Marti Abernathey

The HRC Propaganda Machine In Action

Filed By Marti Abernathey | December 04, 2007 2:34 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: HRC, Propaganda, transgender, Warbucks

Recently the Human Rights Campaign had a conference call with certain leaders within the transgender community. The following information is from an email concerning the results of that conference call. I am going to dissect this email, but you can read it there in its entirety.

Up first was a needs assessment:

A professional survey to teach us just what the American people understand about trans and what they don't. By region, by demographics, by religion, etc. Let's do the state of the art survey so we know what we're starting with. Questions like "what does transgender conjure up in your mind"? "What is the difference between gay and trans"? "Do you know that just as many females transition to male as vice versa"? Let's get down to the core issues.

I'm really confused by this. Why do we need an in depth study on what Joe Six Pack people think of transgender people? HRC put out a study in 2002 and updated it in 2004, that said 60-78 percent of Americans support workplace protections for transgender people. If anyone is needs to be polled, it's the Congress. They aren't supporting what the majority of their constituents want.

Then we research the 110+ jurisdictions with protections and characterize what was done right and what was done wrong. We need to work with other groups that have been doing this. I also don't think it would hurt for Joe to sit down with them, apologize and begin the rebuilding. Trust is essential but will be hard to come by, and it would be a terrible waste of energy to try and go this alone. UnitedENDA should be a resource.

In my not so humble opinion, the problem with the HRC is that we have been, are, and will continue to be expendable. Apologies without action to change mean nothing. Will the introduction of ENDA in the Senate bring a change in HRC's policy of supporting a noninclusive bill? I've been told by multiple sources that David Smith has said that HRC will NEVER oppose a gay rights bill (even if it's not transinclusive). This seems to be the place where the rubber meets the road. If HRC wants to make inroads into the transgender community they should not only apologize, but commit to only supporting fully inclusive legislation.

Work with the National Center for Trangender Equality (NCTE) to find trans persons to target those 50 or so Congresspersons, and give them the data to help them lobby. But remember that nothing beats face-to-face contacts, and that means the rep and not the chief-of-staff or LA.


Work with NCTE? Wow, that was a short lived breakup! For the record, IFGE, NCTE and NGLTF already did that kind of lobbying effort in October. At the same time, HRC and Barney Frank were lobbying for the noninclusive bill. Representative Frank also used his power in Congress to strong arming other House members to vote for the noninclusive bill. The face to face meetings with the Representatives should have happened in May, when NCTE, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC), and GenderPAC had their lobby week. Removal from ENDA was known to be a very strong possibility even then.

Work with GLAAD to develop video and PSAs for the targeted states and Congresspersons. We need to show them that we have materials that will help them withstand any hypothetical attacks.

Redouble the corporate work -- they've been doing a great job.”

Unfortunately, the work that HRC in this area was done by former transgender board members, Donna Rose and Jamison Green.

Then they end the drafts with some talking points.

We recognize that HRC's decision to follow a different strategy to secure a fully-inclusive bill was hurtful to some members of our community and we regret that. Because we share the same goal of a fully-inclusive ENDA, HRC is immediately launching a new public education campaign designed to continue the mainstreaming of transgender issues, with three initial priorities

Passing a noninclusive bill is not a strategy for success if you want inclusion.

Other thoughts (not sure where these fit above): Repositioning all of HRC's messaging to be more inclusive of transgender people, and more humble/apologetic about HRC's past exclusion of the transgender community.

Again, actions speak louder than words. We don't want to be a bargaining chip. We don't want to be seen as expendable. We don't want to be left out of ENDA. I can't say this any clearer.

Requiring each HRC Regional Steering Committee to undergo transgender awareness training, and to actively work to increase transgender participation on the Committee Holding "lunch and learn" sessions at HRC headquarters, where staffers can hear from transgender people directly on topics such as trans law, history, insurance, healthcare issues etc. Urging HRC staffers to consider transgender people for job openings

Are we so far apart that your folks need transgender awareness training?

The first step in rebuilding our trust in HRC must be for HRC to own up to the fact that we were promised one thing and the promise, for whatever reason, was broken. Members of the transgender community I've spoken to want an apology and an explanation, and the explanation must be sincere and convincing. They want to see a stop to public announcements that contradict private activity which many believe is still going on. Until that is done, it will be near impossible to get increased participation from the transgender community.

You've spoken to the wrong people...we want inclusion.

And this is a sad state of affairs. Sure there are 200-300 organizations in United ENDA (depending on how you count them), but so many of them are small. None of them has the resources to mount a nationwide educational campaign about transgender. HRC does. Mainstream media has been wonderful to us this year. Barbara Walters 20/20, Larry King Live, Opera, the Discovery Channel, Ugly Betty, All My Children, and others have done a largely commendable job of bringing a positive view of transgender issues before the public. Yet we still have to overcome the image that Jerry Springer shows them on TV and the image we ourselves give the public with our Gay Pride and Halloween parades. We can tell our stories all we want on HRC's web site and on Donna Rose's proposed website. The only people we will reach there are those who are specifically looking for this kind of information.

Do you guys have David Copperfield working for you? That was pretty amazing! You made United ENDA seem infinitesimally small... but how many people do the organizations of United ENDA represent? The Equality Federation... it isn't small, and neither is NGLTF.

At this time, I believe that only HRC has the resources to help us get the message out to mainstream America.

It seems like United ENDA did a pretty effective job at getting the message out before the vote. HRC does have resources, but can they be trusted? No. The folks of United ENDA have been there for us. There is a subtle admission in this email that HRC has lost the GLBT community's trust. An apology from a good actor, will not suffice.

The second step would be to truly understand the transgender community . As you well know, many in the transgender community are unemployed or underemployed. They cannot afford the time or the money to visit their political leaders and speak for themselves. Many have been denied the opportunity for higher education and thus cannot express themselves as they would need to when speaking to politicians and business leaders.

A study done by Erich, S., Tittsworth, J., Dykes, J., & Cabusas, C. (in press). Family relationships and their correlations with transsexual well being. Journal of GLBT Family Studies shows that:

47% had incomes below $30,000 annually.
6.7 % unemployed
9.0% part time (under-employed) employed
total unemployed and part time (under-employed) = 15.7
30.7% bachelor degree
16.5% master degree
8.8% doctorial degree
38.5% some college
5.5% high school
56% have a college degree
44% have a high school or some college courses

On the other hand, there have been more fortunate transgender individuals, particularly transsexuals, who have survived the attacks, found the strength to go on, found the opportunity for education, and found the conviction to live their lives as they should. They are accepted in their proper gender. These transsexuals are educated, with good paying, respectable careers. These people can speak for the community. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of them, the fight to get where they now are has been too long and too hard. They don't want to fight anymore. They have changed their gender, their birth certificates, their college records and work histories. They have moved hundreds, indeed thousands, of miles away from home to start new lives. They want to live the years they have left in relative peace, in their proper gender. I cannot fault them for that. Just as no one should be compelled to live in shame or fear, no one should be compelled to 'come out' and expose themselves to renewed expressions of discrimination and bigotry.

Our biggest source of burnout is that we're left to fight our own community, instead of our real enemies. Many transactivists walk away from activism because they're tired of fighting HRC for inclusion.

The third step would be to build trust through actions; communicate with our employers, develop new talent, and help us tell our stories to our lawmakers. Those employers who have signed on to equality will most likely listen to HRC. Convince those employers that allowing an employee a few days away from work to fly to Washington or their State Capital would be a good thing for business. There may be employees at those companies who don't even belong to HRC. Seek out those who would like to speak up if given the chance. Give us some training on how to present ourselves. Help the employees with airfare and lodging when needed. Help us get the lawmakers to receive us and to talk to us. Arrange the sit down time that many cannot get with our lawmakers.

Give us the opportunity to put a face on transgender; to demonstrate to our State and National legislators that we are worthy human beings, worthy of protection from harm, and of freedom from discrimination.

I believe HRC needs these first three steps of rebuilding trust and demonstrating commitment before the fourth step, The fourth step is what you really have asked how to do. By this time transgender who have responded to your call will have acquired the self-confidence of knowing they can speak up for the community. You will have developed new talent in the transgender community. At this point you can ask them to serve actively in HRC and expect them to serve well.

HRC has the political and financial clout to do all this. We have two years to prepare for the next volley in Congress. I think this would be a good start.

The truth of the matter is that HRC included transgender people in their mission statement in 2001. Much of what has been discussed above should have been done in the 6 years following our inclusion into HRC's mission statement. The tone of much of this email is of a parent to a child (step-child, even). HRC's lack of commitment to the transgender community has been so bad at times that the community felt it had to protest HRC. To have them condescend to us in the above manner is just down right insulting. HRC should be supporting us in our actions, not dictating what the transgender community should do. It's like a parent of an abandoned child coming back and giving the child advice after they've grown up.

Daddy Warbucks, ya ain't.


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Thanks for a great post and thorough deconstruction! Aside from all the other bullshit you called them out on, I CAN NOT believe that they are still saying stuff like this:

Yet we still have to overcome the image that Jerry Springer shows them on TV and the image we ourselves give the public with our Gay Pride and Halloween parades.

WHAT THE FUCK YEAR IS THIS? This queerphobic arguement needs to die already.

Good post Marti

The problem with the above statment in referance to Jerry Sp4ringer is it's true. I see it every day living close to Hillcrest in SanDiego.


Take care
Sue Robins

Ya, it's tiresome Nick. I wonder who even watches Jerry Springer anymore? What bothers me most is that it reinforces that we should fit into some box for others instead of demanding tolerance.

There is something wrong with the phrase "Demanding Tolerance" That is like saying extreme behavior should be punished by death.

You can demand respect.
You can demand to be accepted for who you are.

You simply cannot demand tolerance.

Besides Do you really want tolerance or
do you want acceptance and equality?

When i was living as a transperson i sure as the sun is bright didn't want tolerance.

What do you really want from straight folk?

Just something to think about..

Take care

Susan Robins

This should surprise no one. HRC isn't really looking to change, it's looking to make excuses for why they will never change and then try to make those excuses publicly palatable.

No one, no matter what segment of the community they hail from, or even if they aren't part of our community, should ever take a single thing that comes from this organization as fact without ample and credible outside confirmation. They are liars, plain and simple, and even here we see them not really looking to help the trans community as much as to repair their public image from the damage they did to it with their selfish, shortsighted, and yes, bigoted political "advocacy" games.

As always, the truth remains: HRC is in this for themselves and themselves only. Trust them not.

This is classic corporate evasion of responsibility. When you get caught discriminating, don't promote anyone, don't fix the real problem. Instead run diversity training and have some studies done.

Give me a break.

HRC wants a chance to make up for ENDA failing to understand that ENDA was their chance to make up for past failures. We want action, not words, not studies, not trainings.

I understand that HRC's transgender history is, shall we say, less than stellar. But some of the things they're suggesting are good. The polling, for example, could only give us a clearer understanding of the areas we need to focus on to get an even higher percentage on our side. :)

Let them spend some of the money on transgender issues. It's the very least they can do.

I disagree Bil. Their history with polls is not "stellar" either. But in the end, why would we need to commission a poll like that when the majority of Americans already support us?

The propaganda sez:

"Requiring each HRC Regional Steering Committee to undergo transgender awareness training, and to actively work to increase transgender participation on the Committee Holding 'lunch and learn' sessions at HRC headquarters, where staffers can hear from transgender people directly on topics such as trans law, history, insurance, healthcare issues etc. Urging HRC staffers to consider transgender people for job openings"

Marti sez:

"Are we so far apart that your folks need transgender awareness training?"

Well, the last sentence of that paragraph would appear to validate the criticism I've been levelling at the Scampaign for almost a decade: Thus far, we have never needed to apply. The heretofore semi-well-known token FTM and double-token FTM were nothing more than token and double-token, respectively.

Bil

You cannot possibly be serious.

I think HRC should go to Hell

They are just looking for some way to put spin on their own actions.

If i could i would spit in Joe's face and not worry about the battery charge.

It would be worth spending a night in jail for.

Bil, you have GOT to be kidding!

"Less than stellar"? That's like saying the right wing is less than supportive of gay rights. These people didn't just not support trans equality as vigorously as we would like, they worked completely against our interests and then lied about it repeatedly. They made all kinds of promises, took our money and our support based on those promises, and moment the going got tough, they sold us out without second thought and produced polling numbers which are, at best, questionable, and completely serving their own interests and those of their Democrat masters to justify their lies and betrayals.

They have clearly and completely proven themselves every bit as much the enemy of trans equality as any right wing group or politician. They provide political cover for transphobic bigotry to further their own selfish goals and those of the Frank/Pelosi Democratic transphobe cabal. They could spend millions on trans issues, but until I see them put their own selfish agenda on the side and insist on legislation that supports everyone I will continue to define them publicy as the enemy of real equality in this country that they are.

Besides, who will believe HRC now, no matter what they say? Nobody takes proven liars seriously, especially not those who haven't even had the courage to stand up and publicly disavow their lies.

Puh-leeeze!

What possible reason would we have for trusting them? I mean, objectively?

I'm Australian, and we have our own problems. But I've studied what's been going down in the US from an objective standpoint. I've seen the history.

The HRC blew all trust a long time ago. Then they promised to reform, then didn't. But they were given another chance, they promised to reform, but didn't. Then they did it again. And again. And AGAIN.

Enough.

Maybe they really truly cross-fingers-and-hope-to-die mean it this time. Like they said they did last time. And the time before that. And the time before THAT.

The point is, we'd be idiots to trust them again, they know it, we know it.

Earth to HRC: You blew it, some things cannot be undone. It's too late. Please just get out of the way. You had your last chance.

I was being sarcastic, Becky.

The only real drawback to allowing them to spend money on the transgender cause is Marti's comment that their history with polls isn't too hot either. If they did it in concert with NTCE or something would that help?

As an organization, I think most of their members are on board with trans rights. I know from talking to some staffers that a LOT of them are and they don't like the stance HRC took on it.

I say let them spend some of that money on something other than marriage. Take what you can and use it. Pragmatist. You don't have to trust someone to use what they can give you.

Bil..
I don't think most of their board is on board with trans-rights...If it was their handling of ENDA would have been different.

They will take input and do their research then they will spin it like a top to justify their not backing Trans Inclusion in the first place.

These guys have the best experience of the news media the republicans and democrats.

I have said it before and will say it again HRC are Political Whores.


Somehow spitting on Joe just doesn't seem enough....

Can someone hold him down.


Susan Robins

Sue! I thought you of all people would agree with me! After all, you like to stick with legalities and pragmatism. What's wrong with hating an organization but still using their money to advance your agenda? That's Politics 101.

Sue! I thought you of all people would agree with me! After all, you like to stick with legalities and pragmatism. What's wrong with hating an organization but still using their money to advance your agenda? That's Politics 101.

my Bil how you forget how i despise politicians.
they are usually two notches below child molesters.
:)

Here is the problem you can't use their money because they will always remain in control.

Yah but you already know that don't you?
:)

Take care
and may HRC burn in Hell in a bright blue flame.

Susan Robins

Just one question: Why is so little fury being directed toward the House Reps that refused to vote in favor of a trans-inclusive ENDA? Why have I not even seen a listing of said US Reps?

FACT: A trans-inclusive ENDA will never pass if we don't have enough votes to pass it. ( --- That statement, of course, is a tautology.)

FACT: The absence of sufficient votes on a worthy bill is usually taken to indicate that more lobbying is necessary.

FACT: An entire universe full of GLBT organizations that refuse to drop trans-protections will not pass an inclusive ENDA if said unity cannot be translated into actual Congressional votes.

FACT: Since US House Reps vote on behalf of individual Congressional districts and their constituencies, not nationwide, a national poll indicating support for trans rights does not necessarily equate with votes of support in the US House --- if the support is not evenly distributed throughout the US, such as if, for example, the public support is concentrated in a few major US cities.

So, if the votes aren't there, then a lobbying plan is needed.

As unhappy as I may be with HRC, at least HRC is attempting to come up with the lobbying plan needed. (And so are other groups.)

If NCTE or any other trans group has better ideas about how to lobby Congress ... then let's hear them.

I don't want to offend anybody ... but it doesn't make sense to drown oneself in the juice from one's own sour grapes. Everyone on both sides needs to dust herself or himself off, and get back to effective work. I understand that transpeople (and others) are livid about transpeople being excluded, and honestly, I really can't blame them a bit. But it seems to me that the crux of the problem is being totally missed, and that crux is: Not enough pro-trans votes in Congress.

And nothing in this entire thread has directly addressed that heart of the problem.

""As unhappy as I may be with HRC, at least HRC is attempting to come up with the lobbying plan needed. (And so are other groups.)""

So why hasn't HRC been doing their part in lobbying for a trans-inclusive ENDA?

I won't let them off the hook.
You can drink all the HRC Kool-Aid you want, if that is what you want to do HRC is more to blame for not doing their lobbying work because they are positioned to do that work in the first place.
They obviously don't think their mission statement or their word is worth a Damned.


We called our representatives.
What is HRC's Excuse?


Take Care
Susan Robins

To answer your question, it's because the post isn't about those leaders, but HRC.

And you have your "facts" wrong. We had the votes to pass it. I have this on the authority of one of the Representatives. Their fear was that of not being able to stop a parliamentary procedure that could kill the bill.

I'll ask you this, would you want NCTE to lobby for YOUR rights?

I'll ask you this, would you want NCTE to lobby for YOUR rights?

Yes. I would. And I want the ACLU, Lambda Legal, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, NOW, and the American people lobbying on my behalf too. It's going to take everyone to make this a movement that works.

It's the same as all the big businesses here in Indiana lobbying against the proposed constitutional amendment. So are domestic violence advocates, women's rights supporters and PFLAG parents. We need them all.

Bil, you misunderstand. HRC is trying to LEAD on transgender rights, yet they've been woefully willing to do so in the past. Would you want NCTE to represent you, solely, in Congress? My point is, that HRC should work WITH transgender organizations, not control the agenda. There history on doing so is very poor.

HRC is trying to LEAD on transgender rights, yet they've been woefully willing to do so in the past... My point is, that HRC should work WITH transgender organizations, not control the agenda.

Now this makes a lot of sense... HRC always tries to jump in and take over, so I can totally see this happening. I can agree that I wouldn't be too happy with HRC leading a transgender movement but would rather a trans group do so. I'd feel the same way about a non-LGBT group leading the LGBT movement.

But I still think you should take their money and use it to your own good. :)

HRC is trying to LEAD on transgender rights, yet they've been woefully willing to do so in the past. Would you want NCTE to represent you, solely, in Congress? My point is, that HRC should work WITH transgender organizations, not control the agenda. There history on doing so is very poor.

Now I see your point! In addition to Bil's response, which I agree with 100%, this relates to HRC and its desire to be the el primo GLBT lobbying group --- they want to be Queen of the Hill --- and sucking in all the GLBT political donations it can in a way that would make a Dyson vacuum cleaner jealous.

As you probably know, HRC often "does not play well with others" on many issues, and I've heard rumors of them surreptitiously torpedoing the efforts of NGLTF, which if true, is reprehensible. The corporate culture at HRC is probably its biggest problem --- or am I stating the obvious?

Yes, absolutely, they should be a good team player and not insist on hogging the lobbying effort, the stage or the public conversation. And the trans groups should do their best to work with HRC and NGLTF and so on, worts and all. This might be frustrating a bit, since most GLB's need considerable education on trans issues just as almost all straights do.

And you have your "facts" wrong. We had the votes to pass it. I have this on the authority of one of the Representatives. Their fear was that of not being able to stop a parliamentary procedure that could kill the bill.

If you are correct about this, Marti, it is new info to me and does change the picture significantly. But this new info brings up more questions. Do you mean that the inclusive bill might have been filibustered in the House? Whatever this "parliamentary procedure" might have been, it still could have been a real problem to contend with. A filibustered bill is still a defeated bill.

And I'd still like to see that roster of Reps that were willing to vote for an exclusive ENDA but not an inclusive one --- does it exist, or is this info so "off the record" that it is impossible to draw up? --- to me, it seems that this list is Step No. 1 to making sure that transpeople get included the next time around.

AJ,

You can hear Tammy Baldwin say exactly what Marti said by going here.
and seeing Pam's interview with her (third vid, the one on ENDA).

Okay, after re-reading some of the previous comments, maybe my last post above was Pollyanna-ish. Clearly, Rebeeca, Zoe and Sue feel that HRC is simply unsalvageable. Maybe they are right, in which case HRC is even worse than I thought, and Marti's point in writing this post is beginning to sink in.

So in other words, the Dem's wanted to pass something --- anything --- so they can say, "See, America, we're actually doing something!" And even though trans-inclusion had a chance of passing, since it was riskier for them to get the trans-inclusive bill though, they played it safe and dropped trans-protections ... and HRC helped them every step of the way. The real goal wasn't passing the right bill, it was making the Dem's look good.

Okay ... I finally get it now. The little Christmas-tree light turns on in my head. Sing Hallelujah!

P.S. In my Log Cabin years, I heard the question "Are you gay first or Republican first?" so many times I could puke --- many middle-of-the-road GLB's hated the LCR because too many of them were "Republican first" ... and now we see a perfect example of how our Democrat "allies" can prove to be "Democrat first". OK, I get it.

Forgive me if I'm explaining the obvious ... but I didn't get it before, and by writing this, maybe some other readers will get it, too.

P.S. In my Log Cabin years, I heard the question "Are you gay first or Republican first?" so many times I could puke --- many middle-of-the-road GLB's hated the LCR because too many of them were "Republican first" ... and now we see a perfect example of how our Democrat "allies" can prove to be "Democrat first". OK, I get it.

I have been asked variations on this many times through my life My answer has always been the same

I'm Human First
Everything else follows.

Take Care
Sue Robins


A.J.L - you grok in fullness with your last post.

The real goal wasn't passing the right bill, it was making the Dem's look good.

Thx Zoe ... and after a visit to Wiktionary, I even now know what "grok" means:

to grok:

1. (transitive, slang) To have an intuitive understanding of; to know (something) without having to think (such as knowing the number of objects in a collection without needing to count them).
2. (transitive, slang) To fully and completely understand something in all its details and intricacies.

Ex.: He groks Perl.

Although I'm an s.f. fan (mostly Asimov and Clarke), I've read very little Heinlein.

Well ... nano, nano!

Ah, Marti, the anti-HRC troll comes out from under the bridge yet again to grump and grouse and grunt.

If the trans community would transfer the time they spend complaining about GLBT groups into constructive efforts of Their Own on trans issues, the trans community would be much further along.