Bil Browning

HRC vs TVC: Debate over "transgender teachers"

Filed By Bil Browning | April 21, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: CBS, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, Traditional Values Coalition, transgender teachers, TVC

HRC staffer and frequent TBP commenter Allyson Robinson took up the sword yesterday to do battle with the Traditional Values Coalition's Andrea Lafferty on CBS's Washington Unplugged webcast. Of course, Lafferty uses lies to try and scare the public, but Allyson doesn't let her get away with it. Best line goes to Allyson after Lafferty says she's sorry for being offensive: "I don't think you are, Andrea."


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I must admit though, I can't stop chuckling that CBS staff was dumb enough to name a webcast Washington Unplugged. Look around that set and it seems they're surrounded by a bunch of computerized equipment running on electricity; they're just trying to slap old terminology on new technology. Imagine if instead of "Kindle," Amazon had chosen "Scroll" or "Papyrus." Of course, they're dumb enough to allow a representative from a known hate group to on the program, so I shouldn't be surprised. After all, Lafferty is having issues keeping up with the march of progress too obviously.


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My question about this is "How did Allyson keep from choking the life out of Andrea?" Andrea made me angry enough that I had to stop the video twice to recoup. Lies!!! Nothing but lies and emotional arguments to foster hate. Yech!

With firm and committed professional discipline.

It still always falls to the idea that because someone changes their gender that person must be intent upon showing off their new digs. Which is a ridiculously fallacious idea.

I thought the last bit of the interview where Andrea was talking about the confusion due to pre-ops was priceless, especially given that the interviewer herself even balked by saying, "Well... are the children going to see them from the waist down?"

It's paranoia induced by terror generated by sick-minded individuals years and years ago.

Every time someone decides to blow up a building, molest a child, destroy a church, or cause other violence, anyone else with remotely similar characteristics to the offender are lumped in as potential offenders.

This is learned behavior in our society and culture that has been around for centuries (if not millenia).

Getting past this one is always going to be tough because it's like trying to eat an elephant. The only way to do it is one bite at a time.

But Kudos to Allyson for holding her ground and for accurately describing the actual agent at work rather than more labeling of people. Well done, chica. Well done. :)

The ability of transgender activists to articulate their position has improved dramatically the past few years.

Opponents are beginning to use the “GID is a recognized mental disorder”, as an argument against ENDA. While we may not see this as a legitimate case against ENDA, it is a true statement until GID is not considered such.

Which brings up the conflict of those who pushed for government to recognize GID as a disorder or medical condition so it can be paid for and tax deductable, and those who preferred otherwise, keeping government policy to ENDA and away from recognition of GID.

"Every time someone decides to blow up a building, molest a child, destroy a church, or cause other violence, anyone else with remotely similar characteristics to the offender are lumped in as potential offenders."

Unless, of course, you're a rich heterosexual white male.

Excellent work, Allyson. Although, you missed an opportunity to trash the myth that our transgender brothers and sisters are somehow "disordered."

"Unless, of course, you're a rich heterosexual white male."

And my point is proven as this lumps all rich, heterosexual white males as "untouchable and above the system."

My point is simply that just because one person with a given characteristic does a f**ked up thing, it doesn't mean everyone with that characteristic will be the same way.

Paranoia-Fueled Perception is dangerous ... and spreads like wildfire.

I thought Allyson did an excellent job and won the debate handily on the merits. I believe it demonstrates how when you put Lafferty and the TVC up against a competent LGBT rights advocate they lose every time because it quickly becomes clear that what they really want is to maintain the ability to treat other Americans badly because they're not just like they are.

Bil, thanks for helping get this out there. Thanks also for Jillian's post calling attention to the way TVC has somehow managed to pawn itself off as a legitimate commentator on LGBT issues with two mainstream media outlets in the past week (CBS and DC's Roll Call newspaper).

One of UK activist Roz Kaveney's six axioms of trans advocacy reads like this: "Refuse to let journalistic and intellectual attacks on our community go unanswered." I agree, and that's why I said yes to this opportunity despite TVC's ugly history.

I agree that I could have done a better job of addressing the "mental disorder" issue Lafferty hammered me (and all of us) with. As I pointed out in the interview, she's clearly misusing the APA diagnoses to malign trans and gender variant people; I just never got the chance to say how. We all know, though, that the same charge Lafferty makes could be made against teachers who experience depression and even nicotine dependence, both of which are listed in the current DSM at the same "level" as GID. If we disqualified all the teachers who smoke or who have taken anti-depressants for classroom work, we'd have a much larger shortage of qualified teachers than we already have. The APA's proposed changes for DSM-5 go even further, to the point that it appears they no longer consider gender identity that differs from birth sex to be a basis for psychiatric diagnosis - an important step forward.

Thanks also to all those who've offered such nice comments. As anyone who does this kind of stuff will tell you, it means a lot.

Allyson, I usually avoid watching stuff like this for a myriad of reasons.

I think you put the case rather well and handled the situation with dignity and were articulate. Many would not have kept their cool.

The point that always gets missed here in my opinion is the way many post transition women are often obligated to reveal their transition. Whether obligated by matters of concience or codes of conduct put in place by education authorities in this case and government legislation in other situations. I have to ask, Why? Why do it ever, at all?

This may sound like a version of "Don't ask Don't Tell" but why does anyone feel it encumbent to reveal what are in reality simple medical issues in the first place. Either the women concerned or the authorities in control.

Regards the thorny issue of "Mental Disorders" and the APA It may be useful to dismiss that straw man argument with the retort that "being homosexual was once considered a mental issue, however, no one in the APA believes that now. However paranoia is and are you not being a little paranoid yourself Andrea" Or is that too provocative?

Kathy Padilla | April 22, 2010 12:00 AM

Allyson did very, very well. And having an articulate trans person be the spokesperson on the issue does a great deal by itself to undermine Lafferty's slurs.

I would suggest that when Lafferty next brings up the "how can you pass a bill forceing employment for those with mental illnesses" canard - besides addressing the misuse of the terminology - one could ask her if she's seeking to overturn the ADA? Which has been law for quite some time. Walk the plank? No - we're asking them to walk the talk and walk the line.

Her zebra blouse reminded me of seeing her at the Senate enda hearings 6-7 years ago? She was wearing a furry textured short skirt patterned with black and white spots like a dalmatians coat. Stay classy there, Cruella.

We will never be seen as anything but freaks until GID (or what ever you what to Call being TS) is taken out of the DSM. As it is Zucker, Bailey, Blanchard and their like seem to be more afraid of mental health "professionals" losing income. That being said, Allyson did well on a network that is becoming more like FOX every day.