Rebecca Juro

Is It Justice Yet?

Filed By Rebecca Juro | January 27, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Congress, ENDA, hate crimes against LGBT people, HRC, politics, transgender

Editor's update: After some quirkiness with the comments earlier, they're working fine now. Sorry about the delay.

Nope, not yet.

So here we are, as of this writing just over one week into the Obama Administration. While it would be insane to expect anything to get done legislatively on much other than the economy at this point, what's reasonable to expect on LGBT rights in at least the semi-near future?

By Barney Frank's estimate, it's pretty fair to expect that by this time next year we should be protected from discrimination in the workplace and covered by a federal hate crimes law. Yet, we all know it's just not that simple, don't we? How many times have we heard such promises before only to discover the truth later on? And yet, despite the history here, we also know that the cards are now stacked in our favor like never before. For the first time since Bill Clinton's first couple of years in office, we've got a significant Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress and a supportive President...but we also know how it turned out last time.

So, it's quite fair to ask: What do we do now? Do we blindly give Democrats the benefit of the doubt once again when their record of standing up for us is so downright abysmal? But if we do withhold that overt support would it negatively impact the reception in Congress of any attempt to actually get anything done on our issues this year?

What to do, what to do...

Don't expect any help from our friends in DC on this one. They're much too busy trying to rescue the economy at the moment, as well they should be. I'd bet we're not going to hear more than the barest peep about action on our issues until at least April or May at the earliest. In the meantime, we need to figure out our own next moves. As you might imagine, I've got a few ideas in that regard.

1. HRC Needs To Put Up Or Shut Up

It's really no more complex than that. Since the "Great Sellout of '07", the Human Rights Campaign has been for the most part notably silent on ENDA and hate crimes, aside from the occasional lukewarm expression of support for inclusion once it became clear that Barack Obama (and not the candidate they threw their support behind, Hillary Clinton) was likely to become our next President. At the same time, HRC still has not yet publicly withdrawn their support for a non-inclusive version of ENDA.

Clearly, one of two things needs to happen: HRC must publicly come out firmly in favor of inclusion and only inclusion as well as openly demonstrate their commitment to that ideal in a concrete way, or the rest of us, the vast majority who believe wholeheartedly in inclusion and in acting inclusively, must from now on actively exclude HRC from our greater movement's political efforts. As an organization that has repeatedly proven it cannot be trusted to interact honestly or reliably with the greater community, without a public commitment there is no valid reason to consider this organization to be one working on behalf of the interests of anyone other than extremely wealthy, white, non-gender-variant gays and lesbians.

According to Donna Rose, we shouldn't expect much. She writes on her blog:

"...HRC really isn't interested in rebuilding the relationship with the broader trans community. Sure, they'll take it if they can get it but they're not willing to do anything to earn it. Rather, they've got a small group of transpeople who provide the illusion of inclusion and that's as far as they'll go."

Assuming Donna's right (and in my experience, she usually is), trying to work with HRC now is just a waste of our time. We know who our true allies are and it's in our own best interests to keep the protests going. What's more, since HRC is clearly trying to convince others that they are inclusive without being willing to make any real effort to actually act inclusively, it's important for the rest of us to counter that message publicly with the truth. Just as the right has been extremely successful in using LGBT's as boogeymen to generate support and donations, so too are we using our own self-defined black sheep to strengthen our own side. The more public and active we are about pointing out the inherent unfairness of exclusion, which we can illustrate extremely well using the behavior of HRC as an example through protesting their events and speaking out against them, the more progressive grassroots support we'll gain.

As a community, it's time for all of us to say to HRC, once and for all, "You're either with us or you're against us.", that they need to pick a lane and stay in it. And if they are against us, then they don't get to credibly call themselves or be seen as LGBT activist leaders because in the end they're really leading no one but themselves anymore.

Enough with these people and their petty political games. It's time to move on.

2. Build More And Stronger Bridges

We've made amazing strides in this over the last couple of years, but there's more work to do. Let's grow those budding relationships with progressives and organized labor into solid working alliances. Let's bring them and their influence with us when we go to lobby Congress, and let's continue including them as we continue protesting HRC dinners and events. We need to make it clear to Congress, in no uncertain terms, that when a Democrat turns his or her back on treating transpeople fairly, they're also turning their back on a lot more than simply a relative handful of minority votes. There's a reason why the Mayor of Los Angeles refused to cross that union picket line in San Francisco and we should not hesitate to capitalize on it. Our new alliances with liberal and progressive activists and causes are powerful tools we've just recently been handed. Let's use them to best effect to benefit ourselves, and let's also not forget to return the favor when the opportunity arises.

3. Lobby, Lobby, Lobby

As things seem to be getting better politically for us and money starts getting tighter, it's easy to come up with good reasons for not going to DC to lobby. After all, for some of us (like me) a trip to Washington is simply unaffordable right now. While I'd argue it's probably better in terms of impact to make the trip to DC if possible, if for no other reasons than networking and to be able to show up at a Congressman's office with more than just oneself, visits to a Congressman's local office and appearances can and will help immensely as well. The more Congress sees our faces, hears our stories, and truly understands who we are, what we need from them, and why we need it, the harder it will be for them to say "No" again.

4. Get Out There

Not just to Congressional offices, but everywhere. If your local LGBT or transgender organization has an event or happening, make sure your local community newspapers, websites, and other media know about it. If you're contacted for a media interview and you believe it won't portray yourself and the rest of us in an exploitive way, go for it. Publicly challenge media which fails that standard. Blog, write letters to the editor, protest...you know the drill. Help keep us and our issues in the public as well as the political eye. Don't be afraid to speak up, even if you feel you must do so anonymously.

5. Don't Give Up

Remember, the election of Barack Obama brought with it probably the single greatest political slap-down in the history of of our movement, the stripping of basic civil rights from California citizens through the passage of Prop 8. Obama can't save us, nor do should we really expect he'll make any effort to try. As he's demonstrated by his repeated flip-flops on marriage equality over the years, Obama is not above turning his back on his publicly-touted principles in order to score political points. Obama has also taught us, through his promotion of anti-LGBT hatemongers Rick Warren and Donnie McClurkin, that when push comes to shove supporting LGBT rights and fair treatment under the law ranks pretty low overall on his agenda, especially now that he's President.

If there's anything that's abundantly clear, it's that if we are to finally gain full rights as citizens of this country we must continue to demand them relentlessly until we succeed because if we don't we can be damn sure that no one else will. The many supportive members of Congress notwithstanding, if we are to win this we will have to ensure that the political price that might be paid by some members of Congress for supporting us and giving us what we deserve will be nowhere near as steep as it would be for them to continue taking the coward's way out. Yes, we need to force the issue, and we need to follow-up if we don't get what we want. If we need to actively and publicly shame reluctant members of Congress into doing the right thing, then we must not hesitate to do so.

The way I see it, what we must do now is not as much about waging war on those who may oppose us as it is about showing Congress and straight America in general that we've grown up as a movement and as an American minority constituency. Congress needs to understand that we will not consider it a win unless all LGBT Americans can share in the victory. Those not fully on board with that ideal must be disempowered and left behind as the majority of our movement charts a new inclusive course for all of us.

There can be no more equivocation, no more excuses for cowardice or failure to act. The time to stand up and demand our proper place as full and equal citizens of this country is upon us and we must not shirk that responsibility. The political stars are as aligned as they are ever likely to be in our lifetimes. It's now or quite possibly never. We've got about three months or so, more than enough time to do what needs to be done.

The time is now. Let's bring it home.


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Nice thoughts, and worthy goals.

"Those not fully on board with that ideal must be disempowered and left behind as the majority of our movement charts a new inclusive course for all of us."

This is no mean task. Just how do you propose to do this?

Sadly, the most worrisome opposition will come from within. St. Barney has promised revenge, and he may well self destruct when his role in the subprime disaster comes to light.

Likewise, many of the gay elite will not brook transinclusion even if it benefits them. Still others are unwilling to face the history of trans-exclusion in any meaningful way. Even admitting that it is a serious and current problem is trammeled by the LGB need to Look Good.

Also, an appeal to fairness is unlikely to win many converts. if fairness was an overriding factor, none of the exclusion we now see would even exist!

How will we cope with an insider attempt to separate the LGB from the T? If experience is any guide, the LGB will cut and run in droves if that happens.

I would hate to read all that smarmy LGB literature telling us how we just had to be left behind the last time.

I just ain't feeling this at all.

It's already happening Alyssa, thanks to the positive media coverage and progressive support we've been getting. What we need to do now is turn up the heat even more. That'll be easy to do because HRC's selfish behavior has been so blatantly and universally reprehensible it actually makes the job that much easier for us.

HRC's power and influence is certainly not what it once was. Consider how few politicians have been willing to show up for their events when transpeople and our supporters are protesting outside. That tells you something right there, that our messaging is working and it's no longer commonly considered OK to fuck over transpeople socially or politically as HRC has tried to do.

What we need to do now is keep sending that message, continue using it to discredit, and therefore politically disempower, HRC. The tide is turning, and it's turning even faster now that the GOP is out of power. Seems most folks have reached their limit of tolerance for crass political games and we're enjoying the benefit of that right now. Having organized labor and liberal progressives on our side doesn't hurt either.

[possibly duplicate post...the last one failed with an error]
That is a start.

But, I am not really seeing images of transfolks within any LGB outreach.
The new media stuff is all very racially diverse, is just as classist as ever, and shows absolutely NO transpeople. This lack of visibility shows the world that LGB are ashamed of trans folks. Which many of them are.

This will be our undoing. This will be how the LGB movement will sacrifice their moral authority. And, without the moral high ground, everybody in the community loses. Truth is, its all we got.

Prop. 8 taught the gay rights politicos that racism will lose the day. so, they worked to cover up the racism. But it is still there, waiting to bite us in the butt. Same with transphobia. Same with classism.

Trans folks have more visibility in mainstream media than LGB media...sad but true. This means that the best trans folks can hope for in this lil NWO is to be umbrellaed under a "gay rights with T sprinkles" paradigm. Working and lower class people are likewise not represented.
And this is because the LGB types as a group are projecting a middle class, exclusionary vision of what being LGB(t) means. Because, the LGB is ashamed of us. Worse, they are ashamed that they, as a group, are ashamed. The net effect is that the important issues within our communities never get addressed. The pain of doing so is deemed too high.

But any campaign that has shame as a plank it its platform loses the moral authority to succeed. It also hands the religious reich an Achilles Heel, that they have and will continue to use against us with glee.

And, this is why real equality, (not the BS LGB special rights version) will take so long. Thus far, the LGB rights movement has only practiced inclusion when it is politically expedient, not out of any sense of 'justice.'

If the lessons of the HRC has taught us nothing, we will fail. If we lack the moral authority to do what is right, it will be used against us.

Your list here is a good start...but it is just a start.

PS... Provide details, please? Media packages that show what you are describing? Links? Proof?

Great post Rebecca
Count on a horde of Lesbian support as we by and large realise how many of our own will be excluded by an exclusory ENDA as well.

Becky,
We all know you were a strong Hillary supporter and every time you mention Obama, you show us that you can't get over the fact that she lost. You go out of your way to take every little thing that Obama has done to find the negativity in it, so you can have an excuse to beat him over the head.

Grow up and move on. Don't be such a poor loser. You want to talk about building bridges, then you need to start with yourself. Set an example instead of eating the sour grapes. It's unbecoming. And, that's from a person who has done too many things unbecoming in her life.

No, Monica, I was never a Hillary supporter and anyone who read my posts during the primary season knows that quite well. Originally, I was a Kucinich supporter, and after Iowa I switched to Obama.

I go after Obama for his failings the same way I go after any other politician who's actions don't match their rhetoric. He gets no special dispensation from me, nor should he. I called 'em as I saw 'em during the Bush Administration, and I do the same now.

Just like most federal elected officials, Obama is a politican first and a leader second. It's not unfair or inaccurate to point that out and I will continue doing so when it's warranted.

I apologize. Still, you like to predict what he's going to do based on what he did in the past.

An anology to that is the Arizona Cardinals. They are in the Super Bowl on Sunday for the first time ever, and yet they are one of the oldest franchises in the NFL. They were not overall welcomed when they moved to Arizona many years ago. If you were to base their chances to be in the Super Bowl at the beginning of the year, you wouldn't have given them much of a chance based on their past performances. Yet, here they are. (And, I'm not a football fan.)

They just finished flipping the coin on the Opama's first game of his first "season" and you are already counting him out. I see that as unfair, and you cannot predict the future. Stop trying and stick to your specialty, commenting on the things that have actually happened. I really enjoy your opinions on those things.

I disagree, I'm simply judging him based on what he's already done. That includes what he did during the campaign and the transition. Obama doesn't get an automatic clean slate the moment he takes the oath. What happened before, and what it tells us about him and his intentions, and especially how he sees us and the issues we care about, also matters.

I totally hope that both he and Congress completely prove me wrong. Nothing would make me happier...but at the same time I won't believe it until I see it happen.

We need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst, because history teaches us which is far more likely scenario.

Yes. The glass is always half empty with you, isn't it? For me, it's just at the halfway mark.

Your disagreement doesn't convince me at all.

I wish you wouldn't resort to baseless ad hominems. But I wish for a lot of things.

Becky wasn't a Hillary supporter nor is she a PUMA. If anything, she was a Obamaniac. She wrote this last year:

http://www.bilerico.com/2008/01/why_i_believe_barack_obama_for_president.php

I remember her pushing Obama on her radio show at that time too. Really into Obama.

Not that supporting Hillary means that someone can't criticize Obama. But it's pretty obvious you're just looking for an excuse to dismiss her instead of trying to engage.

Everyday Transperson | January 28, 2009 1:54 PM

A few points to raise here if I may,

In your post, Ms. Juro, you stated:


"If your local LGBT or transgender organization has an event or happening, make sure your local community newspapers, websites, and other media know about it. If you're contacted for a media interview and you believe it won't portray yourself and the rest of us in an exploitive way, go for it. Publicly challenge media which fails that standard. Blog, write letters to the editor, protest...you know the drill."

Very profound, but is it realistic ??? In today's times the answer is clearly NO. Ordinary, everyday GLBT people who have valid opinions are constantly being overshadowed and excluded by the GLBT celebrity "activist" boys and girls ONLY club which sends the clear message to others that "if you disagree with us and our agenda then KEEP OUT !!" And since these elitist "activists" have the monopoly now with the media, then where will anyone else get an opportunity to be heard in the media circles ??? Nowhere under the current GLBT cottage industry system. So, Ms. Juro, if you want people to be involved, then you have to set up a system where people are free to do so and not be blatantly prevented by celebrity elitists because they may not like what he or she has to say (especially about their views)........... which is clearly illustrated by your other quote:


"Those not fully on board with that ideal must be disempowered and left behind as the majority of our movement charts a new inclusive course for all of us."

Again, I am disheartened that this ideology also applies to our very own trans brothers and sisters.......

Lastly, concerning your promotion of lobbying to bring about change. Well, wasn't the corrupt lobbying of corporate America by our GLBT non-profits the very thing which got us into this mess into the first place ??? And who from the GLBT non-profits greased palms with your company before you lost your job ??? Why aren't you out there fighting against that corporation instead of politicians ???

I really question whether the proposals that you put forth are really,, truly your opinions or are in reality the opinions of that trans author you cited above who perhaps has appeared to have influenced you in writing this, especially the part about exclusion and the leaving behind of those who disagree with the popular "activist" agenda. (aka supremacy)

I don't know about anyone else, but I see HRC for nothing less than what it is. A corporate "GL" elitist club ONLY whose main interest is to satisfy the narcissistic needs of other corporate Gays and Lesbians ONLY, and they do so very successfully by greasing palms with the very "GL" corporate executives to gain corporate funding (many of whom have stepped on the rest of us in these companies to achieve their fame and glory........you know, SELL OUTS). And of course we have those "activists" who were subtly shuffled out of HRC, who 2 years later are continuing to cry sour grapes when they should be concentrating on moving forward. Oops, I forgot, they are "consultants" now who follow the same HRC model of kissing corporate America's ass and influencing them as to THEIR own opinion, in exchange for fame, glory and corporate perks.

Fix what is going on in our very own GLBT and especially trans community first before attempting to rally support to fix everyone else...........

Thank you for your time.

Monica,

After you got corrected on the facts, you make the following statement:

"Still, you like to predict what he's going to do based on what he did in the past."

This comment cracks me up. What method do you propose to predict future results?

The little tactic of attacking the messenger instead to focusing on the issue is getting old as well.

When exactly are we allowed to start being critical of the leader of the free world? How many waivers does he have to grant so lobbyists to work in his administration after he promised they wouldn't? How many more giveaways to the right in the spirit of bipartisanship" must be tolerated?

When can we argue the substance instead of being accused of sour grapes?

I go back to my Arizona Cardinals anology. You don't have a clue how many games the team will lose or win based on previous seasons, because of the new players (the Cabinet.) If you wish to be an armchair quarterback, thinking you have all the answers without even being in the game (are you a member of this administration?), then please, be my guest. Me, I'm willing to see what happens as time goes on and work on real facts. I'm getting ready with "I told you so." on my notebook so I'll be able to cut and paste at a moment's notice. Seems I'll be needing it with what I see here.

"Obama calls heads. It's heads. The LGBT Naysayers loses the toss."

Oh goody, you are already on to diversion tactic #2. The good old, "you're not a member of the administration, so you can't really understand the pressures. Give the guy a break!"

You are following the playbook to a tee!

I don't claim to have all the answers, but when has assuaging the right wing done anything to move towards equality?

And what date is it today? Oh yes. Jan. twenty eighth, two, zero, zero, nine. Eight days. Yep, it's a lifetime with the "gimmie, gimmie, gimmie" crowd. If we ain't got ours yet, then let's bash the bastard! It must be what Becky was saying about building bridges. (Insert the theme music to the "Bridge over the River Kwi," completw\e with whistling.")

That is a start.

But, I am not really seeing images of transfolks within any LGB outreach.
The new media stuff is all very racially diverse, is just as classist as ever, and shows absolutely NO transpeople. This lack of visibility shows the world that LGB are ashamed of trans folks. Which many of them are.

This will be our undoing. This will be how the LGB movement will sacrifice their moral authority. And, without the moral high ground, everybody in the community loses. Truth is, its all we got.

Prop. 8 taught the gay rights politicos that racism will lose the day. so, they worked to cover up the racism. But it is still there, waiting to bite us in the butt. Same with transphobia. Same with classism.

Trans folks have more visibility in mainstream media than LGB media...sad but true. This means that the best trans folks can hope for in this lil NWO is to be umbrellaed under a "gay rights with T sprinkles" paradigm. Working and lower class people are likewise not represented.
And this is because the LGB types as a group are projecting a middle class, exclusionary vision of what being LGB(t) means. Because, the LGB is ashamed of us. Worse, they are ashamed that they, as a group, are ashamed. The net effect is that the important issues within our communities never get addressed. The pain of doing so is deemed too high.

But any campaign that has shame as a plank it its platform loses the moral authority to succeed. It also hands the religious reich an Achilles Heel, that they have and will continue to use against us with glee.

And, this is why real equality, (not the BS LGB special rights version) will take so long. Thus far, the LGB rights movement has only practiced inclusion when it is politically expedient, not out of any sense of 'justice.'

If the lessons of the HRC has taught us nothing, we will fail. If we lack the moral authority to do what is right, it will be used against us.

Your list here is a good start...but it is just a start.

PS... Provide details, please? Media packages that show what you are describing? Links? Proof?

A few things:

"Very profound, but is it realistic ???"


Realistic, I don't know, but possible, certainly. What's needed, in my opinion, is for more of us to be willing to spend some time in the public eye so that the rest of the world can get to know and understand us all a little better. Anything that helps that process along is a good thing.

And yes, there are celebrity media people but ask yourself how did they become that? Did it just happen one day or did they make it happen for themselves?

"Lastly, concerning your promotion of lobbying to bring about change. Well, wasn't the corrupt lobbying of corporate America by our GLBT non-profits the very thing which got us into this mess into the first place ??? And who from the GLBT non-profits greased palms with your company before you lost your job ??? Why aren't you out there fighting against that corporation instead of politicians ???"

This I don't buy for a second. Lobbying has been used to facilitate corruption therefore lobbying is bad? Ridiculous. Talk about cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. Lobbying is one of the primary way we get our message to the people who need to hear it, those empowered to make change.

To suggest we shouldn't lobby because others have abused the process in the past is just silly, like saying that because banks are occasionally robbed no one should ever use banks, or because airplanes have crashed in the past no one should ever fly.

Oh and as far as fighting against the company that fired me, I did as much as I could given the circumstances. If you're really interested you can read about it here.

Your responses to Everyday Transperson is right on the money and I fully agree with you. I'm glad you caught it.