Guest Blogger

Guest post on ENDA from Congressman Barney Frank

Filed By Guest Blogger | September 28, 2007 5:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Barney Frank, ENDA, gender identity, guest post, transgender

This guest post comes to us from Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA). Congressman Frank is one of two openly gay House members, is the Chair of the Financial Services Committee, and has been a leader in the development of the Employment NonDiscrimination Act.

barney.jpgBeing in the legislative minority is easy - pulling together to block bad things does not require a lot of agonizing over tough decisions. Being in the majority is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, we have the ability to move forward in a positive way on important public policy goals. Detracting from that is the fact that it is never possible for us at any given time to get everything that we would like, and so we have to make difficult choices. But it is important to remember that the good part of this greatly outweighs the bad. Going from a situation in which all we can do is to prevent bad things from happening to one in which we have to decide exactly how much good is achievable and what strategic choices we must make to get there is a great advance.

The current manifestation of this is the difficult set of decisions we face regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We are on the verge of an historic victory that supporters of civil rights have been working on for more than thirty years: the passage for the first time in American history by either house of Congress of legislation declaring it illegal to discriminate against people in employment based on their sexual orientation. Detracting from the sense of celebration many of us feel about that is regret that under the current political situation, we do not have sufficient support in the House to include in that bill explicit protection for people who are transgender. The question facing us - the LGBT community and the tens of millions of others who are active supporters of our fight against prejudice - is whether we should pass up the chance to adopt a very good bill because it has one major gap. I believe that it would be a grave error to let this opportunity to pass a sexual orientation nondiscrimination bill go forward, not simply because it is one of the most important advances we'll have made in securing civil rights for Americans in decades, but because moving forward on this bill now will also better serve the ultimate goal of including people who are transgender than simply accepting total defeat today.

When the bill banning sexual orientation discrimination was first introduced by Bella Abzug and Paul Tsongas more than thirty years ago, it was a remote hope. Over time because of a good deal of work, education of the general public, and particularly the decision by tens of millions of gay and lesbian people over that time to be honest about our sexual orientation, we have finally reached the point where we have a majority in the House ready to pass this bill. Those of us who are sponsoring it had hoped that we could also include in the prohibition discrimination based on gender identity. This is a fairly recent addition to the fight, and part of the problem we face is that while there have been literally decades of education of the public about the unfairness of sexual orientation discrimination and the inaccuracy of the myths that perpetuated it, our educational efforts regarding gender identity are much less far along, and given the prejudices that exist, face a steeper climb.

We introduced legislation opposing sexual orientation discrimination with explicit inclusion of gender identity for the first time this year. Earlier this session under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, we were able to get through the House a hate crimes bill that provided protection against crimes of violence and property damage for lesbian, gay and bisexual people and people who are transgender. There was some initial resistance to the inclusion of transgender people but a very organized effort on the part of Congresswoman Baldwin, who took a major role in this, myself, and the Democratic leadership allowed us to overcome it, with the support of some of our Republican colleagues.

We then began the work on passing a transgender inclusive ENDA. I was optimistic at first that we could do this, although I knew it would be hard. One of the problems I have found over the years of discussing this is an unwillingness on the part of many, including leaders in the transgender community, to acknowledge a fact: namely that there is more resistance to protection for people who are transgender than for people who are gay, lesbian and bisexual. This is not a good fact, but ignoring bad facts is a bad way to get legislation passed. I have for some time been concerned that people in the transgender leadership were underestimating the difficulty we faced in a broadly inclusive bill being adopted.

Still this seemed to me an effort very worth trying, and, when I testified before the Education and Labor Committee on ENDA I spent much of my time explicitly addressing the need to include transgender people. In fact, I believe I spent more time on that than any other witness. Sadly, as the time approached for the vote to be taken in the Committee, we encountered a good deal of resistance. The great majority of Democrats remained committed to this, but with Republicans overwhelmingly likely to be opposed - even on hate crimes on the critical vote we were able to retain only nine Republican supporters out of two hundred Republican Members - it became clear that an amendment offered by Republicans either to omit the transgender provision altogether or severely restrict it in very obnoxious ways would pass.

Responding thoughtfully to this requires people to accept facts. Some have tried to deny this unpleasant reality. The Democratic leadership, which is in complete sympathy with a fully inclusive bill, did a special official Whip count - a poll of the Members. There had been earlier informal counts that had showed significant support for a bill that included transgender, although even these informal checks never showed that we had a majority. But Members will sometimes be inclined to give people the answers they think the people who are asking the questions want until the crunch comes. In the crunch - the official Whip count taken in contemplation of the bill - it became very clear that while we would retain a significant majority of Democrats, we would lose enough so that a bill that included transgender protection would lose if not amended, and that an anti-transgender amendment would pass.

The question then became how to proceed. There were several choices. One was to go forward with the bill understanding that an amendment would be offered to strike the transgender provision. There was a proposal to have the Democratic leadership do that in what is known as a manager's amendment, in the hopes of avoiding a divisive roll call on the subject. But the Democratic leadership did not want to take the lead in killing a provision to which its Members are committed as a matter of principle, and in fact, given Congressional procedures, there is no way to prevent a roll call even on that. People have claimed that the desire to avoid a roll call is aimed solely at protecting some Democrats from having to make a tough choice. That is of course a factor, and asking your supporters to vote with you on a matter that is doomed both to lose itself and to lose you votes is not a good way to build up support. But it is also the case that a number of the Democrats were prepared to vote for the inclusion of the transgender provision even though they knew that it would hurt them politically. The main reason not to put this to a vote is our interest in ultimately adopting transgender protection. If we were to push for a vote now, knowing that the transgender provision would be defeated by a majority, we would be making it harder ultimately to win that support. As recent campaigns indicate, Members of Congress who are accused of switching their position on votes are pilloried, even when this is done unfairly as it was to Senator Kerry. Thus, forcing a vote on transgender inclusion now, which would without any question result in a majority against it, would make it harder to win when we have done better in our educational work, because Members who vote no now will be harder to persuade to switch their votes than to persuade them to vote yes in the first instance.

In addition, going forward in this situation leaves us open to Republican procedural maneuvers in which they could succeed not only in getting rid of the transgender provision. This would not kill the bill, but it would substantially delay it, and would be have very bad psychological effect in a situation in which maintaining the right psychology -optimism - is important.

That is why I believe that a strategy of going forward with a transgender inclusive provision that would certainly be stricken at some point in the procedure by a vote in the House would be a mistake.

Leaders in the GLBT community, who strongly support the inclusion of transgender, now acknowledge that this would be the case - namely that the transgender provision would lose - so their proposed alternative was simply to withhold the bill from the House altogether.

That is, their recommendation was that the Speaker simply announce that she was not going to allow the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to come up at all. I believe that would be a disaster - politically, morally, and strategically. While their reason for this would be the debate over how ultimately to achieve transgender inclusion, the impression that would be given to the country was that Speaker Pelosi, the first Democratic Speaker in thirteen years, and a lifelong strong supporter of LGBT rights, had decided that we could not go forward on what had been the major single legislative goal of gay and lesbian people for over thirty years.

Some in the transgender community and those who agree with them have given a variety of strategic arguments why they think it would be better not to go forward. One variant is that since the President is likely to veto the bill anyway, it does not make any difference if we fail to vote on it. But it should be noted that this is directly contradictory to the arguments that the LGBT community has been making for years. That is, we have been very critical of arguments that we should not push for votes on anti-discrimination legislation simply because it wasn't openly going to win. People have correctly pointed to the value of getting people used to voting for this, of the moral force of having majorities in either the House or the Senate or both go on record favorably even if the President was going to veto it, and have in fact been getting Members ready so if that if and when we get a president ready to sign this, we are closer to passage. To repeat, the argument that we should not take up legislation unless we are sure the President is going to sign it is directly opposite to all of the arguments LGBT advocates have been making for as long as I can remember.

The real reason that people are now arguing that we should withhold any action on the antidiscrimination bill unless it includes transgender as well as sexual orientation is that they are, as they have explicitly said, opposed in principle to such a bill becoming law. That is the crux of the argument. There are people who believe - in the transgender community and elsewhere - that it would be wrong to enact a law that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation unless it fully included people who are transgender. I think this argument is deeply flawed.

First, I would note that since I first became a legislator thirty-five years ago, I have spent a lot of time and energy helping enact legislation to protect a variety of groups from discrimination. In no case has any of those bills ever covered everybody or everything. Antidiscrimination legislation is always partial. It improves coverage either to some group or some subject matter, but never achieves everything at once. And insistence on achieving everything at once would be a prescription for achieving nothing ever.

To take the position that if we are now able to enact legislation that will protect millions of Americans now and in the future from discrimination based on sexual orientation we should decline to do so because we are not able to include transgender people as well is to fly in the face of every successful strategy ever used in expanding antidiscrimination laws. Even from the standpoint of ultimately including transgender people, it makes far more sense to go forward in a partial way if that is all we can do. Part of the objection to any antidiscrimination legislation is fear of consequences, which fears are always proven to be incorrect. There is a good deal of opposition now to passing even sexual orientation legislation. Enacting legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and getting a year or two's experience with it, will be very helpful in our ultimately adding to it protection for people who are transgender. That is, if you always insist on doing all the difficult things in one bite, you will probably never be successful. Dismantling the opposition piecemeal has always worked better.

For these reasons I have proposed along with the Democratic leadership the following strategy. First, we have introduced two bills. One will be ENDA as it has historically existed, banning discrimination on sexual orientation. A second will add transgender protections to that basic scheme. We will move forward with the ban on sexual orientation for which we finally - after thirty-plus years - have the votes. After we are successful in winning that vote, I will urge the Committee on Education and Labor to proceed with our next step, which will be to continue the educational process that I believe will ultimately lead to our being able to add transgender protections. This will mean within a month or two a hearing in the Committee on Education and Labor which, unlike the hearings we previously had on this bill, will focus exclusively on transgender issues, and will give Members a chance to meet transgender people, to understand who they really are, and to deal with the fears that exist. The other options are either to bring a bill to the floor in which the transgender provision will be defeated by a significant majority, making it less likely that we will be able to succeed in this area in the future, or ask the Speaker of the House to in effect put aside her lifelong political commitment to fairness and be the one who announces that we will not pass a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation even though we have the votes to do it. Passing ENDA in part and then moving on to add transgender provisions when we can is clearly preferable to either of these approaches.

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"I will urge the Committee on Education and Labor to proceed with our next step, which will be to continue the educational process that I believe will ultimately lead to our being able to add transgender protections. This will mean within a month or two a hearing in the Committee on Education and Labor which, unlike the hearings we previously had on this bill, will focus exclusively on transgender issues, and will give Members a chance to meet transgender people, to understand who they really are, and to deal with the fears that exist."

Why is this such an important thing to do right this minute that you can't do all those things NOW and educate those people now before a vote.

I've talked with most of the leaders in the transgender community and none of them have expressed any knowledge of this whip vote until last night. Why not try to find the extra votes needed?

The reality is that a stand alone bill doesn't have a snowballs chance in hell of passing, any more than the Matthew Shepard Act had of passage on its own, and you know this.

It may be 2-5 years before the Congress will be able to pass a trans-inclusive ENDA, but it will be decades before a transgender only bill will pass.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Congressman. It's always appreciated when Members of Congress express their reasoning for maneuvering in a particular way. This piece is a very impassioned argument for your position.

I'm torn, as is typically the case in these situations. On the one hand, excluding the T from LGBT just doesn't feel right. For as long as I've been aware of sexuality issues, it has been the LGBT movement and not the LGB or LG movement. In Indiana, we would not be able to claim the accomplishments we've won without the staunch support of the transgender community.

Even when dealing with the anti-marriage equality amendment in our state, the transgender community (thought marriage equality is less important if important at all to them) stood beside us, marched beside us, lobbied beside us and raised money beside us. In fact, at least 10% of the money we raised last year to work on equality issues came directly out of the transgender community even though 100% of that money went towards what most would consider gay and lesbian issues.

So, I can understand the sentiment behind the idea that we have worked on ENDA (or a variant thereof) for 30 years and it is hard to see it wash away because of ignorance and bigotry toward our friends who are trans. But I also have a very hard time swallowing the idea of removing trans inclusive language from the bill when I have so many transgender friends who have been beside me in this battle for equality.

Transgender issues don't affect me personally. After 30 years, I'll finally be protected from discrimination, but my friends won't. That just doesn't feel good. It would be a hollow victory if I couldn't celebrate it with my friends without fear of insulting them - and it would be insulting to celebrate our victory when it was their undoing that won it in the end.

So, your arguments are solid and make sense, but it boils down to simple human dignity. WE NEVER SELL OUT OUR FRIENDS. That is what this compromise does. It sells out our friends so we can reap the rewards.

It's a hard call and I applaud you for having the courage to get out front, but I do not agree and I do not envy your position. I think this is a mistake and will set us back in the end.

Thanks for posting the blog Bil.

It's nice to know what goes through the minds of no good bottom feeders. even if it does take a little reading between the lines.

Feel free to pull this post on the grounds of what i am about to say if the expression of my anger is deemed to be unacceptable.

Have you ever noticed that the back stabbing turn coats always take as many words as the looser in a war do to explain their loss?

Dr Mister Frank You can Kiss my lily white, blemish free, and notably virgin butt.

On second thought Don't, you have probably been kissing the backside of President Bush, i might catch something.

In addition Thank you for nothing you have yours and could really give a damned about anybody else.

Have a nice life.

Susan Robins

Okay I am done

The reality is that a stand alone bill doesn't have a snowballs chance in hell of passing, any more than the Matthew Shepard Act had of passage on its own, and you know this.

They already know this the fix has been in all along.

They don't give a rat's output port about TG rights.

You can give it up on the National level it's not going to happen. There is and never ever was any support for TG employment rights at the national level. Not now and not in 5 years and not in your or my lifetime. TG folk are a minority within a minority. Who cares what .3% of the population thinks? Even if the voting block represented 3% it would be noise in the statistics and the politics of self interest which rules Mr Frank would negate any positive action.

Sorry that is the truth of the matter has been that way for as long as i have been around.

I just wish that Frank would stop lying to us and just tell the truth for a change.
I know i am dreaming, he would no more tell us the truth then go straight and start making love to women.

Take care

Very disappointed in Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi, but not surprised.

They should check out the study done by the Transgender Law Center showing that even in San Francisco, only 25% of transgender people have full-time jobs. This is a group definitely in need of workplace protection!

Dear Congressman Frank,

As a transgender activist who was involved in the 2004 ENDA battle, up to and including participating in both protests in front of HRC that year and the author of a well-read expose of HRC's "lobbying" for transgender inclusion in that bill, I respect you for coming here and stating your case, but I also have serious misgivings about your strategy here.

As many of us who are or have been on the front lines of these kinds of battles know well, the promise of "We'll come back for you later." is met with distrust and disdain by many in the transgender community because we know that in most cases it just isn't realistic, and even when it is, it often can be decades before trans rights are added to already existing protections for lesbians and gays, as was the case here in my home state of New Jersey.

As the leading voice on our issues in Congress, you know that once the interests of the most wealthy and politically influential minorities (i.e. straight-looking and acting gays and lesbians exclusively) are served, political leaders will often eagerly move on to something less controversial and leave the poorest, smallest, and most discriminated among us twisting in the wind unprotected from bigotry and discrimination year after year because we just don't represent the kind of voting numbers or campaign donation dollars for them to consider us worth their bother to represent our interests.

We've seen it in New York, now almost six years since the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act passed and we were made that promise, transgender New Yorkers are still able to fired from their jobs, thrown out of their homes, and denied access to social services just for being who they are, and still with no discernible hope of it changing anytime soon. We also see it in your home state of Massachusetts, where gays and lesbians are allowed to marry but transgender citizens can still be deprived of their homes and livelihoods simply because someone doesn't want an employee or tenant like them around.

Here in my home state of New Jersey, where a transgender rights bill became law earlier this year, we're still having a problem even though it is getting better. I can tell you from personal experience that while there was a New Jersey Superior Court decision in 2001 that mandated employment protections for transsexuals like myself, I was still fired for being transgender from two jobs, as as well another before this decision went into effect, and the State's Division on Civil Rights informed me that they didn't feel it was in the State's interest to fight for me in the first of these firings. Indeed, I wasn't even able to get a lawyer to agree to help me challenge it in court. Not one of the civil rights lawyers I contacted at the time was willing to even meet with me and consider taking my case. Apparently, they saw having a transgender person as a client as a professional embarrassment.

From the time I began my transition and was fired from the job I had at the time in 1997, it took me until 2003, six years, to find another company willing to hire me. With the exception of one position I held for a year before being let go due to reasons I know (but unfortunately cannot prove legally) involved anti-transgender discrimination, it's only in the last several months, since the passage of this latest law, that I've been able to apply and be seriously considered for any position commensurate with my skills and abilities.

Congressman Frank, from my perspective what you and your colleagues have done here is to likely condemn thousands of transgender American citizens to another generation at minimum of workplace discrimination and bigotry. For those like myself, in the lower-middle working class, you've all but ensured that the American Dream will forever be out of our reach, that our lives will continue to be able to destroyed at the will of any anti-transgender bigot who might find us and the way we live our lives distasteful. Perhaps our children or grandchildren who are transgender might enjoy such protections one day, but I believe that because of what you and your colleagues have done here that those of us who desperately need these protections now will quite likely be collecting Social Security before we see such a bill pass into law.

Of course, all this is even assuming ENDA can survive the President's veto pen. Should ENDA become law here and now, rather than having to wait until a Democratic President is in office, I personally have no faith whatsoever that Congress will even bother to bring a transgender rights bill up for a vote. As we were well-taught by the DNC and the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004, transgender Americans are not seen by many Democratic political leaders as constituents in need of representation, but rather as problems, embarrassments in need of being swept under the rug and rendered invisible as quickly and as quietly as possible.

Given the history here, some of which I've witnessed firsthand, I still find the "We'll come back for you." promise difficult at best to swallow, and I think many of my transgender sisters and brothers and our allies would agree with me here.

While I've been a frequent outspoken critic of you, the Human Rights Campaign, and your like-minded allies, it's not my intent to bash you here. However, I will ask you for two things:

1. A pledge, here and now, to advocate the trans rights portion of this bill aggressively, now and when the next President takes office.

2. I'd like to invite you to come on my radio show, talk about these issues with me, and take some questions from transgender and allied listeners. Starting next week, we'll be live on the air 7-9pm eastern Thursdays. I'll contact your office Monday in hopes of arranging this and I do hope you'll accept.

I've enjoyed hearing you on Michelangelo Signorile's show in the past, but in this case you'd be speaking to a listenership boasting a much larger percentage of transgender and transgender-supportive listeners. I think it would be very useful and productive to be able to offer transpeople to opportunity to question you directly on these issues which are so critical to so many of us.

In closing, let me say that I'm not happy. I don't believe that what was done here is in the best interests of working-class gender-variant LGBT Americans nor in the best interests of our nation. I don't believe that if this exclusionary ENDA bill actually does become law now that many of us who currently need these protections will see them passed into law until we're too old to make use of them.

That said, I also fervently hope you'll prove me completely and utterly wrong.

Please do.

Thanks for listening.

Dear Congressman Frank,
Seems you got what you wanted all along, an ENDA without transgender people. The Chicken Little tactic of "The votes are falling! The votes are falling!" seemed to scare enough of your fellow Congress members, including Speaker Pelosi.

I am the President of the Transgender American Veterans Association, and if the transgender community is considered the poorest of the GLBT people, then transgender veterans are at the bottom of that group. We face discrimination in housing, jobs and even in the one place that is supposed to be treating usn with our medical needs, the VA. Yes, we know that all veterans are being treated badly, but we want to be treated as crappy as the rest of the veterans.

Many of the transgender veterans I know cannot even get the lowest paying jobs available simply because they are transgender people. They served their country proudly, protecting the people in this country and the rights of Americans, yet they are denied the very rights they protected. Now, a non-veteran like yourself has the guts to tell them that they are not worthy of being considered for job protection and they have to wait their turn, a turn that historically hasn't happened in other places, including your own state of Massachusetts. Is that where you learned it from, or did they learn that from you?

Before I finish, let me tell you a little story about a friend of mine, another veteran. Her name was Alice. She was in her middle 50's when this all started. Right after 9/11, she lost her job like so many others did. However, when jobs returned, no one would hire her here in Georgia because she was a transgender person. She had a degree in library science, was an Army veteran of 2 wars, was a computer tech and programmer. For 15 months, she tried getting a job, doing small computer jobs to bring in a little money. She even worked in a bordello for a short time.

Slowly, her savings ran out and she was finally left homeless. She called all the women's shelters in the Atlanta (which had a non-discrimination policy since 2000, but it had no teeth,) and they all refused to take her in. She drove to the Chattahoochee River, put a .357 to her head and ended her life. Her story is one of many that ENDA could have helped. I'm sure you don't really care to hear them. But, the people reading this blog will care, and we have a lot of friends. Your little ploy is just the beginning of this drama. But, it isn’t over yet, because the large transgender lady hasn't sung yet.

"The game is afoot." - Sherlock Holmes -
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Dr. Martin Luther King -

Monica Helms
President, TAVA
On Rep John Lewis's GLBT Advisory Group (and he has heard from me.)

Representative Frank, America is ready.

For the past three years the HRC has touted that their polling shows almost 70% of Americans believe that everyone, including transgender people, have the basic right to work. Just last week their Equality Index showed that over 230 major corporations (53 of them Fortune 500 companies) include employment protections based on gender identity and gender expression. So, I don’t see how Congress, and more importantly YOU couldn’t be bothered.

As a transgender American I am exhausted by hearing that I need to be more patient. You know, take Massachusetts, your home state as a prime example. The state law has protected people from discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1989. Is gender identity or gender expression protected? Now that MA is the only state with Marriage Equality has anyone bothered, other than trans people themselves, to speak up on our behalf? Or stand with us?

And really, if we’re that disposable, why should the true leadership of the LGBT Rights Movement trust that you, or any of the other spineless Democrats take the time and spend the money or the political capital to start all over again?

Your lengthy response is wrought with guilt and completely void of sincerity. The only thing that I took from this post is you tell me that I don’t matter. I’m not worth the effort. I hope that you do realize that should a non-inclusive ENDA move forward that the blood of my community will be on your hands. Coward.

Same old crap from a GLB, gee we just can't include you right now and the GLB is more important right now; you'll get yours "someday" but in the mean time send us money and vote for Democrats based on what they say, not what they do. Yeah, Yeah
Sorry but the sorriest thing the "T" community ever did was allow hemselves to be peceived as a part of the GLB group.Barney Frank hs been an opponent of Trans people for a long timew and this proves it.

Dear Congressman Frank,

I sent you an email less than an hour ago. After sending that message I quite literally wept. I was sorry that I had admired you for your courage to stand up for the downtrodden and the disenfranchised. I was sorry that I considered you a champion of human rights. In the end, you are just another politician.

The gay rights movement was founded by the transgender community - the "impersonators" from Compton's and the "drag queens" from Stonewall - not the cissexual gay men and women who will reap benefit from the revised ENDA. Make no mistake, the transgender community wants these men and women to receive these benefits. They are our family, our brothers and our sisters. We have fought for their concerns and their rights as fiercely as we have fought for our own. We don't, however, want to be excluded from these benefits at the same time they receive them. After all, what are we? Subhuman? Less deserving of employment or self respect? What have we been fighting for if not basic human rights? What do we want that is more elaborate than the right to exist with common dignity?

Transgender youth are all too often deprived of family support and/or an education. They are forced into the street without a single tool to assist in their survival. They turn to petty crime and prostitution to survive and are branded as degenerates. In spite of these horrific disadvantages, given even the smallest of opportunities to join mainstream society, many have managed to reverse their destructive lifestyles and make a contribution. Removing the transgender community from a GLBT inclusive ENDA will only serve to diminish those small opportunities. The transgender community faces more employment discrimination than any other faction of the GLBT community. The average yearly wage is at poverty level. How many will suffer for how long before this injustice is remedied? The likelihood of passing a stand alone transgender ENDA is not likely to occur for decades.

You have a choice. We all know what the politically expedient choice is. And we all know what the right choice is. Defending human rights when they benefit only ourselves is just self interest in disguise. Fighting for the rights of the entire GLBT community has been my passion. Are you really going forward without me? Are you going to send the bigots and the ignorant the message that the transgender community is expendable? For the sake of your own self respect, I pray that you do not.


Jeri Hughes

ABOUT THE ENDA BETRAYAL; Do Democrats imagine we’re so jaded that we won’t bat an eye when Pelosi and Frank do this little Quisling dance? We know that bargaining away our rights is nothing new for Barney Frank s; he took the same backward position on samesex marriage to provide cover for Democrats scrambling for votes in the presidential follies. It just seems to be asinine for him to flaunt it.

The Democrats seem all too willing to pass bills that splash a cosmetic whitewash over the harmful effects of bigotry but precious little else. If they were serious they’d start by repealing the Clintons DADT and DOMA. Then they’d change ENDA and the Matthew Shepard act to give them real teeth.

As it stands, the Democrats and liberal Republicans are going to continue their duplicity until we give them the heave ho. They’ll tell anyone silly enough to believe them that, “God knows we tried, really we did, but our hands are tied.’’ They're cynical abandonment of the’ T’ in our equation downgrades transgendered people to second class citizens. The murderers of Gwen Araujo were aware of that when they lynched her.

In a dangerous move, the hate crimes bill is a rider on a war appropriations measure. It’s dangerous because Democrats always cave to Bush on the war in spite of their promises to end the war, i.e. the war appropriations bill. According to Pelosi 'impeachment is off the table’. If the hate crimes bill gets lost in the House/Senate conference committee or vetoed by Bush they can claim they fought the good fight. These stage managed dramas are a sham to create the illusion that these cynical sell outs are on our side. More and more of us know it’s a lie.

ABOUT THE ELECTORAL STRATEGY OF HRC, STONEWALL, AND LOG CABIN ETC; as the GLBT communities get fed up they'll quit squandering votes on Democrats and Republicans and support their allies in leftwing parties or in the union led US Labor Party.

This latest treachery calls into question the value of an electoral strategy and the pitfalls of making deals with politicians.
The truth is that even our best organizations like NLGTF and some of state Equality groups are essentially powerless, not for want of hard work and commitment but for want of clout. We,like the unions, groups representing African Americans, immigrants and Latinos, AARP, environmentalists etc. don’t have it. But the ruling rich and the politicians who belong to them to them have it in spades.

Beyond that, we need to begin seriously questioning our allegiance to a social and political order that requires imperial wars of aggression to sustain itself and bigotry to divide and rule at home.

Mark my words, this decision will cause wounds within our community that will never heal, at least not within our lifetimes. I am being forced into a position where I will be lobbying my representative against the passage of this measure because of the trans-exclusion. In the end exclusion will pit life long allies against one another, and fo.rce me to take side along with James Dobson and the other bigots. Thanks for that

Thank you, Congressman Frank, for guest posting on our blog. We appreciate the time that you and other members of Congress have spent with us.

Surprisingly, I found myself agreeing with a lot of what you had to say. I recognize the political scenario that you are up against and I can see your reasoning for doing things the way that they are. They make sense if everything is working the way that you say it is (and I have no reason to say otherwise).

I can see the argument that civil rights has always progressed incrementally. That's true, it has. So I can understand the whole "Next time we'll pick you up" line of thinking, but I have to admit I'm very worried about when that day will come.

Next year? Would that be okay? What if it were 5 years? or 10? or 20? 25? 50? When does it become too long of a stretch to come back for someone? Do we step-up the trans community - so that when we add housing to ENDA for sexual orientation, we'll give trans folks employment. And then when gays get public accommodations, the transfolk can have housing?

I have to echo Jerame from above:

I also have a very hard time swallowing the idea of removing trans inclusive language from the bill when I have so many transgender friends who have been beside me in this battle for equality.

The trans community, whether in local or state organizing or here on the Project, have been some of the most vocal proponents for LGBT rights. They've argued on our behalf many, many times and perhaps even more forcefully than some of our gay or lesbian activists! They've done the grunt work and the really hard educating necessary; they've just been the target of the fundies this year when the religious right realized ENDA was going to pass. By splintering our community they think they can distract us long enough for them to win.

I have to admit that part of my general mood about this whole situation is rather self-centered... A national hate crimes bill passed both houses of Congress and this bs about ENDA overshadows it all. And now it seems as if we'll finally pass ENDA - only with the transgender community left behind like cigarette butts on the edge of the highway. These are the biggest political victories for our community and yet they have to be tainted. It's like cutting open a beautiful apple and finding a worm...

I may understand the political realities happening here, but that doesn't mean I have to like them - or fight like hell to change those realities. I still don't see why we can't hold ENDA until the votes are there - that's not asking Speaker Pelosi to abandon anyone but to wait for others to catch up. (And if you and Mrs. Pelosi are doing the necessary work, that shouldn't take very long at all.)

I want to preface this by saying that I am not "T" myself, and I can't truly understand the discriminatory treatment they face, the treatment that makes most of the commentators on this thread argue so passionately for trans inclusion, but with respect many of the above responses fall short as rebuttals. Not because they disagree with Rep. Frank's position, or even because they mostly treat him with personal scorn and anger (even a politician I think has done a lot of good deserves a heavy degree of skepticism, and I don't know anything about his history on T rights), but because they address Frank's conclusion and not his argument. To advocate--movingly--for trans inclusion is missing his point--he says he's for it too. He's saying the choice isn't between EDNA passing with trans inclusion and EDNA passing without trans inclusion, but between EDNA passing without trans inclusion and nothing passing, and he would rather take a great if incomplete step than force what he sees as a sure legislative defeat on the issue, damaging the long-term prospects of trans protection. (I think this makes some sense, remember when some McConnell or some other Congressional Republican forced an early vote on Iraq withdrawal, and the Republicans its quick defeat to bash every antiwar or war-skeptical Democrat as a hypocrite? Regardless of your views on Congressional Democrats, did that help the antiwar cause?). I certainly don't think you have to agree with him, I don't even know where I stand on this (I would definitely, definitely prefer a bill passing that protected trans individuals), and I know for a group that has faced and continues to face horrible treatment the words "more time" must carry a great sting. But I think if you're going to comment on his detailed post, you have an obligation to address the substance of what he says. If you disagree with Frank, you should say why you think trans inclusion in EDNA would pass, or why you think its defeat would be a long-, medium-, or short-term plus for T or GLBT rights in general. We need to talk to each other and not past each other. (I don't mean this to apply to all comments, some of which implicitly ask how many extra votes are needed or demand Frank commit to following through on his long-term rhetoric, both very good and appropriate points, and I apologize if I missed a comment posted while I was writing mine).

I also want to apologize for misspelling the name of the bill in question. Not the kind of thing the comment box spell-checker picks up.

whoa. rough crowd.
Seems to me Barney Frank has been an ally forever. Same with Pelosi. I might suggest letting the politicians do their jobs. I love my trans friends and there did seem to be a quick, maybe fix to the problem. On the local level, we've been able to come back and add T protections with not too much hubbub.
So, I think he's right here.

Dear Congressman Frank,

A Cynic would say that your lengthy article amounts to a simple statement: "Transsexuals? FOAD"

Too many do, of course. A California survey showed 30% of them suicide. A Western Australia survey, which included all premature deaths from being marginalised in society (due to drug overdose alcholism, violence suicide etc) put it at 90%.

I know, I've met, people who had been fired the day before they left for surgery. It's quite common, 70% of TS people experience some employment discrimination at some time. Only 50% get permanently blackballed though, and never work again - except as beggars or prostitutes.

They were hoping that ENDA, even if vetoed, even if narrowly defeated, would send a message that the GLBT movement is not just GLB, that it really is inclusive. That they would not be left hanging out to dry. If not passed this year, next. Or the one after that. They had hope.

Perhaps I should send you the photos, and the obituaries as they become available. So you know the real cost of your pragmatism. It may have been necessary to do it, you're the professional politician, not I. But you shouldn't be able to escape knowing the consequences of what you do, just as a leader in wartime should be reminded of the name of every soldier killed "for the greater good".

You may have saved a bill from being rejected - though if you say that it has even one chance in a million of not being vetoed, I'd say you were... incorrect. But you have forfeited all moral authority in doing so. You have admitted that it is acceptable (not desired or encouraged but acceptable) to discriminate against a minority as long as the majority is protected, and that you will not take a stand against that - merely posture.

So why should other politicians take a stand unpopular with some of their constituents in order to help your particular minority? Why should they not imitate you?

You have removed the most powerful argument that you had in convincing others not benefited by ENDA that it is necessary. Sometimes political pragmatism is self-defeating. The inevitable Veto can now occur with no moral comeback, and it will be harder, not easier, the next time this issue comes before Congress.

I'm an older rural gay man. I've never known any transfolk, and I don't feel I have much in common with them.

Though I try to support them politically, I still struggle with trans issues. I'm not sure that the disassociation between gender and biology is a healthy one, and while I feel everyone has the right to call themselves whatever gender they please, I'm not sure the rest of the world has an obligation to agree and accomodate them in all facilities. I guess I've got a long way to go.

I swear I do not want to throw transfolk under the bus. But I'm also too old to wait for *their* bus. I will never see gay rights in my lifetime if it has to wait until, say, John Q. Public gets over his fear of sharing bathrooms with people showing mixed biological traits or confusing gender markers.

Is it wrong of me to want a better life now, knowing others still suffer? Isn't there *always* going to be more work to do, more injustice in the world?

"I swear I do not want to throw transfolk under the bus. But I'm also too old to wait for *their* bus. I will never see gay rights in my lifetime if it has to wait until, say, John Q. Public gets over his fear of sharing bathrooms with people showing mixed biological traits or confusing gender markers.

Is it wrong of me to want a better life now, knowing others still suffer? Isn't there *always* going to be more work to do, more injustice in the world?"

Adamblast, this is what is vitally wrong with the whole thing. I'm mad at Rep Frank most of all because he's fractured this community for nothing. You AREN'T going to get your rights this year, with or without transinclusion. There is no way they have the votes in the Senate and if even if they do... it will be vetoed.

Barney said

"That is, we have been very critical of arguments that we should not push for votes on anti-discrimination legislation simply because it wasn’t openly going to win. People have correctly pointed to the value of getting people used to voting for this, of the moral force of having majorities in either the House or the Senate or both go on record favorably even if the President was going to veto it, and have in fact been getting Members ready so if that if and when we get a president ready to sign this, we are closer to passage.

He knows here that this will NOT pass. He's fracturing this community for a VETO or to call other politicians out. To what end? Just as this bill would have been comprehensive in its scope, so will the damage. He's fractured every GLBT community in the nation by doing this.

Bil and Jerame, I feel the same conflict as you do. I feel like giving the G and L community a big middle finger and fighting for the removal of T from national orgs while saying screw marriage equality. But I know that you've stood with me, and I with you. I've been married and I know how important that is. I want that for you. But the anger from this postcomes from stuff like what Frank is doing.

Who do I spend my Thanksgiving with? I don't spend it with blood family, but I celebrate it with my GLBT family. This will tear our "family" apart if this kind of action is done repeatedly. This has already sent shockwaves through the transcommunity.

Rep. Frank, I am in your district.

I vote for you.

I am bitterly disappointed in this exclusion. The reality in many states today is that Transgender people are the ones in MOST need of protection. So much of the Fortune 500 covers sexual orientation in their employment policies the ENDA inclusion of sexual orientation is nice, but not as deeply necessary as the "T" in LGBT.

You are wrong to make this strategy decision. You are leaving the most vulnerable, the most in need behind. I'm not saying we all don't need the protection- we do. I'm saying we ALL need the protection.

I refuse to leave anyone behind. When you were struggling with issues and faced the ethics committee, I stood by you and still voted for you, proudly. I did not worry about how the accusations would effect your ability to champion the issues as was your job as my elected representative. I stood by you out of principle. Proudly.

You need to take the same kind of stand right now. Out of principle. Proudly.

As a constituent, you will be hearing from me directly.

Sara Whitman
Auburndale, MA

adamblast, when you wrote

I'm not sure that the disassociation between gender and biology is a healthy one, and while I feel everyone has the right to call themselves whatever gender they please, I'm not sure the rest of the world has an obligation to agree and accomodate them in all facilities.
you made a good point, one that gets to the heart of why not just Gays, but pretty much everybody until quite recently, had "issues" with the Transsexed. It deserves answering.

To understand, you'd have to read

Zhou J.-N, Hofman M.A, Gooren L.J, Swaab D.F (1997)
A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality.

Kruijver F.P.M, Zhou J.-N, Pool C.W., Swaab D.F. (2000)
Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus

Though the titles alone give you a good idea of what those medical research papers say.

It's been known for a decade now that Transsexuality (or Harry Benjamin's Syndrome) the condition that causes some to "change sex" or go insane due to the body mismatch, is a congenital neurological condition. Quite literally male (or male-like) brain in a female (or female-like) body, or the reverse.

Many have other congenital intersex conditions too, that's why I said "female-like".

The brains of gay men are not feminine in this way, they're typically male. It's not about Sexual Orientation, it's about Gender Identity.

As one Australian Family Court ruling said:
‘The traditional analysis that they are "psychologically" transsexual does not explain how this state came about. For example, there seems to be no suggestion in the evidence that their psychological state can be explained by reference to circumstances of their upbringing. In that sense, the brain sex theory does not seem to be competing with other explanations, but rather is providing a possible explanation of what is otherwise inexplicable’.

From ArzteZeitung (original in German)
"The brains of anatomically male transsexuals, who identify as female, did not react as typical males do to visual erotic stimuli. In a study using functional MagnetoResonanceTomography(MRT) the reaction was instead typically female.

In men, the limbic system and upper regions of the hypothalamus, the amygdalae and the insular cortex were activated substantially more strongly. “We confirmed this finding in the comparison between the heterosexual men and women of our Cohort”, said Gizewski.

This specifically male activation of the limbic system was not found in the transsexual sample. Under fMRT, the pictures corresponded rather accurately to those of the female sample.

Radiologists can now confirm what transsexuals report - that they feel “trapped in the wrong body” - on the basis of the activation of the brain when presented with erotic stimuli. There is obviously a biological correlation with the subjective feelings."

70% of Transsexual people suffer employment discrimination - if they seek treatment for their condition.

They are not, in general, Gay. Some are, just as some are Lesbian. The old joke about "I'm a lesbian trapped in a man's body" is very unfunny when you're one of them. There's a lot more to Gender than just Sex, whether you're convex or concave. Just because you're attracted to men doesn't mean you'd be comfortable having female genitalia, does it?

Because of their small minority status - perhaps only 1 in 3000 - and because after treatment they try to live normal lives, out of the limelight and away from those who would murder them for what they are, their only chance for equal protection is to be included with other groups targeted by homophobes.

A lot of Gays and Lesbians are Transphobic though, as we've had demonstrated yet again. You see most TS people are straight, and that bothers them. They see them - despite the medical evidence - as Gays in denial.

It could have happened to you. Had your mother taken the anti-miscarriage drug DES in the first trimester the odds are as high as 1 in 6 that it would have.

Would you have had the courage to persist in the face of all the legal and social difficulties? Or would you have been one of the many who suicide because of their condition?

Michael Savage, referring to a transsexual murder victim, (not their murderer) said:
The freak ought to be glad that they're allowed to walk around without begging for something.

This betrayal has made sure that begging will be the only option for many. So very many were seeing ENDA as the only chance they had of regaining employment as Academics, as Lawyers, even City Managers one day. Not now, for any form of ENDA would be vetoed. But one day soon, as the GLBT community wouldn't betray them again.

It's ironic that just as the medical situation with TS people is being made known to the public - at a time when the tide of popular sympathy is turning, due to favourable publicity by everyone from 60 Minutes to Oprah - at a time as never before when public figures like Susan Stanton have borne obvious persecution with grace and dignity - at a time when the majority of US voters support rights for trans people - that the politicians on both sides who are out of touch with everyone except the mobilised radical right have got it so radically wrong.

whoa. rough crowd. Seems to me Barney Frank has been an ally forever. Same with Pelosi. I might suggest letting the politicians do their jobs. I love my trans friends and there did seem to be a quick, maybe fix to the problem. On the local level, we've been able to come back and add T protections with not too much hubbub. So, I think he's right here.

Well maybe friends to Gays and Lesbians.
not to Transfolk.

ENDA should have been pulled and any G/L person who still is in favor of the bill is no friend of the TG/TS communities.

"Rough Crowd"
There are words that more accurately describe the emotion of the crowd but i am a lady and won't use those words.

Sue Robins

Many of us have pulled our political support from GLB issues. we still have GLB friends we just don't share the same politics.
That is what it really comes down to.

I see a few here from lists i belong to where i have spread news of the ENDA decision.

I have one thing to say to the G/L communities.

If congressman Frank is all the better you can do, you can a lot less support politically from Transfolk. Try to have a little better judgment when voting for your representatives. We are going to make sure Y'all hear about this for decades to come.

Sue Robins

(Not that)Paris | September 29, 2007 12:55 PM

Dear Representative Frank,

In the past you have periodically made statements that were blatently transphobic. I suppose it is possible that you have moved beyond your personal transphobia, but given your history, I find the above justification of a t-free ENDA deeply disingenious.

I cannot use my employer-provided healthcare because I can be fired for being trans. You are basically inviting me to fuck off and die. Literally.

Thanks a lot. With friends like you, who needs enemies?

It is sad that one group who has under gone a vast ridicule, discrimination and misunderstanding from the general public, has now turned around and do the same to another group, who in my opinion are part of the group in the first place. Transgender, the lonely T in the GLBT can no longer be the long lost cousin who will barely receive the scraps of the meal. There are too many suicides, lost jobs and housing for those of us who bare the T in transgender.

A Gay man or Lesbian woman can easily hide their sexual preference; although they should not by all means, but a transgender person going through transition has too much to lose and faces danger in today's hostile world. The T in the GLBT requires protection in order to continue being an asset to our society. The loss of wages brings forth a hostile life style of prostitution and less than optimal situations to be able to live.

This is not right, nor is it fair. I believe the lack of education on transgender issues is what creates the animosity towards us. We are not a freak show or confused individuals. We have a legitimate biological condition, that prevents us to be happy with our own skin. I beg of you to take actions to learn and be more compassionate, and do exclude the T in this bill. one out of hone hundred babies are born with some form of gender identity anomalies. Over 5 million transgender individuals, and the numbers are growing cohabitate with you in this planet. Have a heart, and stop secluding our kind. Enter my You Tube Channel, where I have many educational videos regarding this issue.

It would seem, Sir, you have forgotten your history and just who it was that paved the way for you to become an openly gay Congressman from Massachusetts.

To some of the Transfolk commenting here;

As a gay man, you have my complete support, and the support of many others. Be aware that almost every gay-rights group in the nation, with the notable exception of the heavily-compromised HRC has denounced this decision. I have written letters of protest to Frank, Pelosi, Joe Solomnese, and others. I will never give HRC another dime. Barney Frank will never again get my vote. It is already clear that this act by Mr. Frank has put an axe straight into the heart of the LGBT community. That is his biggest crime. The divisiveness this is going to cause, not only among T-folk but among supporters, is going to destroy us, and set out ability to get anything done back for decades. It makes me so sad. But this is not the fault of people who continue to stand on the side of righteousness, as Mr. Frank would have us believe. It is his fault. He is proof that a gay politician can still be a typical cowardly politician.
Arguing that Bush's inevitable veto is not a valid reason to keep T-Folk on the bill is absurd. Instead of placing all of the discrimination squarely on his shoulders where it should be, Frank is giving him and all opponents a free pass, and making the Democrats look even more like sleazy sell-outs than they already do. This act by Frank not only undoes years of hard work by activists, it literally puts the gay Democratic vote for 2008 in jeopardy. If we have another Rebublican president next year by a margin of a few million votes, you can thank Barney Frank.

this is cowardly--and if Bush is going to veto it anyway, all should be included. Either have a spine or resign.

Read "A Moment of Truth" on the front page, Frank.

Hi Jordan,

frankly speaking...

The best support you and the rest of the Gay community can give is to call or write to the white house and just ask Bush to veto the military spending bill.

That is what i am doing.

If we are all together on this it's time for people to walk their talk and show their support by asking the bill be vetoed. Or ask your representitive to pull ENDA from the military spending bill.

Talk is SO very cheap.

Take care
and think you for your support .
Susan Robins
Neutral Corner

I'm going to go out on a limb and urge trans-folk to support a GAY-ONLY ENDA anyway. Make sure that it's called the Employment Discrimination, not Non-Discrimination, Act though.

Yes, it means that TransFolk have been thrown under a bus. Again.

There's times when one does the sensible thing, the tactical thing, the thing which maximises benefit to one's own group - and in this case for TransFolk it means fighting a GAY-ONLY ENDA with every means at their disposal.

But there's a time when you do what's right.

TransFolk have suffered far worse discrimination that that inflicted on gays and lesbians: but that should make them even more determined that others, others who outnumber them greatly, should not suffer as they do.

The fact that Congressman Frank and others have acted so treacherously, and so unwisely in the long term, does not mean that we should express our bitterness at the betrayal in a way that hurts those not responsible for it.

Our one and only asset in the long term is that we hold the moral high ground - as they do not. We must act accordingly, put our bitterness aside, and do what is right, even if it hurts us.

The time to retaliate is at the next election, and to make sure that every time Congressman Frank speaks at a GLBT rally, that everyone is reminded of this betrayal. Make sure he couldn't get elected for third assistant dogcatcher, let alone Congress.

We must make sure that no Democratic politician will ever consider doing something like this again. Make an example of him.

Nancy Pelosi engineered the whole thing as a way to divide and weaken the queer community politically. I remember when I lived in the Bay Area during her first campaign for the House. She queer baited openly gay Supervisor Harry Britt to win the seat.

I was dreading things when I heard she was going to be House Speaker. I hoped, irrationally, that her homophobia might have mellowed with time and life in SF politics.

I was foolish to have hoped this.

Knowing full well that Bush will veto any version of ENDA, Pelosi went to Frank to do her heterosexist dirty work, which he has done with partisan zeal.

This isn't the first time that Frank has betrayed the queer community to pander to a powerful homophobe in the Democratic Party. He did everything he could to give political cover to Bill Clinton while Clinton pushed through a statute law version of the military ban designed to increase the number of witch hunts and discharges.

The only queer Barney Frank has ever cared about is Barney Frank.

Frank and Pelosi are just plain sickening.

I forked over $1500 hard earned dollars to Democratic fundraisers in the past year. Representative Frank was featured at a fundraising brunch for his National Stonewall Democrats in the spring, and I was looking forward to meeting him. At some point during the brunch, I approached him to say hello, and thanked him for putting forward a transgender inclusive ENDA, putting out my hand to shake his. Instead of greeting me or shaking my hand, he barked that he was tired of transgender people thanking him and how come no transgender people are doing anything to help ENDA pass. "Transgenders ought to start doing something to make themselves useful," he said with a bit of a snarl. I have to admit to being a little thrown. However, I recovered gamely and started to ask what he thought might be needed. Surprisingly, he brusquely turned away and stood with his back to me! I suppose this is what the literary world calls "foreshadowing." I'm sorry I gave the money. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Geeze. Well this must be one of those “learning moments” for us.
Let me see. I don’t think Frank or Pelosi are evil doers, they are politicians. They have their head in a very different, albeit not entirely healthy place.
Looking over the facts as they appear to be, this is what I find.
Going back and adding Transgender protections is monumentally hard to do on a statewide level. On a national level? Doesn’t look easy at all.
And that really settles it for me.
Inclusion or bust.
Yes, that is a very different stance than yesterday for me. Education is a wonderful thing. So is a little time to think, look at the facts.
Additional thoughts;
1. Who needs these protections the most? Transgender people.
2. It’s gonna get vetoed anyway, so why divide the community?
3. It’s wrong, VERY wrong in principle. We are either for social justice or we are not.
4. What kind of message are we sending to our straight allies?
5. What kind of message are we sending the foes of equality?
6. What kind of message are we sending our politicians?
7. In 2 years, will the situation be better for EDNA? Me thinks yes. So, might it be better to be patient? Maybe we should put EDNA out there as is and come back again.

And for everyone out there ready to throw Barney, Nancy and Joe under the bus…. Five days ago, they where your heroes.

Now, here’s one I’m sure you all will be saying, WTF?
Perhaps it is up to us (GLBT) to lead the way for our country and politicians.

They are certainly not my hero
I don't consider any politician to be hero material.
I hear is someone you look up to and want to emulate, not some double dealing back stabbing SOB with no sense of values traditional or otherwise.

I can't point to any politician that even comes close to hero material.
Jimmy Carter would be one because he was honest.
Dr Ron Paul is another because he stands by his principals. There isn't a gay or lesbian politician that even comes close to someone i would want to be seen in public with who works on the hill.
And this goes back much further then the events of the last few days.

Don't get me started on Frank's checkered history......

Take care
Sue Robins


This is a discussion that's really opened my eyes. I'm a young gay guy just coming to terms with my own sexuality, so I have only recently begun to learn about trans issues. I don't know of any transexuals.

Still, I've a learned a number of things from this blog today - 1.) The politics of compromise is how to fuck with your friends. 2.) What it means to be transgendered and they're history in the GLBT community. 3.) The incredible diversity of opinions on any given issue even within the GLBT community itself.

Ok, now for my two cents. I think most of you guys have made legitimate points, despite the difference in opinions. However, being a Canadian, I view your ENDA in a more dispassionate way, as it doesn't effect me directly.

One of the concern expressed by commentators is the divisive impact this bill will have on the GLBT community. In Canada, where gays and lesbians have recently won protection against descrimination based on sexual orientation but not sexual identity, we've already survived various forms of ENDA. Despite this, I get the feeling that the GLBT community is still the same GLBT community. We're still a family, and now that GLB's have won (most) of their rights, energy is now being focused on Trans issues, like getting sexual identity included in provincial Human Rights Code and getting complete health coverage (a luxury non-LGBT Americans don't even have, ha!) for sex-reassignment surgery. We're coming back for our friends, so to speak, province by province (sexual identity is currently protected in 3 of the 10 provinces), and then maybe one day, we'll take it national.

Relating the EDNA specifically, I've been quite intrigued about what it has revealed about the way politics works in the States and I would like to learn more. For example: if ENDA is bound to be vetoed anyway by Bush, doesn't that mean that Congress will have to pass a new ENDA when there's a supportive President? So what's preventing trans issues from being included in ENDA the next time, when it actually counts? Bush still has another year - you guys still have time to "educate" Congress, as Barney put it. Perhaps with the majority vote this time, they'll be more able to get a majority vote next time when it counts, and this time there will be Trans issues tacked on. Assuming, of course, that the GLBT community continues to give people like Barney shit for excluding the T and stick together. So maybe you guys need to stop bitching and start mobilizing!

Kelvin, in the US state of Massachausetts, they passed a Gay-only bill 17 years ago. There has been no progress for TG people there since.

In the US state of New York, a TG-inclusive bill was modified at the last moment to make it TG-exclusive. That was 5 years ago, and there's been no progress since in that state too. The bill causes existing rights that TG people had to be invalidated, so they're worse off than they were before.

If there had been a single instance where TG provisions were successfully added later to a GLB bill in the USA, perhaps the "TG later" bit might be remotely believable. The only cases where TG people have been granted human rights at the State level is as part of all-encompassing GLBT legislation.

I am discouraged by the political ignorance, and even outright spite, of some of the people who have posted on here. I get so tired of the activists who are unwilling to accept any progress because they want everything now. So much in civil rights history has been about incremental progress, and that is how it is going to be.

Would any of our current civil rights laws have passed decades before now if they had included sexual orientation? Gender identity and sexual orientation are just as different as sexual orientation and race or sexual orientation and religious affiliation. There is NO reason why they should be thrown together in the same bill if it means that doing so will kill the bill.

How many people, Sue, should be fired because of their sexual orientation while we wait for society to become okay with transgendered people? Two hundred? Thousands? It's sad that people are so uneducated about gender identity, but that doesn't mean that gays and lesbians should put getting equal protection on hold!

ENDA is nice, but there are even more opportunities to pass anti-discrimination laws at the local level. Thankfully, I live in a community (Key West) where discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity are illegal.


Why have the T on the GLBT, if we are going to be divided. Although sexual preference and gender identity are quite different. We are close cousins. How many transgender individuals have taken refuge within the gay community?

I know I stood proud and tall, when I was a female, I fought for lesbian rights, and marched along with my gay brothers and sisters. Why should you want to throw us to the lions and forget that we fit within the beautiful rainbow flag that we so proudly waive.

All for one and one for all. If we stand divided, we will not prevail. There are many transgender folks who don't even know they are transgender yet, who live or identify as gay. The lack of information and education on this issue is what divides us, and will weaken our plight.

As per your question how many people must be fired for their sexual preference? I say no more, none. But do not forget how many transgender individual who cannot hide their mannerisms, their true identity because it sticks out like a sore thumb. Who you go to bed with is easily concealed, your mannerisms are not.

The wide spectrum of gender expression affects gay men and lesbian woman. They may be in the left side of the spectrum, but your mannerisms are not your sexual preference, but part of the hardwired message in your brain that was place there by a hormonal influx. This is what creates a feminine man and a masculine female, all part of the transgender umbrella but not so evident that it will require one to change their sex. You can live with your body, unlike someone who is on the right side of the spectrum, who requires a sex change as a matter of life or death. It is difficult for me to explain this via the Internet, but I hope I have provide the just of what I am trying to say.

I am a transgender man, who has been very blessed to have transitioned without a problem and now can easily camouflage myself without anyone knowing my past. I chose to be out and proud. I am on a quest to educate. I consider myself bisexual and am very attracted to gay men. It saddens me that my brothers would abandon me.


Mark Angelo Cummings

>> It saddens me that my brothers would abandon me.

It saddens me that the GLB members of our GLBT community seem to be so easily thrown in the same bucket with those who agree with B. Frank. I am an "L" member, who is just devestated by the fact that we live in an age where protection of any individuals is even in question. It baffles me on what grounds a law-abiding person should be allowed to be denied any of the rights that other people are entitled to. (Of course, there are wackos out their who'd like to outlaw all of GLBT, but that's a different topic & sad reality).

I fully agree that we should continue a unified fight for an all-inclusive ENDA. My GLB coworkers are outraged over the possibility to not oppose a non-inclusive ENDA. HRC support is pulled left and right.

But I fear that the combined opponents of all of GLBT are already winning! Together, we're still a minority. The T community is rightfully outraged. Only now, this energy starts turning against the GLB members and alienation has already begun on both sides. Division only weakens us.

I did wonder, if every inch might help. Say, once GLB is included, it will become even harder not to include T very soon. We'd be just another precedence which could be used to pry the door open further. I assume that this is the perspective Frank is taking, but I also admit that I have no way of knowing that this may not exactly backfire.
(Oh and why the hell is "Religion" protected???)

On the same grounds, I am not sure that it will be in GLBT's best interest to say: "all or nothing" while there is a good chance that the answer is nothing.

But I understand that it would require a huge leap of faith on the T side to trust that "getting that GLB foot in the door" does not mean "throwing T under the bus" but that it could be a way to open the door further. While I wish that our T family could have that trust in us, I do understand if they don't. After all, there are transphobic GLBs and I don't really understand where they are coming from ...

Why should the T be an issue? Do you actually think that waiting is going to make a difference. I sometimes wonder if the tactics was to divide us and create the negative energies we are experiencing. The lack of education on transsexual issues is what creates the ignorance. We are in much need of protection, equality is for all. It is unheard off, that in today's day and age, that there still exist this kind of discrimination. It is not the first time that the T has been asked to sit in the back of the bus, and wait. If we stand divided they will prevail and we will be left in the dust.

Harriet Hammell | October 8, 2007 7:27 AM

Well as usual the transcommunity remains the social pariah of the LBGt communit.
I use a small "t" because it's obvious to the democratic leadership (and HRC) that we don't matter.
Folks wonder why transfolk have the highest suicide rates in the country?
We thought we had a friend in the HRC and the Democrats, but noooo, we're just there for our $$$ and our votes.
There is no problem with anyone being a cancer survivor qualifying under the ADA or same thing for anyone with a birth defect, except for being trans.
Thanks to the APA and the commitee involved in the DSM, GID is a mental illness, not a birth defect, so in the eyes of the "so-called" experts, we're all a bunch of sicko's.
I'm glad we got that straight.
Now I can go to my job at the burger chain and flip burgers, till I get outed.
Well, this is the end for our hopes.
But thats ok, I know we can count for support from our BG&L brothers and sisters when it's crunch time and thier support is needed.

I made this video in response to the ENDA disappointed. What I am seeing is the government doing what they do best, which is divide and conquer. Remember people we are stronger in numbers, lets not allow this filthy system to destroy our family.

Mark Angelo

The following letter was printed in the GLT - pretty much sums things up I think.

Letter to Editor:

What Happened to the "T" in "GLBT?"

I am a transgendered woman. I was heartened by your editorial last week where your magazine took a stance in support of the transgendered segment of our community in supporting an all inclusive ENDA bill.

Then tonight I discovered from your "reader poll" that 66% of local gay and lesbian respondents support a NON-trans inclusive ENDA bill.

The fact that 66% of our brothers and sisters DO NOT support the idea of transgendered people enjoying the same protections and civil rights deemed so important to the GLB(T) movement is just sad.

As a transsexual in a same sex relationship with another transwoman I am doubly troubled. My partner and I identify as lesbians, call us gay if it pleases you. Are we not a part of the G&L community?

Then why are our brothers and sisters refusing to support us? There would be no GLBT civil rights if the TS/TV's hadn't gotten fed up with official abuse and rioted at Stonewall. After so many years, why would 66% of you be OK with letting our legislators sell us out at the last minute?

More than anyone, transgendered people need Federal job protections. Transgendered women are the mostly likely segment of our society to lose or be denied employment based on sexual or gender identity. Even more so than gay and lesbian youth, young trans people often end up losing family and community support and end up on the street.

The result is (depending upon which poll you use) between 30% and 50% of transgendered women work in the sex trade. Roughly 30% are HIV positive. There is a saying "30/50" - by age 30, 50% of young trans people will commit suicide or die of HIV or other causes.

ENDA is a step toward ending such horrific statistics - and I submit that it is the duty of the Gay and Lesbian community to become educated on the realities facing transsexuals, and that it is in the best interest of the GLB community to stand beside us in our mutual quest for full civil rights, some 230 years after we were all "created equal" by the Declaration of Independence.

Please my GLB brothers and sisters, don't abandon us now.

Thank you,

Civics 101…

A recent CNN poll finds 54% saying that the 110th Congress doesn’t deserve to be reelected. The polls about 'confidence' in Congress are even more revealing. They get lower ratings than Bush, not an easy thing to do considering that he’s the worst president since James Buchanan. A Gallup poll taken in early summer 2007 gave them a confidence rating of 18%. A Zogby poll taken in August 2007 showed an astounding 3% approval rating for Congress's handling of the war.
"Congress is now nestled at the bottom of the list of Gallup's annual Confidence in Institutions rankings, along with HMOs." says Gallup.

The polling reflects the national verdict about the major bipartisan felonies of the 110th Congress. Democrats and Republicans linked arms to appoint racist, gaybashing judges and a gaybashing Attorney General. Betraying their own voters they allowed Bush to make it virtually impossible to get out of Iraq by giving him everything he wanted and then some. They toughened the anti constitutional Paytriot Act. In other betrayals they gutted ENDA and approved a $42,000 tax cut for millionaires. They refuse to consider socialized medicine for anyone but themselves. They’ve been busy and they still have a year to go.

How did the Congress of the United States morph into this little House of Horrors? It all began with money.

There are 435 members in the House of Greed. In 2004 123 of them were worth at least $1 million as were 40 or 100 Senators. For the same period the average annual income was $37,440.00.
The 2006 poverty level for a single person was $10,488 and $20,444 for a family of four with two children. By contrast most members of the Congress get $165,200 per year with an annual increase of $3,400. Nancy Pelosi, who owns a million dollar homes in SF and DC and is otherwise doing quite well (see below) is the highest paid at $212,100 a year. They all enjoy socialized medicine.

With every new Congress the stats disclose that roughly half of all Congress members are millionaires and some are much, much richer. Darrell Isa, R-CA is worth $677 million dollars while his poorer cousin across the hall, Jane Harmon, D-CA, has to make do with a paltry $289 million dollars. Nancy Pelosi, with $54 million dollars ranks 8th richest. In the Senate four Democrats, John Kerry with $235 million dollars, Herb Kohl with $234 million dollars, Jay Rockefeller with $102 million dollars and Dianne Feinstein with $98 million dollars top the list. Feinstein doesn’t care worry if judges or the new Attorney General are racists or homobigots; she wants a conservative who’ll protect her wealth.
According to the National Public Interest Research Group “Without personal wealth or the ability to raise large sums of money from well-heeled contributors, many aspiring officeholders are locked out of the process… Money was a key factor in determining primary election outcomes.” The FEC said that rich candidates won in 92% of the 2006 races. Only one in four primaries had more than one candidate in 2006. “The average incumbent Senator started his or her reelection campaign with $1.43 million already on hand.”
So what does this Civics 101 lesson have to do with anything? Everyone know politicians are corrupt. As Will Rogers said, ‘This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”

It explains the panic-stricken rush to gut ENDA and ram it’s carcass through Congress? It explains why Frank refused to consult with any GLBT groups and why he tried to bully them when they stood tall and opposed the fake Democrat version of ENDA. Inclusive ENDAs are on the books in several states and Frank knew it. Most Americans are against discrimination in employment and Frank knew it. Lambda Legal, the ACLU and others urgently warned that the law would be useless in court and Frank ignored them. There’s a very good chance even the shabby Democrat version of ENDA will get vetoed and Frank knew it. What he did defies logic. What's the explanation?

Barney Frank is not one of the richest members of Congress. His out of control rush to be identified with the passage of the toothless Democrat version of ENDA was a cruel hoax meant to generate publicity and funds for his upcoming Massachusetts Senatorial campaign. Now he's in the enviable position of being able to appeal to gullible GLBT donors AND the bigot bosses who make a mint underpaying us. Contemptible doesn’t begin to describe it.

As Abe Lincoln said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
Let’s start with Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein. With Democrats like these who needs Republicans.

If a lot of people in MA read Bilerico Barneys going to have a hard time in his election bid.

Somebody needs to run against him in the primary.