Rebecca Juro

When the Government does Right

Filed By Rebecca Juro | October 30, 2009 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Congress, ENDA, hate crimes against LGBT people, Obama Administration, transgender

Finally, we're in.

The body of federal law of the United States of America now formally recognizes and protects its citizens from violence driven by hate based on sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time in American history. While both of these steps are critically important ones in our ongoing fight for equality, I'd like to suggest that the inclusion of gender identity, and therefore the formal acknowledgment of Transgender-Americans in federal law, is even more important than the inclusion of sexual orientation. For the first time ever, we exist in federal law now, and that's going to make things a lot easier down the road.

For one thing, as I and many others have noted in the past, the days of feigned ignorance about trans people and issues by politicians are over. Support us or don't support us, but the politicians can't claim they don't get it anymore, at least not the ones who want to appear informed and therefore credible.

For another thing, Congress isn't stupid either, especially not those on the left. They remember what happened in 2007 and they don't want another revolt on their hands, particularly because they know we don't stand alone anymore. Not only do we have staunch friends and allies in Congress, but we've also become allied with the greater grassroots progressive movement. Transpeople and others who believe that social and political progress in this country must be inclusive are now connecting with the grassroots left in this country in a way that the wealthy elites of the Human Rights Campaign crowd have never been able to do.

Many in Congress do see what's happening, how our movement is evolving, even if the White House is clearly still pretty slow on the uptake. I suspect that as time goes on, the Obama Administration will come to understand that if the President wants to speak to the true heart of the American LGBT community (and the bulk of its voter base), a speech at an HRC dinner or in front of a roomful of handpicked queer elites at the White House just isn't going to cut it anymore.

The passage of the Matthew Shepard Act changes everything. There's proof now: Transpeople are not political pariahs. Legislation that protects transgender people CAN be passed in this Congress IF members of Congress, President Obama, and our activists put enough effort into making it happen.

And while I'm someone who's rarely hesitant to bash any politician who deserves it, regardless of party, I will say this: At this exact moment, right now, today, I'm proud to be a Democrat. I just hope I'm able to continue feeling this way for a long time to come.

The old excuses are no longer valid. It's a new day. Now that our government has acknowledged that murdering us because we're gender-different is wrong, we must demand that they also understand that we have a right to make a living and provide for ourselves and our families free from unjust bigotry and discrimination. Not ask, not encourage, not hope, not educate, demand. Because if it is truly now accepted as a given in our country's laws that we have the right to live, it must also follow that we have the right to survive. It is therefore self-evident that if we have the right to live and the right to survive, then we must also have the right to work and provide the basic necessities of life for ourselves and our families.

So often, I find myself at this keyboard complaining about politicians, and more often than not, Democrats. Yesterday, we got a small taste, just a whiff, of what true equality in America might be like someday. Yesterday, I was reminded of how truly amazing it can be when government really works for the people. We can rightfully complain that this bill should never have taken a decade to pass into law, but we also should not forget that this Congress (as well as the last one) did pass it and what really made all the difference in the end was that Barack Obama, a Democrat, is our President.

As Rachel Maddow said on her show last night, it just goes to show that elections really do have consequences.


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I am very happy that the hate crimes bill was passed. I'm not at all all happy with HRC taking credit for its passage. Hey were the organization who through transgender people under the bus in 2007.

Another thing is that there is a divide between the Beltway and Main Street. Progressive and grassroots organizations I believe were more responsible for putting the pressure on these politicians. Numerous mainstream LGBT organizations were found lagging in their efforts to support transgnder people.

Oh thank the sweet Lord in Heaven we have a piece of paper in the voluminous body of contradictory and Unconstitutional laws to protect us from harm and punish those sevenfold who dare perpetrate a crime against any of us in the LGBT community.

(---Insert Sarcastic Clapping Here---)

Hope one of the supporters of such a pandered phony solution is on hand to explain to the straight victims of gang rape why their rape is unworthy of additional charges and/or sentencing solely based on their heterosexuality.

Way to bring people together. Yeah for a segregated judicial system. - WTF?

My preference for my own protection will still defer to a firearm over a piece of worthless politically postured paper.

We have to start somewhere Alli, and the fact is that we're now in a better political position to make gains at the federal level in the future than we were before. With ENDA coming up in Congress soon, that's critically important.

Personally, I'm in favor of strong gun laws nationwide. I find it incomprehensible that in many states guns can be purchased at gun shows with little or no proof of identity or license. I have no problem with legal and responsible gun ownership, but I have a very big problem with those guns being made so easily available to criminals.

Guns solve nothing, they only inspire more violence. There's a better way, and we're finally beginning to have some success at it. How about we see where that takes us first?

Now all that we--you, I suppose since I away up here in Ottawa--have to do is teach them the difference between those who eschew medical care and those who need it.

And who need it not like some need a doctor for a cough, but simply to live.

Will the passage of a transgender law have any effect on health insurance?

Will health insurance companies now know what they need to know and that by not including transsexual surgery in their policies, well, they will be discriminating just as they discriminate against women--cissexual women--when they refuse to include pregnancy care in the basic tier of health care.

Just like that male senator who declared, "I don't need it."

And all those who declare, "I don't need SRS."

Gay, lesbian and transgender people don't need medical care, this medical care--unless you define them as transsexual, and that will simply confuse members of Congress.

Its just like telling them gender and sex are precisely the same thing.

Unless that is the intention.

Who will lead the educational campaign, now that all transgender people are covered, to point out that there are differences?

Just like lesbians are different from gay men--and have different needs. And bisexual people are different from gay and lesbian people--and also have different needs.

Is it different to point out the difference within the category of sexual orientation--and the different needs?

Or is it just different to point out the difference within the category of gender identity--and the different needs?