Marti Abernathey

Equality Through Intimidation? The Houston HRC Dinner Protest

Filed By Marti Abernathey | April 13, 2008 5:23 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: fundraisers, gender identity, Houston, HRC, Human Rights Coalition, nonviolent protest

I just received this from Phyllis Frye:

By calling the Houston Police, national HRC deliberately set in motion a police over response. HRC used government and taxpayer monies to intimidate the hell out of TG and gender variant people who drove in to participate, but were scared away.

I hope the Advocate or Blade or Voice do a freedom of information act request to determine how much money was used to cover the HRC "false alarm." I think the City of Houston should bill National HRC for the knowing "false alarm."

Only 11 folks were brave enough to show when driving in and seeing the police riot set up that HRC had triggered. Three were from out of town. A threat, we were not! THERE WERE NO INCIDENTS.


The tenor I've heard from other national GLBT leaders (including some leading Executive Directors) is that Phyllis Frye is either mistaken or dishonest in her belief that HRC is trying to intimidate transgender people. I've been told that it is S.O.P. (standard operating procedure) when there is a protest of an HRC dinner that the police are called by the local HRC that hosts the event. That being said, do you think that this is an appropriate response to 11 transactivists?




I've organized or co-organized many a protest (see my about page for a list) and we've never had more than a few officers. We always alerted the ACLU and they sent monitors:


At our "Rally at the State House" in Indianapolis we had almost 1000 people, yet didn't have six mounted police officers.

If HRC is trying to mend fences or wants to bring transgender people back into the fold, intimidation is not going to help do that. It only reinforces the idea that we are pawns, to be moved and ordered as the HRC wills us to.


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I'm sure this'll probably be moderated.

Frankly, it is their SOP. I did the Banquet in DC and they did the same thing. For the first few minutes there wasn't any problem until the convention center security confabbed with the DC PD and they began dogging my every move. So, Houston wasn't really out of the ordinary.

That said, it is Houston with it's usual reputation. Seeing the 8 or 10 horse-mounted riot police and the barricades reminded me of the 1988 RNC convention at the Astrodome and the folks the unmistakably physical control-at-all-costs control to usher Bush Sr's homecoming and red-carpet victory lap to the White House. I didn't feel like getting horse-trampled and charged for assaulting a police office (horse) by being unfortunate to get in front of an equine body-checking to the ground.

That said, it was overkill on HRC's behalf -- all of it is. Basically, it's intimidation tactics. They managed to dissuade media from the event, shut down most of the community and somehow convince our local leaders that all was good with the HRC. No doubt I'll pay more of the same old character impugning as a result. But then again, I've had nothing but that for the past decade ... so what? Cross HRC show the reality behind the facade and they'll make sure you pay.

We had about 70 folks at the vigil in Philadelphia. One Detective came over and spoke to me for a few minutes. Then he left.

If this isn't intimidation - it'll do till the real thing comes along.

Some of you may recall (written in Southern Voice) that they called the police on me when I protested the L-Word event they sponsored back in January.

I hope that HRC/Atlanta does not stoop to these tactics on May 3...if the T community decides to protest...

Tuesday is T Talk Tuesday on Alternative Perspectives, GLBTQ radio show..in Atlanta...and we will be discussing some of this....during the T Talk segment...starts at 7:30pm est...streams at http://wrfg.org 89.3fm...for locals...

Look...we need to be peaceful...but we need to speak up...I have said it before..and I will say it again...HRC messed up...they betrayed the T community, they used poor judgement, they LIED, and betrayed the entire grassroots community who had worked so hard on HRC's behalf...to develop the relationships across the country...to build community...and to be...GLBT...in everything that we do...my commentary is up on my website...from November... http://uniteandact.org.

Washington is still trying to rationalize, as to why some of us should be left behind..and get what we can now...that later will be better...and in the meantime...another TDOR will arrive...and we will have to remember the dead, who had no protections, again.

This goes beyond insane, it is pure lack of humanity. HRC, no longer means Human Rights Campaign to me...instead...it should read...
"Hardly Really Consistent", and I am being kind.

Politics should never over-ride our HUMANITY..

Peace
Betty

As one of the out of towners participating in the Houston protest I would like to say,
WE ROCKED HRC. Every time one of the $100,000.00 car wisked by with the occupaints cowering and crouching to avoid eye contact WE WON the moment.
Thats what pissed off HRC so bad. They were powerless against us. HOW BOUT IT ATLANTA?
You going to represent?
Don't let some fairy snowbird like me show you south paws up!

I got some pic's click me!

"The tenor I've heard from other national GLBT leaders (including some leading Executive Directors) is that Phyllis Frye is either mistaken or dishonest in her belief that HRC is trying to intimidate transgender people."

OK - factor Phyllis out of the equation. Then think about what is more likely: HRC telling the truth about this (or anything) or HRC trying to intimidate trans people into submission.

I rest my case.

If anybody had any doubts about HRC being 'scurred' of transpeople or that we're having a major effect on their dinners, this weekend removed all doubt.

i don't know any trans people intimidated by police...especially po-lice on horsies. the turn out was disappointing, but after all we are a small percentage of the population. as far as HRC telling the truth about anything...not with their present leadership.

Eevn if Aaron Doral (oops Joe Solomonese) resigned tommorow, the neo-Mattachine anti-trangender attitudes still infect HRC to its rotten amoral core.

One of the advantages of being a sort of "free lance" activist is that I can call things the way that I see them.

That said, the Houston incident was a disgrace. In a sad parody of how the Stonewall Uprising started, the spiritual heirs of the same Mattachines that condemned Stonewall sent the police after the trans-protestors. How did the philisopical and social descendants of those who sat on the sidelines of the beginning of the movement end up controlling it?

Further irony is provided by sending police after the trans in the VERY SAME COUNTY where the police set into motion the Lawrence Case that gave the HRC members the right to sleep with their partners after dinner without fear of arrest.

My money goes to another organization that is far more representative of me and Lesbians in general, and is trans-supportive. And it is far more than enough money to attend an HRC dinner.

This is no surprise to me at all. Just HRC doing what HRC does, especially when it comes to transpeople.

If anyone who was there would like to give a report on the event and what happened on my show this Thursday, please get in touch with me: rjuroshow@gmail.com

This is something we need to talk about and keep talking about. Knowing what might have happened, the transfolks who might have been beaten and arrested by overzealous police in riot gear, the hypocrisy at play here is truly astounding, even for the Human Rights Campaign.

Could someone take out that Limp bizkit video? I don't need it blaring everytime I read this thread.

OMG - I totally agree, Emilia. I wish I knew how or I would.

I've had 8 complaint e-mails about it so far since the post went up. Most people think it's an ad we're running. It's not. It's just the slide show.

The worst part? Trying to turn the damn thing off. Every time I click to pause it, it opens the whole slideshow in another window and starts all over again. I never have been able to see the slide show because the video plays over top of it and you can't stop it or move it or anything.

Bah.

Hey ...I cliked on the speaker...on that video...and it turned off...

Monica I love you too...let's talk...okay...

Here in Atlanta...we have a voice ...on the airwaves...let's use it...T Talk Tuesday... tomorrow... call in number 404 523 8989...call and make a comment...

Marti..I will be waiting on your call at 7:30pm...
Others can join the conversation...up to 4 callers at a time...

Atlanta...let's do this...let's organize...I know we can...

Peace
Betty

Go Alanta! Gotta keep the fire burning. When we had the protest at the University of Ct. HRC held their "town meeting" at the Dodd Center. Which is a Human Rights Archive/Center and Library. (the nerve of them.) When we called about our protest the head of the center said they welcome protests and there would be no need for campus police to be told about it.

I agree 100% with Rebecca #13. Also #12 2nd paragraph is ripe for discussion, thanks Maura. I still fume over Jean O'Leary's treatment of Sylvia Rivera.

How did these heirs end up trying to make all of us think that marriage is the #1 goal of our people. As a Queer/gay man my top goal is full and equal rights for the Trans community. That train is a long time coming. We fight hard here in CT. and the Gender Expression and Identity bill is now in the state House. I say all love and justice, fight on, freedom now.

P.S Like #11. A bit of (his-tory. Did you know that the Mattachine had what was called a Credential Committee? I found this out in 1999 when we did a exhibition and had access to the Foster Gunninson archives housed at the Dodd Center. He ran the damn thing. Dig it we would have all not been allowed to come out to their conferences.

Keep em on there toes then im not a memeber or supporter of HRC.Sorry wont be in Atlanta then I avoid that blight on Georgia whenever I can.

Just my opinion, but all of this has gone off of the deep end. As if the constant acrimony and vitriol between the LGBT community and the right wing was not enough, now our own community is fighting itself?

Seriously this is ridiculous, I implore us to take a step back and try to reconcile the differences as adults capable of rational discourse before this grow anymore ludicrous or damaging to the at large community.

I don't want to be negative towards HRC or any other group. I want peace and unity between the communities. But many Native Americans wanted to live peacefully with the settlers. I see Joe Solmonese as the modern day Andrew Jackson. His words are those of reconciliation and peace, but his (or HRC's) actions are not. Even after ENDA, HRC's attitude wasn't one of collaboration, but of dictating the movement.

If there's any question of that, please refer to:
http://transadvocate.com/hrcs-project-win-back

I fear that the next year and a half are going to really tear the GLB and T activist communities apart in a way that won't be able to be repaired. I hope I'm wrong, but the storm clouds brewing look very ugly.

Just my opinion, but all of this has gone off of the deep end. As if the constant acrimony and vitriol between the LGBT community and the right wing was not enough, now our own community is fighting itself?

Seriously this is ridiculous, I implore us to take a step back and try to reconcile the differences as adults capable of rational discourse before this grow anymore ludicrous or damaging to the at large community.

Allison

Marti I enjoy reading your posts and subsequent commentary. That said, the following comparison is completly overboard:

Marti said:

"...I see Joe Solmonese as the modern day Andrew Jackson. His words are those of reconciliation and peace, but his (or HRC's) actions are not. Even after ENDA, HRC's attitude wasn't one of collaboration, but of dictating the movement."

While I concur that Mr. Solmonese is a trans-bigot and nothing more than a charlatan, it is intellectually dishonest to compare him to a President who was directly responsible for the literal deaths of Native Americans before, during, and after the "Trail of Tears"

In my opinion, the pajoritive nature of such a comparison does nothing to move the real issue of trans-inclusiveness forward and instead only ends up as a counter-volley in this war of rhetoric.

Fact is, HRC's relevance is waining as they have been exposed for who they truly are. Their donations are on the decline and after all their years "advocating" for the LGBT community almost no one outside of the LGBT community and the counter right-wing demagogues still have no idea who they are or what they do.

Maybe it is time to stop protesting HRC and let the market deal them their final demise into obscurity.

Maybe it is time to work with community leaders to begin the process of laying the groundwork for a national all-inclusive organization as the 21st century successor to the good, albeit fatally flawed work HRC started.

Respectfully,

Allison

Thing is, gender variant people are dying because they are fired from their job right now, and have no other way of support. The Native Americans were routinely sold a bill of goods, saying that this would be their final home...only to move that space when settlers filled up the previous space. It really is a matter of trust. How do you trust a group that routinely excludes, undersupports, or downright lies to us? Believe me, I want believe in what they say. But when they do something that even alienates one of the most positive people I know (Donna Rose), I really find it difficult to believe anything they say or do.

The best thing I can think to do is work around them.

The Podcast is up for Tuesday's show...featuring Marti Abernathy... @ http://alternative-Perspectives.blogspot.com

Peace
Betty