ENDA The Status Quo

This battle is over and lost, and the war is not going well for T inclusion and passage of ENDA. Before the war begins again, the autopsy must be conducted. So, let’s take a look at how transgender people, THE most discriminated-against interest group in American politics, got screwed yet again. Yes, to Barney Frank, HRC, and the Democratic Party leadership, we’re a mere bargaining chip. How’s that feel, kiddos? Get used to it. Hate it. Get mad about it. Pick up a weapon – the phone, a pen, or a computer. Get ready for battle, again.

First of all, who committed the rape? HRC. Barney Frank. NCTE. George Bush. The Religious
Right. Oh, yes, and one more: we laid down and let them do it to us. Just laid there, spread eagled, with a dirty ripped negligee on, and Barry White records playing seductively in the background.

Can it be called rape, if you leave the bedroom door open and the Vaseline on the nightstand?

The transgender community has been raped, but it made many horrible and tragic errors that made that rape easy for the felons involved, the most important of which being the mistake of trusting people who are not worthy of trust. I’m reminded of the current business services commercial, in which all the people present for the meeting are “trusted” to fold under pressure, and otherwise not deliver at the moment of truth. We trusted Joe Solmonese of HRC, when he BALDFACED LIED from the podium at the Southern Comfort Conference. In HRC’s press release of 10-12-2007, they announce their support for HR3685, and we discovered from a meeting with my congressman that HRC lobbyists have been on the Hill for the past few days pressing for passage of 3685, in violation to their past statements at SCC that they would oppose a non-inclusive ENDA. HRC should never again be trusted by the T community, and anyone in the T community who has accepted HRC money should immediately return it. They should be made to pay for their betrayal.

We trusted Barney Frank to be sincere about his desire to include T in ENDA, when everything in his background indicates that he intended it only as a bargaining chip to be compromised away, just as his mentor “Tip” O’Neill taught him so well. Frank, unfortunately, is incapable of sincerity, and has a history of transphobia. Reports from the Hill are that he feels that the T community are spoiled children who can’t see reality. I think it’s Frank who is reality-challenged.

Mara Keisling of NCTE worked very hard in the penultimate battle. However, she has something to answer to:

Like this text from an NCTE press release from June 2007: it’s a prima facie example of an organization sticking its head in the sand, and being duped by professional liars. NCTE text is in italics.

8. Every LGBT organization whose position is known to me is 100% behind the bill and our inclusion in it. Congressman Frank is 100% behind the bill in the House. He is an absolute supporter of transgender rights and of our inclusion in ENDA. He is doing spectacular work on behalf of all LGBT people. No one is doing more. Period.

Obviously, 260 GLBT organizations support gender inclusion. But Frank obviously never supported transgender rights or inclusion in ENDA, and neither did HRC. “He is doing spectacular work” has about the same ring right now as “Helluva job, Brownie!”

9. We are very optimistic that basically the same trans-inclusive ENDA will be introduced in the Senate very soon. Note that I say “optimistic” and not “certain.” Also note that I say “basically the same” because, well, who knows?

No Senate bill has been introduced, as of 10-13-2007.

10. Rumors that a non-inclusive ENDA will be introduced in the Senate are unequivocally only rumors that seem to have been started by individuals who appear to be out of the loop. Unfortunately lots of people who heard the rumors have spread them without
verification. I cannot promise that an inclusive ENDA will be introduced–that is not up to me–but I will say that everyone in the process is very optimistic. I also will say that the rumors
that were started are baseless and, I think, spreading them further would be irresponsible.

Those supposed “rumors” were told to several NTAC lobbyists in Congressional and Senatorial offices. It should be obvious now that they were facts, not mere rumors, and that those who told them to us were more in the loop that Mara Keisling was. We take no joy out of being right on this, nor out of being able to say “we told you so.” The misinformation campaign Keisling undertook caused the placation of the T community, when in fact a heavy lobbying and letter writing campaign was needed, similar to what has been done over the past few weeks, too little too late. The question I must ask, at this time, is this: was Keisling’s statement here initiated by her, or ordered by a so-called ally? I am betting it was deliberate.

11. Once the language of ENDA (as introduced already in the House and hopefully soon in the Senate) is better understood, I think that some of the concerns expressed on this list will be ameliorated. Again it is not perfect, but nobody will be sacrificed by the language of this bill.

Although 2015 was a supportable version of ENDA, it sacrificed employees of small businesses, family-owned businesses, businesses owned by religious institutions, crossdressers who crossdress as a pastimeaway from the workplace on their own time (as Peter Oiler did), government employees, people who must use a locker room and/or shower as a requirement of their jobs, and members of the military. ENDA will probably never cover the situations of every transperson, but we can do better that that.

12. Our Allies: Years ago, we didn’t have too many. We had to educate and, yes, fight our way back into the LGBT movement. I know there are still imperfections and I know that some trans people are still skeptical. Yet, I can tell you without hesitation that the entire organized LGBT movement is with us now. Our education worked. Our indignation worked. It is our moral responsibility now to embrace the people we asked and demanded to be our allies. If we
do not believe in education, in persuasion, in redemption, we have no right being in civil rights. Why educate if not to win over? Why win over if not to embrace and move forward together? HRC really is an LGBT organization now and getting a lot of great work done for us all. Congressman Frank and Senator Kennedy too. Let’s move on
together.

HRC’s executive director, Joe Solmonese, is a bald-faced liar, who stated that HRC would actively oppose any non-inclusive version of ENDA. As of 10-12-2007, HRC is not only NOT OPPOSING HR 3685, they are actively SUPPORTING its passage, and have had lobbyists in
offices doing so for the past week at least. Yes, 260+ GLBT organizations DO support our
inclusion and oppose 3685, including NGLTF, who have performed as champions. But don’t for a moment fall for the fallacy that HRC really gives a damn about T people. They never have. We are merely a potential source of money for them, as they satisfy their desire to drain all the available funds from the GLBT community. Yes, we must educate, but mainly because our past educational efforts have gone for naught. In fact, we have been educating aides, and not Congressmen or Senators. And we will have to counteract the effects of the various religious groups, who’ve been on the Hill constantly, in weekly numbers eclipsing that of the T community for one week.

Had NCTE worked with NTAC, instead of calling us liars, worked with NTAC to energize a contact and lobbying campaign like what we’ve seen the last 2 weeks, during the June, July, and September periods, coupled with an in-district contact campaign in August, we possibly could have won this battle for inclusion now. And only God and HRC knows how much money was siphoned off by HRC at Southern Comfort on a baldfaced lie – money that could have been used to transport and lodge T lobbyists on the Hill from key districts and states for this battle.

We have some hard work and hard choices to make as a community. First of all, a complete reorganization and rethought of how T lobbying is done will have to be accomplished. Keisling’s PR and media skills are needed by the T community, but her penchant for running individuals down and discounting the lobbying efforts of others outside her control must end, and end now, because it was a major factor behind this debacle, as were her ongoing efforts to kill NTAC and turn the T community into a cash cow for HRC. HRC has had a bad history with the T community, has been given a number of second chances to show their support for T people over the years, but they’ve lied bald-faced to us now and have worked against our community’s best interests, and there can be no trust for them ever again after that. An effort to convince Tammy Baldwin to assume the leadership role on ENDA in 2009 needs to be undertaken, because Barney Frank can never be trusted by the T community again, either, A new lobbying protocol is needed, based on experienced lobbyists selling gender inclusion to key Congressmen and Senators, backed up by transpeople getting to know their Member in the home district – and flooding them with correspondence and phone calls. The attempts to kill NTAC and the offhand put-downs of individual activists must also stop, NTAC must rebuild itself as the lobbying organization for this community, since it has the C4 status needed to exclusively do lobbying work, and the T community needs to support and fund it properly – and never again send a wooden nickel to HRC. We all have to work together, and the excessive egos in this community need to be brought down several notches. Until T inclusion passes, nobody in this community deserves to have an ego, anymore.

Barney Frank may have raped the trans community, but it behooves us to listen to and parse what he has said – and when he said that we had not done enough education, he was absolutely right. We have spent years, both NTAC and NCTE, as well as back to the days of ICTLEP and GPAC, educating the Hill – but mainly aides, rarely Congressmen and Senators. Moreover, when our annual Lobby Days were over, the 100 or fewer T people who traveled to Washington returned home to work on their jobs, lives, and local and state political issues. Balance that with the busloads of parishoners that travel to the Hill in church buses, under the guidance of Focus on the Family, the Hi-Impact Leadership Coalition, and the Traditional Values Coalition, each week Congress is in session, especially in summer, to preach against GLBT rights of all sorts, then who write and call and speak to their Congressmen and Senators in-district after they return. These tactics must be adopted by our community, if we intend to win. Do you know your Congressman on a first-name basis? Every one of us needs to, if we ever want to win. That goes
for every T person, no matter whether they are crossdressers, transitioning, male or female identified, or long ago postop and woodworked, a person of color or of Hispanic heritage, or the family member, friend, or partner of a transperson. It is time for everyone to get involved, if only to write and make phone calls.

Changes must be made. Now. Yes, 2015 is still on the table, but let’s not kid ourselves: the House leadership has screwed the T community, except for Tammy Baldwin, and we are unlikely to gain even a committee hearing this session. As we get closer to election time, Members of Congress will become ever more squeamish about transgender people. And, realistically, we can’t do it alone, we are too small a minority. With our friends in the GLBT community, we form a considerable bloc of voters, a bloc that votes, by and large. Most of the GLBT community supports trans, but the tiny minority of Chris Crains and Jim FourRats and Jeff Epperlies who oppose us are loud about it. They need to be broken. And, finally, the peaceful educational protests against HRC dinners and fundraisers absolutely must continue everywhere possible.

With immediate changes, T people can be included in ENDA in 2009. George Bush remains the ultimate backup position, since pigs will fly before he signs anything resembling ENDA. But what if the T community already had a way to force inclusion in the Senate? That is possible, you know. Want to know how? NTAC knows how. And what if someone from the T community were to run and get elected to Congress? We need to elect at least 1 T person to Congress, and soon, to be taken seriously.

In the meantime, remember, friends don’t let friends give money to HRC.

I will point out that the polar bear who wrote this article does not speak for NTAC, nor  does NTAC allow polar bears to speak on its behalf.

PB

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