I guess being screwed over is a rite of passage as a transgender activist/advocate. Becky Juro's written an excellent summary of the history of dangled carrots and broken promises. Vanessa Edwards Foster explains how we've been suckered like this in the past and how that played out at the most recent Southern Comfort Conference.
"During the speeches there was much congratulation and self-congratulation, and plenty of high spirits about the impending bills in Congress awaiting votes: Hate Crimes (already passed inclusively in the House) currently awaiting Senate approval, and the all-important Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) approaching the House vote. All seemed right with the world in Trans America’s focus point that weekend at SCC in Atlanta. All seemed eerily right to some of us long-timers with memories intact as well. Eerily too right.
After the speech, everyone clapped, ate, enjoyed the rest of SCC and went home. Most of us waited with baited anticipation. Myself, I couldn’t get over how this reminded me of 2002."
Barney Frank's latest round of comments to the San Francisco Chronicle seem contradictory and hostile.
"Some gay activists said Democratic leaders were worried that including transgender people in the employment discrimination bill would expose conservative House Democrats to a tough vote.
Frank dismissed that charge as 'stupid.'
'They had no idea what they were talking about,' Frank said. 'We put them to a vote on transgender hate crimes. We're going to put them to a vote on sexual orientation. The problem wasn't that we were afraid of it. We just didn't have the votes.'"
Stupid? If it was as simple as not having the votes, why would he complain of nervous Democrats hearing whispers of Republicans amendments:
"that would talk about schoolteachers, and what happens when the kid comes back from summer vacation and teachers change gender. We just lost enough Democrats and we couldn't be sure of the Republicans. - Barney Frank"
I reported earlier this week that Jeffery Hancuff of the House Education and Labor committee had contacted Ethan St. Pierre. He called to inquire about stories of transgender persons who work successfully with children, in order to counter accusations from the opposition that trangender people aren't pedophiles. I spoke with St. Pierre this morning. He said he relayed this information to Mara Keisling of NCTE, without any response.
Barney Frank's assertion that this isn't about being scared out of a vote is a pretty transparent attempt to ignore the obvious. Drew over at So Far, So Left frames this perfectly:
"You know, I kinda wondered if this weren't the reason that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has fewer cosponsors in the 110th than it had in the 108th Congress: members of Congress - like David Scott - are "uncomfortable" with transpeople.
Which is to say, while our MCs may dislike discrimination against gay people, they don't dislike it quite enough to give up their right to discriminate against transpeople. Such wonderful character, our Congress.
Now, I know that David Scott will probably vote for this bill, with or without the transgender provision - he's said he would. But it's his weak response to the bill - as evidenced by his failure to cosponsor - that makes it easier for Democrats like, oh, say, Sanford Bishop and John Barrow, to remain silent or oppose it outright. Erstwhile liberals like David Scott lower the bar for decent behavior, allowing the still more erst to hop right over."
According to Queerty.com:
"Gay rights groups HRC and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force don’t support the move, but gay politico Barney Frank thinks it’s worth a shot: 'I think the notion that we should let the whole bill die if we can’t pass [a] transgender [provision] is a terrible idea.' Frank points to past wins, including women and blacks, which came in stages, not a flood."
This isn't really a fair comparison and he knows it. The GLBT community is a united movement. Women and civil rights activists may have supported each other in their fight for their own rights, but they weren't a unified community.
One only need look as far as New York's Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act to see the whole "we'll come back for you" attitude doesn't work. Passed in the fall of 2002 and five years later they're still trying to pass a gender non-discrimination bill and the future of such a bills passage isn't very good.
Barney Frank is doing something even the far right can't do. He's dividing the GLBT community and is fracturing it into a million pieces. Good As You humorously said:
It remains to be seen if our largest organization, HRC, will also come to bat for the T's, or if they will join the Dems who think full non-discrimination, like sex reassignment surgery, is a multi-part process. However, if that organization does break ranks with the other LGBT groups and goes along with the Dems' apparent new strategy, we must warn them: We've already heard outcry from folks who say that if the T is dropped, they wouldn't attend another HRC banquet even if the entertainment lineup included Felicity Huffman doing a one-night only, one woman version of TransAmerica, followed by Calpernia Adams and Alexis Arquette doing an interpretive dance to the latest song from Lipstick Conspiracy. And they seemed to mean it, too!
So yea, seeing as how a community divided is our opposition's wet dream, we sincerely hope that you'll step up and do the right thing, HRC! We're pretty sure you know what that is. "
For an organization that knows what the right thing to do is, they're being pretty damn silent. I'll remember that the next time I gift money to any LGBT organization. I may not get a spiffy HRC sticker but I'll trade that for the kind of advocacy that NGLTF is engaging in at this very moment. They're already doing the right thing.