Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ENDA and the Missing "T"

After reading about it on Alex's blog, I'm currently in the middle of a little virtual debate over at GayOrbit.net with Michael who believes that transgender people should not be included alongside gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the current version of the Hate Crimes Bill. As he says...
"The proper thing for trans activists and people like Alex to do would be to wish us well and to push for a bill that will pass. If and when it does pass, and if the president signs the bill, then we’ll celebrate. When that’s done, we’ll start pushing for the inclusion of other sexual minorities in the EDNA."
By the way, Michael meant to write "ENDA," not "EDNA."

Whoever "EDNA" is, I don't think she'll be thrilled if all the sexual minorities in the world want to be included in her!


For those of you who don't know, here's a definition of ENDA, according to Wikipedia...

"The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), introduced as H.R. 2015 in the 110th United States Congress on April 24, 2007, is a proposed U.S. federal law that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill provides employment protections similar to those of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (also known as "Title VII"), but specifically directed to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. The bill is different from Title VII in that it contains exemptions for religious organizations and specific provisions about employer dress codes.

"On September 27, 2007, a revised version of the ENDA was presented to the House by Rep. Barney Frank. The revised version of the bill no longer includes language regarding protections for transgendered people. The September version of ENDA has been protested by the majority of LGBT rights organizations with the exception of the Human Rights Campaign."

Good ol' HRC. Always backing away when we need 'em most!

Anyway, check out the debate if you like. Here's just a little sample of my response to Michael's post...
"You describing the 'proper thing for trans activists and people like Alex to do' - - which, according to you, would be for them to bow out graciously so the rest of us can have our rights inside while they remain outside - - sounds to me like you’re telling the trans community…

"'Sure, you can stay at the party. We don’t WANT you here and the party would be SO much better if you left, but you can stay. I would NEVER ask you to leave. I’m a nice person that way.'"

11 comments:

Eric said...

i know i might get hit for this...but if we slowly go at this, it might be better than trying for the whole thing at once. Gay Rights have come a long way in the last 50 years. Certainly much faster than equal rights for women or minorities. While I never want anyone to be discriminated against, we have to pick our battles wisely.

Stephen Rader said...

Eric - I understand that - - and no, I won't hit you :) - - but cow-towing to the Right's idea of "acceptable deviants" (that's what I think they think about us, anyway) will do nothing but divide us.

And really, we haven't come that far with Gay Rights at all. Gay exposure? Absolutely. But if any of us dare to kiss each other in public, the tolerance of the straight community - - conservative and liberal - - comes to a grinding halt.

Besides, if gay people really picked their battles wisely, we would have fought for civil unions and not gay marriage. Civil unions would have passed; gay marriage comes arm-in-arm with religious sensibility, and those Right-Wingers who might not have a problem with two gay men have the equal rights of a heterosexual couple will shut down because they see homosexuality as a sin.

Still, you're right that we might have a better shot at ENDA being passed if we remove the transgender community from the bill. It just doesn't feel like the right thing to do.

Lena Dahlstrom said...

More to the point, as Lambda Legal and others point out, ENDA without protections for gender identity/expression means that while you can't be fired for being gay or lesbian, you can be fired for being nelly or butch.

And a lot of the discrimination comes from being seen as gender variant -- ask the butch who was thrown out of the women's restroom at the Caliente Cab Co. in NYC on the day of the Pride March there. BTW, she's suing the restaurant on the grounds the violated NYC's protections for gender expression. Yeah, she's also arguing that they violated sexual orientation protections, but wanna bet the restaurant's lawyers will argue it didn't because (and I'm admittedly making an assumption here) there were other lesbians in the restaurant.

Stephen Rader said...

Lena - You are SO right! Excellent point! Thank you so much for your comment. Great blog, by the way!

ayem8y said...

The straight world has finally come around to acknowledging that gay people exist but haven’t really had the time to wrap their brains around the concept of the bisexual or the transgender, I think it’s asking too much for them to digest. Ask a straight person about bisexuals and most of them confess that they don’t get it or they concede that it just doesn‘t exist, you‘re either gay or straight. As for the transsexual or transgender individual, most people assume that they are freaks or drag queens desperate for attention. This prejudice attitude exists in the gay world as well, so there is prejudice within prejudice. I’ve reprimanded and tried to enlighten snickering employees that refer to a MTF transgender client as “He” that it’s wrong to say such things when obviously she has taken great steps to alter her appearance and sex, so rightfully the pronoun is “She.” Yes I tend to poke fun at tranny chat room profiles on my blog (only the really bizarre or creepy ones) but always in a loving fashion affording them a fictional biography that empowers them as an individual and always in the gender of their choice. I’m an equal opportunity offender as I poke fun at the icky gay chat room profiles as well. When I hear about issues about equality for the homosexual and transgender it’s usually from an in your face drag queen or transsexual! Who else has had to be so vocal about protecting themselves from an uninformed and hateful population when they are so obviously visible to the world for ridicule. They are the agenda driven activists and subversives behind equality of today not the gays and lesbians who seem to have taken the passive attitude of “I expect this right rather than demanding it.” The real problem with not including the transgender in ENDA is that it smacks of sexism and isn’t that what it’s all about?

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I can't say that I know where you are coming from, only that I support you in your struggle.

Stephen Rader said...

ayem8y - You're right about the trans community being the ones in our community who fight for our rights.

As Alex said in her first comment after Michael's post on GayOrbit.net from 10/9/07, "Just remember my dear, it was the Queens that started Stonewall, not the Homos. You wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if it wasn’t for the Trans community."

Whim - Great to have you back. I always know you're on our side!

Stephen Rader said...

Philip emailed me this comment:

2) for your friend who thinks that Alex should wait until the other minorities have their priveleges first and then speak up at a more appropriate time, I would urge him to read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "Letters from a Birmingham Jail" in response to those supposedly sympathetic preachers who asked that he not demand so much so soon, rather that he lie low, be patient, in effect "know his place." It is never the wrong time to promote what is right.
In otherwords, I have been to the mountaintop, and there are trannies on it!

Aaron said...

Look--either we're all in this fight, or we're not. I feel like telling this GayOrbit asshole, let's shit or get off the pot! And as far as "going slowly," how about this: let's all crawl REALLY slowly to the nearest debtor's prison when we all lose our jobs and our homes because of who are are and whom we love.

Let's get a grip, fellas.

Muchas smuchas!

Stephen Rader said...

Aaron - I agree - - all in or all out! Period!!! Thanks, sweetie!

Andrew said...

I'm very conflicted over this issue, but do have to refer people to this Americablog posting regarding Lena's mention of Lambda Legal's postion and their very questionable (surprisingly so!) selective reading of the law in this matter:

http://www.americablog.com/2007/10/top-gay-legal-group-misrepresents-court.html