was first used to describe homosexuals. So I don’t really see the comparison.

        This sounds like one more example of Marti looking for something to complain about. As far as I can see, she does nothing productive in life and sees her role as one of whiner in chief. This is one reason she has few friends in the trans community.

        • S

          “That secondary meaning, to my knowledge, developed independently and has
          no relationship to the association of ‘drag’ with cross-dressing.” <<yet the photo we are looking at clearly establishes a connection to cross-dressing and trans-feminine expression.

          • S

            Hmm…not sure what happened there. I wrote: yet the photo we are looking at clearly establishes a connection between “drag” cross-dressing and trans-feminine expression.

      • hermes daughter

        Drag is all about men dressing up in woman’s clothing to make fun of and to ridicule women. As a trans woman I find drag extremely offensive and my partner who was assigned female at birth also finds drag externally offensive.

    • Natalie, I agree with you and your observations very much. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I think this is clearly a case of trans people needing to lighten up a bit.

  • hermes daughter

    “Drag” is an important part of gay male culture. The problem is that “drag” is insulting to all women and especially to trans women.

    • Debbie

      Which only points out how ridiculous the concept of LGBT really is. It is wrong to force these 2 groups together and pretend that they are one group.

      • hermes daughter

        There is truth in what you say. The “LGBT umbrella” is huge and encompasses many diverse groups that in many cases have little in common and very different agendas. It is hard to imagine that white gay males working on Wall Street have anything significant in common with trans women of color. The local LGBT group that I am involved with seems to be working pretty well and is very supportive of trans issues in a very real way. I myself was very cautions about first getting involved with them, but these particular people are really a good group. Many LGBT groups however have a very bad history of throwing trans folk (trans women in particular) under the bus. The idea of one big happy LGBT family is obviously worse than ridiculous. Still I do think that if we carefully pick and choose among the various LGBT groups there are a few good ones out there. HRC, of course, is NOT one of the good ones.

      • “It is wrong to force these 2 groups together….”

        Then HRC should have had the courage of its transphobic convictions and never made any claim that it was in any way inclusive. It either is so – or it is been involved in an ongoing pattern and practice of criminal fraud for over a decade.

  • Maybe he posted it to show how insulting and degrading it is towards not only women, but trans women. And maybe HRC hired another trans employee with their $40 million budget so their over 150 cis gender employees can be “educated” as they have to replace their last token trans person. Maybe they will go out to all of their field organizers they have in individuals states, working for full equality in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations, and “educate” them. Maybe that brick they keep hitting us with wakes us up to the fact that as an organization, they are just as bad towards trans people as the Family Research Council. Maybe, I’ll get to stop saying maybe.

  • HRC, will never be trans-freindly.