Monica Roberts

Another Historic Meeting, Another Melanin-free Transgender Contingent

Filed By Monica Roberts | July 02, 2009 7:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: African-American, GLBT community, Monica Roberts, politics, SGL community, transgender

Iwhite house rainbow.jpg went nuclear last year when there was a historic committee hearing on transgender issues and not one African-American transgender person was invited to participate.

There was another historic gathering of importance to GLBT people that took place on Monday. It was in the wake of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that took place June 28, 1969.

This time the host was none other than the POTUS, and it took place in the building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that my ancestors helped construct with their unpaid labor.

So did the white transgender community learn its lesson from last year and make sure in the twelve transgender people that were selected to be there, there was some African-American representation?

Nope.

As usual, the white transgender community was well represented on the transman and transwoman side, and Latino Diego Sanchez was there in his new role as Rep. Barney Frank's chief legislative aide. The NCTE folks were present and we even had one former NTACer in Kathy Padilla there.

But if y'all think I'm not gonna light your asses for making the same dumb ass mistake you made 365 days ago, y'all don't know me very well do you?

ts-Miss Major3.jpgThis was supposed to be a commemoration of Stonewall, and Miss Major, one of the few African-American transpeople left who are Stonewall veterans is still alive and well.

Why wasn't she there?

Come to think of it, there were people in the trans community such as Vanessa Edwards Foster and Marti Abernathey who busted their derrieres in swing states like Ohio and Indiana to help get President Obama elected.

Washington, DC, itself is 61% African-American, which translates to Chocolate City having chocolate-flavored transpeople. Where were they?

I also have to ask the question who put the list together this time or had input for it, knowing that you'll shunt the blame to the Obama White House for the "oversight"?

You know, I and the African-American transgender community are beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired of the frequency of these "oversights," the weak excuses that freely flow from white transpeople and their gay-lesbian allies trying to justify them, and the empty promises that flow from their lying lips that they'll do a better job next time to fix the problem.

It's obvious you don't want to fix the problem. You want to keep perpetuating the impression that this is a whites-only movement.

If that's not the case, prove me wrong. But it's hard to not overlook the fact that the last two major historical media events involving transpeople in the capital that was built with slave labor have had a glaring lack of African American transgender representation.

The ossifying impression of a whites-only trans movement are also not helped by these oversights and trans movement leadership ranks that are as lily white as the Republican Party.

And what pisses me and many African-American transpeople off even more about this dissing is the bitter irony that we weren't invited to an event that an African-American president we helped elect called to celebrate a historic event and a movement we helped jump off 40 years ago.

09POTUS and FLOTUS_pride reception.jpg

I wonder what the African-American President and First Lady's thoughts were as they perused a so-called diverse group of transgender people that didn't have anyone of their ethnic background represented?

Once again, you vanilla-flavored privileged peeps have demonstrated your utter lack of knowledge, respect and regard for your so-called African-descended transgender "allies."

It results once again in a situation in which another historic meeting takes place that has a melanin-free transgender contingent.

Will you people ever learn? Obviously not, and neither does it seem you care to.

Cross posted from TransGriot


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this is typical-society mirrors itself on all fronts-white to african american, cis to
trans,straight to glbt,male to female...on and
on.there is a huge blow-out going on right now re "cis" and privildge at phblend etc.
so many people want to say the P word(privilage) but no one owns their own.the glbt community is as racist (soft or hard) as the "straight" community.no one is supposed to mention it i guess for fear of rocking some fanciful "rights" boat.
a fellow columnist commented(here) on the few african american male models ever shown.we point fingers at straight cis people, but never ourselves.we need a wake up call across the board.
maybe we should own some SHAME that we have an african american first family,but not equal rights here in the world of lgbt.
pathetic.
j

oh please. Bill Browning and the Bilerico staff would be the first to censor anyone who did not say anything polically correct when it comes to addressing pigheaded minorities and their hateful opinions but for some reason Monica Roberts rant and symbolism posing as racism and labeled as vanilla is perfectly acceptable. Monica Roberts is sitting in the stench of her stew just smellin up the joint placing blame and trying to convince her opinion superior when the reality is she did not take any action. It's all so fucking tired.

I always wonder if the folks who say "Bilerico doesn't let people comment about THIS!!!" ever come back and see their comments up in their full glory for everyone else to ridicule. The other day someone who for some reason thought we delete homophobic comments (we don't, and sometimes the fundies find this site and leave humorous thoughts to share), left an almost-there homophobic screed, but I doubt that'll be the last we'll hear from that person about censorship.

For example, you talking about "pigheaded minorities" would probably fall under the "politically incorrect" rubric, but instead one could just take it as an indicator of where some people who disagree with Monica are coming from. And you know what I mean.

"Monica Roberts is sitting in the stench of her stew just smellin up the joint ..."

Say what?

ewe,
Do you even read what you write? Or think about what you... think? And about what you write? You just singlehandedly proved Monica right.

of course you feel that way Yazmin. Oh, i did it again for you there huh? You are rediculous.

Ewe, just a tip: misspelling Yasmin's name repeatedly out of immaturity decreases the amount of care people have for what you think.

Ewe : I gotta say you're wrong there. I think the Bilerico staff lean toward being too politically-correct, and I've made statements I know might irk their sensibilities, but they've always posted them. I give them credit for that.

Really? Is this serious?

The president of the United States of America is having a get together with the gay and lesbian community and is openly taking pictures with them and honoring their service as Americans. Of all the wonderful things that this means, you are complaining that there were not enough black transgendered people there? Seriously? The PRESIDENT of the United States is hosting this function and you are upset that there are too many whites there? This site has some great authors, but many of you come across as incredibly racist and childish. The last few articles I have read from black authors are very demeaning to white people, especially white gay men. This kind of militant thinking turns people off and pushes them away.

The fact that the president is addressing these issues, minus his MANY mistakes in this department as of late, is an amazing and wonderful thing. I suppose you just cant make some people happy.

Maybe its because I have never identified myself by my skin color or my sexuality, but this constant need for gays and lesbians to define themselves by the minute details of their lives is mind boggling. We arent just human beings, we are white, gay, bottom, twinks with bear fetishes. We arnt just Woman, we are black, transgendered, straight identifying, sexually oppressed, lipstick lesbian-esque womyn. It really has gone from self indulgent to bizarre and counter productive.

We should be fighting the forces that at are trying to remove our rights, not decrying the people who didnt include enough indigenous hispanic transgendered midgets, to the Presidents LGBT meeting. I mean come on, the president of the united states is black AND addressing Stonewall. When is enough, enough?

This may come as a surprise, but many of us in the gay and lesbian community dont care if our particular race is included in these functions as long as our rights are obtained. Feel free to bar all the white gay males from any of these functions, I just want my rights please.

This just comes of petty and childish. I am sure you have good intentions, but the overtly PC attention that we are placing on very important issues is helping no one and hurting us all. We need to grow up and move past this divisive nonsense. There are real problems out there people and they dont involve how many black transgendered people are seen with the president. They involve young men and woman who are killing themselves because they dont feel wanted or loved.

When these kids kill themselves, the last thing they are worried about is how many black transgendered folks are having photo ops with the POTUS.

Wow, Justice! THAT is one of the most logically presented and powerful messages I've read in MONTHS!! Nice job, and thanks.

Believe it or not, I'm not sitting here in tears because someone pointed out the privilege that goes with the pale color of my skin. Not all white people have skin as thin as yours.

As for your point about the President being black? Now, this may come as a surprise to you, but racism didn't magically cease to exist in this country when Obama was elected president. Even aside from that, the president isn't trans, and the post is talking about the lack of representation of POC in the trans community.

And finally, what makes you think that none of those "young men and woman who are killing themselves because they dont feel wanted or loved" you mention are trans POC? The fact is, Monica is addressing an issue that the queer community is still loathe to address, and as such, this post belongs on Bilerico.

That’s a very good question!

Lets face it, a transgender person is actually quite alien to many people.
After this they can quite easily equate trans to being rich and white.
Having a transperson of color to give a touchstone to the President and his wife would have made it more real to them.

As it stands they may think “wow, them whites sure are freaky” (I doubt they are that simple), having a person of color there that is trans would have left them feeling more along the lines of “that could be my brother, sister, cousin or one of my friends” or even “that could be my child”.

Hopefully, if there’s a next time who ever’s running the event won’t be so snow blind. You need to send the message “we’re one of you, we’re just the same”.

You! Them! I notice you are intensely devoted to outlining the problem. Do you have a solution? Do you have a step by step plan that can be implemented and one you yourself can be a participant in?

Erich Riesenberg | July 2, 2009 10:21 PM

I think it is about time white gay men with jobs be cut loose from the movement!

"After this they can quite easily equate trans to being rich and white."

Yes - But I'm not seeing how you get to the rich part. Do you know something not in the article about them & their finances?


I think you raise an important point, Monica. From here in the Rocky Mountains, I'm just an outsider to these beltway circles so I can't speak to the White House event. But I know that our organized transcommunity has failed for many years to make a place at the table for transpeople of color. Yet when I lived in San Diego, the weekly Latina/Latino trans-group took me by my freckled hand and welcomed me, included me, as la familia (despite my pitiful Spanish vocabulary)

Thanks for reminding us that inclusion means inclusion.

Angela Brightfeather | July 3, 2009 12:01 AM

Come on now. Monica is not talking about having a contingent of Black POC who are Trans, she is complaining about having no one there at all, and she is complaining about this happening twice.

What is it that you don't understand about that? It's perfectly understandable to me. If your in the room with a President and his wife who happen to be Black, and there are also Black gay men and lesbians there, isn't it a little strange that the trans people there had no Black people there. What does that tell you and how long do you have to hear about the schism that exists between the Black community and the Transgender community? Why does it exist?

If your gay or lesbian and your Black then you probably are aware of the homophobia in your own community, but have you ever questioned the level of Transphobia that exists in your community? If there were no Black gays or lesbians in that room, would you be surprised, or equally as angry as Monica and for the same reasons?

And for all you supposedly "colorblind" people out there, your may have elevated your conscience above others when it comes to discrimination, but the reality of it is, you can't sweep inequality under the rug because you can't see it. It's still there and it still hurts many people. But most of all, it's still wrong when the solution to the problem is as simple as taking the time to think beyond your own nose when these types of events come around. When people look at the GLBT Community, they expect to see diversity, and if it's not there they have every reason to question why not. Especially when they may feel that it is the acceptance of diversity that is being shoved down their throats.

It should be standard operating procedure to make sure that these types of events are as diverse as possible. And to those who make a joke about having Black, Trans midgets there and go to those extremes to defend a callous attitude towards this problem, then go find yourself a Republican Tea Party to go to or a Palin rally and make yourself feel more at home.

Actually, you are incorrect. What is most important about these events is that they accomplish the goals that they have set forth. Having ex amount of blacks or gays at a function is not the mission at hand, its equality. The last time I checked, I wasnt in the street protesting prop 8 because there were too far few black trans people shown opposing the proposition. As hard as this is to understand, not everything is about you and your particular "identity".

Fact of the matter, the majority of us dont care about how many ethnic faces are at any given event, we want our equality. While you are entitled to be overly sensitive and PC, we are entitled to call out the nonsense and ask that the important problems in our struggle are addressed.

All of this inclusive LGBTQAII nonsense is pushing people away. We are trying to come together as a community to fight oppression and instead of joining the battle, we are arguing over what medals we should be wearing to the field. Where are all the gay men in the transgendered political groups? If we were to have a gay male group only, would the transgendered people not scream offense? Why do I not care if I am not included in the transgendered group? Because, I, like many people are worried about results, not feel good politics.

This is a war people, not a sleep over. Your feelings about inclusiveness are not as important as the end result. If gay and trans people finally find equality, you can then complain about not seeing enough black trans people at every event. The opposition is making a mockery of this overtly PC inclusion that is tearing the community apart. For all intents and purposes, transgendered people are an entirely different mix and why they are even involved with the gay or lesbian struggle is beyond many of us. Obviously we welcome everyone to fight for diversity, but in the name of "inclusiveness" you have alienated a large amount of us.

Send Ellen Degenerres to speak for us and win us our rights and I can promise you that the majority of us would be completely happy with the end result. It wouldnt matter how many of us "scary homophobic privileged white gay men" are there or not.

By this authors standards, what if I were to say I felt that the transgendered/gay people present were not inclusive to my particular ethnicity? How many German Americans were there? Contrary to public discourse, not all white people are from England. How many overweight gay people? How many muscular? Midgets? What if the hispanic trans folks had skin that wasnt the right shade for me to feel as if I were included? How many rich people? I want to make sure that poor gays and lesbians are equally seen and heard. How many spoke Spanish? What about our Asian brothers and sisters, who there spoke Japanese only? As a masculine gay man, can I be assured the president understands that not all gay men wear lipstick, walk effeminately or talk with lisps? Drag queens, how many drag queens were present, they have feelings too. I know many Indian gays and lesbians, were they invited? What about the atheists? God forbid the POTUS know that some of us gays and transgendered people dont believe in fairy tales. If I have to respect everyone elses feelings, at the expense of progress, then you have to respect mine, no matter how silly you think they are.

So you see the problem? When inclusiveness becomes the end all result, there are no other results. You can never be all inclusive, its impossible. So instead of taking a melanin count for all guests, we need to focus on what we are accomplishing.

And to be polite and fair, I would ask that if you are going to address something I said, please do so by replying to my comment. Its rather passive aggressive to demonstrate your intolerance of my sense of humor, without personally addressing me. Its not my responsibility to assume you have a sense of humor or understand sarcasm. If you are going to react to a joke by telling me to "go F myself" (which is pretty much what you said), then please write your next reply in crayon, so I may know before hand what to expect.

We are trying to fight for equality, we dont have time for childishness. Contrary to what you may think, its possible to disagree on obsessive PC logic AND still be a liberal democrat.

By the way, its LGBT, not GLBT. You just offended a bunch of feminist lesbians by placing the male patriarch first in our acronym. Remember, we must respect EVERYONES feelings and wishes, least we be Sarah Palin or Tea Party organizers apparently.

this does seem to be the point of your entire comment:

Fact of the matter, the majority of us dont care about how many ethnic faces are at any given event, we want our equality.

That translates to me as: "I want my equality and I don't care about yours!" As much as I'd like to dismiss that as one person's attitude, it's way to prevalent among LGBT's to ignore.

Ultimately, it's hard to take seriously your claims about inclusiveness not being important. You don't care about inclusiveness? Fine, then stop trying to get gays included in mainstream society.

Inclusiveness starts at home.

BTW, there's no problem with having a gay male group only for gay men if it advertised itself that way; the problem are the LGBT-in-name-only groups that ask for donations from trans people but then don't follow through with their commitments to trans folks. And if there was a trans organization out there saying it represented gay men but then turned its back on us, then, yeah, that'd be wrong. But I haven't ever come across a group like that.

I interpret his comment to mean that it doesn't matter what groups are included at meetings like this because the end goal is the inclusion of ALL transgender people in ENDA or hate crimes laws, and ALL transgender people will benefit from the passage of these laws, not just whites, or blacks or hispanics, etc. So he doesn't care who is there to argue for this inclusion as long as it happens. Is that where you're coming from, Justice?

"What is most important about these events is that they accomplish the goals that they have set forth. Having ex amount of blacks or gays at a function is not the mission at hand, its equality"

The point of the event was to accomplish things regardless of the symbolism of the composition of the guest list. Okay, so excluding trans PoC didn't make the event a failure. But it STILL stands as a SYMPTOM of a problem in the background of the TGBL community.

To narrow in a little: "[...] the mission at hand, its equality"

Equality for everyone, right? Including trans PoC?

If the organizers only invited a trans PoC because they were reminded that they had to keep up appearances, that'd be painting over the problem. When it happens naturally, not by formula, then we will have progress.

I didn't read the post as saying that the event shouldn't have happened at all, or that no good can come out of it; I saw it as a complaint that despite the good things, this racism is still lurking in the background and hurting people. And to address it, it needs to be brought out into the light ... which Monica's post is doing. This isn't an attack on the BLTG community for racism in trans issues, it's not even an attack on white LTBG folk or BGL people in general; it's some medicine that we need to help us Fix This Problem. ("We". Yes, we, the community.) And yes, it tastes yucky, but quit whining, be an adult, and work on getting better.

"By the way, its LGBT, not GLBT. You just offended a bunch of feminist lesbians by placing the male patriarch first in our acronym. Remember, we must respect EVERYONES feelings and wishes, least we be Sarah Palin or Tea Party organizers apparently."

*shrug* I got fed up with T always being last, so I try to change the letters around each time I use the LTGB abbreviation -- give everybody a turn at the front. People seem to understand what I'm saying even if the letters are in an unfamiliar order, even cis hets, so why not?

Kelley Winters:
Thanks for pointing out that you put your freckled hand out that invited your reception. That is a hell of a lot different then calling people vanilla, chocolate and melanin free. Pitiful. It's pathetic, insulting and deserving of the same alienation that sentiment beckons.
Monica should just admit that underneath her rage is hurt because most of us can already see it.

Alex Blaze: I know who controls the board picking and choosing.
"Pigheaded minorities" is nothing compared to vanilla, chocolate and melanin free. Of course you would deny discussing the post that blames LGBT people who are "melanin challenged". PUKE! And you know what i mean. Maybe Alfred Hitchcock is lurking behind some corner. I do not know what YOU mean. Why dont you grow a pair of balls and spell it out for us girlfriend?

Wait, you're using gender-based insults against me when your entire point is that your personal PC sensibilities are upset with some of the language Monica Roberts used? Do you read your comments before you click "submit"?

I don't really see vanilla, melanin-free, and chocolate as that offensive of terms, more just colorful ways to talk about race. And Monica has a colorful way of writing, and I don't see the point in trying to stifle that.

But "pigheaded minorities," on the other hand, implies that you think that racial minorities aren't willing to bend to your will. It's a whole 'nother ballpark when it comes to racial terms.

Angela: Anger is not a reason to post and blame. Get active and participate with the guest list instead of throwing out ones's hurt like a weapon against innocent bystanders. Her post is as effective as a bitch session. It remedies nothing. Monica is attacking her allies. She needs to get involved in the issue she is writing about if she has a gripe.

genderqueer_riff_raff | July 3, 2009 2:58 AM

Actions speak louder than words and once again on the diversity scale the privileged achieved an F- and you Monica justifiably point out its happened not once but twice. And you don't suger coat it, why should you.

Its plain wrong and there's no reasonable excuse. Granted most of us reading here, had no direct hand in who attended this event but those who did, it might have occured them to that extra mile to makse sure that black people got their invitations.

How much longer , how many more times before those who actually coordinate these events make the effort to reach out for trans people of color?

As for those of us who may be uncomfortable being reminded of this continual inequity we ought to be white privilege own it not comfortable but necessary.


Its also pretty sickening to see people within this thread get defensive and insulting. No its not a comfortable being reminded of privilege but like a boil its got to be lanced , and this is a continual issue , for decades now within the whole of the lgbtq demographic. Privilege. There's no excuse really. Its laziness. As you say DC is not exactly a hard place to find some black representatives. Privilege is something easy to forget when one soaks in it.

Lots of lip service goes on but our lamentations yield so few tangible results. Not sure how this is going to change, speaking only for my own self i'm listening and own my white priviledge. bout now that's all i can do. Very little has changed sadly within the lgbtq demographic we struggle with racism and will continue to struggle with this scruge on our humanity. Its a very slow process one cannot help but feel we ought to have come further. Its a damn shame actually.

Listening IS the first step. So if that is the first step. One has to wonder when exactly will enough people take it to heart so it translates into diverse gatherings and meaningful measurable actions.

you are a messenger and damn if this memo hasn't been delivered time and again with no few tangible results.

not your fault the message makes some people uncomfortable - Thank you for telling it like is Monica, thank you for keeping it real. It's not a pleasant job. One can only imagine it gets quite tedious for you.

It is good news thank goodness the Jena 6 are free. Our world has a long way to go our own demographic has a long way to go - many of us will not give up on achieving real inclusion until the day we die.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 3, 2009 3:31 AM

The correct answer is: Miss Majors should have damn well been included.

A. J. Lopp | July 3, 2009 4:38 PM

Furthermore, having a transgender veteran POC, who served our military as a person of gender opposite the gender they live as today, might have been an "educatable moment" even for a couple as educated as Barack and Michelle Obama.

Monica Roberts, you're a veteran, aren't you? ... You would be a great one to be included on the next invitation list.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot?

We have a problem. That I knew. It's bigger than I thought though. We have to do something about this, this is beyond any bounds of acceptability now.

I've been willing to extend the benefit of the doubt before, but this is systemic, and worse than Monica's rather restrained post indicates.

colored queer | July 3, 2009 9:29 AM

Ofcourse the exclusion of people of color (trans, LGB) is systematic in white dominated gay organizations. They adopted that as a strategy but it is backfiring now with changing demographics in the country. We have lost an entire generation of LGBT people of color leadership that should have been upthere. White gays in national organizations are responsible for this. The exclusion of trans people of color at this white house meeting is just another example.

The issue facing white gay organizations with good old boy/girl network type mentality is that they have ingrained racism so deeply in their networks that they are having hard time accepting changing times.

You usually hear defensive explanations that LGBT people of color are not taking leadership themselves. That is such a racist explanation of these white gay leaders and some in gay community. The truth is that most LGBT people of color are either used as tokens in gay organizations and many just leave when they confront the deep seated racism in gay organizations.

So, what can we do to address it: Instead of defensive explanation and denying the existence of racism in LGBT organizations we need to acknowledge the problem, start a civil/honest conversation and take steps to address it. this would take drumbeat of ordinary members (it would be helpful if white LGBT people lead this effort as white gay leaders wouldn't be able to oppress them) of LGBT community to hold all gay organizations accountable for diversity. Make a point to raise the issue of diversity whenever you encounter a "leader" from gay establishment. Embarass them at their own game. Ask them tough questions. Given the history of human rights all over the world this would take time but decent white gay folks would eventually say "enough" to "white" leaders who would then have to make way for LGBT people of color.

This blog has shown the guts to allow such discussions to take place and perhaps "leaders" would take notice otherwise we all stand to lose in the long run if we do not embrace minorities ourselves.

Monica, we applaud you for taking the stand which comes at a price in white dominated gay institutions.

Kathy Padilla | July 3, 2009 9:58 AM

Alex - Monica notes that Diego attended. As a correction he was not the only latino/a transperson there. I am also of latina heritage (specifically Puerto Rican heritage). Latino/a people can look like Monica, they can look like Diego and they can look like me.

Hmmmm.

The last time I got involved in a discussion on the intersection of race and trans folk was about, oh, an hour ago, and within the next 30 minutes I was called all manner of epithets from all sides because I dared suggest that the same thing that is said of (ahem) "cis white gay men" can also be said of the majority of trans leadership (that is, they are trans white women of varying sexualities).

Well, um, err...

Its true. I generally prefer to use "pale" because there's an extremely strong aspect of colorism involved both within and without the community in general, since its applicable within the latino/a community (albeit to a somewhat lesser extent and more often associated with locale of origin), and one can insert native, as well, to some extent.

Its fascinating, really, that people who can be rather attuned to other forms of privilege would use tone arguments and defensiveness when it comes to white privilege.

Monica's not always the easiest to take -- but there are times when she's far more predictable and tolerable than I am.

And, lest anyone forgot, black trans folk -- and women, in particular -- are *what she talks about*.

That's her niche, her segment, her passion...

Her role.

Sheesh.

What -- you'd rather have Alex Blaze do it? (not picking on you Alex, lol)

I have to say that some of the dialog here has been troubling. People have been described as "vanilla" and as pig "headed minorities" and numerous accusations have flown.
I found the delivery in the post to have some things that are offensive but I also found that it made some points. I found some responses to be offensive "pigheaded...." and some made points.
I'm mostly Irish and Scottish with a small embarrassing amount of English to which I will rarely admit. My family tree also has some people of African descent and I hope like hell there is more of that than English. I'm bi but sometimes I am assumed to be gay, or straight and I've been asked recently if I was trans. When I do diversity stuff and do things to represent the LGBT community I try to be inclusive and try to make sure that people understand that there is more than L & G present and more than just attractive young people and more than just white people and more than just wealthy people.
Then I come home to a place like this and we are haranguing one another horribly. I wonder how intentional was the original offense and how based on ignorance and tunnel vision it was. But I can say that the vitriol being flung about here is being done with knowledge and intent.
The original post was done with an intent to insult some. But I've done that here before too. And the flow just seems to keep coming.

Angela Brightfeather | July 3, 2009 12:03 PM

"Angela: Anger is not a reason to post and blame. Get active and participate with the guest list instead of throwing out ones's hurt like a weapon against innocent bystanders. Her post is as effective as a bitch session. It remedies nothing. Monica is attacking her allies. She needs to get involved in the issue she is writing about if she has a gripe."

I guess you just don't get the message here. There is this thing called "justified anger" and it applies here.

Although you may have lost the actual point Ewe, Monica is one of the most active people you will find when it comes to human rights. She is a recipient of the IFGE Trinity Award, a nationally recognized award given to Transgender activists by the International Foundation for Gender Education and only one of very few Black persons to recieve it in it's 21 year history. She didn't recoev it by being unjustly angry about people like you who cover their ears when this argument arises time and time again and yells, la la la la la.

This same thing happened last year. It was talked about on a number of blogs and discussed. You would think that one of those outstanding Trans people who were invited to the event this year, might have had the good heart to at least contact someone like Monica and ask if she could make it to DC. Or they could have scraped enough together and gotten apparently the one living Black Trans person who was at Stonewall to the event. No one did, again. And it is all about heart, something that pragmatists hate to talk about when they feel to lazy to live up to their conscience.

While we may be trying to unite for a common good, how empty will be the victory if in the process of achieving it, you lose the heart you have and damage the hearts of others, because of a failure to think beyond your objectives?

We could be talking about other things right now if someone had just looked in their heart and taken the time to remedy an oversight that had already happened once before, with an email or a simple phone call.

The shame of the matter is that there are so few Black Trans people involved and you and others still think that is unimportant and worth overlooking, even after being corrected. Then you have the audacity to call yourselves attentive to human rights issues with a smug pride that has the blatant overtones of "I don't care".

Actually I do care and it's obvious that Monica and others care also. It is also a Trangender issue. One that apparently the Lesbian and Gay community may have solved today, but was highly contentious just a few years ago with many lesbian and gay people having deep concerns about it. Deep enough for it to have a positive affect today.

I call this a Trans issue because it seems that after years of trying to understand the applied homophobia in the Black community against Trans people, we still haven't been able to come up with the answers that the Gay and Lesbian communities have. They seem not to apply to Trans people. The Transphobia seems much deeper and harder to deal with. But your attitude about it not existing or in marginalizing this isn't helping either.

The Trans people who were there ask for our support every day to keep their doors open and to support them and what they are doing. They are doing a great job for the most part, but they are missing the boat regarding the point of Black Transgender people being involved in our issues and that is not indicative of the heart many of us wish to show to others or the example that we should be showing to others.

No one is asking anyone else but the few Trans people who were there, to look around a bit and be responsible enough to take the time to be more inclusive. Stick their head outside of the beltline and when they go out and give their sales pitches and visit local groups as they do from time to time, do some recruiting out there and use their talents to make this issue important to all of us. In other words, do the right thing and what is expected of you. I am not holding Gay and Lesbian group's feet to the fire here, but I and others do expect our own leaders to listen and respond to the hearts of their own community and to be attentive to a few important details. It would appear that the gay and lesbian community has respeonded to some degree to this type of thing since I don't hear anyone complaining about Black gays and lesbians not being at the event and pictures indicate that as being accurate. The question is, when do we as a Transgender community start to live up to that example more?

The lines we draw in the sand about this issue are in big part due to the overwheming number of murders committed every year against Black Transgender people, as opposed to non-Black Transgender people. Any hate crime is tragic. But in the case of Transgender people, the evidence is overwhelming. Balck and Hispanic Transgender people are tageted and suseptible in much higher numbers. That is a very heavy toll for any community to have to pay before they wake up and smell the roses. But part of that is directly related to the amount of inclusion and education that we as a community provide and the example that we set for others to follow.

Exactly what kind of example do you think we are extending and depicting to a Black President or his staff, when they see no Transgender people at these events? Monica is by far, one of the best examples that our community can offer to a Black President and his wife that we are at least trying to be more inclusive and therefore give hope to other Black Transgender people to come out and get active in their community.

I agree that Ms Roberts used some rather strong terms in her blog but have nothing by which I can blame her for it. The erasure of trans people of color, especially trans women, is endemic in our culture and all too often descends into violent erasure and murder.

Ms Roberts is trying to wake people up to the fact that one characteristic of trans culture is that many (most?) trans people of color do not have the same resources for transition as white trans people and thus have less opportunity to join and be part of the activist trans community. This and latent prejudice keeps them invisible in circumstances such as the President's LTGB gathering.

Asking nicely hasn't worked, obviously, so the rhetoric has escalated. I think that's a good thing. Speaking truth to privilege is valuable and I see Ms Roberts doing that here and elsewhere. I think her point is valid and needs to be repeated, loudly, until people start to get it.

I have had the chance to read the article and all of the comments so far. It's sad to see some people want to challenge the issue Monica Roberts has brought by screaming at her, insulting her or ignoring the issue by placing their head where the sun doesn't shine.

It also saddens me to see that only one person who attended this event has the guts enough to comment here, yet I know that most, if not all of them read this blog on a regular basis. And, all of them are my friends, This, to me, is another way of avoiding the very issue Monica brings up.

No one in the white, trans establishment cares to face this problem because the excuse I hear is, "I have other things more pressing to take care of." Angela and I have other pressing issues to take care of with TAVA, but as you can see, we both will take the time to work with Monica and defend her, because what some people have said here has proven her right.

The other thing is that in spite of all of the supposed inclusiveness, TAVA was the only national transgender organization not represented there. Not having Miss majors that was a tragedy of untold proportions. They also didn't have an open crossdresser, an intersex person or a gender queer person. It seems that you could only be transsexual to be there, and preferably, post-op.

With all of the parts of the community who were not there in some form or another, the problems Monica brought are just one part of it. Seeing this, I'm not very proud of my community today.

"The other thing is that in spite of all of the supposed inclusiveness, TAVA was the only national transgender organization not represented there."

you're also the only one that doesn't have of a single non-white female transperson on your website on your website. you & angie keep up the good work there. don't mind those glass houses.

Actually not entirely true Monica. TransYouth Family Allies is a National Trans Organization and we were neither invited nor represented at this shindig. Transgender children really don't seem to be on anyone's radar when any kind of National forum takes place whether it is within the trans community, LGBT community or the political community.

My mistake. Thank you for pointing that out.

I'm so sorry, Monica. It's so wrong.

Monica isn't saying that anyone shouldn't have been at this event; she is simply saying that the lack of African-American involvement was a serious mistake - as she pointed out after last year's t hearings in the House.

Instead of attacking her for pointing this out, you might instead ask how to involve more people of color into GLBT advocacy.

I don't know who put this event together, who determined the guest list. Perhaps some T people of color were asked, I don't know. Travel to DC is expensive. However, there are plenty of T activists of color on the Eastern Seaboard that probably would have accepted the invitation, as well as nationally.

The failure to involve the African-American community has been illustrated to have been a large factor in the failure to stop Prop 8. Note that a very large portion of the T people listed on Remembering Our Dead were people of color, Latino/a. People of color know firsthand what it truly means to face prejudice daily, with the added problem for T POCs of facing the ostracization of the black church, an often conservative environment reflective of the very institutions that fight GLBT initiatives the hardest. One might think that listening to people like Monica, rather than branding her racist, might be wise.

I also cannot tolerate the intimations of some posters here that Monica's a racist. If you've said or implied here or elsewhere that she is a racist, you're wrong. She is proud of her African-American family background, justly so, the same as many of us are proud of being GLBT, or for that matter whatever descent. We just celebrated something called Pride, did we not?

She splits a home with 2 very pale T people, as well as another Trinity Award winning African American T person. The house is not split along racial lines; while the 4 of them have various conflicts, jobs, family issues, and differing interests, all 4 come together when it counts. Monica was a bridesmaid in my wedding, and my wife and I think the world of her. She has educated me greatly on this subject. Those who reject her suggestions and thoughts out of hand without consideration might well want to ask if what they are doing is working all that well, and whether they might want to listen to her.

I often say that the official exercise of the GLBT community is the conclusion jump, and so it has been demonstrated again. The GLBT community likes to shoot first and aim later, and I've concluded that the intersection of race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation is an aspect that, if not addressed better than it is, will result in more Prop 8s, more noninclusive bills passing, more examples of marriage taking precedence over employment rights or higher penalties for violent crimes. Think about it.

Thank you, Monica, for getting up and stating again what needs to be said. Racially-based exclusion in high-profile queer events is the effect of RACISM. There. I said it. And in this case, when everyone who knows their history should be well-apprised of the importance of our black trans forebearers, of the high risks they took in actions that continue to benefit ALL of us, well, this is just especially egregious.

Stating the truth about racism in the LGBT world can sure invite some vindictive vitriol. And to think miffed white queers are accusing YOU of "hurting the movement" and "turning people off".

Which movement and which people? Can they not see that racial justice and equality would turn on more people of color? What kind of people would be turned off by racial equity, and do we even want that kind of person in "the movement"? Or are POC just not important to "the movement" as imagined by the Miffed?

Anthony in Nashville | July 3, 2009 5:26 PM

I'm surprised at how angry some of the comments are.

One of the reasons progressive politics often seems incapable of producing results is the bitter and painful reality that people generally want what's best for them, and will work with others only to the extent that their personal goals can be achieved.

What we've seen with the LGBT movement over the last 15 to 20 years is each subset of the community demanding recognition and a leading seat at the table. For example, what used to be "gay community" changed to "gay and lesbian," then "lesbian gay bisexual transgender," and now "lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer intersex asexual questioning allies."

The intentions are good, but I feel the end result is that we start putting more energy into the name instead of results and outsiders think we're disorganized because we can't even decide what to be called.

I'm a black gay man and have come to the realization that if you're a minority group you have to take it upon yourself to get things done. Work within the larger "mainstream" groups when you can, but for those issues of particular interest not shared by the mainstream (and there are many for LGBT people of color), we have to form our own groups and agitate on our behalf. Complaining to the groups ignoring us only goes so far (because most "priviliged people" don't care) and spends energy we could be spending working on our interests.

I don't think this would be such a major problem for the LGBT community if we were able to define what our goals are. As it is, our money and energy is spread between marriage, adoption, DADT, ENDA, immigration, and HIV, meaning none of them are given enough focus to produce real change.

I am not calling for separation per se, but my experience has been that sometimes nobody is going to do for you but you.

Monica

Thank you for pointing out that there was no African-American representation! It is needed to be remembered that all should be represented! You should be upset!

This may come as a surprise, but many of us in the gay and lesbian community dont care if our particular race is included in these functions as long as our rights are obtained. Feel free to bar all the white gay males from any of these functions, I just want my rights please.

Justice are making the same fatal mistakes that many white GLBT people do in thinking this is a 'post-racial' nation.

It's not. Race matters in the USA and has for over 200 plus years . The sooner that peeps in the GLBT community get that though their heads the better the movement will be.

Symbols and symbolism matters. Nonverbal communication is MORE powerful in some cases than verbal communication. You have to be concerned with the VISUAL presentation of your message as well as the verbal.

So what was the message sent by the GLBT community in the wake of this Monday event?

1-The trans community is predominately white, with no African Americans and a few Latino/a's

2-Black transpeople don't exist and don't matter, despite the fact they make up along with Latino/a transpeople almost 70% of the remembering our Dead List.

And so what's the significance of sending those two messages?

You made it that much harder for me and others to attack the spin coming from right wing Black ministers operating at the behest of the Traditional Values Coalition that the GLBT movement is just a 'white thang'

You've made it harder for me and others to convince young Black transpeople to get involved, when they see that NONE of the three Black IFGE Trinity award winners or other Black people toiling away for the transgender community were in Washington DC.

And finally, the first thing anyone sees about me before the trans issues is my skin color. I don't have the luxury of divorcing myself from my ethnicity because I get reminded of it every second I'm breathing air on this planet.

So if you don't like the fact that I'm reminding you of the GLBT community racism that you'd rather forget, too damned bad.

I want my rights, too.

but I'm not going to allow myself to be silenced or stile what needs to be said about the state of race relations in the community just to make some people wallowing in Vanilla-flavored privilege comfortable.

As Parliament-Funkadelic said, 'If you don't like the effects, don't produce the cause.'

I repeat, so what are you going to do to ensure this doesn't happen again?

I find it interesting that GLAAD, The Colorado Anti Violence Project, The National Black Justice Coalition, the NAACP, IFGE, TAVA, The Banyan Tree Project, the Fairness Campaign, The Louisville Presbyterian Seminary and several colleges can find me when they need my help, input or expertise on one project or another, but the white transgender community leaders can't.



:D Beg pardon while this "only a little black" girl says this:

You go!!

:D

genderqueer_riff_raff | July 4, 2009 2:26 AM

I think one very simple thing that could be done , very very simple is that every major lgbt org and even some of the smaller ones incorporate as alluded to above in their front page websites pictures of POC of every shade. We live in a world of sound bytes and nano second visual flashes. We are barraged. Lets show some POC - not hard to do AT ALL. It sends the right message , it steers people in the right direction..and it reminds people that EVERYBODY COUNTS.

- then take those images and make them a reality in real integration - i happen to be a big fan of affirmative action because without POC get shoved aside and forgotten - your post case in point.

- words go in one ear out the other, lip service lamentations..yada yada. My wish is to see on the TASK FORCE , the hrc , GLAAD, GLAD, and so many others - the RAINBOW represented. Our lizard brains respond to this kind of advertising and branding. There is no excuse for only white faces to represent a demographic as diverse as ours and as you say - without this kind of visual aide at the least its that much easier for the conservatives within the black to community to brush it off as not an issue for them.

- so lets challenge every group..long long ago i used to the J.Crew Catalog..it dawned on me in my late 20's (i am now in my 50's) there was not a black face in it ! I wrote them i demanded they integrate their catalog or i would never order another item again..the results..were not terribly exceptional however they got some moca folks in the mix - prior to that it was strictly vanilla.

lets email the groups about their websites. I want to do this , In fact as i think about it a list could be assembled of their emails live links of as many groups as we can think of - and start a campaign of integration. Demanding it.

Perhaps a better blogger than I am - or this very blog Bilerico could have one of the more professional bloggers do this as a project !

The Bilerico Integration Project perhaps.
submit the post here, and we can click and write.
and commenters from all kinds of States could add links in the comments.
Just a thought. But it would be at least a good beginning. We have to try. I want to try.

NOT.THAT.HARD.

Caoimhe Ora Snow | July 4, 2009 2:39 AM

Thank you, Monica, from this white trans person. I was concerned about this myself but did not have the resources to look it up.

God, some of the racist comments in this thread make me want to throw up. I'm sorry you have to go through this every time you make a good point. Thank you again for what you do for our trans communities.

Monica,

I thought this was a fabulous post pointing out a very important problem. I thought it was so good I did some background checking for you.

It seems that Miss Major (and several other Stonewall veterans - I don't know their skin color or trans/cis status) were on the guest list but didn't make it through the Secret Service background check. A few other African-American trans folk were also vetted but didn't make the cut either. I'm not sure if you were on the list or not.

The reason given by the Secret Service was that the denied potential guests had police records beyond simply activist demonstrations and the like. As you've talked about in previous posts, African-American transwomen are more likely to be bound up in the sex for money trade and have a high incidence of prostitution and drug-related charges. (To be clear - I'm not placing a value judgement on that; I'm just trying to provide background.)

Apparently the first few Stonewall veterans - including everyone - were denied access because of their legal charges. They were scrambling a few days before the event to find someone - anyone! - that was at Stonewall that could attend. Eventually they found a couple men who could pass the Secret Service background check.

In spite of the history of the event - I think you're on point. Just like they found some Stonewall veterans who could pass muster, surely they could have found some African-American transpeople - whether trans men or women - who could pass a simple background check. It's not as if all African-American transfolk have been in trouble with the law. If they could spend so much time tracking down Stonewall vets to attend, they could have spent more time looking for African-American transfolk. Period.

You raise a very valid point, Bil.

After all, it's not at all uncommon for trans women of color to be unfairly accused of crimes -- for example, spurious claims that "death threats" were made via the Internet -- and thus lose access to overly regulated events such as meeting the President.

This doesn't look like people checked anything they wrote or commented on - like that transgender teen murder story. So Bil - if the folks who got invited had nothing to do with the guest list - is Bilerico going to appologize to them?

Apologize for which? Should Monica apologize because of the way black trans women are profiled by police and arrested for sex work when they're walking down the street or visiting a friend? Should Monica apologize because the Secret Service considers women who may have been arrested for sex work as too dangerous to allow near the president? Should Monica apologize for the White House's inability to locate real live black trans women who don't have criminal records (and who do, in fact, exist)?

As for the murdered transgender teen story, I wish people would try to understand why such a story would spread, and how the general story (trans woman violently murdered) is plausible because it plays out over and over again, and how no one bothers to complain bitterly about a lack of fact checking when a story turns out to be true.

genderqueer riff raff | July 5, 2009 12:38 AM

Thank you Lisa Harney ! like it would be that hard to find a black trans men or women without a criminal record or that could pass a security check - jeebus that slipped right by me.

Its racist to the core all of it. Try it backwards see how it sounds we tried to get a white trans woman to attend the event or a white trans man but we couldn't find any white trans people who could pass the security check.

Monica's post was mild - she lives this every day as she says. Some of can empathize , try to , but i gotta call my own self on an epic fail for reading what this so called insider said and going "oh" well thats a valid reason. Racism is so insidious we grow up all of us soaking in it, its wicked hard to unpack layers and layers of it. And its us liberals who are at greatest risk. I cannot safely ever say i am not somehow some way racist How could i not be ? i try not to be but really , americans grow up soaking in all these images, the black criminal , we imprison more people than China and 98% people of color

- is this my fault ? no.

but it damn sure is my responsibility to listen and never think i'm free of this scruge.

seriously they the planners of this lgbT event couldn't find ANYBODY any Black Trans person who couldn't pass a security check ??!?! and we just accept that ? no no no..not ok.

- they obviously didn't try very hard. AT ALL. How pathetic.

sigh....

- they obviously didn't try very hard. AT ALL. How pathetic.

Yeah. To say the least.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 5, 2009 6:11 AM

The Secret Service vetting is part of the problem. Yet, they will allow mass murderers sit with the president if they are a head of state that happens to have an oil field in their back yard.

No one could (even if they had wanted to) have brought a weapon into the White House for this important event. The president is perfectly safe. Why would an old rumor or thirty year old conviction for a "crime" even be relevant? It is simple insensitivity.

anyone care if i "weaponize" the word 'bigotry'?
(oh, never mind....)

I also find it interesting in the blogosphere that the only time that 'facts' and fact checking are demanded in a post is when it's authored by a person of color and runs counter to vanilla flavored worldviews.

Just so we're clear - I wasn't "fact checking" you to try and find out if your story was false... I wanted to find out what the excuse was since I agree with you that it isn't that damn hard to find a trans POC.

They fucked up on this one.

Hey Bil, sorry for assuming otherwise (that you took it at face value), although I never assumed ill will there.

I am glad you got that information, although it's not specifically my place to thank you for it. It is rather enraging because it's loaded with racist assumptions.

Angela Brightfeather | July 5, 2009 12:36 AM

It's quite simple.

It has already been mentioned here that there are at least three, absolutely outstanding Trans women who are POC and have recieved the Trinity Award from IFGE, Monica Roberts is one of them, Monica Rivchards is another (a lawyer living in CA), and I believe that Dawn Wilson is another (who was a Congressional Aid for a number of years and has run for public office, living in Louisville).

I would stake my reputation that any one of these three wonderful women would have passed any vetted challenge to them. I know them all personally and they are not just outstanding leaders in the Transgender community, they are remarkably outstanding people in general, each one being a totally "class act" and stand up, in your face, long time activist with many years of experience. Monica Richards was a Democratic delegate to the convention in Denver last year. Dawn Wilson, besides knowing politics on a first hand basis, was also a preacher.

The fact that any one of these women was not chosen to attend is inexcusable and anyone who thinks that there are not many, many more outstanding examples of Transgender POC, shows exactly how misinformed people are.

As I have said, this is primarily a Transgender matter since it seems that others in the gay and lesbian community seem to have little doubt that they are suitably represented by POC at events like the one in question. Good for them. If they are satisfied, then I am also. If not, then they need to do something about it.

But as far as the Transgender community goes, we need to work on this problem. Many people feel that the Trans community is years behind the GLB community in some ways and this may be one of them.

Angela,
Actually, the three African Americans who have received the Trinity Award are Rev. Dawn Wilson, Dr. Marisa Richmond from TN (2002) and Monica Roberts. Everyone of them have clean records, and have passed security checks at one time in their lives. Dawn flew Tomcats in the Navy, Marisa has a PhD and was a delegate to the 2008 DNC, and Monica worked in Customs when she worked for an airline. Any one of those three would have easily passed a security check. So, that dog don't hunt as far as I'm concerned.

Angela Brightfeather | July 5, 2009 1:05 PM

Thanks for the correction Monica.

Your right and i have been waiting for Marisa to chime in here because she has done a few items on Bilerico. In fact, she may have done something on this subject.

I have not found out yet exactly how people were vetted for this event Bil, but I do know that there must have been some preliminary vetting done in each community at some level before any lists of guests were sent to the SS for their security check. The community level is the level that I think we are talking about when it comes to putting some thought into who turns up and are picked each time for these types of events. If the same people show up every time, then this problem will grow because it isn't going away until the leaders in the Trans community understand that auspicious moments in community history should be shared with the widest range of their supporters. Not the pick from an inside list of beltline neighbors who don't mind crossing picket lines of Transgender people outside of an HRC National dinner, in the wake of an exclusive ENDA. Really!!!! Why don't you just slap people in the face and tell them they aren't worth crap.

The Transgender Community has many leaders who have spent the majority of their lives working for the gains and victories that we now have a chance to attain. Those people cover a wide spectrum of our community, from life experience to the color of their skin and that diversity needs to be recognized and honored as an example of determination and sacrifice for the sake of others and as role models for those yet to enter the fight for equal rights.

A Dionne Stallworth | July 5, 2009 2:37 PM

You know, a friend of mine who attended Pres. Obama's suaree talked to me about it. To which, I promptly replied: There was too much "snowfall" for me. Let's face it- for the most part when it comes to gender-variant or trans POC there's a snowblindness that seems to occur with a frequency that is disturbing, disenfranchising and disgusting. I'm thankful that Monica, Dawn and a few others see what I see and speak out and do what we can where we are, but all of us need to seriously step up our game. This is the closest thing we have to a receptive political administration. If not now, when? If not us, then who?

Understand Bil. Wasn't referring to your follow up.

I was talking about the double standard tendency of critics of online commentary posts written by POC to demand levels of documentation and citations approaching academic papers or investigative reporting levels to prove their points, while not requiring the same level of effort for a non POC.

But we definitely are in agreement on this one my friend. It stinks, it's another slap in the face to the African-American trans community, and we're incensed about it.

I completely support Monica's feelings about being slighted; it's not just whining and bitterness -- it's the damn truth that there are different experiences in this world, even this trans world, for people based on race and gender. The majority voice in the trans community is white; and it's also female (trans women). It's a fact that people who are not in that group do not see their experience reflected in a lot of issue prioritizing within the trans community. That doesn't mean we outsiders can't play well with others or can't support the agenda others set, but it does mean we sometimes get frustrated with being super-marginalized. And there's nothing wrong with expressing it now and then to wake people up.

Bil, if you know who was on the guest list, I'd sure like to know who the 12 privileged trans people were. None of the trans organizations or leaders have felt a sense of responsibility strong enough to report to the community about who was there. I'm sorry to learn Miss Major (a dear friend) was excluded. That is a damn shame.

And why wasn't Earline Budd invited or there? She's right there in D.C., and has done amazing work for trans women (and men) with HIV right there in our nation's capital. Trans people of color have more than paid their dues.

There's a long list of AA transpeople who could have been called in addition to the three African-American IFGE Trinity winners.

FYI, that's Dawn Wilson (2000) Dr. Marisa Richmond (2002) and moi (2006)

Rev. Earline Budd
Cydne Kimbrough
A Dionne Stallworth
Valerie Spencer
Louis Mitchell
Sharyn Grayson
Rev. Joshua Holiday
Zion Johnson
Tracy Jada O'Brien
Lois Bates
Alexis Whitman
Dana Turner
Tracee McDaniel

Calling any one of us would have led you to others that I or others may not be aware of toiling for the community, or who haven't gotten national attention yet

And that's just off the top of my head people.

Kathy Padilla | July 6, 2009 12:01 PM

"None of the trans organizations or leaders have felt a sense of responsibility strong enough to report to the community about who was there."

On another thread on Bilerico I did report the trans people I saw at the reception[myself, Shannon Minter, Babs Casbar Siperstein, Marsha Botzer, Donna Cartwright, Mark Davis (who also goes by the name Miss Altered States when performing), Melissa Skalrz, Mara Keisling, Diego Sanchez]. I contacted Monica via email after the earlier comments on the other thread.

I don't know the entire list myself - only those people I happened to speak to at the event. My involvement with the guest list is limited to receiving an invitation on Friday - I wasn't asked for input nor was I provided a list of the other invitees.

I agree that the that the lack of African American trans representation is inexcusable. At least two of the other attendees I spoke to at the event received their invitations at the time I did. I have pointed out the issue & Monica's posting.

Marisa Richmond | July 9, 2009 10:26 AM

First, I feel flattered that anyone would think I was worthy of a White House invitation. I appreciate the kind words spoken here about me.

Second, I, too, had noticed the lack of diversity on the list of attendees issued by the WH, which, by the way, did not include Kathy or Diego, so I was not aware that it even included Latina/Latino transpeople until now. In a WH occupied by the first African American President, it would have sent a powerful message to have had A-A representation that everyone is welcome. I was disappointed that we were left out. There should have been more of a concerted effort to ensure that the community was fully represented.

Third, as a delegate from Tennessee last year, I did have to go through a background check, which I obviously passed. I am sure any of the others mentioned on this list would pass muster too.

Finally, I appreciate Angela's comment about waiting for me to chime in here (but really! Monica Richards from California?!?!), but I should note that I am not active on blogs. I do read a couple of Nashville based political blogs, but that is it. I did write a blog during the DNC last year, but that was because several local friends asked me to do so, and that was the last time I posted anything on a blog site until this note today. I do write a lot of stuff, but I am just not active on blog sites.

Thanks again to all who are speaking up & forcing others to address this issue.

Thank you 'Number Two' for taking the time to comment on this issue.

Kathy, thanks for noting the trans folks you saw at the event, and I'm glad you and Diego were there, but what I was asking for was some kind of "official" acknowledgement of participation in the event from leaders who felt as though their presence at the event meant something for our collective community as a whole. Surely someone in a position of community responsibility had something to do with helping to organize the event. Surely it wasn't the President's social secretary who selected the names of those trans people who would be invited: someone, maybe several people, were responsible for nominating attendees. Who was it? Why all the silence? And why won't the leaders of the various organizations they were representing there release statements about what it meant for them to be there, what they think our collective acknowledgement from the White House means for our community? Cathy Renna issued something about her feelings; Rae Carey did, too. But now, it's like: who cares? It's old news. There are other things more pressing than communicating with 'the public.'

I think Monica's original point -- the slighting of African-American trans people -- is still valid and needs addressing in a larger context. It should be addressed by those who created and/or vetted the guest list. I wish I had more faith in 'the system', but I suspect we will never get an answer to the question vis a vis this particular event. But I do hope that at some point the trans community will have put behind us the tragedy of racial ignorance.

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