Scaremongering
May 18, 2008
The Death of United ENDA Part III: The Funeral
June 23, 2008

Top Secret: The Transgender Workplace Discrimination Hearings

Did you know that there are going to be congressional hearings about transgender employment discrimination? No? Well, you’re not alone in your ignorance. I have to confess that even though I’m connected into Washington D.C. fairly well, I’ve not heard a firm date for these “TOP SECRET” hearings. Donna Rose said on May 28th, 2008:

The congressional hearing on Transgender Workplace Discrimination has been scheduled for the morning of June 10.

Then on June 2nd, 2008 she said:

Speaking of Congressman Frank, the Congressional Hearing on Transgender Workplace Descrimination, tentatively scheduled for a week from tomorrow (95% sure), is pretty much ready to roll. The invitations have been sent to the speakers (there will be 4 of them so if you thought you might be one of them but haven’t heard yet – you’re not). There will be a post-hearing event featuring supporters in Congress. Everything seems set.

While that seems to be the consensus in the transgender community, my sources on the Hill have said that the hearing has been moved to June 17th. I’m not sure why it took covert ops to find this information out. I know a few folks that would like to attend the hearings (they’re open to the public). But the odds of that are small unless you live in the Metro D.C. area. The actual time and location have not been disclosed. I have to wonder why these hearings are so damn inaccessible and secretive.

Most of the time I feel great joy in being right, but today isn’t one of those days. I’ve said repeatedly that United ENDA is dead ( here and here). And I’ve said that we had better plan on not being in ENDA.

The fight for an inclusive ENDA in October and November of 2007 had a lot of support in the community because most people realized that this the bill would never make it to the president’s desk. Will these organizations stand firm in their commitment, even though gays and lesbians will be denied protections? Will gays and lesbian communities support opposing workplace protections until gender identity is included?

I ask these questions because I see on the horizon a brewing battle that could look something like Sherman’s scorched earth policy during the Civil War. There is a potential for the coming storm to rip through the community and cause irreparable damage. I hope that this is talked about long before it happens (unlike the removal of gender identity from ENDA).

For myself, I plan on moving towards allies that are more focused on gender equality and away from GLB organizations. I’ll still fight for marriage equality with these organizations (and as a member of some of them), but I believe that our most natural allies lie more with social justice organizations who are fighting for gender equality.

Many people in the transgender community are making great strides in political and business circles. With the death of an inclusive ENDA (and with it United ENDA), it would be perfect time to retool, reevaluate, and refocus our direction and our movement.

Some of us have repeatedly been warning others of those storm clouds brewing. In return for pointing this out, we’ve been called misinformed, and have been accused of starting rumors. Yet Congressman Barney Frank continues to move transgender people farther and farther away from a fully inclusive ENDA. According to the Washington Blade:

Frank indicated Wednesday that the House may consider a separate trans bill. He said he spoke with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) Tuesday about the issue.

To give you an idea of what that means, I’d point to New York as an example. In December of 2002, the New York state legislature passed an ENDA type bill called SONDA (Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act without gender identity protections. It’s been a long six years for the people of New York since its passage. Only until recently did the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) measure pass New York’s State Assembly. The word I’m getting from my friends in New York is that it has very little chance of passage in the Republican controlled Senate.

Without gender identity protections in ENDA it will probably be left to the same fate. A federal GENDA bill looks more and more distant. Meanwhile gender variant people will continue to be legally discriminated against. As my friend Ethan St. Pierre says, “For many gender variant people, being fired from a job is a death sentence.” I have to wonder how many years and people it will take before protections are attained.

  • I don’t think it’s even a political strategy for IS and T to be separate – they are different communities, and different ways of dealing with the world. IS is partly about gender (a social construct), but also about biology and having one’s sex undefined. I am not an essentialist, but I am sure we can all see how this is different from transgender people and transsexual people. Just a thought…

  • I don’t think it’s even a political strategy for IS and T to be separate – they are different communities, and different ways of dealing with the world. IS is partly about gender (a social construct), but also about biology and having one’s sex undefined. I am not an essentialist, but I am sure we can all see how this is different from transgender people and transsexual people. Just a thought…

  • Polar

    [quote comment=””]
    I believe it is the best strategy and policy and that intersex advocates have it right on to distance the intersex community from the T community. The way the T community is right now, It’s best bet that the intersex community distances itself from the T community and go it alone without the T community.[/quote]

    I’d agree with your strategy. By the time Frank and HRC get done with us, transgender will probably be a permanently tainted word on the Hill, if it is not already IS people may very well be able to win quicker that way, and that’s a victory I will happily cheer, if you can pull it off. I say, go for it. At this point, it’s every group for itself.

  • Polar

    [quote comment=””]
    I believe it is the best strategy and policy and that intersex advocates have it right on to distance the intersex community from the T community. The way the T community is right now, It’s best bet that the intersex community distances itself from the T community and go it alone without the T community.[/quote]

    I’d agree with your strategy. By the time Frank and HRC get done with us, transgender will probably be a permanently tainted word on the Hill, if it is not already IS people may very well be able to win quicker that way, and that’s a victory I will happily cheer, if you can pull it off. I say, go for it. At this point, it’s every group for itself.

  • Polar

    [quote comment=””]
    I believe it is the best strategy and policy and that intersex advocates have it right on to distance the intersex community from the T community. The way the T community is right now, It’s best bet that the intersex community distances itself from the T community and go it alone without the T community.[/quote]

    I’d agree with your strategy. By the time Frank and HRC get done with us, transgender will probably be a permanently tainted word on the Hill, if it is not already IS people may very well be able to win quicker that way, and that’s a victory I will happily cheer, if you can pull it off. I say, go for it. At this point, it’s every group for itself.

  • [quote comment=””] intersex advocates who think distancing themselves from the T community is a winning strategy (it just might be true).[/quote]

    I believe it is the best strategy and policy and that intersex advocates have it right on to distance the intersex community from the T community. The way the T community is right now, It’s best bet that the intersex community distances itself from the T community and go it alone without the T community.

  • [quote comment=””] intersex advocates who think distancing themselves from the T community is a winning strategy (it just might be true).[/quote]

    I believe it is the best strategy and policy and that intersex advocates have it right on to distance the intersex community from the T community. The way the T community is right now, It’s best bet that the intersex community distances itself from the T community and go it alone without the T community.

  • You know the answer, Marti. Frank doesn’t want the T community to be there, doesn’t want T people involved. He’s intending to control the agenda. He’ll have his little 1-day hearing, then trumpet for years about how he had the hearing, so he can’t be anti-T.

    As for the aftermath, the problem is that others we don’t want speaking for us, are going to speak, and will speak whether they represent us or not. This hearing bears it out: T people have been selected to represent the community, with no vote or selection process that the community could participate in. I believe I recall a bunch of lawless hooligans, a rabble if you will, making iced tea in Boston Harbor over these same issues.

    As for inclusion next year, I’m not expecting it in my lifetime, let alone next year. This community has neither the cojones, nor the numbers, nor the money, to fight a noninclusive ENDA successfully, nor does it have the means to go it alone. I’ve had reports not to expect ENDA at all in 2009, due to the glut of legislation to reverse the Bush travesties, but when it does come up, we ain’t gonna be in it. I bet we pass a state ENDA in Kentucky before it passes in Washington – and that’s years (and throwing out many state legislators) away. We shall be left with nothing but our hatred of HRC and Frank, who’ll be dead and gone by the time ours passes.

    As for the split, it will be along several lines. The T community will sever along the lines of those who want to fight vs those who don’t, the HBS loonies who think they can pass it if the preops and crossdressers are excluded, intersex advocates who think distancing themselves from the T community is a winning strategy (it just might be true), and those Ts who pass flawlessly who would rather the subject not come up (lest they be read).

    I hope I’m wrong, and heaven knows I’m far too cynical. However, this seems like a good time to work all the overtime I can, buy that Harley I’ve wanted for awhile, and stick to local and state activism. We ain’t winning Federally anytime soon.

  • You know the answer, Marti. Frank doesn’t want the T community to be there, doesn’t want T people involved. He’s intending to control the agenda. He’ll have his little 1-day hearing, then trumpet for years about how he had the hearing, so he can’t be anti-T.

    As for the aftermath, the problem is that others we don’t want speaking for us, are going to speak, and will speak whether they represent us or not. This hearing bears it out: T people have been selected to represent the community, with no vote or selection process that the community could participate in. I believe I recall a bunch of lawless hooligans, a rabble if you will, making iced tea in Boston Harbor over these same issues.

    As for inclusion next year, I’m not expecting it in my lifetime, let alone next year. This community has neither the cojones, nor the numbers, nor the money, to fight a noninclusive ENDA successfully, nor does it have the means to go it alone. I’ve had reports not to expect ENDA at all in 2009, due to the glut of legislation to reverse the Bush travesties, but when it does come up, we ain’t gonna be in it. I bet we pass a state ENDA in Kentucky before it passes in Washington – and that’s years (and throwing out many state legislators) away. We shall be left with nothing but our hatred of HRC and Frank, who’ll be dead and gone by the time ours passes.

    As for the split, it will be along several lines. The T community will sever along the lines of those who want to fight vs those who don’t, the HBS loonies who think they can pass it if the preops and crossdressers are excluded, intersex advocates who think distancing themselves from the T community is a winning strategy (it just might be true), and those Ts who pass flawlessly who would rather the subject not come up (lest they be read).

    I hope I’m wrong, and heaven knows I’m far too cynical. However, this seems like a good time to work all the overtime I can, buy that Harley I’ve wanted for awhile, and stick to local and state activism. We ain’t winning Federally anytime soon.