Bil Browning

What can he do?

Filed By Bil Browning | March 17, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Meghan Stabler, transgender

Friend of the blog Meghan Stabler sent me a copy of an e-mail an old co-worker sent her recently. Meghan transitioned while they worked together and the letter will bring a tear to your eye.

Her former co-worker asks Meghan a question in his post script. Meghan sent it along so we could find out how Projectors would answer him.

The e-mail is after the jump. The floor is yours.

Hi Meghan,

No reason for you to remember me, but I was a DSM rep in J----'s org for a few years. I think we only met once or twice in group settings.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that as someone who was raised Catholic and is currently raising children in the Catholic Church...and also someone who has voted Republican in every election since becoming eligible to vote....that I really, really admire and respect you. More than that...you sort of opened my eyes to something I was seeing but not at all getting- hopefully that will make a little more sense when I'm done.

So...I was never AGAINST equal rights for the LGBT community (and I recognize that this is not the norm for Catholic Republicans)...but I wasn't necessarily for it either. I was more or less neutral. I had (still do) gay and lesbian friends that I really care about...but I never really saw them struggle with it. Anyway...I was still more or less neutral while I was at BMC and I heard about you - when you were still M-----, although I suppose you've always been Meghan, right? ;-) Anyway...my first thought was something like, "How is this person going to go through this in such a public way, for all to see, working for a company that from my perspective felt like an ole boys club?"

Okay..so long story short (yer gonna see that this is most likely an outright lie as I can't tell a short story)..I was extremely impressed by how courageous you were/are to make that kind of change for all the world to see. Anyway...I'm still not off my neutral post yet but close. So then someone emailed out a youtube video of you speaking at a conference and this was after your transition to Meghan. The person wasn't necessarily disparaging you, at least not outright...but it was sort of a "Hey, check this out" kind of thing and you could tell they thought it was funny. So I see the video and honestly my gut reaction was WOW...she is the bravest person I have ever personally encountered. Important to note that I thought of you as 'She' at that moment. And at the same time I was disgusted at the tone of the email I had just received and it was the first time I had really felt like I witnessed someone being discriminatory.

So..still not off the neutral post but getting closer. My wife and I were watching a special on Martin Luther King and they were showing Rosa Parks and some of the marches. One of the storylines was about the white people that walked arm in arm with the black people in one of the marches. Its a powerful image and I said to my wife that if I had lived during that time, that I hope I would have been one of those brave few to get involved... and all of a sudden it was like a switch flipped. I had never made the parallel before but once I saw it, I couldn't UNSEE it. I know unsee isn't a word but I had to use it anyway. I realized that neutral was just as bad, if not worse than being against it. Being neutral was being lazy and apathetic to the injustice of it all. It shouldn't be a question of 'Am I being impacted'...it's a question of 'Is ANYONE being impacted'....and once I started thinking in those terms, it just gets clearer and clearer. And then I thought about my gay friends and realize I haven't really been walking arm in arm with them...which triggers deep feelings of guilt...especially since on of those friends passed away a few years ago. He was a good friend to me and I thought I was a good friend to him as well...but now I'm not so sure.

Anyway...I've been reading your posts on FB and educating myself on the issues (I'm no expert..but I see now how little I understood about the issues and what's at stake). I have even recently re-posted some of your notes on my FB page - which I'm sure is a shock to many of my friends. Nobody has asked me about it yet but I'm waiting and hoping they will because I want to start the conversation and hopefully bring them around. It seems like such common sense now that I wonder how I never got it before.

In closing...I sincerely hope that I haven't offended you in any way. I truly just wanted to tell you that I respect you tremendously and I think what you are doing is amazing.

S-----

ps - I would like to do something...take some kind of action...any suggestions? I know I'm being a little naive...but I really do want to get involved...

What are your suggestions for ways S can "do something" to get involved?


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Forgive me for shamelessly plugging my own project, but I'd say he should Tell 3. Heck, with that story, he should tell a hundred.

Plugging aside, straight allies who are willing to talk with their straight friends about what LGBT discrimination means to them and how it affects their lives have a huge impact on how other people see us. So my suggestion is that he talk it up, especially with his friends who are still in that "neutral" category.

And yes, I totally teared up. Shut up.

Everyday Transperson | March 17, 2009 3:23 PM

I think that before "S" should attempt to get involved with anything, that he should first become educated as to the ENTIRE picture of the GLBT community..........

I have spoken about this time and again and it continues to fall on deaf ears, but I will reiterate here because I feel that it fits with this article.

Many times, the GLBT media and big GLBT non-profit organizations don't realize the dangers of excessive director spotlighting when it comes to educating the rest of the world about our community. Often, this is the first time straight folks actually encounter a GLBT person and as such they are highly impressionable by the first person they encounter thinking that somehow THEIR own individual opinion represents the opinion of every other GLBT person in this world. This is worsened to a large degree by all of the idol showboating in the media that is going on and so they figure that these VIP GLBT activists, who they once happened to know are representative of everyone in the community and that their opinion is gospel.......

I have encountered this problem before with otherwise uneducated folks when I had presented my opinion concerning a GLBT issue and the argument was always, "well so-and-so said it was this way and look at them, they are pretty big in GLBT organizations, so obviously their opinion must be pretty credible right ???? "

WRONG

So I say that "S" should go out to the community and get opinions and views from GLBT folks from ALL walks of life and I'm certain that he will find his calling (based on his own choice) as to where he wants to make a difference in the community.

Sorry, but idolizing a representative from HRC is hardly a way for "S" to become properly educated about the experience of the entire GLBT community.

Do you have a blog where I can find your opinions on a regular basis?

If not, you might want to give it some thought. I find that if I'm writing more than a hundred words or so on someone's blog, I'm probably on a soapbox that deserves its own home.

Everyday Transperson-
You wrote: "So I say that "S" should go out to the community and get opinions and views from GLBT folks from ALL walks of life"

Isn't that the reason for the article?!?

It's cute how you found this to be another outlet to try and vent your frustrations about HRC and Meghan. You can't just appreciate that through her voice another light in a person's mind flickered.
Here is a person who was moved by her actions, who woke up, reached out, and is asking for guidance, and your response is "go look to someone else."
Brilliant

Everyday Transperson | March 17, 2009 7:26 PM

Emmee, obviously you have made some incorrect assumptions here concerning my intent of writing the above comment. Please get all of your facts straight before being quick to jump on the HRC and staff protectionist bandwagon...........

I'm sorry if you can't appreciate another point of view other than that of the person you mention (which, by the way was the foundation of my original meaning of the above comment). You have clearly proved my point in your above comment.

"Isn't that the reason for the article?!?"

Well, I'm not quite sure. That would be a good question to ask the author, not me............

Since "S" is a practicing Roman Catholic, I'd suggest that he become active in Dignity. Attending a Dignity Mass with his children would set quite and example.

Wow -- this letter brought tears for me. I think Meghan's friend, S, has already taken the greatest step toward making a difference. It was Gandhi who told us that "We must become the change we want to see in the world."

Most of all, I share S's respect and admiration for Meghan and the work that she does. We may disagree on policy issues and agree on others, but my life has been richer knowing her.

Lynn David Lynn David | March 18, 2009 2:26 AM

Gee... people took my ideas.

Look into Dignity.

Read - maybe some gay blogs, like Bilerico, Box Turtle Bulletin, Good.As.You, Towleroad, Queerty, and maybe HRC, GLAAD, PFLAG (join PFLAG!), and even someone like Dr Warren Throckmorton.

Lastly, COME OUT of that neutral CLOSET, and speak to people at the appropriate time, family, friends, co-workers.

I don't see anything difficult here. Meghan, ask your friend to, simply, call his Congressman and Senators, and ask them to vote for ENDA and the hate crimes bill, when they appear, and to insist that they be T-inclusive. Ask him to also speak to your state legislators, city council and mayor in favor of T-inclusive employment rights laws, if your state and city doesn't already have them. Don't burden him with legalese, or with knowing the difference between different flavors of T. Ask him, simply, to tell his story, with as much brevity as possible.

Anyone who's met me knows that I have enmity for HRC that stretches back well over a decade now, caused by a series of acts that are well documented, but this has nothing to do with Meghan's employer. This has to do with changing minds in the Congress, as well as state and local levels. You never know, his Congressman may be one of the 40-50 that we know support ENDA, but is squeamish on T. His story may move that office. There aren't enough T people to pass anything, we must educate and lobby non-T people to win.

To Everyday Trans:
What is your problem? This is a beautiful story about Meghan's journey. Why do you resent it? She is not disparaging ANY aspect of the GLBT agenda - it's one voice who is making an incredible difference. I know. I work at the same company 'S' does. I, too, am a Christian and a moderate Republican. I didn't realize the discrimination ALL GLBT persons face until Meghan opened my eyes. She not only represents the trans community, she represents all those facing the harsh realities of those ignorant people (me being one of them) who didn't understand the scope of the issues. Thanks to her, my mind it open to all - even to you. But really, why be devisive? What have you done to advance equality? Your negativity repulses me.

Everyday Transperson | March 18, 2009 2:36 PM

"What is your problem ??"

Great Question !!!

Actually I didn't have a problem before, but was only pointing out a different point of view, which you have proved completely.......But since you raised the question, I suppose you deserve a just answer.

My now problem is with folks who are quick to be a blog "protectionist" to their idolized cronies, without being open-minded enough to read a comment thoroughly and obtain its TRUE intent and meaning.


Its easy for people to form a biased opinion based on who is influencing them, who works with them and which state people share a commonality and it is certainly obvious that the person whom you refer is an apparent expert in influencing people (after all, they wouldn't be leaders of HRC if they weren't) and you took the lobbying bait hook, line and sinker without gathering the viewpoints of others in our community..........

Realistically, do you actually believe that ONE person speaks for ALL in the community ??? If so, then I would encourage both you and "S" to step out of the corporate TX idolizing box and get involved with your local GLBT community and form your OWN opinions and cnclusions, not what someone has influenced you to believe. They could be positive or negative, but at least they would be YOUR conclusions based on your experiences.

Negativity ?? Not really. Reality ??? Absolutely !!!

I'm sorry if reality "repulses" you...........

Christie C | March 18, 2009 7:38 PM

ET having read your posts and see that you wont even post under a real name maybe it is you that is the repulsive part of the equation for always being so negative. perhaps the only thing to say to you is ET GO HOME and stay in NC

The most important and fundamental thing an ally can do is speak up to challenge homophobia and transphobia when it occurs. We all countribute to our environments, and affect whether they are accepting or hostile. The most basic thing a person can do -- and it doesn't require an encyclopedic knowledge (although it certainly helps justify your position) -- is to speak up when people start sounding off about the pregnant man or how the "gay agenda" is "destroying freedom of religion." Call in when the local morning dj lips off about "tranny freaks" or "fags." Every voice contributes.

And as Polar said, call or write ones representatives and advocate for a fully-inclusive ENDA and Hate Crimes act, or support any such legislation that pushes for equal treatment for sexual orientation and gender identity. Legislators will sometimes assume majority opposition to such laws, unless the majority tells them otherwise.

To Everyday transperson:
1. First, I am not a croanie. I am a college educated executive who was ignorant to the plight of GLBT persons. (Ignorance is not stupidity - it is not knowing.)
2. What bait did I take? I met a compassionate person who opened my eyes to the injustices around me. I took what she said and continue to reseach all aspects of the GLBT communities.
3. I do not agree with everything Meghan believes in. I have my own mind and my own opinions. That is MY reality and I am always looking for more input.
So my recommendation to you is enlighten me...what am I missing? What is wrong with the article regarding Meghan?

Everyday Transperson | March 18, 2009 11:00 PM

Teresa,

As you stated:

"I took what she said and continue to reseach all aspects of the GLBT communities."

Great !! When you conclude your research, please let me know. I'd be interested to hear what you have learned concerning the GLBT community.

You also stated:

"I do not agree with everything Meghan believes in. I have my own mind and my own opinions."

OK, could you be more specific ??? What points do you agree with Ms. Stabler on and what are those you disagree with?? I'm interested in hearing YOUR opinions.

Lastly you wrote:

"So my recommendation to you is enlighten me...what am I missing? What is wrong with the article regarding Meghan?"

Sadly, I am unable to "enlighten" you further with a different point of view if you already have made up your mind and made hasty biased conclusions regarding my comments and opinions.......... All I can do at this point is encourage you to go back and re-read my original comment carefully and hopefully you will realize that much of what I said did not have anything to do whatsoever with the arguments and
defenses you have addressed.

Again, interpret what is ACTUALLY said in my comment/s rather than what you want to hear based on your personal feelings........

Certainly a "college educated executive" can appreciate that......

I think it takes incredible courage to admit your ignorance and ask for help. It is truly amazing what this ONE man has seen from ONE woman (however truly undeniably incredible she may be).
That's all they were sharing. It's a personal story from ONE occurrence.
No one is claiming that she speaks for the entire LGBT community... Hell, she doesn't even speak for the entire HRC board, staff or membership!
She is simply sharing a story of how someone approached her and encouraged her to keep fighting and making a difference.
I think every LGBT person wishes someone would come to them with comments like these. I know I am immensely honored and humbled when some of my straight friends approach me and say "You know, because of you my attitude has changed towards gay people. Thank you for being that light."

Thank you Meghan for sharing with us, and for daily encouraging SOME of us (clearly not all of us.) This article is SUCH a blessing...

EDT:
I guess the only way to reach you is by using your own vernacular. I reread - several times - your initial comments:

You wrote:
"Many times, the GLBT media and big GLBT non-profit organizations don't realize the dangers of excessive director spotlighting when it comes to educating the rest of the world about our community."

EDT: I did not learn about the plight of the GLBT community because of any media hype or through any organization. I met Meghan, and she shared her story. She never once mentioned any non-profit organizations.

You wrote:
"Often, this is the first time straight folks actually encounter a GLBT person and as such they are highly impressionable by the first person they encounter thinking that somehow THEIR own individual opinion represents the opinion of every other GLBT person in this world. This is worsened to a large degree by all of the idol showboating in the media that is going on and so they figure that these VIP GLBT activists, who they once happened to know are representative of everyone in the community and that their opinion is gospel."

EDT: I cannot judge your experiences and please don't make assumptions about mine. I have no reason to think that Meghan speaks for every GLBT person in the world. I have no knowledge of 'VIP GLBY activists'. I read books, articles and speak with other people to learn more about the GLBT community. I take no one's word as absolute truth. If you encounter people who do, those people have serious personality issues.

You wrote:
"When you conclude your research, please let me know. I'd be interested to hear what you have learned concerning the GLBT community."

EDT: Learning is not an event, it is a process. To think anyway has all the answers is arrogant and naive. To think a topic is looked at and absolute truths are formed and opinions never morph is shallow. I will continue to study these issues and learn from my experiences. Sorry, I will never have 'THE ANSWER' for you. Things do not work that way.

Finally, I gave you a chance to enlighten me and you showed me nothing but blank generalizations and bias against a particular organization. I commit to you if you could tell me something tangible, I will take it into consideration. Otherwise, I will continue my journey without your rhetoric, or the rhetoric of anybody else.


teresa, if there's one thing you can learn from this comments section, it's that LGBT people can be just as caustic and unreasonable as straight people. We're not so different after all!

;-)

How true! We can and should learn from each other, regardless of gender, race, or creed.
thanks

Everyday Transperson | March 19, 2009 12:23 PM

Teresa,

It has been made VERY clear by your previous comment that whatever it is I say in the future will likely be misunderstood and taken out of context, so I am not going to bother anymore trying to have a diverse discussion with you about a topic which you have obviously already made up your mind about........ I'm sorry that you see a different point of view as being "rhetoric" and "divisive"....

As you said:

"Finally, I gave you a chance to enlighten me and you showed me nothing but blank generalizations and bias against a particular organization. I commit to you if you could tell me something tangible, I will take it into consideration."

Spoken like a true corporate executive !! Sorry that I didn't provide a diversity benchmark, target initiative, cost analysis or any other "tangible" reference for you to better understand........

Lastly, its been made clear that you all work for the same company and as such that explains the devout protectionism and diversity "enlightenment". I am curious as to which company you work for and if you are all executives in the HR department of that company, which would also explain a lot, especially if a trans employee had helped you all with your corporate diversity policy.............

I would encourage you to contact SHRM, Out and Equal and HRC. They apparently have all the answers when it comes to GLBT employees in the workplace and are not hesitant to dictate them to corporations who wish to improve their bottom line.....Perhaps you can visit them and tell them how their philosophy is so "shallow, arrogant and naive"

Best of luck on your journey and thank you for your time..

Thank you for wishing me well. I wish you all the best, too.
Just to clarify...

You wrote:
1. "...its been made clear that you all work for the same company."

You wrote:
2. "...and if you are all executives in the HR department of that company, which would also explain a lot, especially if a trans employee had helped you all with your corporate diversity policy."

Add those statements to earlier ones you wrote:

3."folks who are quick to be blog "protectionist" to their idolized cronies"

4. "to step out of the corporate TX idolizing box"

Well, EDT, you are 0 for 4:
1. I do NOT work at the same company Meghan does
2. I am NOT an HR execuitve - I am far from it
3. I am NOT protecting and/or idolizing anyone
4. I am NOT from Texas. Because of my job, I have lived and worked in Chicago, Atlanta, and New York.

I hope you do better in everyday endeavors than you do at making asumptions.
Good bye.

I came over to this thread to read what Bil meant by how trans people criticizing every little thing allies do and not being at all encouraging, but all I'm seeing is Everyday Transperson being like that (and s/he's always like that) and everyone else having none of that.

It's good to see.

Alex,

it is not transpeople's jobs to make allies feel good about themselves.

Please check your privilege.

Also, gloating about an unpopular trans person's being shunned does not exactly give you the moral high ground on this one.

Jus sayin'

And drop me that note...You could learn a lot from some of us.

christie c | March 21, 2009 9:25 AM

Lyssa I dont think there is much to learn from you ms klein if your or ET's comments were more constructive then yes but they are never more than bitter