Trans Rights Not Equal To Gay Rights

Andrew Sullivan Supports Barney Frank

Representative Barney Frank can rest easy tonight. Conservative homo-journo Andrew Sullivan also thinks a neutered ENDA deserves a go. Well, sort of:

The transgendered movement is so important that it’s worth subjecting gay people to many more years of employment insecurity. Not so urgent, after all, is it? Gay people in red states without employment protection have to wait while pomo lefty activists in cushy gay lobby jobs preen about p.c. purity.

I’m no big supporter of ENDA and don’t truly believe it will make much of a difference. Nonetheless, holding it up for transgendered inclusion after two decades of waiting seems bizarre even for the p.c. hell that is the gay rights establishment. I can’t believe I’m with Barney Frank on this one. But I am.

Why are we not surprised? Sullivan’s not exactly the post child for equality, compassion or humanity.

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  • George

    I personally agree with Andrew. And I don’t think that makes either of us bad people.

    I think what everyone forgets is that sexual orientation and gender identity ARE two different things. Who you sleep with is a very different issue from how you present your gender publicly.

    Giving protection to transgender people might require employers to do things differently and make major changes (dress code rules, papers/forms, bathroom situations). And lets face it, while every person in America now knows what “gay/lesbian” means, there is still a lot of education that trans issues to be done. Most people in America have no idea the difference between transgenders, transsexuals, drag queens, or transvestites.

    So why not pass the LGB protection and then focus all our energy on getting the T passed as soon as we can. What’s so wrong with that?

  • adamblast

    Sorry, but the Trans-movement isn’t ready for prime time. Gay workplace rights are fairly straightforward and simple to implement. Trans activists can’t even agree among themselves who is transgendered or what it means to be trans, much less what constitutes adequate employer response to the transgendered employee.

    Employers will fight hard against trans rights until they can be convinced it’s not a potential minefield. Nobody seems to be doing that work–instead they’re just screaming, browbeating, and aligning themselves with the far-right *against* the most important piece of gay rights legislation to date, and one of the first things congress has *ever* done for us.

  • kamasutrajones

    I’m with Andrew and Barney on this one, as well. While I certainly see the need for transgender rights, I don’t think it’s fair for the GLB populace to wait for the T to be included in ENDA. And, as any person of any sort of political understanding knows, it’s much easier to add the T after the GLB has been passed. Something, at this point, is much better than nothing.

  • rock

    It has taken nearly 30 years to get to this point (ENDA in one form or another was introduced as proposed legislation in the 1970s in Congress). So, if we have a shot at getting ENDA passed without transgender rights (however regretful that is in wishing that transgender rights are included) it is far better to take what we can get when we can get it. Barney Frank is a seasoned, smart Congressman and I trust if he thought transgendered rights could be included and pass that he would do so.

    How about we take what we can get (and that would be substantial) and as transgender rights develops we work on that next.

    Politics involves the art of compromise and not sticking our head in the sand and say hell no, if I don’t get everything I want I will then screw the millions of Gays and Lesbians who have a shot at getting some rights….what makes sense about that?

    If it were that transgenders could get protections at this time and not Gays and Lesbians, the same argument would hold true..take what you can get and come back and fight another day.

  • ajax

    George, adam, and ksjones, although I understand your points, I think you may be looking past some complexities that surround the ENDA/GENDA divide. Frequently, the triggers for workplace discrimination are personal traits that don’t conform to gender stereotypes. If you present yourself as a straight man, but just happen to boff boys in your off-hours, your boss might not have a problem with that. On the other hand, if you lisp when you’re on the phone with clients, your boss might tell you your communication skills don’t cut it for the job. Discrimination happens when people percieve you to be gay and their perceptions are frequently triggered by gender nonconformance. I “pass” for straight but make no effort to hide the fact that I’m not. Many of our LGB brothers and sisters don’t have the options I have – they can’t “pass”. Unless gender protections are included in the bill, those LGBs are likely to continue to face sexuality-based discrimination, but employers will call their gender nonconformance something that sounds more politicaly correct – something that they claim disrupts the workplace. That’s why the transgender piece of this is important. Our T brothersisters have fewer options. I don’t want to throw gender nonconforming LGBs or our Ts under the bus. I want them sitting on the bus next to me. Unless everyone in our beautiful queer alphabet has equal rights, none of us do. IMHO, of course.

  • Mr. B

    Ajax–THANK YOU. People need to stop seeing this as so black-and-white, trans vs. gay. Because it’s really not.

  • Pete F

    Right on Ajax! I’ve taken more heat from employers from being perceived as a butch woman or a femme man than being perceived as an FTM, mostly because many don’t know we exist. Either way, its gender nonconformity that is the issue, which gets more people into trouble on the job (be they LGBT, real or perceived) than who we sleep with behind closed doors.

    Oh, how I love how we’re characterized by the hostile gays..

    “screaming, browbeating, and aligning themselves with the far-right *against* the most important piece of gay rights legislation to date..”

    Nevermind the fact that we’ve been members and supporters of gay organizations since the advent of the gay rights movement, fighting your victories, watching you get your legislation get passed and being told “wait your turn”. We didn’t come along yesterday.

    And please enlighten me: When have trannies ever gotten into bed with the far right? Sex work notwithstanding.

  • adamblast

    I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, ajax, about the vulnerability of the androgynous or the non-gender-conformists in the workplace. There’s hardly anyone in this debate, Barney Frank included, who wouldn’t prefer the bill to be inclusive–if it could pass.

    Acting as though those who favor passage of todays limited and imperfect bill don’t recognize trans discrimination is not moving the debate forward, is it?

  • Bill Perdue

    Ajax is right, both in his facts and his honorable refusal to be disloyal to our community. His objections to Democratic attempt to eviscerate ENDA are supported by the opinions of Lambda Legal, not identified as a source of hysterical flights of fancy.

    The vast majority of GLBT organizations and activists refuse to support this latest double-crossing Democratic scheme because it surrenders our ability to confront employers. Bigoted employers make billions of extra dollars paying substandard wages backed up buy the threat of unwarranted firing on the basis of homobigotry.

    You can rest assured that these employers will figure out some way to reward Botox Pelosi and Barney Quisling.

    Few are willing to admit that they actually enjoy being victimized, or, even worse, enjoy victimizing transgendered people. Those few include John Sullivan, John Aravosis and the editors of a few right wing local gay papers.
    The list of groups opposing the betrayal of ENDA demonstrates the overwhelming strength of opposition. They include

    *National Black Justice Coalition
    *National Center for Lesbian Rights
    *National Center for Transgender Equality
    *National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
    *National Education Association’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Caucus
    *National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc.
    *National Lesbian and Gay Law Association
    *Al-Fatiha Foundation for LGBTIQ Muslims
    *Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders
    *Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
    *GLSEN – the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
    *Immigration Equality
    *Jewish Mosaic: National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity
    *Lambda Legal
    *Matthew Shepard Foundation
    *Metropolitan Community Churches
    *Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
    *Pride At Work, AFL-CIO (yahoo)
    *Queers for Economic Justice (yea)
    *Soulforce Q

  • adamblast

    PeteF, I’d argue that not only trans activists, but the whole network of nearly all LGBT activists and organizations, including NGTF, Lamba Legal, GLAAD, etc have gotten in bed with the far right to the extent that they fight to make a gay-only ENDA, that has a decent change of passage for the first time, fail.

  • adamblast

    Yep, Bill, it’s clear that the national groups (and our activists in general) are perfectly willing to sacrifice gay rights today for solidarity and the unsure promise of trans rights tomorrow. They have a huge vested interest in the T-inclusive definition of our community.

    But for gay men on the street, or the blogosphere? Our vested interest in trans-inclusion may not be so great as to sacrifice our own interests. For myself, I think that passing this bill before this election–particularly if a Democrat becomes president–is one of the most strategically important gay rights advances of a generation.

    If it passes *now*, a Democratic president will throw their weight behind it when it comes up again. Otherwise, I doubt any Democratic president will take the effort.

  • ajax

    adam, you’re making my testosterone fly – and not in a good way. Gutting transgender protections from ENDA is tantamount to codifying another DADT. Ten years after DADT passed, we’re still wasting time and energy to undo what should never have been done. Let’s do ENDA right the first time so we don’t have to go back and fix it later. If we can get the legislature to wrap their heads around workplace equality, DADT will die. Then, maybe they’ll get marriage equality right, too. Band-aid solutions don’t work, they just help people to avert their eyes from the horrors below the band-aid.

  • Bill Perdue

    Adamblast, your isolation is only exceeded by you hysteria. Calmate. Take a pill.

  • Vinman

    Ajax – well put. You have just changed my mind by comparing it to the DADT mess.

  • adamblast

    Sorry, ajax, to be pissing you off while trying to debate as civilly as possible. But I can’t agree that passing a gay-only ENDA is anything like DADT. The gay-only ENDA was supported for a decade by the same organizations that now claim it to be full of loopholes for being exclusionary. It’s incomplete legislation, but those claiming it’s *bad* legislation are by their own admissions coming from a trans-or-bust mentality.

    Protecting workers from being fired for breaking gender norms sounds wonderful. In practice, it needs to be examined very carefully, and EMPLOYERS need to be protected as well–from people who think their personal identity and style allows them to break whatever norms they wish in a work environment. The trans issues are more complex and troublesome than most are willing to admit, and anyone bringing up the complexities is getting batted down as a bigot.

  • adamblast

    Bill, isolated? You’re reading different blogs than I am, obviously. Seems to me like there are plenty of gay men questioning the movement’s blasting of Frank & Pelosi for trying to pass the best bill they can today.

  • Gregg

    Bill – you’re simply trying to bully by saying “See, look, EVERYONE is on our side. If you don’t agree with us then you’re alone and a loser.”

    Well, we are not alone. I agree with adamblast and Barney Frank.

  • ajax

    No sweat, adam. I embrace my testosterone. You wrote “EMPLOYERS need to be protected as well–from people who think their personal identity and style allows them to break whatever norms they wish in a work environment”. I wrote “Many of our LGB brothers and sisters don’t have the options I have – they can’t “pass”. Unless gender protections are included in the bill, those LGBs are likely to continue to face sexuality-based discrimination”. It seems the crux of our disagreement is that of choice. You seem to feel that gender nonconformists want to be allowed to break norms. I know that for many, gender nonconformity is not a choice. HOWEVER, even if gender nonconformity is a choice, the choice is theirs to make. Free country, and all.

  • mozzer13

    I said it earlier, I’ll say it again…if Frank were saying we have to drop gay men from ENDA to make it easier to pass because the strayt establishment doesn’t take women’s sexuality seriously and therefore it isn’t as threatening to them, you would all be having an aneurysm. And rightfully so. Why would we treat trans folks any differently? It is wrong wrong wrong to throw one group under the bus in favor of our own interests. Gay people continue to see equality in a vacuum, as though racism and sexism aren’t intrinsically connected to homophobia. It’s all the same thing, and we’ll only ultimately win if we’re united.

  • adamblast

    Agreed, ajax, at least to some extent. I can agree that some level of gender noncomformity needs to be protected, particularly for those who are transitioning. I’m not sure I support blanket protections for all the various permutations of trans. As I said, I’m under the impression that trans activists are being both vague and simplistic when it comes to the workplace.

    I mean, the list includes at least: pre-op, transitioning and post-op transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag queens & kings, transvestites, genderqueers, androgynes, people who live cross-gender, the ambiguous, the intersexed… They all consider themselves different, and many pose unique challenges in a business sense.

    Some may deserve differing levels of protection. If, for example, you’re *not* fighting for the rights of men to wear dresses while working at McDonalds–or to use whatever bathrooms you want based on what gender you feel this month–you’ll need to educate and explain just what does and what doesn’t fall under your purview, because *that’s* what employers fear, understandably so (at least in part) in my book.

  • adamblast

    …and I’d also mention that the validity and need for trans protections is only tangentially related to the political calculus under current debate: whether gay rights should be put on hold until trans rights are as palatable to Congress.

  • Bill Perdue

    adamblast, Gregg

    You are isolated, and rightly so. The Frank/Pelosi betrayal cuts into all our rights and derails those years for transsexuals. That puts you in the extreme right wing of our community.

    You stand next to people with a grudge against transsexuals, plus John Sullivan and John Aravosis and a miscellany of other rightist Democrats and Republicans. You guys better be in hip boots. It’s going to get deep where you stand.

    I don’t know of any polls on this question in our communities except the poll of organizations which are unequivocally opposed because the treachery of Frank and Pelosi hurts us all. Even HRC had to backpedal or face a shattering loss of income. I don’t think your anecdotal count means much beside that.

  • adamblast

    Your characterization of Frank & Pelosi’s actions as treachery and betrayal show perfectly clearly how isolated *you* are from rational political dialog. You cannot accept good faith differences in strategy. And you appear to be fine with having the GLBT movement fail completely so you can be a martyr and call people names forever.

  • Leland Frances

    Is there no bottom to the black hole of ignorance exhibited among the “all or nothing” herds? Not as long as Bill Perdue, Queerty, and Matt Foreman are around would be one answer.

    ENDA DOES NOT APPLY TO THE MILITARY! DADT would STILL be on the books. And, further, DADT was better than what existed before it. And, just as with ENDA it was NOT–like so many seem to believe and certainly want others to believe–simply a matter of Two Choices: DADT or blanket acceptance of out gays in the military. I respect anyone’s right to have different OPINIONS, but facts are facts. And one of the simplest is that trans-inclusive supporters are guilty of the very thing they accuse others of: insisting gays and lesbians give up their potential for federal job protection [when the potential for passage anytime soon of protections for them, too, is fantasy at best]. It’s like your neighbor pounding on your door and screaming, “My kids are hungry so you have to kill yours.” Sorry, folks, but gays and lesbians can’t pay to house and feed themselves [and their very real children, most prevalently among lesbians] with checks written solely on your thrift store self-righteousness.

    But only distortions matter to Perdue, who like most tin pot socialists plays fast and loose with facts. Propaganda is their favorite weapon. Here he is, slithering forth yet again from beneath his rock, autogenerating yet again his endless catalogue of exaggerations and lies:

    “extreme right wing of our community”
    “grudge against transsexuals”
    “hurts us all”
    “HRC…shattering loss of income”
    “double-crossing Democratic scheme”
    “Botox Pelosi” [carefully, Billy Bud, you’re oozing awfully close to misogyny]
    “Barney Quisling”
    “enjoy victimizing transgendered people”
    “right wing local gay papers”
    “overwhelming strength of opposition”

    and he has the balls to accuse others of “hysteria”????

    He carefully refuses to acknowledge that Frank systematically and logically shot down most of the claims of Lambda Legal. And any remaining having nothing to do with the possibility of actually passing such a bill no matter how much screeching you do; no matter how much you confuse repeating the same false, hysterical, slanderous claims over and over again with reality.

    Why list so few of the Holy 300 groups, Billy Bud? [How long will it before they equate them with the 300 Spartans?] Maybe because most of them no one outside their own circle jerk has ever heard of.

    You could add all of the members of all of these groups together, even those dishonestly representing themselves as unique not overlapping-membership organizations, and you wouldn’t come close to representing ONE-TENTH of the gay and lesbian population of the US. But excuse me, I have to get back to reading the annual report of the Al-Fatiha Foundation for LGBTIQ Muslims. I’ve never seen one printed on a single index card before.

  • mozzer13

    Adam, what you call strategy would involve having this conversation:

    “Miscellaneous Trans Activist, thank you for your years of work on equal rights for us, going all the way back to Stonewall. Unfortunately, we have decided it is more strategic to cut you off in order to secure our own rights. We really appreciate your help, though!”

    It was easy for me to think about this as strategy in the abstract until I realized what this strategy means to real people and our symbiotic relationship working for equality. I just can’t stomach it, regardless of what it means for my personal well-being.

  • ajax

    Leland, when I wrote “If we can get the legislature to wrap their heads around workplace equality, DADT will die.” I meant to draw a connection only in that both are supported by the same, faulty logic. Can you tell me, please: How is DADT better than what was in place before? I think statistics show that under DADT, more LGBs have been expelled from the armed services than ever before and that the cost to our country in dollars and expertise has never been higher or more painful. In addition your analogy about killing kids to feed others is more aptly applied against your argument than for it. After all, aren’t you advocating to make ENDA more palatable by killing the Ts? I’m just sayin.

  • Leland Frances

    What it “means” to “real people” mozzer is that either gays and lesbians have a chance for finally achieving some modicum of job protection THIRTY-THREE YEARS after the first bill was submitted to Congress, or NO ONE gets anything.

    You have every right to think that it’s okay for MILLIONS of gays and lesbians to continue to be denied federal job protection, but to keep using words like “cut you off” only serves to continue to misrepresent reality. Trans-inclusion in the language of the bill might make you feel good but pretty words and passage are two very different things, and at the end of this session of Congress, votes, like Elvis, will have left the building.

  • Leland Frances

    I’m sorry I misunderstood what you meant re the potential benefits of ENDA upon DADT, which I agree with. Primarily due to court challenges starting in 1975 with the first test case of Leonard Matlovich, military regulations re gays had bounced around, with each branch having their own variation, until a simple, uniform ban was instituted in 1981. DADTDH was the compromise that was forced on Clinton by Congress after he proposed an Executive Order in 1993 allowing out gays to serve just as President Truman did for Blacks in 1948. It was better in concept in that it was supposed to, essentially, allow gays to serve in a military version of the closet [the “don’t tell” part], and, in turn, the military was not supposed to Ask or Harrass. The Pentagon’s practice has been very different, however, but Congress has shown no majority interest in retracting DADTDH or even reining them in.

    As for post DADTDH discharge rates, much of the verbiage of opponents has been misleading; realistically speaking more to what should be happening under its regulations versus what is. According to Allen Berube’s study, “Coming Out Under Fire,” there were some 9000 known discharges [and many others suspected] for being gay during America’s involvement in WWII. In the first ELEVEN years of DADT [through 2005] there were some 11,000 discharges, roughly half as many per year as under regulations in WWII. It would follow that, adjusting for inflation, the “cost to our country in dollars and expertise” of discharges was higher pre-DADT. Further, by the late 1980s, nearly 100,000 had been discharged since the start of WWII.

    As for the analogy, yes, I have no more right to ask someone else to “die” for me than they have to ask me to “die” for them. But that’s not what’s happening as the evidence suggests that gays and lesbian job protection has a chance of being brought to life whereas including Ts at this time would result in still birth. Some “live” or we all “die.” What’s the logic in the latter?

  • Bill Perdue

    “Their isolation on this question is only exceeded by their increasing hysteria and dishonesty.” That’s what really upset Frances. Becasue it describes him so well.

    But I wasn’t even talking about him, much less trying to pull his chain. I was referring to the big boys like his political bed partners John Sullivan, John Aravosis, people with a grudge against transsexuals like Barney Frank, and the usual dismal assortment of rightist Democrats and Republicans.

    I certainly wasn’t talking about a burned out hack like Frances. Compared to the big boys he’s just a attack Chihuahua, hysterically yapping and nipping at heels.

    Frances listed several terms I used that accurately described the backstabbing of ENDA, which like DOMA and DADT is a further reminder of the Democrats’ undying passion and fondness for us. What Frances didn’t do is prove that gutting ENDA is not a betrayal or treachery, etc. Because at this point nobody believes him except a tiny pack of outdated reactionaries who,like Frances himself, are shitting on the floor as they run away from a suddenly militant movement that’s distancing itself from the Democrtas and liberal Republicans.

    Frances’ panic-stricken defense of Frank and Pelosi combined with the fact that he wants to be appointed Altar Boy in Chief for Hillary is driving him to the extreme right. When people see Francis backing something they take a good long look at the question at hand and oppose him on this blog and every other blog. I love it; he makes people shudder a the very thought of being associated with him and drives them to the left. He makes our job so much easier.

    How exactly would I be a martyr? What concerns the vast majority of us is that we’ll all be kept in second class status by the backstabbing Democrats. After the gutting of ENDA prededed by DADT, DOMA we’re a little fraid of where their next little love bite might land?

    Finally I just don’t see what “good faith differences in strategy” has do do with this. Thats like saying that Benedict Arnold just had a tiny wee difference of opinion on how to beat the Redcoats. Your remark has nothing to do with political reality and everything to do with the lethal error of projecting your goals and values onto politicians who don’t give a rats ass about us.

  • bboy

    Let’s chill out and get some political context. If ENDA (w/out gender non-conformity provisions) passed this Congress, Bush vetoes. Not enough votes to override so it dies until Jan 09 when (barring a catastrophe) the ‘pubs go out of commission and the dems (if they don’t f it up) come in the White House. At that time, it’s better for ENDA to be intact (i.e. w/ gender non-conformity provisions). If the House votes on the weakened ENDA, a push in a nascent dem administration to re-add could end up a DADT disaster. Better to keep it whole and not have to make up ground in 09.

  • hisurfer

    bboy just put it better (and probably in nicer terms) than I was about to. We’re at each other’s throats over a bill that the president has promised to veto. And say what you will about the asswipe, when he promises to block gay friendly legislation he keeps his promises.

    Check out this animation on the progress of orientation and gender protection in the states:

    There’s a strong trend towards including gender identity. Let’s not stop things & move backwards.

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