October 11, 2007

Susan Stryker writes awesome Salon article: “Transgender people are not beggars at the civil rights table set by gay and lesbian activists."

Icarus sent me this article and it seems very relevant.

Stryker is very persuasive, as usual.

Transgender people have become this political season's version of the unisex-toilet issue that helped scuttle passage of the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 1970s, of Willie Horton's role in bringing the first Bush presidency to the White House in the 1980s, and of the "Don't bend over to pick up the soap in the barracks shower room" argument against gays in the military in the 1990s -- a false issue that panders to the basest and most ignorant of fears. This is unfortunate because protecting the rights of transgender people specifically is just one welcome byproduct of the version of ENDA that forbids discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender expression or identity. This full version of ENDA, rather than the nearly introduced one that stripped away previously agreed-upon protections against gender-based discrimination and would protect only sexual orientation, is the one that is of potential benefit to all Americans, and not just to a narrow demographic slice of straight-looking, straight-acting gays and lesbians. It doesn't really even do that much good for this group, as Lambda Legal points out, because of a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.

I haven’t heard a lot from quenchfolk about this so I want to know. What do you think? I am comfortable agreeing to disagree and can respect folks who have a well thought-out opinion.

In addition, though, I want to discuss something else. I want to know why this has become such a big issue. Why do you think so many people have been blogging and talking about it? Is it just because it’s drama to talk about it? Does it mean trans folk are more included in the LGBT social community now, causing people to care more? Do people want a chance to show they are the more “practical” or the more “radical” members of the community? Are people really just fabulously invested in making sure trans folks are included in this fight? And are trans folks really that much harder for legislators to vote for or is it just an excuse, as Stryker points out?

I don’t know the answers to these questions but I know folks have been talking about this for weeks and so must have some insight into why it’s such an apparently-fascinating topic of conversation.

I’ll close with another quote from Stryker’s piece because I think her opinion is well-articulated.

Aravosis and those who agree with him think that the "trans revolution" has come from outside, or from above, the rank-and-file gay movement. No -- it comes from below, and from within. The outrage that many people in the queer, trans, LGBT or whatever-you-want-to-call-it community feel over how a gender-inclusive ENDA has been torpedoed from within is directed at so-called leaders who are out of touch with social reality. It has to do with a generation of effort directed toward building an inclusive movement being pissed away by the clueless and the phobic. That's why every single GLBT organization of any size at the national and state levels -- with the sole exception of the spineless Human Rights Campaign -- has unequivocally come out in support of gender protections within ENDA, and has opposed the effort to pass legislation protecting only sexual orientation.

In addition, check out this week's Bay Windows for a ton of opinion pieces on an inclusive/united ENDA and let us know in the comments what's on your mind.


Kellyn said...

Very thought-provoking articles; thanks for posting them.

Ily said...

Also, thanks for posting-- persuasive indeed! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the ego-boosts :-) If you like what Stryker wrote on the issue here, you might find her history article on UnitedENDA.org.

It's good to see new names commenting on the blog. Let us know if there is anything specific you would like to be reading here!


icarus said...

hey, look at this awesome editorial in Bay Windows!