Rebecca Juro

"Comprehensive"?

Filed By Rebecca Juro | August 14, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Democratic Party, ENDA, politics, transgender

Recently I received an email from the Stonewall Democrats. This fundraising letter lauded the newly-released draft of the 2008 Democratic Party Platform, calling it "...the most pro-LGBT proposed platform in Democratic Party history." The list of relevant platform planks seems to indicate that the platform is indeed exactly that, but what is inexplicable here is the easy acceptance and celebration of something we can't as yet be sure amounts to even crumbs from the Democratic Party on the single most important issue to literally millions of LGBT American workers. Check out this little nugget:

"We will enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act."

Can someone please tell me what the heck this is supposed to mean? The Stonewall Dems describe this as "A united, comprehensive strategy on ENDA that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity," but I'm not as willing to trustingly read in that which isn't there. Looks like the Democrats are back to playing word games again, trying to look like they're promising us the world, while in reality they're actually offering us nothing substantial at all.

"(C)omprehensive"? By who's measure? Do they mean comprehensive in terms of what it would cover or in who it protects? What are the elements in an employment non-discrimination bill that would be required in order for it to be considered comprehensive?

And "bipartisan"? That makes me even more nervous. Just how many Republicans do they think they're going to line up to vote in favor of an inclusive ENDA? What kind of compromises would have to be made in order to see it happen? Or maybe it's just that transgender and gender variant inclusion isn't required for the Democrats to introduce a bill they consider comprehensive?

In addition, I think the use of the word "comprehensive" may be telling, just in and of itself. Consider this: The Democratic Party is neither stupid nor ignorant. They know perfectly well that if they'd had the courage to use the term "fully inclusive" instead of "comprehensive" in the above statement our community would be all but dancing in the streets with joy and gratitude.

The Democratic Party knows exactly what's been going on with ENDA, HRC, and the trans community over the last year or so, and they have to know that if they had the courage to make a truly bold and affirmative statement on transgender inclusion in ENDA in the Party Platform, they could easily cast themselves as the heroes of this drama and help to unite the vast majority of LGBT voters around the Democratic Party just in time for the election. Yet they have apparently not chosen to do that.

When you look at it in the right lens, this one key word sends a message to transgender and gender variant Americans directly from the Democratic Party and it's a pretty clear one: "Transfolks, you and your issues are on the table, but there's a limit. We're all quite comfortable including you in a hate crimes law. After all, that's easy to get done and it makes us look good. Thing is, many of us are still not quite so sure we want to make the effort to actually fight for you and possibly expend valuable political capital on your behalf in order to protect you from discrimination in the workplace, so we're leaving ourselves a back door just in case we decide to chicken out again."

Could I be completely wrong about this? Sure I could be and I hope I am, but I don't think that's the case or I wouldn't be writing this. I firmly believe that if the Democratic Party wanted us to know with a certainty that it supports protecting transgender and gender variant people from discrimination in the workplace, they'd state it as a fact and in no uncertain terms.

The fact that they're resorting to vague, hard-to-define descriptors like "comprehensive" leads me to believe that the signs are not good, that a lot of these people are still running scared from justice and equal rights for all Americans. They're not running quite as fast as they used to, mind you, but they're still doing everything they can to keep us at arm's length.

Of course, I must also point out that I'm talking about the Party as a whole here, not every individual politician in the Democratic Party. Many Democrats are supporters of inclusion and an inclusive ENDA, and it's not fair to overgeneralize. Yet at the same time, if this proposed Party Platform is indeed an accurate reflection of popular current political thinking within the Democratic Party, we may be in big trouble with ENDA '09.

If there's one truth that writers, activists, and politicians all fully understand and respect it's that words have power. The choice of a single word or phrase can speak volumes to the proper audience. Given that this is a draft and not a final version, there may be hope for a possible revision here, but I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm expecting one. Even if we do get some sort of change, it's probably as likely as not that it would be for another doublespeak term like "wide-reaching" or "impactfull".

"Comprehensive"?

I don't know about you, but the needle on my bullshit detector is in the red zone.

(Crossposted on http://beckygrrl.livejournal.com/ and http://snipurl.com/31ncr)


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Well, if I recall accurately, the needle on your "bullshit detector" maxed out beyond its red zone limit in 2004 when the trans delegates were totally and completely screwed on the DNC strong-arming us to withdraw our amendment. It may bein the the red zone, but at least it hasn't pegged the needle this time.

"Charge the paddles to 600! Clear!"

1. It covers both sexual orientation & gender identity.

2. It covers those - but doesn't just cover employment - it also covers public accomadation.

3. They'll privatise non discrimination protection for lgbt people - you can buy insurance. In insurance, comphrensive is coverage which pays to repair or replace the policy owner's job and lost wages if it was damaged or lost due to other agents, such as fire, theft, flood, bigotry or vandalism – or insufficient employment non-discrimination laws.

4. The language is probably stil being tweaked & no one has the final draft yet - but the words we are hearing have been getting progressively better since 2 weeks ago. Sounds like those advocating are having some success. Can't be much longer till the actual wording is released.

You should be suspicious, Rebecca. We all should be. I got the same email you did Rebecca and I've read the post here from the NGLTF that lauds the courage of the party.

It sounds to me like the language is being sent out for review (why else would there be such a leak of preliminary platforms) and leaders of organized communities are trying to heard the cats (so to speak) to get consensus.

This is brave language? This is the most inclusive platform ever? To me this looks like an attempt to be post-gay / post-sexual minority / post-multicultural and that's lame.

The Democratic Party can't actually think they can have the first African-American candidate likely to be President and believe that is an indication of some kind of American cultural evolution that goes beyond the need to recognize our differences.

Either this evolution is the ideology the Democrats are adopting or they are officially avoiding the potential of being pegged as advocates of minority populations because they are afraid of the association.

This is the direct result of prioritizing a politcal agenda.

There wasn't a leak of preliminary platforms, Patrick. The first version was given to LGBT leaders for input. After that input, the platform was changed to this iteration.

I would warn everyone about the danger of reading more importance into a document like this, than it has, or bemoaning the fact that it is vague. The platform Obama runs on will, in reality, be whatever Barack Obama says it is. Nobody is bound by a party platform. There will be Democrats running who will openly oppose planks in the platform, just as there are Republicans who don't go along with the Religious Reicher agenda.

Ultimately, we'll know where Obama stands and what he'll do, when he does it. That's just how it works. Your choice on Election Day is between a guy who might do something good for the GLBT community (and might listen, and has met with T people before), and someone who is guaranteed not to (McCain).

So in other words, Polar, we should read between the lines, but only what we want to read not what the last 20 years of American politics might lead us to believe.

Don't stop believing...eventually something will happen that resembles support of LGBT citizenship or our lives will end and it won't matter, but we will have lived a life full of HOPE.

It sounds positively Stepfordian. Yay!

Patrick,
Polar is right. In years past, the party platform was something that all the politicians in that party followed, to the letter. The creation of the modern party platform is nothing more than a tradition that has become meaningless, but far be it for political parties to dodge meaningless traditions. The primary has become a laborious process that is, yet again, a meaningless tradition. This election process (two years in the making so far,) has proven how rediculous some of these traditions have become. They could easily streamline the process, but NO!

In this case, Becky getting upset at what is in or not in a "first draft" is nothing more than a writing exercise to keep her skills honed. She has also created her own "tradition" by doing the same thing four years ago when she got upset at that party platform.

Ultimately, the Democrates in Congress and Obama will do what they damn well please and the party platform will take it's place with other party documents that look good on papar (or don't) but no one is obligated to follow. I mean, there are no Party Platform Police that bust into a Congressman's office and horsewhip the Congressman for not following the platform. This isn't North Korea, after all.

I think there's reason to be upset, Monica, just as there was four years ago. Closing our eyes to the clues they give us about what they really think about us serves no one. The tradition, if there is one, is not mine but theirs, a tradition of trying to appear inclusive without taking on the responsibility of actually being inclusive and taking the necessary steps in order to ensure it.

It would be very easy for them to prove me wrong and I sincerely hope they do, but I really don't expect it to happen.

Becky,
The "clues" in the party platform are a lot of fun trying to decipher, like a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but it is fictional just the same. Do you actually believe that Barney Frank will follow the platform and insert the words "gender identity" in the next ENDA, because it's in the platform? Can you tell us that he would even follow it if it said, "The Democratic Party will make sure that the next ENDA will have full coverage and protection for gender identity and gender expression, specifically for our Transgender Americans?" He can care less about what's in the Platform, especially if it helps transgender people. He motivated by his own biases and his own agenda. The Platform be damned.

The party platform is something that we need to look at and maybe, just maybe get some vague idea of how much they really care. But once the ink dries on the paper and the computer screen is turned off, the document is nothing more then a flash in history. The real work isn't going to change one ioda after the next President is elected. I think that is something both of us agrees on.

If the platform isn't worth the paper it is printed on, then why did the NGLTF post at this blog promoting it as the best thing written since the last Harry Potter book?

Obviously there is little worth paying attention to that comes out of the mouth of a Democrat - FISA, war funding, off-shore drilling are all examples of the vascillating done when the pressure to defend a position becomes too great for Democratic Party.

The party platform doesn't hold any more sway than the multitude of examples of weakness that come from the Party that demands our compliance yet offers us little reason for the support other than blackmail: vote for us because the Republicans will do bad things (at least the Democrats pretend they have our values).

There is no reason to overlook this platform as yet one more indication that the Party is ready, willing and able to fail us once again...and we keep enabling them to do it.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 14, 2008 6:51 PM

The stoneheads announced that "We will enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act."

Its already been passed. It's the same gutted version of ENDA from which Barney the Quisling cut the parts that would vastly expand the possibilities to sue for redress by ourselves and others to please the Chamber of Commerce. Then the Democrats accepted the Republican amendments, including one that put it sync with DOMA, the bigoted law Bill Clinton boasted about signing.

That's what 'bipartisan' means. It was the same coalition of Democrats and Republicans who passed DOMA and DADT that gutted ENDA and tossed the Matthew Shepard Hate crimes bill in the trash. The two parties are not opponents, they're accomplices and accessories to the crime of bigotry.

The DP's platform is Obama’s creation. The committee that adopted it did what they were told to do. The Stalin-like erasure of our communities from the platform is part of the tactic of pandering that Obama's followed from the beginning. Its paid off with his capture of a traditionally Republican bloc; he now leads McCain 43% to 34% among christianists. The problem with Obama's pandering, from his infamous revival meetings with Donnie McKulkin to the deleting our names is that if its astonishingly successful – 43% to 34% - then it aquires a life of its own. A tactic becomes a stategy and if he wins because of it that’ll be very bad news for us.

"How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right." - Black Hawk (Sauk)

"I will say this much for our noble rulers: that, tyrannical and morally rotten as they were, they were enthusiastically religious." Mark Twain

With Democrats like these who needs Republicans?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 14, 2008 6:54 PM

Sorry, I almost forgot.

John McCain is a rancid Republican with Pat Robertson attached at the hip.

Obama is a sellout Democrat with Donnie McKulkin attached at the hip.

Anyone who thinks there's little difference between Democrats and Republicans, is obviously a very poor judge of distance, and needs a thorough eye exam. No, the Democrats aren't as liberal as they should be, but they are far, far better than the Republicans. I've lived under Republican tyranny long enough to know the difference.

And, sorry, but you have to take it on faith. If the platform were more explicit, that wouldn't mean that Obama would follow it. That went out with FDR. Obama's stated his support of GLBT rights often enough for me to somewhat believe he favors it. McCain obviously supports nothing GLBT. I'll take a possible over an impossible any day. You vote for the best available, because you rarely get ideal.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 15, 2008 3:04 PM

“No, the Democrats aren't as liberal as they should be, but they are far, far better than the Republicans."

The facts tell a different story. You’ll have to prove they’re better, and when they were, and on what issue.

So Polar, lets get started. Were they better when they gutted ENDA, excised our very names from their platform, refused to repeal DOMA and DADT and cut the hate crimes bill?

Are they better when the oppose socialized medicine, ignore the needs of working people, endorse FTA's and vote with republicans to deregulate corporate predators? Better when they fiddle while the economy burns?

Were they better when they voted to gut the Fourth Amendment?

Are they better when they pander to bigots by opposing same sex marriage? McCain does it, and so does Obama, incessantly. How is one of them better than the other? By supporting civil unions, .e. second class citizenship. Is that better?

Were they better when they vote for war funds to pay for Bush's genocide? Or when they voted to divide Iraq in three autonomous provinces and to insist that they let US oil companies run their petrochemical industry?

Is Obama better when he announces that he'll continue the war? Or that he’ll up the pace of murder in Afghanistan? Or when he dementedly calls for an attack on Pakistan? Is that really any better than McCain’s war mongering?

Really Polar, you’ll have to do better than "sorry, but you have to take it on faith". That might work at one of Obama’s revival meetings with Donnie McKulkin or at a VFW or NRA rally but it won't work here. Not after what we've seen from the Democrats and their Republican accomplices since they took over Congress two years ago and repeatedly shoved us under the bus so they could pander to bigots in the election.

The facts, irrespective of ‘faith’ say we shouldn’t trust them an inch. They fact say they’re our enemies, not our friends.

With Democrats like these who needs Republicans?

And "bipartisan"? That makes me even more nervous. Just how many Republicans do they think they're going to line up to vote in favor of an inclusive ENDA? What kind of compromises would have to be made in order to see it happen? Or maybe it's just that transgender and gender variant inclusion isn't required for the Democrats to introduce a bill they consider comprehensive?

Bipartisanship shouldn't make you nervous; it should be the entire goal. It doesn't do you much good if only 50% of people support you. 100% is a much better number to have.

And, I think "comprehensive" is, well, comprehensive. Would you rather the platform read, "We will enact a[n] comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act that covers gays and lesbians, but only if we have enough Democrats to do it."?

I think you're picking it apart.

If the platform read as you altered it, Bil, I would have more faith in the intentions of Democrats.

I still wouldn't trust them, especially in light of the arguments written in the comments to this post. Apparently the platform is meaningless words cobbled together to create an optical illusion for the benefit of LGBT leaders to review and occupy their time or masturbate over, I'm not sure which.

Is that a fair (if not sarcastic) assessment of what the defenders of the (lack of) language are saying?

Why does bipartisanship only apply to Democratic policy considerations? Oh, sure it makes them look like negotiators (glass half full) and maybe even like diplomats (blinders completely on) but it also makes them look like over eager compromisers (glass half empty) that won't stand up for their own ideals and can't defend a position that might be moral, but is not yet popular.

Republicans might seem staunch in terms of their insane agenda - but they also aren't afraid to defend their positions.

What do Democrats do? They tell each other to ignore the inconsistencies because they really don't matter. Our agenda - our priorities - can be ignored because it makes us look like we are open minded when we give in to our opponents. Our values don't matter as much as the perception of our accomplishments do.

The United States of Democratic Stepford.

Sure, ti's the best wording, but I think these past twenty years have proven, Bil, that "bipartisan" means "Democrats caving into Republicans." They'll never agree to a piece of legislation that'll support labor and LGBT folks. Hell, they'd never support one or the other.

I don't know why Democrats are obsessed with bipartisanship, and I think that's right at the center of one of the biggest political problems in the country right now: everyone's afraid of being painted as too liberal, no one's afraid of being seen as too conservative, so everything moves to the right. Even though Americans are fed up with the right.

There's no way that the Republicans would sign on to anything that would remotely protect us, so "bipartisan" is just colorful language if taken out of context, and in the context of Congressional politics, it's a sign that they're ready to capitulate (like they did on the bipartisan FISA, and that one war in a certain middle eastern country that was bipartisan...).

They spent a full paragraph describing what they wanted to do with DADT, and then they put out this vague phrase on ENDA. Becky's right - it means they don't give a fuck about it.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 15, 2008 3:28 PM

DADT is a bipartisan law; a Democratic law codifying bigotry and harassment of GLBT service members and encouraging violence against them. The Republicans gleefully supported it.
http://www.gaytoday.badpuppy.com/garchive/events/072299ev.htm

DOMA is a bipartisan law. It's a Republican law codifying bigotry and encouraging violence. The Democrats voted overwhelmingly for it and Clinton boasted about signing it to get Dixiecrat and bigot votes. http://www.gay.com/news/article.html?2004/03/18/3

Barney Quisling's gutted version of ENDA, the one that’s so popular with the Chamber of Commerce is a bipartisan attempt to give us rights in name only.

Good bipartisan laws, to compel immediate, permanent and total withdrawal of US forces from the Middle East, or to establish socialized medicine, declare churches to be part of the entertainment industry and eminently taxable, for the ERA, for a $25.00 an hour minimum wage will never get bipartisan support from Democrats or Republicans. We’ll have to build irresistible mass movements and fight for them

With Democrats like these who needs Republicans?

I've been thinking about this now for a while.

I am a life long republican from Arizona in the sort of mold that most such old style Republican's are -- be it Goldwater or Rockefeller or libertarian leaning -- whatever.

That is, until late last year, when I suddenly became Independent.

I've been involved in Republican party politics in the past. I've held elected office and done the whole involved thing (and no, I was never anti-LGBT).

Part of the strength of the Christianists in the Republican party has been their deep and abiding, unrelenting, constant insistence that the party follow its platform.

And they succeeded in taking over the Republican party.

It is my estimation that this is what the Dems need to do. They need to make that platform relevant and solid, and then to stand up for it.

Now, coming from the background I just explained, you might be able to take a good guess at what I feel is the likelihood of such happening.

I'm with Rebecca here. After the BS that Solomonese recently put out, I expect zero.

That way, if I get anything, it'll seem at least a little bit valued.

Babs Casbar Siperstein | August 15, 2008 11:23 PM

"We will enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act."

Can someone please tell me what the heck this is supposed to mean? The Stonewall Dems describe this as "A united, comprehensive strategy on ENDA that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity,"

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Becky! Becky!

If you don't understand what "sexual orientation and gender identity" mean, where have you been. Before you posted your note, you really should have called me, hey, we've done radio before, lobbied together, I could have given you a lot of background on the platform process and how what happened now in 2008 was a quantum leap different from 2004.

It was so different in the process and it was reflected in the result, where in the document itself "gender identity" shares equally as a category as "sexual orientation". ... And you know what? That is exactly what we transgender political activists wanted! If you want, I'll send you the final draft, or you can ask Kathy!

Now it is obvious that there is little that you understand about the platform, but as a journalist, would it be worth the effort to seek out at least one of the people that might have some involvement in the process? Did you assume this was 2004 and we had only one friend on the platform committee, and no friends on the platform drafting committee, and no responsible "inside" person to travel to testify on our behalf?

2008 was very different, we had 2 transpeople nominated to the Platform Committee, one was able to serve! Much more important was that we had several friends on the "elite" Platform Drafting Committee and the Obama LGBT policy people also had our ear. We, transgender Democratic Activists had a unified message that we shared with most LGBT and progressive organizations, and they took "our" message and made it theirs as well. Ironically, HRC had a much more narrow and much less "comprehensive" ask, I'll bet you would be happier because it had less vision and less reach. but did talk about the old hate crimes and the good ENDA,

Woody Allen once said that 80% of success in life is just showing up. We had never shown up in the places to make a difference. Now we are doing it and have seen the difference. And it's just the beginning, I hope! Imagine if more of us stepped up, instead of talking and complaining. Of course, its going to be a long battle, we have enemies, but sometimes we are our own enemies.

In 2004 there was only 1 transperson on John Kerry's LGBT steering Committee, and it was window dressing, as that person was unable to be productive and her talents were ignored.

In 2008 as the Clinton and Obama people come together, I will predict a much higher number and a high caliber of political transpeople will be announced soon. There is even a vetting process here.

I'm looking forward to Denver! In 2004 we were part of the GLBT caucus, but had no part, no input, but helped blaze the trail begun by Jane Fee of Minnesota in 2000. Already in 2008, the Chair of the Caucus has reached out to the transgender delegation. Why, thank National Stonewall Democrats and their DNC relations Committee that shows us at EVERY DNC meeting with at least one Transperson!

When you get a fundraising piece from Stonewall, you should give, because at lot of the work they did the last couple of years made transgender inclusion possible without a lot of ruckus and public fanfare. A lot of things I saw first hand and I had the opportunity to scratch the surface of the workings of the party and interact and encourage other transpeople to join in. We've had transpeople singled out and recognized at the DNC's LGBT caucus. We're here, we're really queer and we're not going anywhere (away)!

We made it to the platform, we are there, it is a cause to rejoice, but that was the easy part... implementation is the real work! It's as if we have our foot in the door, we must next get inside and be able to enjoy the comforts of home. Who is prepared to work to take the next step, to push back if the door is closing on our foot? Who wants to move forward and will work smart and hard to do it?

For those who don't know, Babs was one of six transgender delegates in 2004 and one of nine in 2008. She has a long history of not only being involved but at a level that has helped us become visible in the DNC. She is a great resource for what is happening on the inside, both in the Stonewall Democrats and the party itself. She knows what she's talking about.

Sorry Babs, but I just don't buy it. After all we've been through from these people, the disrespect, the willful and intentional disenfranchisement, all of it, the Democratic Party does not deserve our trust and certainly not the expectation that they can throw out a word as vague and undefineable as "comprehensive" and have us just take it on faith that it means we will be included given the recent history of ENDA.

C'mon Babs, we both know full well that if the Party was really committed to including us in ENDA they'd say so specifically, just as they do in pretty much every other instance throughout the platform. This is just more cowardly political wordgames from Democrats, still refusing to stand up for everyone, still running away from the ideals they say they believe in, still making a mad dash for the easy way out.

I'm not an incrementalist. I don't believe that simply being mentioned in the platform (well, at least "gender identity" makes it, apparently we ourselves are still too terrifying to mention) is a victory, and especially not when it comes in concert with a clear shying away from dealing directly with our community's single most important issue, employment protections).

Like you, I've seen how these people operate and because I have I know they are not to be trusted, especially when they're going out of their way to avoid promising us anything concrete.

They held a hearing. Great. They're to be commended for doing so. But until I see or read something that demonstrates that these people are finally really ready to stand up for true American justice, I'll believe they're going to fight for us when and if I actually see it happen when the legislation is on the line and not one second before. Given the record here, it's the only reasonable position to take.

Becky,
You were not part of the process in 2004 and you're not part of the process today. Your level of knowledge of what BS we faced in 2004 and what is happening today is limited to the scraps in information you piece together to form what appears to be an uneducated opinion.

If you are so upset with the language this time, then why aren't you a delegate to the convention? Why aren't you part of the process? Marti is. You could have been on the Platform Committee.

This article is nothing more than "arm-chair quarterbacking." If you REALLY want to make a difference, then I suggest you get into the game. There's always 2012. Just think of the blog entries you could have written from the inside of the Convention Center. But . . .

Monica, have you forgotten about our meeting with the Kerry campaign in '04? I got to see the process...and the attitude...up close and personal. It's all hauntingly familiar in some ways.

I really have no interest in running for delegate. I'm a journalist and a commentator. I talk about the news, I don't (or at least I try not to) make it myself.

Becky,
Talking about the news is fine, and you do a great job and are a vital link in the system. HOWEVER, you are NOT a journalist by any stretch of the imagination. You never have been. Journalists do not voice their opinions. When did Tom Brokaw ever express his opinion? Walter Chronkite? To really be a "journalist," you would have have maintain a certain distance from the story, reporting all sides with an equal lack of involvement.

One of my ex girlfriends (GF for 4 years) was a journalist for a major LGBT publication and does it today for Q-notes in the Carolinas. She told me several times that it was difficult to hold back her opinion when reporting on anti-gay stuff because she would have been fired. She was a journalist.

So, to really become a true "journalist, then you need to go to school for that and you will see what I'm talking about. For now, you're just a blogger and a radio show host, but not a "journalist." There is nothing wrong with what you do. You just needed a reality check.

Monica, if you think that all journalism is about is hard news then you really have no clue. There's a reason why there's opinion in every newspaper, and even special sections for it, such as the editorials and entertainment reviews. Opinion journalism is journalism, it's just not hard news journalism. I suggest in the future actually researching the topic before you spout off.

Actually, I find myself agreeing with Monica on this one. While I've been a journalist a few times on the blog, most of the time I'm a columnist. I do opinion pieces.

Opinion journalism isn't journalism. There is a whole school for journalism and a lot of the focus is on keeping your opinion out of the piece.

As my journalism teacher used to break it down:
Is it a hard news story? News - front section
Is it a fluff story (usually not timely)? Feature - behind news
Is it opinion? Columnist - and in the opinion section (usually last place).

That was the shocking part of FOX news. They never just report the facts. They spin it and add in opinions. Cronkite is spinning in his grave still.

So, you're more of a columnist or commentator, Becky. So am I. It's our opinions about the topic that drives our traffic and viewers; they don't come to us usually for breaking news or hard-hitting investigative pieces.

Walter Cronkite would be disappointed to hear that he was spinning in his grave prior to his death.

From what I read in these comments, Rebecca's experience as a former insider is an excellent and legitimate credential that informs her opinion. It helps educate those of us that will never have her experience.

I would trust the voice of a former insider with no agenda to push than a current insider that will shove perspective aside in order to build support from a desired audience.

Keep it up, Ms. Juro! We need people like you that pull the curtain back on all of the hidden wizards...both friend and foe.

I want to be clear that I'm not knocking Becky (or myself) by saying it's not journalism. Both "journalist" and "commentator/columnist" are respectable professions. They're close enough to be kissing cousins.

And as a former newspaper stringer, I have to say that being a columnist is much more fun.

I agree on both being respectable professions. I have written dozens upon dozens of articles, and had a regular column in Transgender Tapestry for 6 years. But, what I wrote was not journalistic articles. If I ever thought of calling myself a journalist, my ex would read me the riot act in a New York minute, and rightly so.

I guess our teachers had different theories on journalism then Bil, because mine taught me that journalism isn't as narrow as you and Monica are defining it. It not only includes opinion, journalism, but also photojournalism, entertainment journalism, sports journalism and on and on. To limit it to just what you read in the first few pages is, in my opinion, not only just plain wrong, but a disservice to the thousands of journalists who create content not strictly considered hard news.

From Wikipedia, a pretty good definition of what my teachers taught me:

Journalism is the profession of writing or communicating, formally employed by publications and broadcasters, for the benefit of a particular community of people. The writer or journalist is expected to use facts to describe events, ideas, or issues that are relevant to the public. Journalists (also known as news analysts, reporters, and correspondents) gather information, and broadcast it so we remain informed about local, state, national, and international events. They can also present their points of view on current issues and report on the actions of the government, public officials, corporate executives, interest groups, media houses, and those who hold social power or authority. Journalism is described as The Fourth Estate.

In journalism, a story refers to a single article, news item or feature. A story is usually relevant to a single event, issue, theme, or profile of a person. Stories are usually inspired through news pegs (the central premise of the story). Correspondents report on news occurring in the main, locally, from their own country, or from foreign cities where they are stationed.

Today, most reporters file information or write their stories electronically from remote locations. In many cases, breaking stories are written by random staff members, through information collected and submitted by other reporters who are out on the field gathering information for an event that has just occurred and needs to be broadcast instantly. Radio and television reporters often compose stories and report "live" from the scene. Some journalists also interpret the news or offer opinions and analysis to readers, viewers, or listeners. In this role, they are called commentators or columnists.

Patrick, thanks for the kind words, but I really am not qualified to be considered an insider, former or otherwise. I have been in the right place at the right time and been able to speak to the right people to enable me to be able to report some pretty significant stuff over the last few years, though.

One time I did serve in an activist leadership role was when I was (and theoretically still am) the Co-Chair/Moderator of the OutForDemocracy-Transgender group. David Mariner and Chris Cooper of OFD set up a meeting between OFD-TG and the heads of the LGBT outreach of the Kerry campaign. What we ended up doing was creating a team of ten, including myself, Ethan St Pierre, Mara Keisling, Babs Casbar, and six others.

In a nutshell: They wanted us to campaign for Kerry. We basically asked them to acknowledge our existence. They wouldn't even do that, but they told us they considered us part of the team. They appointed Mara Keising to the DNC Steering Committee, and told us this was progress. None of us seemed to have any idea how Mara's appointment was a benefit to us as a community, or even what she would be expected to do. Needless to say, enthusiasm for John Kerry and his campaign among the OFD-TG membership was not exactly high. It's hard to be enthusiastic when the best reason you can give your community to vote for the guy is that he's not George Bush.

In all honesty, I'm not really the leader type. I'm content to be a footsoldier as an activist. I'm happier in the role I've chosen for myself.