Sara Whitman

An open letter to Barney Frank

Filed By Sara Whitman | October 01, 2007 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Barney Frank, ENDA, LGBT civil rights, LGBT community, transgender

Dear Congressman Frank:

I am your constituent. I vote for you. I have voted for you since I moved to Newton in 1985. That’s a lot of elections. I cannot believe you are supporting a gutted version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), removing transgender from the language of the Act.

I could not really believe it until I read your guest post here on the Bilerico Project.

And there it was, clear as day, you thought it was the right thing to do. Good strategy. Politically a savvy move.

As a lesbian who does not fit the traditional feminine image, much to my oldest son’s ire, I can say you are cutting out the one group of people most in need of the protection. I don’t have to explain to you that most of the Fortune 500 has sexual orientation as part of their own employment policies. They do not have gender expression or transgender.

Of course, you can be assured a victory in the House of Representatives if you remove the transgender folks from the bill. There is not, of course, a chance in hell it’ll get through the Senate to the President’s desk, even with the trannies removed but you’ll have a victory.

A hollow one. One with no soul. No pride.

You know what I find interesting, Congressman Frank? Even through the whole Steven Gobie nonsense, I stood by you. I would argue your strengths. I would take on anyone who said anything negative about you, or told snickering jokes. Why? Because you were a gay man, and I was a lesbian, and there is something to be said about sticking with your family.

I consider transgender people part of the same family. Removing them from the bill is like telling me I can bring two of my children along, but not the third.

You see, on the eve of this historic vote, because it will be remembered in history, I look at my three children and can honestly say one might be struggling with gender identity issues. Not sure. Can’t be positive, but maybe. How will I look him in the eye when he’s old enough to understand transgender rights were not considered important enough to take a stand on, that it was simply politically more expedient to pass a bill for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people?

They look so much nicer in photo ops? Is that what I’m suppose to say? People get too uncomfortable with his “kind?” What kind of message is that? Because I know you know that people who go through the pain and struggle to change their gender are not folks that will show up to work on Friday as Joe and walk in on Monday as Joanne.

You know better.

In all the years I have voted for you, I never once questioned my allegiance. I do know. You’re selling out one of my sons in order to achieve a technical victory. Maybe you’ve been in office too long. Maybe you’re too jaded to remember how people stood by you when it wasn’t necessarily a popular thing to do.

Please, Congressman Frank, do not push forward ENDA without full inclusion. The acronym is LGBT rights. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights. If we start picking and choosing amongst ourselves, we are no better than the people who would fire us for being different.

LGB is not enough. I’m not going to leave anyone behind. If you continue to push the proposed substitute bill, you are making a choice to leave one of my kids behind.

Shame on you.


Recent Entries Filed under Politics:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


I think it's great that Barney Frank posted here and now you've answered him as a constituent. Way to speak truth to power, Sara!