Adam Polaski

Comment of the Week: Kelley Winters on Barney Frank

Filed By Adam Polaski | December 04, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barney Frank, Congress, ENDA, Massachusetts, Metro Weekly, retirement, trans stereotypes

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Bil's post, "Barney Frank on ENDA's Future After His Retirement," cited a statement from Rep. Barney Frank, who announced this week that he won't be seeking re-election. Frank told Metro Weekly:

There were two problems. First of all, there was a crowded agenda. ... And then there was this issue of transgender inclusion. My own state of Massachusetts ... showed a way to break thorough that. Now, I might get an argument with some of my allies and friends here about the dimensions of that. The Massachusetts legislation just passed and the governor signed a bill that prohibits discrimination against people based on gender identity -- they already had one about sexual orientation -- but it's about employment, it does not include public accommodations. It avoids the whole issue of what happens in locker rooms and bathrooms. ... The next time we have a Democratic president, House and Senate, I think you could get that type of Massachusetts bill through.

Many commenters took issue with Frank's statement, reaching back to the 2007 ENDA debacle. One of these perspectives, which was popular with Facebook users, was voiced by Kelley Winters, who highlighted the idea that Frank's statement did little to correct any public misconceptions of the trans community.

I'm saddened and disappointed by Rep. Frank's words. Horizontal minority scapegoating is the term I use to describe the collaboration of oppressed people with their oppressors, by deflecting prejudice and false stereotyping toward a more vulnerable subclass. Mr. Frank once again discouraged law makers and civil rights advocates from even attempting to extend to trans and transsexual people the fundamental civil right of equal access to restaurants, lodging, transportation, schools, shops, parks, and the fundamental human dignity of access to restroom facilities that are appropriate to our gender identity and social role. Mr. Frank had an opportunity today to use the power and privilege of his position to refute defamatory stereotypes about trans people, and especially transsexual women, that are promoted by political extremists. Instead, he implicitly legitimized them by suggesting an "issue" with "what happens" in bathrooms. In truth, the issue is prejudice. What's happening is scapegoating.

What do you think, Projectors? Did Frank's comments about ENDA contribute to negative stereotypes of trans people - or at least not seek to reject those stereotypes? Sound off below.


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