October 05, 2007

Editorial in Bay Windows

By WTTO (who can't post right now):

This week's Bay Windows contained an editorial by Susan Ryan-Vollmar in favor of splitting gender identity and sexual orientation into different ENDA bills. ( here is the article ). Susan Ryan-Vollmar and other LGB advocates (although the minority of those who I have heard) suggest that trans folks and "activists" who are now speaking out for a united ENDA should have been involved long ago, and that we should take a piecemeal approach to this situation by passing sexual orientation non-discrimination now and leaving gender identity for later. My guess is that Ryan-Vollmar refers to the hundreds of LGBT groups that have become a part of http://unitedenda.org/ to keep ENDA inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination.

My experience says that trans folks who I know, as well as local activists involved in the coalition work that will hopefully keep the LGBT community united in supporting ENDA have been involved in supporting ENDA by calling their legislators, talking to their friends, and getting the word out. So as a partial response, I say that she is factually incorrect. (That's not even to include the ways I've seen trans folks and allies mobilized for same-sex marriage and other issues Ryan-Vollmar supports).

However, there is another part to this response. It's an unfair framework to say "what have the trans folks and allies done for this bill" and "what baggage do they bring which makes this harder to pass" without asking what trans folks and allies have to bring that will help the bill. In fact, a huge number of the statistics and stories being used about discrimination and hate crimes come from trans and gender variant folks who were victimized (or at least are about LGBT victims of violence or discrimination - not just LGB). You don't just get to use us because our stories are persuasive and then drop us and tell us sorry, you'll come back later. We have powerful stories to tell and are not just baggage - we actually can help! That's what coalition is all about.

Lastly, to Ryan-Vollmarand other Massachusetts advocates who want a piecemeal approach, I say - where were you on HB 1722 lobby day? Have you contacted your legislator about HB 1722? Have you asked friends to? I know that I didn't see anyone who I now hear advocating for a piecemeal approach actually WORKING for what they suggest would be the second piece in Massachusetts - to get gender identity and expression non-discrimination state-wide. If by piecemeal you mean that we work for your rights and then you leave us to fend for ourselves, it seems like you are missing the point of coalition and cooperation.


emily2 said...

The House is on the verge of passing groundbreaking workplace protections for millions of Americans.

here is something i learned in third grade government: for a bill to become law, it must pass the house, the senate and THEN BE SIGNED BY THE GOTDAMN PRESIDENT.

the pope will convert to islam before prez bush will sign any bill tainted with "teh gay."

so all of this talk about "pragmatism" is hollow. the introduction of this bill was un-pragmatic to begin with, and it has a snowball's chance in hell of becoming law until (presumably) 2009 when hillarack is president, so with that being said, why strain the bonds of an alliance over nothing at this point in time?

icarus said...

Here's a related post from the AIDS Action Committee Blog.