It seems that everyone in the LGBT blogosphere has been posting about trans inclusion and H.R. 2015, the employment non-discrimination act (ENDA), and with good reason. About a week after the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not apply to trans people, Barney Frank decided to remove trans people from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In the time since people with printing presses broke the story (there are people without printing presses who said the same thing this May, but apparently they don’t count), the story has been pretty well chewed over.
I’m upset enough about this that I could rant about this for days. Instead, I’ll suggest a few people you should contact, and make a few brief comments.
Who to call:
Your US Representative
Rep. Barney Frank
2252 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
235 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Rep. George Miller
Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor
2205 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Ask them what they’re afraid of. Ask them whether they know that getting fired is practically a rite of passage for transsexual Americans. Ask them if they can cite examples of governments extending civil rights protections to trans people after the passing of separate statutes protecting sexual orientation. Do they know how long it took? How many people lost jobs in the meantime? Finally, given the consensus that ENDA does not have the votes to overcome a promised veto from President Bush, why are they going out of their way to exclude transpeople?
Oh, and in regards to Rep. Frank, ask him if he’s aware of all the damage his paranoia about trans women and showers has caused. Does he remember saying this?:
“There are workplace situations — communal showers, for example — when the demands of the transgender community fly in the face of conventional norms and therefore would not pass in any Congress. I’ve talked with transgender activists and what they want — and what we will be forced to defend — is for people with penises who identify as women to be able to shower with other women.”
Americans for Truth About Homosexuality does.
And of course, there’s the Human Rights Campaign:
HRC Workplace Project Manager
Long story short– ask them if they want to take trans people’s money and promise people inclusion in ENDA, what they expect to happen when they don’t keep that promise. As of this writing, they’re one of the only organizations missing from the long list of GLBT groups protesting the removal of trans people.
Oh, and if you’re feeling generous, you might want to consider sending a note of support (and/or cash), to one of the organizations that has been willing to stand up for trans people.
As for my thoughts on all of this:
The Democrats are afraid of having to defend us on the floor of the House. Poor them. I’ve faced my share of taunts from random strangers. You’d think they could do the same– I’m certainly not afraid of any Congresspeople who might disrespect me.
And lastly, a thought for the Washington Post, which echoes an argument some gays and lesbians frequently use against transgender rights:
It requires time and patience to educate the public and lawmakers about how prejudice harms some people. That’s what gays and lesbians have been doing in their quest for equality for nearly 40 years. And that’s what transgender people will have to do. Delaying passage of ENDA, which was first introduced in the House in the mid-1970s by Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.), until the transgender community changes enough hearts and minds would be a mistake.
You don’t actually think that trans people haven’t been fighting for LGBT rights, do you? Not only were Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson key figures in the Stonewall riots (nor did they call it a day afterwards), but trans people had their own rebellion even earlier. Most trans people know our GLB history, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask that GLB people know some T history– because in the end, it’s all one in the same. Indeed, how many of those nearly 40 years were spent convincing a skeptical public that gays and lesbians were relatively “normal” people, and not like those “queers” and “trannies”? How much of the position trans people find themselves in at this very moment is due to the continued efforts of some gays and lesbians to distance themselves from us?
Originally published at Forked Tongue and a Dirty House