Bil Browning

Your Thoughts: HRC's New Survey

Filed By Bil Browning | October 04, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: HRC, Human Rights Campaign Fund, Nonprofit Industrial Complex, nonprofit politics

I noticed this morning that HRC is doing a survey to get the community's thoughts on hrclogobig.jpg"HRC, the state of our movement, & issues that matter most to you." My interest piqued, I went and took the quick survey.

Two things stand out:

1) Tran rights don't get much more than a cursory mention with a vague reference to ENDA under the choices for "the most important work for HRC this year."

2) Some of the options in the question asking about "the most effective way" for HRC to "bring about change" section are direct rip-offs of other organizations missions.


  • "Working to promote a pro-equality message in the media" mirrors GLAAD's "By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality."
  • "Supporting the election of fair-minded candidates" is basically a merger of Stonewall Democrats' "mobilizing the LGBT community to get out to vote on Election Day for fair-minded Democrats" and Victory Fund's "The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund works to elect LGBT leaders to public office".
  • How about "bringing national attention to serious cases of bullying or discrimination" and "reducing bullying to make it safer for more LGBT young people to live openly" and GLSEN's "...assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression."

With so many of the other LGBT organizations complaining about HRC stepping on their toes and trying to muscle them out of business, is this the smartest way to win friends and allies? I realize that HRC wants to be able to address all the important issues affecting queer people, but some basic respect for the other organizations also seems important.

Several org staffers have complained to me privately over the past couple of months about HRC shoving them out of discussions they should have been involved in while they stepped in as the authorities or undermining the credibility of other orgs. Since DC is a hotbed of gossip and snide cynicism, I've taken most of the complaints with a grain of salt. This survey's options, however, doesn't bode well for any chance of quelling those complaints.

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Without reading the survey and basing it on what you said about the lack of trans-related issues, I can guess that they are not even going to try and help getting trans people to serve openly in the military. That's good, because they won't be getting in TAVA's way and taking credit for our work.

Interesting observation. I assume that after disclosing sexual orientation in the survey one is directed to a set of questions tailored to your answer. After stating that I ID as hetero, all the following questions were about the importance of acknowledging that I am a "heterosexual ally".

The framing of these questions assumed an outsider quality to my relationship with the community. At no point was my status as a transsexual or a woman acknowledged. I was never asked how important it was for the HRC to provide "trans specific" information, but they sure are willing to provide "straight specific information".

Laughrio I think it's great that they look at Heterosexual Transsexuals as outside allies. Honestly I have no desire to be part of the LGBT I don't care if you want to be but your desire to be shouldn't trump my right to be acknowledge as a non LGBT aligned Transsexual.

Well Lisa, the issue is that in reality the HRC has set themselves up as speaking for transsexuals no matter how our sexuality may define us. If I had any reason to believe that the questions were an acknowledgment of my sexual orientation, rather than an erasure of my status as a trans women, I wouldn't have mentioned it.

It also erases the reality that a majority of trans women who are straight do in reality have a history that involves intimate association with the gay male community. To treat us as total outsiders further erases the actual lived experiences and relationships that many of us have.

To recap: 1) HRC has never in the past treated straight trans people as "allies" in any sense. (2) The questions only addressed my needs as a straight ally with no mention of any needs I may have as a trans woman. (3) Please, don't assign any needs or desire to trump you to me - my single point has always been that the LGB either needs to do stuff for transsexual women (ALL of us) or leave us alone. Since they can't manage the latter, I'm holding them to the former.

I'd love to know the source for your claim that the majority of heterosexual transsexuals have an intimate relationship with the gay male community. Simple fact the injustice at every turn survey reached less than 1% of the supposed transgender population. Taken that into consideration it would appear that the LGBT isn't as popular as you think with those labelled transgenderby them.

Cripes Lisa - I'll type really slowly for you. Straight trans women like men.. yes? Pre-transition, these same people still liked men... yes? Therefore, at some point in our lives many of us lived and loved and screwed around within ay male communities ... yes? Or at the very least self-identified as gay men because it was the obvious option until we could begin transitioning.

As for the source, let's just call it having come out at 15, began transition at 20 and actually talking with and LISTENING to other transsexual women. That's LISTENING.... not projecting my stuff onto what other people are saying or shoehorning my point into other people's unrelated conversations.

Woooo, the survey is too long. Maybe another day, HRC.

And bah on them stepping on other orgs' "toes." Nonprofit corporations, like for-profit corporations, aren't people and have no divine right to exist and no divine right to certain territory. HRC gets a lot of flak pretty much for being the worst stereotype of a nonprofit group, but that doesn't mean that other groups are perfect.

It's like complaining that Seattle's Best is creeping on Starbucks' territory - well, maybe that happens, but who cares? As long as it's the free market, it's going to keep on happening. None of these orgs has a divine right to exist or to work on certain issues.

As for HRC stealing credit for certain work other orgs do, that problem is separate and unrelated to their mission statement. They've been stealing credit for years and they aren't about to stop.

As far as stepping on other non-prof's toes goes, why does it really matter who does or says what and who gets this or that done, long as it does in fact get done. Given the fact that HRC is one of the biggest non-profs with a focus on LGBT rights, I feel they probably have the most pull to actually get stuff done on a national scale. I say by all means, use that pull to make this country a better and more hospitable place for the LGBT community.

You know what was creepy? When I finished the survey a page came up requesting donations with my name and address already filled in. It may have just been cookies, but that made me feel like the whole process was a little less than anonymous. Though I'd gladly publicly share my thoughts.

Don't be fooled, as Rev. Emily found it's really just a backhanded way of them fundraising. Do you really think they care what the results of the survey are? They are continue to be the ineffective group they are as we keep pumping money into their coffers. I stopped giving to them a long time ago and have encouraged my friends to not give too.

What, you don't want to contribute to "Joe's Golden Parachute?" :( Selfish!

Interestingly enough, I started the survey, got to the sexual orientation section (keeping in mind the previous comments here), had to write in "Pansexual" and was then considered a "heterosexual ally"... Wha...?