Monica Roberts

We're Trying To Make HRC Better, Not Tear It Down

Filed By Monica Roberts | April 22, 2008 4:46 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ENDA, HRC, Monica Roberts, transgender

HRC and its defenders has been on a furious spin offensive in the last several weeks.

They've been trying to paint its numerous critics like myself as 'transgender conspiracy theorists' and other nastier epithets in other corners of the GLBT blogosphere I won't waste bandwith repeating.

For the white transgender community, the dwindling ranks of HRC supporters have been trotting out the new jack spin line of that tired 'horizontal hostility' crap they used to peddle that states we HRC critics are trying to 'tear down HRC'.

Au contraire my HRC Kool-aid drinking friends.

As an African-American who is considered a major transgender leader and has the Trinity to prove it, I see this contentious debate as healthy and normal. I also subscribe to the African-American definition of leadership as set forth by Dr Ron Walters.

The task of Black leadership is to provide the vision, resources, tactics, and strategies that facilitate the achievement of the objectives of Black people.

These objectives have been variously described as freedom, integration, equality, liberation, or defined in the terms of specific public policies. It is a role that often requires disturbing the peace. And we constantly carry on a dialogue about the fitness of various leaders and the qualities they bring to the table to fulfill this mission.

The bottom line is that I not only subscribe to this definition of leadership and try to practice it, it is also one of the litmus tests I use to judge whether an organization is doing what it's supposed to do.

The flack that HRC is catching from me and other transgender leaders is because HRC for a decade has not lived up to their claim as being the leaders of the GLBT community. Their actions have been deceptive, dismissive and disrespectful of my community. They have continued to act in a manner devoid of moral authority and made decisions that are harmful to the transgender community. Their relentless pursuit of money over passing inclusive legislation that benefits all of us has caused major chasms in the GLBT community. What's even more infuriating about it, they are arrogantly unrepentant and alarmingly clueless about it.

Their arrogance in repeating the Republican strategy in regards to African-Americans of trying to create 'acceptable to HRC' transgender leaders, demanding that we only have one organization to negotiate with them, and ignoring the leaders that we have chosen is also galling as well.

As an African-American, I have multiple organizations that speak on my behalf. So does the gay and lesbian community. Why would you egotistically demand of the transgender community something that you don't follow yourselves?

You have left us and our supporters no choice but to picket your dinners until some attitudes change at 1640 Rhode Island Ave, NW. We're human beings that are beyond sick and tired of being treated like bargaining chips in some game of congressional poker. We need legislative protection like yesterday, and if you are the 'leading civil rights organization' that your relentless PR claims it is, show some leadership by passing an inclusive ENDA that's a win-win situation for the entire community, not just wealthy straight-acting Caucasian gay men and women.

Nelson Mandela eloquently stated, 'no true alliance can be built on the shifting sands of evasion. illusions and opportunism.'

That quote describes the decades long history between HRC and the transgender community and the drama that goes back to Stonewall between the GLB and transgender communities.

The choice is yours. It's either building a working partnership based on respect that treats us as equals, bust your asses to pass an inclusive ENDA in 2009 while beginning an honest dialogue with your harshest critics, or continue to face a long, hot no justice, no peace spring, summer and fall of protest at every event that has an equal sign attached to it.

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What are the qualification and who considers you a "major transgender leader"? Many not only don't care one way or the other if there is a reconciliation, we want no association with HRC at all.

I want HRC to stop harming us.

All other priorities are a distant second (or less.)

Karen Collett | April 23, 2008 12:40 AM
What are the qualification and who considers you a "major transgender leader"?

It seems like a Trinity Award should suffice...

A.G. Casebeer | April 23, 2008 3:29 AM

Susan, the problem is that you have an association with HRC, despite your wishes to the contrary. They have already, repeatedly spoken for you in the halls of Congress and in the media. They think they know you, know all of us - and they have no freaking clue. Which is why we've protested: either they include us for real, or they need to get all mention of transgender out of their name and mission - and admit they don't understand us and quit trying to say they do.

Kat, amen. But I want more than that: I want the lying to end, and amends for the past lies. And I insist on inclusion in 2009, although I realize that Barney Frank stands in the way of that. I'd prefer removal of any mention of trans from their site and mission to a repeat of 2007. And HRC absolutely cannot ever be permitted, again, the choice of who to deal with in the T community, anymore. It is past time for them to sit down with their harshest critics, as they did in 1995.

What concerns me is the upping of the ante. The deployment of major security force in Houston a couple weeks ago scares me. This community has many reasonable people in it, particularly in Houston, where a number of cool heads prevailed. But there are other places where cool heads may not be as prevalent. I could easily envision violence and arrests at HRC protests. That would be bad for the T community, and worse yet for HRC. Neither side needs it. Victory is too close for all of us - T included.

WOW! My sweetheart makes a great comment. I'm impressed, Karen.

The path to perfection isn't easy. I wish more non-profits would realize that.


I think a more fundamental point is that perfection itself is unattainable, and, as the saying goes, is often the enemy of the good. ("Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.", from Voltaire's Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764))

Thomas Johnson | April 23, 2008 11:29 AM

I'm out. As one of the "rich gay men" that you continue to drone on about...(HORRIBLY OFFENSIVE BTW), I have always given and belived in equality for all.
I beliebe we are on an incremental path to get there. That being said, go give to your other organizations. Perhaps we should be talking about taking the T off of the HRC web site. Let's call it a day if you feel there are really no other options.

Wasn't trying to be offensive, but the truth hurts. Not too many people can afford to drop $50K to sit on HRC board.

It's a fact that there's a distinct lack of melanin in HRC's management and leadership structure.

You may believe in equality for all, and that's wonderful, but there are 'rich gay men' and not so rich ones who don't share your assessment.

The road to equality for all in paved by not leaving anyone behind in the first place, since history shows that once gay peeps get their rights, they don't come back for the peeps they leave behind.

Thomas Johnson | April 23, 2008 3:47 PM

Let's be very clear on my intentions. I do not give money to HRC for me. I have all of the documents and trusts that I need. I give for the 18 year old gay boy or the 21 year old transgender woman BEHIND me. These people may not even know what the need to make it in the world and I am just trying to do my part for them.

I understand the need for ENDA, but as of last October, I am no more protected that you by Federal Law.


As an African-American I'm protected under federal law. The problem comes when the Forces of Intolerance use my transgender status as a loophole to disobey those federal laws and court decisions.

So no, I'm of the 'write civil rights law to protect errbody' school

Sorry, I'm neither gay nor transgender...I have no association with HRC. Whatever HRC may have said, it was not spoken for me.

Perhaps we should be talking about taking the T off of the HRC web site. Let's call it a day if you feel there are really no other options.


I've got a better idea...take the T off of the HRC and call it a day ifs.

In no particular order I'm a woman, a transsexual, and transgendered.

I agree with this:

"Whatever HRC may have said, it was not spoken for me."

But guess what? Whoever the overpaid, detached-from-reality-oids of the Scampaign spoke those words to took them as being spoken on behalf of you.

You can say you're a woman and not a transsexual. But if you were designated male at birth, have XY chromosomes, have undergone SRS and you're in Texas (or Tennessee or Kansas or Florida), you're a transsexual.


and you're not a woman.

And you can thank the Scampaign for that - for speaking (incessantly) about gay marriage and having people in legislative bodies and courts assume that the Scampaign was speaking on *your* behalf as well as that of overpaid, detached-from-reality-oids of the Scampaign.


Oh, and Ohio, but not Florida any longer.

Yeah, right, and Calpernia Addams was a showgirl...

The group with the largest rate of unemployment amongst LGBT's is the T's

The group with the highest rate of being murder victims amongst LGBT's is T's

The group with the highest rate of bashings amongst Lgbt's is T's

On a priorites basis, using those categories as measures of need, the T's ought to be covered first.

Incrementalism? It means paying for G/L rights with T blood and pain.
A Lesbian with T friends, I cannot morally condone that.

A.G. Casebeer | April 25, 2008 12:06 PM

Incrementalism is a trap. It seems like a great idea - unless you're the incremental. And if the incremental is the interest group that needs the protection the most, and is a group that cannot possibly marshal the resources to pass legislation by and for itself, then incrementalism that cuts that group is morally reprehensible. It cannot be stated any other way.

ENDA would be great for gay and lesbian people, but ENDA is absolutely life and death for the T community. Knowing that, here's the warning: if cut from ENDA in 2009, the explosion heard in 2007 will seem like a popgun. The T community will go absolutely ballistic.

You have been warned.

Incrementalism is a trap. It seems like a great idea - unless you're the incremental.

I think there's a big difference between incrementalism that includes everyone and settles for less than the desired goals (e.g. we want same-sex marriage, but we'll settle (for now) on getting civil unions) vs. an incrementalism that includes the desired goal for some, but gains that desired goal by sacrificing others.

Which was the case with ENDA.