Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Sen. Kay Hagan to Transgenders: I Will Have To "Carefully Consider" Your "Impacts"

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | October 15, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Hagan, North Carolina

Senator Kay Hagan has been sending out letters to constituents who inquire about ENDA, and they suggest she's not at this point in favor of a bill that includes "gender identity."

I'm feeling very 2007.

Here's what she said:

I would have voted for the employment non-discrimination measure passed by the House of Representatives in 2008. I am committed to carefully considering all options and the potential impacts of implementing new laws or regulations...

What is she saying here: yes, I would have voted for it then and I will vote for it now; or yes, I would have voted for it then but I am not sure about it now? I called her office, which confirmed that she is undecided about the current bill. What is it Senator Hagan needs to "consider?" Please call and ask her, because her press secretary insisted she wasn't against gender identity protection. I've also had others from North Carolina assure me that Senator Hagan is not against gender identity protection. In fact, she even sponsored an inclusive ENDA-type bill in the North Carolina legislature. But what's with these letters? And why won't the press guy get back to me?

Dear Readers, please call Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina and ask nicely for her support on S1584. Contact info and more after the jump.

I spoke to him last Friday, and he said he would get back to me with a clarifying statement before my Wednesday deadline on that question. I held off posting this an extra day to give him extra time to figure this out, because I want Senator Hagan to do the right thing, and not alienate potential allies. But he still hasn't gotten back to me.

Logically, if she would have voted for the sexual-orientation only ENDA, and now has to "consider," and the only thing that's changed is "gender identity," then it sounds as if gender identity is a problem for her. Am I misinterpreting this?

Look, Senator, we need 60 votes to pass this over a filibuster. There are 49 confirmed yes votes. There are another 7 likely to be in favor of this bill. Then another 4 will still be needed. You know that the leadership isn't going to bring this to a vote without 60 yes votes. We can't afford the coy dance this time around.

Senator, if you have questions about gender identity inclusion in ENDA, here, in a nutshell, are the possible questions and answers about gender identity inclusion.

Q: Is the definition of gender identity in ENDA ambiguous? A: No, it's clearly defined as in many other such bills. In fact, it's defined more clearly than in the North Carolina bill.
Q: Should transgender people be able to have jobs if it makes employers or co-workers uncomfortable? A: Yes, they should, and this argument demonstrates the need for such a law.
Q: Is there really enough transgender discrimination to require a law?: A: See previous question, and see these studies on the issue studies on the issue.
Q: What about the argument that businesses will lose sales because of transgender employees? A: The "business necessity" objection is a pretext, not a real objection.
Q: Will ENDA require employers to build new bathrooms and dressing rooms? A: No, it will not.
Q: Will ENDA allow sexual predators into women's bathrooms? A: No, it won't.

Click here and here for more detailed answers to these questions.

Meanwhile, dear Readers, please call Senator Hagan and ask nicely for her support on S1584, including both sexual orientation and gender identity. I hope we will hear something from her soon.

DC Phone: 202-224-6342
Greensboro 336-333-5311
Raleigh 919-856-4630
(Click here for email)

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

Here, read for yourself what Senator Hagan said, particularly the portion I have put in bold. Tell me, am I imagining things? Am I overreacting? Am I foolishly alienating a potential yes vote? Or am I right to point out that she's suggesting a problem with gender identity inclusion?

Given what happened in 2007, I don't think I am imagining things, or overreacting. If I'm wrong, I'm sure Senator Hagan will be more than happy to correct my misunderstanding and I will be more than happy to apologize. Here's the letter. If you think I'm right, please call Senator Kay Hagan and ask her to support the inclusive ENDA, S.1584.

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009. I greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important issue.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S. 1584), or "ENDA," was introduced in the Senate on August 5, 2009, and referred to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on which I sit. The legislation was also introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year, but neither bill has been voted on yet. Similar
proposals have been introduced dating back to 1975, though none have
had enough support to pass both bodies of Congress.

ENDA seeks to prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and would allow individuals to file claims against an employer who discriminates based on these factors. For employers, employment
discrimination would include refusing to hire an individual, terminating an individual's employment, or adversely affecting an employee's status based on that person's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, it would prohibit
discrimination in employment agencies, labor unions, or training programs. The bill would exempt religious organizations and the United States Armed Forces from these provisions. ENDA also includes several clarifications regarding its implementation. For instance, it would not prevent employers from enforcing policies that do not intentionally violate the bill as long as the policies are applied uniformly. The bill also would not infringe on an employer's ability to take action against an employee who is charged with sexual harassment. Further, under the bill, employers would not be required to build new facilities, nor would they be prohibited from enforcing a dress code.

I oppose discrimination in the workplace, and I support looking for ways to eliminate these unfair practices. Additionally, I supported legislation to address employment discrimination during my time in the North Carolina Senate, and I would have voted for the employment non-discrimination measure passed by the House of Representatives in 2008. I am committed to carefully considering all options and the
potential impacts of implementing new laws or regulations,
and I will be sure to take your concerns about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act into account as I review this legislation.

Again, thank you for contacting my office. It is truly an honor to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, and I hope you will not hesitate to contact me in the future should you have any further questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Senator Kay Hagan


Recent Entries Filed under Politics:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Well, she needs a fact-checker since the vote on the non-inclusive version of ENDA was in early November 2007, not 2008. But, no, I don't think you're overreacting, Jillian. If she was in favor of that version of ENDA, then the only thing to consider now is the addition of gender identity, as you point out. Despite her past support for such inclusion at the state level in NC, perhaps she thinks the political landscape on that issue has changed since then. Who knows? In any case, she needs to clarify her position and, if she opposes the inclusion of gender identity, to explain her reasoning.

Just got off the phone with Sen. Hagan's office. They said she is currently considering co-sponsoring the legislation. I strongly urged the importance of co-sponsorship and also noted her recent support of the NC 'ENDA-like' legislation and they said, 'oh yea'. He was getting and passing information back and forth as we spoke.

Please call her office and stress she co-sponsor ENDA!!!

Go T2inDC! That would be awesome if she co-sponsored.

I just got off the phone with an LA, Julie Holzhueter and gave her my name and organization. I also gave her the TAVA website and suggested she look at the survey we have done, because there is discrimination issues brought up there.

Julie said the "The Senator is reviewing the language in the bill to see how it would impact people in North Carolina." She also suggested any information we can send that could help show the need for this protection, send it to JulieHolzhueter@hagan.sen.gov

I also talked to Angela Brightfeather who lives in NC and she says the Senator has been ignoring transgender people for a long time. If anyone has stuff you can send Julie, I suggest you do that, including the survey that Equality NC did a few years back that showed more people in NC were okay with trans people getting protection than GLB people. Angela may still have a copy of that. It's time to flood her office and the E-mail with stuff.

Thanks, Monica! The studies showing a need for gender identity protections can be found here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/9/23/92529/0215

I have just emailed this link to Julie Holzhueter as you suggested. I suggest that more of you also email it, as one email may not get through.

The correct email address is Julie_Holzhueter@hagan.senate.gov

Tkanks for the correction. I was at the tail end of lunch and was rush for time.

Angela Brightfeather | October 15, 2009 2:47 PM

I have contacted Senator Hagan's office for the last two months about ENDA. I either do not get a response outside of a "canned" letter, or as in the case today in talking with her legislative aid in DC, I get a complete run around that feels like I'm hitting a brick wall.

i.e. "The Senator is looking for input from North Carolina people and is investigating any concerns that people may have."

Angela: What concerns does she have?

"I don't feel free to discuss who has those concerns or what they are."

Angela: I'm not really interested in who has the concerns, I'm only interested in being able to assist in answering any of those concerns that have been brought up.

"As I have said, I don't feel comfortable about bringing up those concerns."

Angela: Have you or anyone in your office ever met with NCTE and Mara Keisling in DC?

"No, I don't believe so. But if you would like to set up a meeting with the Senator either in DC or at home in NC, you can email haganscheduler@hagan.senate.gov"

I tried a test email and so far it went through.

In checking with other Trans leaders in NC, no one has been contaced by the Senator's office to answer any concerns and as far as I know, Senator Hagan has never talked with a Transgender person in NC either about ENDA or any other matter of concern that I am aware of.

I don't buy the line about her being supportive of similar state legislation when she was a legislator in NC, because the only GLBT legislation that ahs ever passed in NC was last year and that was the Bullying Bill. But certainly no other legislation to do with anything like ENDA has even been voted on. I also note that her legislative aid Juli is her advisor on all matters concerning "labor" which is how they classify ENDA, not as a civil rights bill.

As a constituent, I will be happy to try and arrange a meeting with Hagan's office and be there myself, but I'm not going there by myself and being confronted with "concerns" that are better answered by more knowledgeable people than me and any meeting should be had with a coalition rather than just one person from my state.

I ask all North Carolina Transgender leaders to call her office and push for her yes vote on ENDA.

NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!!!!

The email just came back asking me what I want.

The following is my reply to her scheduler:

Ms Michaels,

Thank you for your response.

I am contacting you after talking to Juli in the DC office.

I would like to set up a meeting with Senator Hagan to discuss any concerns that she may have about the Employment Non Discrimination Act, S. 1584, that is pending a vote in the Senate.

I would like to meet with the Senator as a constituent from Apex, NC and with others from our state that are interested in the successful passage of this legislation. I can provide a list of people and who they represent pending our scheduling of a meeting in the near future.

It would be preferable to meet in the Greensboro office when the Senator is home, but we can also arrange to be in the Washington office if more convenient for the Senator who I realize must be pressed at present with the issue of Heath Care.

If the Senator plans on returning home in November for the holidays, that may be the most mutually opportune time to meet. Please provide me with any dates and times in November that we can sit and discuss any concerns that the Senator has and inform her about our feelings regarding S. 1584 and why it is so important to us as residents of North Carolina and as her constituents.

Very truly yours,

Angela Brightfeather
National VP, Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA)
5036 Holly Brook Drive
Apex, NC 27539
email: britfether@aol.com
Phone:

Way to go, Angela! Please do keep us informed of progress.

Rachael Harvey | October 15, 2009 2:57 PM

Dear Senator Hagan,

I appreciate your willingness to take into consideration the challenges that transgender people face. The world does not understand us, in fact most of us don't understand ourselves enough. Most of us we born with a brain that does not match our physical presentation, at least until we change it. This is not conjecture but a fact based upon many autopsies confirming this. I myself am transgendered and struggled for 55 years trying to live up to what society expected, many dark times where suicide seemed to be the only option, and finally I took the risk to be who I am. I consider myself very fortunate as I pass pretty well and yet, my employer makes me use the men's restroom. I cannot begin to tell you the humiliation I feel when I walk in on some man, or when I walk out only to be face to face with a customer that does not know me or my status.
We are not people that are asking for any more than to have the same rights as anyone else that did not suffer from the birth defect which plagues us. Please help us live full and valuable lives.

Sincerely,

Rachael Harvey


Ps. Please feel free to call me anytime if you would like to discuss anything regarding transgender or want an expert witness. Thank you.

Thank you, Rachael, for your heartfelt letter.

HERE IS THE TEXT OF AN EMAIL I JUST SENT TO MS. HOLZHUETER
````````````````````````````

Dear Ms. Holzhueter:

I write to ask you to urge Senator Kay Hagan to support and become a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and to make sure that this version of ENDA is inclusive of gender expression and identity.

I am a gay man living in San Francisco. I have friends and relatives living in the Carolinas. One of the loveliest places I've ever been is the Winston-Salem area. I am also an ordained minister, and am presently studying to become licensed as a psychotherapist. All of this is what prompts me to write to you.

There are a lot of people, probably a lot in North Carolina, who would like to hold back or turn back the clock on science, and who insist that people who are transgender, transsexual, or intersex are engaging in some kind of perverse lifestyle choice. In fact, gender expression and identity has far more to do with innate constitution and even biology, and the present state of the law allows such persons to be discriminated against in employment simply because of the naked bigotry of others. It is the discrimination against such people that is the perverse lifestyle choice, and it is just plain un-American.

My old acquaintance Barney Frank seems to have a bit of a resentment about this whole issue, since the last time he tried to get ENDA up and running in Congress, he willingly sacrificed transgender folks for legislative expediency, and he was rightly called on the carpet for it. But I want to state emphatically that just because Barney, through his miscalculation, has wound up with a resentment, doesn't mean Senator Hagan has to buy into that nonsense. She can be above that fray; she doesn't have to address internalized homophobia within her. There are plenty of us who can call Barney on his internalized homophobia, even as he labors to do the best for us that he can. Senator Hagan has to focus on morality, as well as realpolitik. And the reasonable moral choice here is not only ENDA, but an ENDA that includes gender expression and identity.

Please urge the Senator to co-sponsor and vote for an inclusive ENDA.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rev. F. Luke Adams, Jr.

Thank you, Rev. Adams, for providing a religious perspective on ENDA and the moral choices involved.

Just wanted you all to know that I live in North Carolina and I called today and left a message at the DC office.

Thanks for keeping us up to date on this issue!

Wade

Excellent, Wade, thanks for making that call. Let us know if you get a follow up.

Stephanie Stevens | October 15, 2009 8:18 PM

I'm a NC voter ...

I emailed twice, and received the same generic response (second time today) ...

--
Dear Friend,

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts and opinions. Since taking office, I have received an overwhelming number of calls and emails from North Carolinians like you who are ready to take an active part in our government. I appreciate each and every call and email. With our country facing some of its toughest challenges in a generation, your phone calls and messages are an important factor guiding my work here in Washington. Please be assured that we will get back to you as soon as possible regarding your specific concern.

I would like to take this opportunity to share my website with you. Please visit http://Hagan.Senate.Gov to find contact information for my offices and to stay updated as my new state offices open. You can also find information there about what I've been doing in North Carolina and Washington. It is an honor to serve as your United States Senator, and I appreciate your patience as I transition into this new role. I sincerely hope you will not hesitate to contact me at any time to share your concerns and voice your opinions on our country's most pressing issues.
--

I'll be phoning Hagan's office tomorrow, and I'd suggest others do that as well.

Stephanie Stevens
Transgender News, etc.

Go Stephanie! Thank you for emailing and calling. Let us know what happens.

Okay, thank you for this, but please:

"Transgender" is an adjective, as in "transgender people." It's not a noun, like in "transgenders." And it's not a verb, as in, "transgendering" (thanks Dan Brown). Please make a note of that.

Thanks again.

No, you're totally right Betsy. I did know that, but I just didn't have that much space for the headline. I was trying to use it like some headlines refer to "gays", which i never like that much, but gets the job done. I probably should have said "trans". But now it's too late because the way Wordpress works (the blogging software Bilerico uses) is that it breaks all the links if you try to change the title of the post. Mea culpa and thanks for pointing that out.

sent this evening:

Dear Senator Hagan

I am 34 years old, I am a college graduate, and I am currently the manager of a small, independently owned business where I have been employed for over 10 years. In all that time, I have been a conscientious employee and a hard worker. The quality of the work I have done has never been questioned, and I have assumed more and more responsibility with time.

Two years ago I faced a crisis in my life which had been building for as long as I can recall. I found myself in a state of constantly increasing anxiety and ever deepening depression. It was becoming harder to function on even a basic level, and I realized that if I did not take action and find help, I would was not going to survive for much longer.

I am a passionate person and I live a blessed life. I have a lot to be grateful for, and it was in part because of this that I found the courage to do what I needed to to.

I sought counseling, which I ultimately had to do with a doctor in another area since services were not available in my own hometown, and after about a year of therapy, I began hormone replacement therapy. That particular milestone was achieved eight months ago today, and in the last eight months my life has turned around in ways I would not have believed possible. I do not have adequate words to describe to you either the depth of the conflict and struggle I have personally faced or how wonderful the gradual improvement and change has been in my life.

I am transgendered. I was born biologically male 34 years ago, and I tried, aggressively, for 32 years to conform to the expectation that I was therefore inherently male. In the end, I did not fail at this, ultimately, because what I was attempting to do was simply never possible in the first place.

The condition I have is known to be congenital, and it was never my "choice" to be transgendered. Ultimately it WAS my choice to let it kill me or to seek help, though. In making the choice to fix my life and find joy in living it, I have assumed a number of risks which I have methodically measured against the certainty that the life I was living would have undone me. None of the dangers posed by anything that is happening to me now seems comparable to that certainty.

One of the dangers that I faced and still face is that I could lose my job and even find myself unemployable as I progress with my transition.

I am a productive and intelligent member of society. I work, I pay taxes, I obey the law, and I vote. I do not ask anyone to understand or even to care about my personal struggles. I do not ask anyone to like me or accept me. I do not see myself as a victim either of nature, fate, or society. I'm just a human being who is walking the road before me and doing the best I can.

I do however have the expectation that I should be treated as such - as a human being - that I should share in the rights afforded to those around me as I participate in this society as a full member, carrying my own weight and doing no harm to others.

I do expect to be protected from blatant abuses which stem all too commonly from ignorance and bias.

It is with this in mind that I ask you to vote in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and to press for gender identity to be included in the final bill.

Voting in favor of this bill does not condone my lifestyle or acknowledge it as legitimate. It does not require you to believe in my condition or to accept my expression. All that it requires is that you extend to me the right as a human being and an American citizen to let my job performance, my skills, my honesty, integrity, and my passion for my work speak for themselves in the work place.

I am asking you to help me and others who face the same situation in their lives to keep our jobs based on our merits as workers and not to lose them because of intolerance, ignorance, or hatefulness. We have skills and talents to offer, and we have families to take care of. We want to live; we want to work.

Please give us that chance.

I would also like to extend to you the invitation to contact me either by phone or by email. I think that an open dialog would be helpful to everyone. We can all understand each other and move towards an inclusive society. All it requires of us is openness and mutual respect.

Thank you,

Isobelle Fox

Great letter, Isobelle. I felt that in my bones.

Thank you for writing this, Dr. Jillian Weiss, and for all that you have done on behalf of our entire community. My boyfriend and I are both ftm and we really hope ENDA passes. It would mean, we could be ourselves without fear of being fired. Sexual orientation is not covered in our state. Obviously, gender identity or expression is not either. I'm going to be an elementary school Special Education teacher after I graduate and job security in this red state would be lovely.

I alerted our representatives and tried to alert as many people on Facebook as possible as to how to contact their reps and senators. I have quite a few North Carolinians on my vast Friends' list, so I hope they will answer this call.

Again, thank you for all the work you (and others) have done. I'm sure us youth don't thank you all enough for what you do. My apologies on their behalf. :-)

No, thank you Sid. You and other young people are the people that we must protect. Old fossils like me are able to care of themselves, but I have seen young people morally crushed and emotionally damaged because of prejudice. Thanks for passing this around and getting involved in the political process. That takes courage, and your work on this is much appreciated here.

Give her the old Santorum heave-ho!

battybattybats battybattybats | October 16, 2009 9:50 AM

Simple.

Would the difficulties of adding women to the workforse with the extra costs of the added toilets and uniforms and upset customers etc have meant her predessessors should have voted against womens inclusion in the workforce because of the impact?

No difference at all. It's yes/yes or no/no if one uses the impact as the decidor.

Diana Spencer | November 14, 2009 9:34 AM

Hello!
An additional argument to use against unconfirmed senators concerns health care reform. Those who have no or low income will be subsidized by the various bills. If transgenders can't work or are fired the government will end up paying for our healthcare. They might as well allow us to work so we can pay our fair share.
With much thanks for all the hard work of all of you!
Diana