Barney Frank: Trans Activists’ All Or Nothing Mentality Is Ridiculous, Political Stupidity

No, I would say ridiculous trans activists who are outraged [that the recent Maryland trans bill includes employment, housing and other protections but not public accommodations protections], who would prefer there be no rights for employment than this. That is an example of their political stupidity. They may be very bright about other things. I don’t see how anybody can see that as a rational argument right now, nor, by the way, do I think it represents five percent of our community. I don’t even think it represents a majority of the transgender people. How can it possibly be—and by the way, these people don’t know history, because I will tell you that Martin Luther King and the other civil rights leaders would not for a second have hesitated to accept that deal.

– Retiring U.S. Representative for Massachusetts Barney Frank discussing trans rights and the future of the LGBT movement with The Washington Blade.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #barneyfrank #transrights stories and more


  • Ashley Buchanan

    maybe we’re beyond rationality because no one else is being rational… we aren’t the ones with an issue.

  • randy

    Frank is correct. Sometimes we need to get our rights incrementally. If a bill can pass easily in congress that would prevent discrimination against lesbians but not gay men, I would be in favor of that because at least lesbians can get something. Then later we work to get the same rights covered for gay men.

    If we wait until is absolutely perfect for us, we will be waiting forever, but no such bill will pass congress anytime soon.

    I know, I know — it shouldn’t be this way. We should all be able to get our rights right now! But that’s not the reality. And you can stamp your feet, shout and scream, click your heels, snap your fingers or whatever and complaint that our rights should come right now.

    The reality check is that we have to wait, we have to compromise, and we have to fight tooth and nail for every advance.

  • Riker

    @randy: According to their logic, we should oppose ENDA because it doesn’t also repeal DOMA. We should stamp our feet and oppose anything but an ENDRFMA Christmas tree bill.

    Personally, i’ve always been opposed to gigantic omnibus bills that are too big and cover too many things for even the Congresscritters to read all of it. As a result, they’re full of holes and require work to be patched up, like the Healthcare reform act. I adhere to the UNIX programmers’ philosophy, “do one thing, and do it well”.

  • Interesting

    Attaching reformers is Barney Frank’s MO



    In fact, despite the hype, his roll along with Dodd, was to water down the bill that economists and experts said was necessary towards preventing banks from being too big to fail.

    If you go do research, you will see that the Vocker Rule was watered down by Frank and others.

    His function is that of the “gay identity” face of the status quo. “See we don’t have a problem with gays because Frank is here.” He functions to slow down reform.

    And there is some gall here discussing ENDA since Frank basically kept promising to pass it if everyone would just compromise, and yet, he never seemed able to pass it. The one time people ignored Frank, and just went after all pols without regard to what Frank and other HRC type Dems had to say was DADT repeal, which both the press and the Democratic leadership is widely claimed to have said they felt pressure to act due to the continued pressure.

    What was Frank’s response? To attack the activists. Indeed, he went to bat for the president over these issues excuses the President dragging his feet.

    I know gay identity politics will make a lot of people love this guy. But his record on gay rights and actual other policies has been pretty bad. Its only because he’s gay that anyone even remotely thinks he’s done “some good.”

  • Interesting

    By the way, ENDA is a great example of how Frank lies. Remember he said no one wanted to pass a Tran inclusive ENDA, but it turned out that he was full of shit. That in fact, others had said that it could pass. He just never really tried. Others had tried in the pass since 1994 or so. He simply decided it was too much to ask for him to get out of his bubble to do something more than being a part of the DC machine.

  • missanthrope

    Frank only believes in “incrementalism” when it applies to trans people. No national LGBT rights organization nor Frank would accept the same half-measures and empty promises they propose for trans people. Same old lies and distortion, different day.

  • JayKay

    He’s 100% correct. Trans activists and their supporters are some of the most politically suicidal individuals in the country. They want it all, they want it now, and if you don’t give it to them they’re going to kick, scream, call you every name they can think of, stamp their feet, and hold their breath until you stop being such a mean old transphobic bigot and just give them their fucking pony already.

    To be fair, gays who refuse to accept civil unions for the moment because they’re not marriage are equally pants-on-head retarded.

  • Interesting

    @missanthrope: No, he says the same shit for everything. but when it comes to resoults, that’s where he’s lacking. He has yet to prove his strategy of waiting until others are reaady works. In fact, history and facts show exactly the opposite. Gay marriage in the states where it has passed became acceptable to the public after its passed as normal rather than waiting until the public comes aboard. the public always fears what it does not know. Frank as a coward does not get that. That’s why he was the worst person to lead ENDA because he was not and never will be a reformer. He’s a guy who plays for the establishment.

  • Interesting

    By the way- almost every example of actually reform in American history happened fairly quickly when it came to the rights of an powerless group. The reforms for black civil rights against Jim Crow (while in the courts took a while) in legislation and public policy took 10 years or less. That’s pretty much the same structure we have been under now for the last 40 or 50 years since those fundamental changes.

    The same is true of almost every other group that one can think of. Incrementalism is simply not historic reality. It sounds good, but no one can point to an example of where it has actually happened without distorting historic facts.

  • Kurt

    Go Barney!

  • WillBFair

    This is standard, far left, ‘the perfect is the enemy of the good’, self destructive bull—t.
    We see it nonstop from unedumacated hicks in the gay community. But trans folk go further, blaming gay men, of all people, for their lack of progress.
    We’re now entering the nutjob realm.

  • Kev C

    The first rule of political bargaining is to always ask for more than you expect to get. It’s not stupid, it’s the way politics work.

  • Interesting

    @Kev C: Which is how one knows Barney’s job in politics has always been the guy to put the breaks on reform. He almost always says whatever the establishment wants him to say even if its not logical. No one would ever run a business negotiating like Democrats negotiate in politics. That’s why you get the idiotic comments by WillBFair because he expects capitulation. The idea that some one can be hard nosed enough to say “Give me what I want” and stick to that is now how Will and Frank has been trained to think. If we don’t capitulate, then we are whiners rather than just people realizing that negotiation requires one to be willing to say no to a deal. In frank and Will’s mind, unless its to the far right or right, its not to be negotiated for a better deal.

  • Interesting

    @Kurt: <Could not sum up the "gay identity politics" cheerleading better than this post about "Go Frank!" like the person is at a football game. Next Kurt will show up with pom-poms to do the full chearleaders routine.

  • Kev C

    @Interesting: Barney has a mixed record. He isn’t exactly a source of pride, but as the John Huston quote goes: Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.

  • granlione

    African American activists would not have accepted a gimped bill that said segregation is illegal except in bathrooms and other public spaces and trans people shouldn’t have to take whatever incremental crumbs that get shoved our fucking way either.

  • Interesting

    @Kev C: His record is more or less the same divide and conquer identity politics that the right has used to control reform. Almost all of his “accomplishments” are actually things he did to slow down the speed of reform rather than as the vanguard of actual reform. I will never forget when activists were trying to push Obama to go all in for gay rights, Frank was out there defending Obama and providing him cover like HRC was doing , rahter than providing additional vital pressure. That’s who Frank is. And the “accomplishments” happened despite his role rather than because of it. If he could have gotten away with less, he would have done so.

    The financial crisis really is his legacy. Here’s a guy who was at the center of that crisis along with Bush, Clinton, and later Obama, who was put in charge of “reforming” the system. Like Geithner, SUmmers and others, that’s like putting the wolves in charge of reforming other wolves who are abusing the sheep.

    His role was to make sure that the further outreaches of reform was defined by a capitulating insider who had already served the banking interests. The same is true of his gay rights record. When you look at his rhetoric over the years (an I say this as someone who used to think he cared) it really as the guy who slows things down and says no to things rather than someone who acts as the politician and activist.

  • Jarrod

    @granlione: @granlione: That may be, but LGB are not necessarily T, so that is the big difference. If we really were one big happy family of letters then yes your point would be right. However, African Americans are one group, where LGBT is an amalgamation of groups and that is what makes us harder to bargain with, I think. Not saying we shouldnt be one big group, but we arent.

  • R.A.

    So our real enemies are not Fundamentalists, the Vatican Republicans, but Barney Frank?
    Yep, Barney’s wrong – you’re not politically crazy.
    You’re just plain crazy.

  • Interesting

    @Jarrod: How can fairness possibility work if you say some minorities should get it, while others are excluded? That’s not fairness. That’s just you wanting to get yours.

    You also have no idea what are talking about. Racial equality was not just about African-Americans. The principle works across the board to provide fairness to all racial groups (hence its applicability to other racial groups like Latinos). So in fact, it is many, but you just are too fucking ignorant to realize that you don’t know what you are talking about.

  • Interesting

    @R.A.: Nice false choices. Either one is for Barney Frank’s ineffectiveness as a politician to advice gay rights, or one is for the Republicans and anti-gay Christians. Neat trick. I am not buying the frame. I hope this little us versus them identity politics makes you feel good because it does nothing to advance rights.

  • ewe

    All or nothing? What is he talking about? When everyone else has access to public accomodations and one particular group are denied that is called blatant discrimination and it is not politically stupid to demand the same civil right that everyone else takes for granted. Barney Frank is the rediculous one when it comes to transgendered issues. It is the ONLY issue i have ever disagreed with him on. What is needed is more trans representatives in every level of government.

  • ewe

    Let’s not forget Barney Frank probably considers all commenters on any gay blog the same as talking with a dining room table. Which of course he would not be the least bit interested in.

  • missanthrope

    “Let’s not forget Barney Frank probably considers all commenters on any gay blog the same as talking with a dining room table. Which of course he would not be the least bit interested in.”

    I doubt Barney has much interest in what you have to say unless you have six digits in your bank account. This guy has been a consummate political insider.

  • Interesting

    @missanthrope: 8 figures. may be 7. never 6. and 0 gets a rant about how you should just learn to eat cake.

  • chris

    Frank is right on this one,
    Until someone develops the civil rights equivilant of the “A-bomb” you have to win battles and take ground one step at a time.

  • Interesting

    @chris: < another nonsensical comment from an idiot. What the fuck does "a bomb" mean here other than use of bravado that signifies nothing. Why is he right here? You have to answer that. So far, the answer have been cheerleading, w hich is what you are doing, or attacks on trans activist or faulty use of history, which Frank does. Well, telling activists as he always does with every issue to not want reform and fucking up history since Black history actually did not occur the way he said it did.

  • Chris

    Frank’s argument is pathetic. No one ever received rights by waiting around for society to give them. They have to be fought for. Trans rights have been repeatedly shafted in the larger LGBT fight, so it is high time they started shaking things up.

    As for civil rights history, there have always been reformers and radicals. I think both groups are necessary.

  • jeff4justice

    Fuck him. He sounds like when Feinstein said the same-sex marriage movement was too much, too fast after Newsome instigated marriage equality in 2004.

    Don’t expect these elitists in Washington, SF, Sacramento, WeHo or anywhere else to magically make things better for you as an LGBT person.

    But your bitch differences aside and unite to better your local LGBT community and look out for one another at the local lever and never throw another segment of the LGBTI community under the bus. We are a persecuted minority and should dam well stick together.

  • Dan

    Most T people transition never to be heard of again when it comes to activism because they consider themselves heterosexual.

    HRC should have remained a GLB organization, like it started. The National Center for Transgender Equality isn’t a GLBT group; it’s a T group. So HRC should be able to be a GLB group, focusing on sexual orientation equality, right?

    America is much farther along on sexual orientation issues so GLB people have every reason to want groups that focus on sexual orientation issues, no different than women’s groups wanting gender equality front and center in their efforts, or latino/a groups placing latino/a civil rights at the center of their efforts. Stonewall in the UK is a GLB group and look how far the UK has come on GLB equality issues.

  • EmmaMTF

    It’s true, unfortunately. I don’t see how bludgeoning people with our opinions endears us any quicker to the public even IF those rights seem to us only a small shift in mannerism. I’d rather see housing and employment/education discrimination taken care of before my ability to use a public restroom protected.

  • Josh


    I totally agree- This all or nothing attitude is wrong for everyone, including the trans community. It also hurts everyone and really prevents us from acheiving our ultimate goals. Rome wasn’t built nor distroyed in a day.

  • ewe

    @Josh: True, Rome is just suspended in dried bloodshed.

  • Zoe Brain

    GLBs have had protection regarding public accommodations in Mass. since 1989.

    Think about that. 22 years. And they didn’t settle just for employment first, then incremental gains.

    Now, in 2011, there’s an “Equal Opportunity” act that legitimises unequal treatment – and we’re supposed to accept that? I mean, do we have to wait another 22 years before the issue is raised? Or will it be longer?

    Of course when it comes to GLB partnerships, then only marriage will do, no second-class civil unions are acceptable to Barney Frank.

  • Interesting

    @Zoe Brain: Its definitely the “I got mine” mindset. You see it all over the gay blogs like JoeMyGod and Towleroad.

  • Pablo Escatel

    @Zoe Brain:

    You get what you can get when you can get it. Gays worked for something like 15 years to get their anti-discrimination law in 1989. If “trans” people can only get employment in MA, then take that and keep working on the other issues. One big problem you have is that the more legislators see of trans activists, the less supportive they become. Who can blame them?

    But whatever you do, stop coming to gay people and laying it on their lap as if it is our problem or their responsibility. Gay people are not transsexuals and the vast majority of transsexuals are not gay. Trans activists use a combination of deceitful language such as the so-called LGBT, and badgering to get gay people to take on their burdens, but the truth is that your bathroom issues are, while weird and disturbing, not our problem. Under other circumstances, I might have said that trans people are our allies and that we should lend support as an ally. But you arent allies. You are bullies and thugs who attack gay people and who try to hijack both our movement and our identity. The best thing we could do for us and for you is to say loud and clear that LGBT is and always was a lie.

  • Jeff

    Barney Frank does not speak for all LGBT people or even all Trans people. Let’s keep in mind that he stayed in the closet for decades.

    I agree interesting but then again most of the people who post at JoeMyGod are total idiots who can’t think for themselves and they love to trash trans people, bisexuals, and even gay men who are not white and who don’t live in NYC or a large city.

  • Interesting

    @Pablo Escatel: Every minority group and majority could say the same to gay people. You live that that rhetoric. You will die by it too kiliing off the gay rights movement with your I got mine b.s.

  • Interesting

    @Jeff: I got this image of Joe My God and Towleroad as being the closeted queens back in the day who would tell Harvey Milk not to run for office. I’ve had a chance to talk to activists from the 70s and 80s etc, and they just don’t sound like any of the douches that show up to JMG, Towleroad or here. When talking to them, you get a real sense of the history and the ideas that went into what they were doing. Now, its all “i got mine” because its the “would have been the closeted queens” who now feel empowered to take over shit rather than let those who actually interested in human rights and equality lead. I think in many ways that has slowed down the gay rights movement. For a long time they would whine about other liberal groups – like unions or black groups not doing enough- and then they wouldn’t do anything to try to break bread with these other groups. Its all this immature whining about how gays deserve equality, but not placing that equality into a historical context that hte struggle is not about gay people alone.

  • Pablo Escatel

    @Interesting: What the hell are you talking about with this repetitive “I got mine” nonsense? Gays haven’t “got theirs.” They are fighting for their priorities. They don’t have to put their priorities on the backburner, or surrender them for decades to come, so that they can pursue trans issues. They might CHOOSE to help trans people on this or that issue. But it is their choice, not a right of trans activists.

    If gays showed up at the offices of the NAACP and said that from now on we insist that there be legislative advances in Black civil rights unless gay rights are included in each proposal, we would be shown the door and rightfully so. Gays are neither obnoxious nor deluded, so they never made that kind of demand on any other civil rights group.

    Unfortunately, trans activists are very much obnoxious and deluded and so they do make that kind of demand on gays, perhaps seeing gays as an easy mark. Gays shouldn’t hesitate to tell trans activists to shove their demands up their much-used a-holes. We don’t respond to demands of thugs.

  • stus logman

    Hey Moms, make up to $87 an hour working right from your home. No experience or degree needed. I started using this about 5 months ago and have made over 50k this year. Limited numbers of positions available so hurry up and register. ABC News Breaking Video guides Moms to make over 100k a year. “Dads are welcome to join as well”.
    Register here:


Comments are closed.