Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Chaz Bono Comes Out For ENDA

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | May 12, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA

Chaz Bono gave an interview to New York Magazine on Tuesday, talking about his documentary, shown on the OWN Network.

In the interview, he was asked "What do you think is the main issue for the trans community right now?"

His answer? The Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

This man gets it. It would have been so easy to give a glib, nonsensical answer, as so many celebrities have done. Clearly, Chaz is more than a nice suit. It's refreshing to see a celebrity who actually knows which end is up.

More on his answer after the jump.

In response to the question of the most important issue for the trans community now, Chaz said:

I think at the forefront of all this is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, for the whole community, with trans inclusiveness. I feel like as far as the media coverage [ENDA has gotten], it's taken a backburner to sexier issues like don't ask, don't tell and marriage equality, both of which I think are important issues, but I still feel that ENDA affects the entire LGBT community. It's really a silly argument [to leave out trans protection], because the people who are going to be against ENDA are going to be against it whether transgender people are included or not. I think those people probably don't even know the difference between "gay" and "transgender," so I find it really hard to think that they are getting people who will vote for it, but only if they keep transgenders out of it.

Bing-o! Yes, employment discrimination is the key issue. And media coverage of ENDA has been awful, despite the fact that ENDA affects the entire community. And throwing trans people under the bus won't make it easier for the gay people, because the haters think we're all the same bunch anyway.

Of course, there's no chance that ENDA is going to happen on the Congressional level now because of the Republican majorities. We need to be going after employment protections by other means, like federal regulations (on which the Obama Administration has been making good progress), federal court decisions, and state statutes.

I don't think there could have been a much better answer to this question. Chaz gets big street cred in my book. Go Chaz!

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Chaz was on David Letterman last night (Wed, 5/11) and, although ENDA did not get mentioned, Chaz gave a fine interview -- I was really impressed!

He did mention the beating of the trans woman at the McDonald's restaurant (in Baltimore, though Chaz didn't give city) which led to a brief discussion of the threat of violence to trans ppl ... and Chaz talked about having many LGBT friends, so I think we can be confident that he is really up on things.

jill.gaulding | May 12, 2011 2:22 PM

Well, yeah. I definitely agree with Chaz about the importance of ENDA.

But I am not so confident that he is "really up on things" when it comes to gender justice issues. As noted over at Feministing, Chaz seems to have absorbed some essentialist views along with the testosterone. He told the NYT, "There is something in testosterone that makes talking and gossiping really grating. I’ve stopped talking as much. I’ve noticed that Jen can talk endlessly. . . I’ve learned that the differences between men and women are so biological. I think if people realized that, it would be easier. I would be a great relationship counselor. I know the difference that hormones really make.”

I mean no disrespect to Chaz when I say he might want to read up before he blames testosterone for his new-found dislike for all that girly chatting. Studies do not support the stereotype that women talk more than men -- men may even talk more, depending on the circumstances. But, you know, it is so much more fun (and news-worthy) to talk up the gender stereotype...

Wow! Thanks! ... All those young gay twinkies I can't stand hanging out with because they gossip about everything ... now I know that all they need are testosterone shots ... and that makes sense, maybe that's why they are built like twinks ...

I couldn't agree more with him.

It's important for LGB people too, employment discrimination. But our community has a much different internal politics that keeps things like that from being noticed.

While I think Chaz spoke importantly about enda and it's superiority in necessity over marriage and dadt ( even though both are important) I disagree that there those that don't know or see a difference when it comes to trans inclusiveness. The transcended community has been blocking the progress of this bill and needs to support whatever steps that help other member in the lgbt community. Far too often they are like catholics in heaven- they think they're the only ones there!

Maybe Chaz has been reading all your ENDA posts over the past couple of years, Jill! :)

I also appreciate that Chaz, in past, has specifically mentioned how issues of violence and discrimination disproportionately impact trans women. Those were incredible acts of humility and honesty, IMO. There are a hell of a lot of trans guys (and their queer allies) out there who will deny those realities (as well as issues like using the word "trannies") until they're blue in the face... and these are some of the same people who have the nerve to criticize him for his sexist views. And yes, it's good to hear an LGBTQ celeb actually prioritize ENDA instead of marriage or DADT.

It totally struck me that Chaz's language about his attitudes about women and T in the actual interviews I've seen (not interpreted by Cintra Wilson) were spoken with a total understanding that they were problematic, something he's not totally proud of and a part of transition he needs to work on.

Tall Stacey | May 16, 2011 2:08 PM

Again, thank you Chaz for bringing your spotlight to the right subject, ENDA. No one disputes that DOMA and DADT and marriage equality aren’t important for those of you so inclined, but ENDA and inclusion under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is mandatory for all of us.

For all those who think that "T" should not be supported, consider this. According to recent analysis of reports of GLBT discrimination to our Human Relations Commission, perceived gender identity or expression are identified as the overwhelming issue leading to those complaints. The majority of GLBT associated discrimination is not because of your sexual orientation, but because you are perceived as “too femme” or “too butch”. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight, gender conforming or not, in the majority of cases the impression that you somehow vary from the accepted gender stereotype is the issue that results in your being discriminated against.

When T women are suspected, we don’t get called cross dresser or transgender or transsexual, we get called faggots. T men get called butch or dyke fag or lez, not any one of the T words. As was pointed out, most people have no idea that there is any difference between orientation and gender presentation, to most we are just “the Gays”, “the Queers”, “the Fags” and “the Sodomites”.

The next time you are tempted to dis on those of us in the gender sub-community, remember who it was that led at Stonewall, and who led the first Pride marches – the gender people. Think about the last time you or somebody you know was confronted, why was that? Was it because you/they were being openly homosexual, or because the way you dressed or walked or talked, the way they/you acted or looked was viewed as atypical of your gender stereotype? That is what “real or perceived gender expression” is ladies and gentlemen! And it is why you should be doing everything you can to support protections for your own perceived gender presentation.

Now think of what is the first thing that the orientation community does to act out. Think of the damage your drag shows and flamboyant cross dressed caricatures of oversexed men in dresses does to our community. Your day-of-fun-then-back-in-the-closet does nothing to you when you present “normal” tomorrow, but for those of us living this life every day, especially those of us who for lack of genetics or money cannot assimilate into the population, it does us constant harm. Please think about that too.