Last night I wrote a friend a rant that was full of expletives and frustration. Most of my disgruntlement was from the Wednesday's passage in the House of Representatives of the sexual orientation only Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
It was a historic day for gays and lesbians (if only symbolically), but it was a setback for the GLBT movement as a whole. It will now be much harder to pass a gender inclusive bill, now that one has passed with sexual orientation only.
Another worrisome aspect of this vote has been the reaction from some parts of the transgender community. Since passage of ENDA, I've heard various transgender people call for the protesting of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). I have to wonder, is that really the wisest move? What does that accomplish? How does that move transgender people closer to inclusion in the 2009 bill?
I don't like the duplicitous nature of the HRC over the past two months. Dealing with them on any level feels like a Charlie Brown nightmare. But an honest assessment of the facts shows that HRC is the largest GLBT political machine there is. Do we create or elevate another organization to that level in a years time? I don't think that could be done in ten years time, much less one. The HRC owns the keys to access our politicians. How do we fight for an inclusive ENDA in 2009 and fight the HRC at the same time?
Wednesday did have its bright spots. When was the last time you saw any US Representative stand up on the floor of the House and talk about transgender people in a positive light? When was the last time any politician stood up for us and voted against legislation that didn't include us? Never. In that light, the debate over ENDA was positive and historic. A big thanks needs to go out to Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.), Michael Michaud (D-Maine), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and and Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) for standing strong with us.
I'm not sure what needs to be done next. But I do know that kicking sand on HRC isn't going to move us any closer to an ENDA with gender identity inclusion. Almost everyone I've talked to in the GLB movement wants gender identity included in the 2009 ENDA. Initially, it seems like the most rational thing to do is to support the folks of United ENDA. Strengthening the groups within United ENDA by having more transgender participation and dollars would seem like a safe bet.