Thursday, November 8, 2007

ENDA: a proposed deal

The Trans community is justifiably outraged by Barney Frank et al.'s decision to drop trans protection from ENDA. * Certainly, the trans community is the smallest, most vulnerable, most legally at-risk component of the LGBTQ community, and includes those most at risk of being fired for their identity. Many in the trans community are accusing the Dems, HRC, and the gay community of selling them downriver.

I share the dismay, but I've admitted that Barney Frank, one of the smartest people in DC, can count votes. If he says the votes aren't there, they're not there. So reluctantly, I agree with his plan to push for ENDA this year, watch it vetoed, pass it when W's gone, then work to add gender protections ASAP. It's not ideal. Politics is not ideal. Politics is ugly compromises. And despite pretty words about inalienable rights, the only rights we have are those we win by majority vote.

What dismays me particularly is the vitriol expressed by many trans folks toward the rest of our community over ENDA. It's classic: a civil rights movement cracking with internal division as its diverse membership fights for crumbs, and our real enemies watch laughing. In particular, many trans folks have discounted the "We'll try to add GENDA later" strategy as pure bullshit by duplicitous gays who don't give a rat's ass about trans rights. (Which admittedly, may be HRC's motivation. But it's not mine.)

Having been accused of selling my bros & sisters downriver to extend my own civil rights, I could invoke the standard cliches ("But I attend the Trans Day of Rememberance!" "But I'm gender-variant myself!") Instead, I offer a deal:

I'll support trans-exclusive ENDA, because I think it's the best compromise we'll get this year. My trans bros & sisters will refrain from automatically assuming this makes me trans-phobic. And I will volunteer 20 hrs of community service to help educate the public & Congress about the need for trans-inclusive anti-discrimination laws, so that we can pass trans-inclusive ENDA as soon as possible.


* Which only added Trans protections recently; earlier versions of the bill did not have it.


Anonymous said...

I'll support trans-exclusive ENDA, because I think it's the best compromise we'll get this year. My trans bros & sisters will refrain from automatically assuming this makes me trans-phobic. And I will volunteer 20 hrs of community service to help educate the public & Congress about the need for trans-inclusive anti-discrimination laws, so that we can pass trans-inclusive ENDA as soon as possible.

Wow. You are bartering openly for a pass on your transphobia. So you'll only do the work if you get certified as non transphobic.
Oh. My. F*. Gawd.

Wow. Nice to know that your rights are just and necessary, but mine are a thing to be bargained with. I described your position as "morally bankrupt" a while back. With this, you have outclassed yourself.

Jason Dick said...

I've never found the "this law doesn't go far enough" argument convincing. I mean, if the law is a step forward, it's a step forward.

Anonymous said...


That argument is irrelevant. What matters is the LGBT community was sold as one. In politics, transpeople were led to believe that we were one.

In other words, we were lied to. We were used. For our energy. Our effort. Our experiences. And we paid for this with our lives. And we continue to.

Visit And learn. You can move beyond transbigotry if you try.

And we were dumped overboard by a fat white male gay who has a PROVEN track record of hating on transpeople.
Frank is ON RECORD as not wanting to use a bathroom with a transperson. He is ON RECORD as trivializing the fights for trans rights as being equivalent to overeating. He is ON RECORD as playing into the fears about allowing "penises in women's showers." He has thrown away FtM friends who he was just fine with when he saw them as lesbians.

To answer your argument, however specious, I remind you that this is not a step forward. It is a step forward for you. For me, it tells the WORLD that it is OK to treat me as less than, as unworthy of even consideration and basic humanity by the LGB crowd.
It is a moral black eye for you as well. You are celebrating the fact that you are willing to sell out the people who have fought for you since before Stonewall.
Does the name Reed Erickson ring a bell. There are many others.

Your last name is descriptive, IMHO. Sleep well.

Jason Dick said...

I'm not saying you shouldn't be pissed that transgender protections were dropped. Nor am I saying that the transgender community should not continue to speak out against this.

But we do live in a real world where we have to compromise in order to get anything done. Yes, there are many corrupt politicians. Yes, there are many politicians who have horrible moral records. But they are still the people who (for the moment) are writing the laws, the people that must be appealed to to get anything done at all.

Social change is not, after all, an instantaneous thing. It is a slow, gradual process. And I don't see why we shouldn't embrace any positive change. After all, we can always add what is missing from ENDA later, and passing ENDA now should lead to greater awareness of homosexual rights which, tangentially, will lead to greater awareness of transgender rights.

So yes, you should be pissed. You should be upset that you aren't included. But, I personally think that you should also be pragmatic and realize that even if you don't benefit nearly as much as you would were transgender protections have remained, you still benefit tangentially because this bill should raise awareness, and will hopefully pave the way to a truly fair piece of legislation later.

And no, ENDA doesn't actually benefit me personally. I'm neither gay nor transgendered. I just think it's a good moral step forward, even if it isn't as much a step forward as we would have liked. I also feel no guilt from supporting the products of corrupt politicians, if those products are a net good. Because the alternative is supporting the products of corrupt politicians that are net bad.

So yeah, don't shut up. Don't remain quiet. But use this to help yourselves. After all, the transgender community should be able to gain significant support from the LGB community in particular for raising awareness and passing more fair legislation later. I just think that pragmatically speaking, the transgender community has nothing to lose here.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The AstroDyke said...

I have deleted Anonymous's last comment. Commentors on my blog are NOT allowed to tell other commentors to "shut the fuck up intil [sic] you have something informed to say." For the record, comments are to refrain from personal attacks -- that's Rush Limbaugh territory folks.

Which is a shame, because I found Anonymous's previous posts thought-provoking if ad hominem -- I want to know what other people are thinking, and I'm willing to be convinced if their ideas are better than my ideas.

But you have to use talk about ideas, not attack each other.

Anonymous said...

About "STFU"

-You just silenced a transwoman. Proud of yourself?
-You think so little of me and mine, that you equate 20 hours of community service as equivalent to getting a free pass for supporting a demonstrably transphoic bill that will benefit you and harm me. Think about what message you're supporting. It's the mesage that it's OK to sell me out. That it's OK to help the ones who need it the least at the expense of those who need it the most. And, you ask that I be silent and work with you. Truthfully, you scare me because you are not honest about your willingness to sell me out, and you are unwilling to examine your privilege as an employed, cisgender person. And no, your gender variance doesn't count. You are not trans, yet you insisit on dictating what is and is not acceptable for our lives. And you openly endorse this in your post. Painting me as less than, that second place is morally acceptable, that is what makes you a transphobe. Not my words, yours that you chose to display to the world.
Think about that.
By effectively telling me to not be divisive, you are silencing me in the most fundamental way possible. 70% of us don't have jobs. We face a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered. Medical care is nearly impossible to obtain. Tyra Hunter? Robert Eads? Without jobs, we die. It's that simple.
But you want to look good. Well, there's no gloss you can put on your position of aggrandizing the least vulnerable at the expense of the most. You concede little. 20 hours to you is less than a day. This is my right to survive. And you join a chorus of voices in America that say it's OK to supress and extinguish trans lives. And you have the gall to complain when we don't take it lying down.

Examine your privilege and position somewhere safe, where the fears of looking like the transphobe that you present yourself as cannot cloud your thought. Educate yourself. As one academic to another, I can tell you that your position is flawed and self serving. At a minimum, it is certainly suspect. I can do no more here...the rest is up to you.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

(different Anonymous)

What worries me (well, I'm not American, so all this is at arm's length) is that we transfolk have almost no power of our own: there are not many of us, the social safety net doesn't do much for us, we need more from the powers that be, and we are more feared and hated than the rest of the queer community. Our hope has been that by joining together with the gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, and fighting as a group, we'll have enough power to be heard.

When it becomes clear that it's not actually important to the gays, lesbians, and bisexuals that we be protected too, that's pretty alarming. Let's ignore the message this sends - transpeople are too weird to matter - and look at it in terms of pragmatic politics. If ENDA passes, what incentive is there for the gays lesbians and bisexuals to push for a rider to protect transpeople? If it's too hard to get through *now* with all the millions of you supporting it, how will the thousands of us ever get a rider through?

Imagine a hypothetical negotiation between some construction workers and a company. The workers want better wages; the company wants layoffs. After heavy negotiations the package comes down: the workers get their raises but all the women are fired. There are only a few anyway. "This is the best deal we're going to get. Sorry ladies. Maybe you can arrange a better deal with the company in a few years."