Is President Obama more willing to treat trans people better than GLB people?
The question is fairly simple and doesn't have much deeper subtextual value, but the things it makes one look at in order to answer it effectively are what matters here.
One commenter when I posed the questions asked if it matters that he may be more "friendly" towards trans folks that GLB folks.
Yes, it does matter. Moreover, if its true, and there's a pending situation that can test this to at least some extent, it changes a dynamic that exists where the voices of trans people are not heard in the LGBT community with the same clarity and force as some G/L people.
Let's look at what we've got so far.
Relatively early on in office, the President signed a rather important piece of legislation regarding equal pay for women. In a move that wasn't quite unprecendented but certainly strikingly different from historical trends, the President made it a point to bring in a Trans woman to send a signal that he felt that this law should apply to them. Such a signal is fairly strong -- this sort of stuff has been used in cases in the past to show intent of the law (not merely at the federal level). It's a weak point, granted, but still that was the goal and the effort involved.
Come the White House Easter Egg Roll, the President (or, more likely, his wife) had his office seek out a wide variety of kids. Indeed, they specifically contacted a few organizations that were trans to track down trans kids and make sure they had an opporutnity to be there. This was another big deal, as although they had gay parents, that had happened before. To no one's knoweldge has any White House ever gone to the trouble of tracking down trans kids in order to say "We want you, as yourself."
The President also issued a relatively early change in policy of his Administration, and included Gender Identity in the list of things that could not be considered for the purposes of a job. This was highighted again, recently.
The president instructed his staff not to appeal the decision in the case of Diane Schroer. It would have been nice if he'd said just drop it, but it had been started prior to his administration and was out of his hands.
Now, these are all fairly simple, basic things, and there could be another perfectly reasonable sounding explanation for it all.
They may not, in fact, be indicative of a general greater willingness to aid trans folk. Now, trans folk are not believed to be a large political block. Worse, trans folk are generally believed to be a hindrance -- something that takes away from whatever they are attached to (even inside the Trans community, which really annoys me).
So there's not much to gain for the President by going out of his way to make sure that trans folks are included in events which are generally pretty boring and not all that exciting otherwise. Indeed, most of this stuff wasn't even really covered in the mainstream media -- outside the trans community, most folks don't know about these things, or glossed over it when it was mentioned, even in LGBT publications and blogs.
Now we can see for ourselves. There is an Air Marshall out there. Air Marshalls protect planes and are part of the Department Of Homeland security, which is a State Department function, and under the control of the Executive Branch, which is embodied in the person of the President.
This Air Marshal has faced some fairly severe criticism from their coworkers and has found that their transition from male to female was accompanied by a great deal of discriminatory behavior.
They are suing the TSA and my former governor, Janet Napalitano, the head of Homeland Security.
Now, the suit was not brought by the TSA or the administration -- they are not going after anyone, they are in the position of defending the Admnistration's actions via its supervisors and employees.
The President has already declined to get involved in court cases with the brief filed in a Defense of Marriage Act challenge. We also know he generally doesn't get much direct say in the matter of who writes and pursues these things, or even the efforts they engage in (they are obligated to fight on behalf of the taxpayer, after all).
So the case will wind through court, and what will give us our chance to see is not only what he says tonight during his speech regarding DADT (which does not directly affect trans folk, who are discharged regardless of sexual orientation with or without it), but whether or not they choose to appeal the decision here should they lose.
Should prove interesting.
Of course, he's also appointed a Trans woman to a high position in a critical area, as many people have noted, and he also appointed a Trans man to a post at the same time (and the guy got in a tad bit ahead of the gal).
I don't know about you, but I'm seeing a pattern here. Then again, I could just be cross eyed, you never know. And it's not a bad thing if he is -- Trans folk generally have a habit of overcoming objections about sexual orientation fairly easily and quickly, because they happen to confuse the hell out of people since people never know what a trans person's is, plus trans folk tend to make them look at their own. Just by existing.
One of the benefits of having them as part of the the LGBT.
In the meantime, it is starting to look a little bit like the President likes the T more than the LGB...