Frustation about ENDA

On our daily conference call about ENDA today, one of the members of our community expressed a frustration that I’ve been feeling for some time. We hear from members of Congress that transgender people have not yet done as much work educating them and their colleagues on issues of gender identity as gay and lesbian people have around sexual orientation. Therefore, they argue, they just aren’t ready to vote for civil rights for transgender people. This seems to me to be a way of passing the buck, of blaming the disenfranchised for their lack of rights.

Those of us who have called our legislators, who have met with them and who have worked hard on educating them are rightfully frustrated. It may feel like our best efforts have been in vain. We’ve told our stories of friends and loved ones killed, of jobs we didn’t get or being fired for no other reason than who we are. It is incredibly painful to think it hasn’t been enough. Yet.

However, we need to remember that our work to educate members of Congress—and members of the LGBT community—have actually made an enormous difference. I truly believe that we would not be having this conversation at all, that we wouldn’t be on anyone’s agenda, if we had not been diligent in the work we have done so far. Nor would the House of Representatives passed a transgender inclusive hate crimes bill this session without the work we’ve done to educate them.

Thinking about this today has led to two conclusions. First, we absolutely must continue to do the work we are doing. We need to redouble our efforts to get people to Washington for our annual lobby day. We must continue to visit our legislators when they are in the home offices, sharing our stories, letting them know exactly why we need civil rights protections and what the stakes are for transgender people, our loved ones and families. We have to encourage each other to come out and speak up for our rights. We need each and every voice to be heard.

Second, we also need to remember that role of Congress isn’t to award rights to those who make the most noise, have the largest cadre of lobbyists or are the biggest group. Their job is to enact laws in keeping with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For transgender people, that means working for a country where we too have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In order to achieve that, we need to be free of violence and discrimination. Passing a transgender-inclusive ENDA wouldn’t fix that overnight, but it would be a step along the way.


7 Responses to Frustation about ENDA

  1. Anonymous says:

    Justin, and the corageous and patient folks at NCTE…I do not believe that the question of support from Congress is now related to “education” at all.Let us be clear – the back-door complicity of HRC and those of our fair-weather allies who have set 3685 in motion empowers those who seek to divide our community by setting us against each other.I am particularly sickened by the implicit verification that is being given to the idea that bigots set the standard for what or who is acceptable or who has made a compelling enough case for their existence or rights.I admire your ability to continue in the face of this betrayal. I fear that the fury and despair of our fellow trans people is rising from the grave into which we had all hope it had lain to rest.

  2. dianatghou - Diana Spencer Houston says:

    Maura – this is bull. You obviously have absorbed the DC double speak. Get in touch with your grass roots and off the pedestal.”Transgender people should be comforted in their disappointment today knowing that the preponderance of the LGBT movement has stood with us absolutely rock solidly.Mara KeislingExecutive DirectorNational Center for Transgender Equality”

  3. andrea says:

    I am a transsexual and I must admit I am angry, not at the congressmen but at out so-called allies; Franks, HRC, etc, who threw us to the dogs when the going got tough. A number of gay activists are also claiming that they owe us nothing, that we hijacked the LGB movement, put the T in it, and that they, gays, have nothing in common with us.The feeling is mutual; I don’t have anything in common with gay men and I do believe that the transsexual movement has shot itself in the foot by joining with LGB. 1. We transsexuals have been saddled with the reputation of sexual promiscuity of gay men.2. We have been “allocated” under the umbrella term”transgender” every transvestite, crossdresser, and drag queen in the country. These are nothing else than gay men with a women clothes fetish, who because after a few hours revert to their regular “male” existence, do not mind acting as clowns and drama queens, thus creating the “caricature” image that affects us all the time. 3. Our real natural brothers, f-to-m transsexual men, have been ignored in all this process.4. To avoid offending our gay “allies” we do not convey assertively the gender disphoria factor. My womanhood has nothing to do with sex. If somebody has a birth defect, they seek medical treatment. Well, so did I.5. Instead of passing legislation protecting us and perpetuating a sexual minority status, we should be transforming the transsexual woman (or man) into just woman (or man) and SRS into a regular medical procedure such as heart surgery. It will take time but the results will be worth the wait.6. Members of Congress do not vote for us because of fear of their constituents. Let’s then convince the constituents. Education, education, and more education. We definitely need a periodical.7. 90% of the johns who exploit transgender sex workers are closet gay men. I am not homophobic but with these events, I am getting there.It is the time to become independent, to stand on our own.

  4. Jill Lane - Transgenderist says:

    OMG Andrea, I think you do have something in common with some of the folks in Franks, HRC, etc. – Closed-Minded! (notice I said some, there’re alot of good people out there trying to make things for the better)1. You need to come out of your closet and meet our gay “allies”.Sexual promiscuity among gay men are pretty much the same as they are for straight men.2. No one like’s being put under one umbrella because we’re all so different in many ways but that’s where society has put us. If you think that all transvestites, crossdressers, and drag queens are nothing else than gay men with a women clothes fetish then you and Congress have alot in common. 3. Your real natural brothers does’t include m-to-f transsexual women either? Now you’re getting really discriminative.4. Ah so if it’s not a birth defect we shouldn’t have rights?? …and if you think sex has nothing to with you’re womanhood then try to think how other people are viewing your relationship with others? If you like men do they consider you gay? If you like women do they consider you a lesbian? Maybe the “T” DOES belong with GLB as far as society is concerned because that is how they perceive us “out of the norm” – crossing the gender lines of how men and women are suppose to act, dress and have sexual relationships. We must stand together :)5. Are you into science-fiction? Only thinking of yourself? There are m-to-f transsexuals too and SRS is not very successful for either case, guess you haven’t heard of the horror stories. SRS is NOT for everyone but we still should have rights.6. Who wouldn’t have fear of their constituents? That’s why organizations like NCTE are trying to help but it’s going to take time and alot of support from the community.7. Johns? transgender sex workers? Are you talking about prostitution? Elaborate more on that subject, and from your comments I do think you’re homophobic and you like to stereotype anyone that isn’t like you. If you want to become independent, you will be standing by yourself and no one will hear you 😦 If you can’t change your point of view on the rest of the GLBT community how do you expect the rest of the world to change it’s point of view on you?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Dear Jill: thanks for your critique though you really got personal. Of course I discriminate and have prejudices. I am not an employer so I can lawfully discriminate. I discriminate everywhere all the time. I am a product of my time and so are you although you may have a sufficiently inflated opinion of yourself so as to think you have risen above all imperfections. I stand by my comments and now if you excuse me, I must return to my real job in the real world.Andrea

  6. andrea says:

    I just wanted to say now that, in spite of the differences I may have with the philosophy of the NCTE, I do believe you put a notable effort in the ENDA business and that the final outcome is not a reflection of your courage and perseverance.Thanks, Happy ThanksgivingAndrea

  7. pj says:

    andrea. you speak the truth. only when we do make the cut, seperate ourselves out from the “sex related trans” can we achieve the goals we want so badly. transsexualism, and it’s clearly known by all transsexuals, has nothing what-so-ever to do with sex. my sexual orientation is not a reflection of my gender.i’m angry and frustrated with the crossdressers, transvestites and crossdressers as well. you said it exactly right. they go out and do their little thing, have their fun making a mockery of all of us and then crawl back up under their rocks and leave us holding the bag. we pay the price for their fun 24/7. that image is not something i share with them, i have to overcome it all day every day. none of us lives in a vacuum. if they would just acknowledge what they are and quit highjacking our place because they are so ashamed of their own it would be very helpful. if they would just tell people what they are instead of presenting themselves as us then maybe all of us could move forward. only a very few under this artificial tg umbrella are true transsexuals, we can’t opt out, they keep saying they are us. what are people who don’t understand at all to think?they fit under the umbrella with the lgb…t… we don’t. lesbian denotes a sexual orientation. gay denotes a sexual orientation. bi dentoes a sexual orientation. that part of the t, the transvestites, shemales, crossdressers and drag queesn, denote sexual orientations. we don’t. we don’t fit and we might as well get used to the idea that even in the political alliance we have created we will always be no more then capital to them. second class citizens, ugly stepsisters who should be trotted out when it’s expedient and tossed aside when there is acheivement on the horizon.truth in advertising. that’s what’s needed. much love and hope, pj

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