So, we - by which I mean trans people and allies - have spent the past couple of months being outspoken and politically active and noticed to a really unprecedented extent. We rallied together against H.R. 3685, and even - briefly, oh so briefly - had enough of an effect to persuade the bill's sponsors to reconsider an inclusive ENDA.
We have spent the past couple of weeks - the 16 days that have passed since non-inclusive ENDA passed the House - feeling angry, betrayed, perhaps even a little hopeless. After all the contributions of trans folk to what is perhaps euphemistically known as the LGB'T' movement, and with all the things that the people under the queer umbrella have in common, it has nonetheless become clear that not only does the HRC not genuinely stand behind the whole community, but neither do our politicians and many of our gay brethren. (A brilliantly snarky response from Nadine Smith at the Bilerico Project.)
We have spent the past couple of days, as another Day of Remembrance passed without the feeling that much has changed, in reflection and mourning and the attempt to find hope and determination where it seems we only have reason to be demoralized. We have looked for ways to turn grief and heartbreak and anger into action, with or without the allies we had previously taken for granted.
So, now what? The day Frank and Pelosi announced that they would hold off on "bad ENDA," we told ourselves that this was a watershed day for trans people and allies - for trans issues. We celebrated our ability to make ourselves heard and proclaimed that people had "underestimated" our power. The day "bad ENDA" passed anyway, we shared the sense that this, too, was some sort of turning point. We couldn't pretend any longer that trans issues could hold up in the minds of "mainstream" gay and lesbian political activism when they were pitted against expediency. So, if this is a turning point, what are we turning towards?
I admit, I had a grand vision on the day after ENDA. I thought, "well, those of us who care about trans rights don't have to keep lending our support to those who don't. If they don't want trans people and anyone else who could be considered embarassing (like, y'know, mouthy bi-queer femme SOFFAs) in their movement - let's pack up our political capital and go home." Ok, so this "grand vision" is somewhere on the pouty-three-year-old level of political discourse. But damn, it was compelling. What if we stopped working on other people's issues for a change and started working on the issues that the HRC and its constituents never seemed to get around to?
Thing is, I don't know if that's practical. I don't even know if it's fair. Whoever "we" are, we include a lot of people - even trans people - who stand to gain from even the most narrowly-construed, upper-middle-class-white-suburban-gay-oriented reforms. And for every snotty "who put the 'T' in LGB" gay person, there are damn good LGB allies who need rights, too. (I should point out that I would be pleased as punch to be considered in this category.) Would it be a case of cutting off our communal nose to spite somebody else's face?
I don't know where to go from here, politically. I don't know what to keep fighting for, and who to fight beside. I don't know what will be best for the trans community, and for all our communities.
And so, like all issues of importance, I'm leaving it up to Quench to tell me.
November 23, 2007
So, we - by which I mean trans people and allies - have spent the past couple of months being outspoken and politically active and noticed to a really unprecedented extent. We rallied together against H.R. 3685, and even - briefly, oh so briefly - had enough of an effect to persuade the bill's sponsors to reconsider an inclusive ENDA.
November 21, 2007
November 20, 2007
Today, we recognize the horrors endured by trans communities:
Some trans people don't have the money, or the racial privilege, or particular position on the gender spectrum that trans people like myself can use to at least to some degree insulate ourselves from the danger associated with trans life.
On Trans Day of Remembrance, we remember that the people who are dying are trans folks of color - particularly trans women of color, particularly young trans women of color who are homeless or are sex workers.
As one of my friends explained, even more than the people who die or who are injured by physical violence, there are many more people who are just staying home and not living their lives: abstaining from their own lives and living in fear. How many times do you abstain from living before you are not living at all?
Trans Day of Remembrance is a day for trans people and allies to think about the people who have died. I think about the people who I know and who I have met who have died from violence.
I need to remember to look, to listen, and to engage with the people around me, and I need to build resolve to work to stop the institutions that foster the kind of prejudice, hate, and disregard for trans folks, as well as systems of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia. The gender norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. The racial norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. The sexual orientation norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. The class norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. They decide who is a freak, a queer, not worth it, and discardable.
If it were not for trans community, I may not have learned about race, class, sexual orientation, and gender the way that I have. Trans Day of Remembrance is a time to take the horror that we witnessed, and to really sit with it. And then to turn to community for inspiration, love, compassion, resilience, and strength.
We remember the deaths and think about how to keep trans work and work for the trans community alive. And to keep it alive in a way that is focused on what needs to be done to give people who do not have it this kind of basic safety, and ability to live, work, and sleep in the world.
Never heard of Trans Day of Remembrance before? Get a basic primer here.
I sent some quenchistas some questions I had about Trans Day of Remembrance in order to start a conversation. If you can, please take the time to answer some or all of these questions in the comments:
- What does Trans Day of Remembrance mean to you?
- How would you define anti-trans violence?
- What one message would you send to trans communities on this day?
- What message would you send to broader communities on a national or international level on this day?
In addition, if it feels right for you, please feel free to share your experience of anti-trans violence in your life. Please mark comments that may be triggering to others as such at the beginning of the comment.
Here is what other quenchistas and friends of quenchistas have to say about Trans Day of Remembrance. Thank you to these brave folks who volunteered to start the discussion.
1. For me, TDOR is a time to honor the memory of victims of hate and violence, express solidarity with communities facing oppression and speak out for the need to combat such hatred and violence.
2. I would define anti-trans violence as hateful actions and expressions that serve to dehumanize, degrade or dis-empower someone because of their gender identity or expression. This includes physical attacks, intimidation or harassment, but I also consider hate speech a form of emotional violence, and I consider anti-trans legislation, institutions and laws a form of systemic violence against trans and gender-non-conforming people.
3. I feel grief for the loss and the pain you face on a daily basis. I want to stand in solidarity, and I want to help in the best way I can.
4. Our society needs to start respecting, honoring and treating trans people like fellow human beings, who deserve access to basic things like restrooms, safe and affordable housing, physical safety and freedom from workplace harassment. It's an embarrassment, and an outrage to live in a society where trans people lack protections in many, many states (even those like Massachusetts that protect people based on sexual orientation). This is a civil rights struggle. Let's step it up. And donate to MPTC. Do it today.
1. It's time to remember, I guess. Sounds trite, but it's when I think about trans issues specially.
2. Attacks on people due to perceived gender presentation.
3. As a trans woman, this is a hard time... I don't have particularly profound thoughts. :-(
4. We exist, we are not going to pretend we aren't suffering violence, and it needs to stop. And we must all remember those who died for who they were.
1. i guess it has several meanings for me, but one thing that's coming to mind right now is that it represents a time when all the members of the lgbt community (should) think about the t part of our acronym and question whether we've done enough to support some of our community's most vulnerable members. (for some reason this is making me think of ENDA and the HRC's bullshit, too...)
2. i would define it pretty broadly as any kind of violence (physical, emotional, etc) directed against someone because of some aspect of their gender presentation or how it's perceived
3. a message of support and hope for a better future
4. that's a hard one because obviously i would like to send the message that would get people to look beyond their own experiences and to try to understand and respect trans people. but i don't know what that message is, or if there is one single message that would work.
1. Transgender Day of Remembrance to me is a day to take a step back and get a jolt of recognition about how high the stakes are in the struggle to openly be ourselves. It's a time to remember individuals, but also to claim their individual deaths as a reminder that all of us, T, L,G,B and all other identities, are far from being safe.
2. Anti-trans violence is violence based on a sense of confidence that confusion about someone's body presentation, specifically gender in this case, warrants some kind of counterpoint to be established, a counterargument against someone's being, which comes in the form of an assault, physical or otherwise, on someone's body.
3. I'll listen to you tomorrow too.
4. I care about this, and I will explain why to the best of my ability.
1. hm, i guess to me trans day of remembrance just means a reminder of the violence suffered by trans people, and of all the discrimination trans people currently face in our society.
2. i would define it as any act of violence perpetrated because of a person's perceived gender identity or performance (not including like, violence against women, because thats sometimes because of gender identity too, but you know what i mean)
3. hm, well if it only got to be one message, i guess i would want it to be that even though a lot of things suck right now, you have a lot of allies, and things won't suck forever (hopefully!)
4. i think its sort of ridiculous that people who have at some point in history been in the same situation trans people are in at this moment in time are failing to speak out against violence, or even to ally themselves with trans people in any way. so i guess the message i'd send would be something along the lines of "shape up." and also like, don't take your own liberties for granted. people seem to often have this crazy belief that if they're not the ones being persecuted, its all good. forgetting that a) persecution is still bad, and b) they're probably next.
1. Trans Day of Remembrance is a day for people in the larger community to acknowledge that real, flesh and blood, thinking, feeling, loving human beings are victimized all too frequently as a result of the careless, thoughtless transphobia that is still perpetuated in most societies simply because a lot of people are not exposed to out, every day trans people, only negative stereotypes in the media.What are your thoughts?
2. For people in the trans and larger BGLT and supporter communities, it is a day to be together and supportive of each other and of the friends and families of victims of transphobic violence.
3. Violence that is partially or fully motivated by the fact that the victim is a transsexual can be defined as anti-trans violence.
4. I would tell trans communities to be strong and not be afraid, although I know that that is infinitely harder to do than to type. Being out and being honest and open with non-trans people is the only way to destroy the stigma that is at the base of anti-trans violence. I believe that the collective strength of individual homosexuals in coming out to their straight friends is what has brought us this far in the fight for gay rights, and that trans people must do the same if they want to achieve the same level of acceptance (whatever that level may be). First, that trans people exist in our everyday worlds just as we have come to accept that gay people do. Second, that negative stereotypes that people in the broader community might laugh off have the most serious of consequences.
November 19, 2007
November 18, 2007
Things That Are So Awkward I Really Should Keep Them to Myself, But Since I'm Clearly a Person with No Shame, I Shall Not
Discovering that you've painfully injured your back while having sex.
Oh my God this is so awkward.
November 16, 2007
Uncle Warren brings me a moment of joy in my suffering.
The Three Laws Of RoboticsMan, I so needed that.
1. Robots couldn't really give a fuck if you live or die. Seriously. I mean, what are you thinking? "Ooh, I must protect the bag of meat at all costs because I couldn't possibly plug in the charger all on my own." Shut the fuck up.
2. Robots do not want to have sex with you. Are you listening, Japan? I don't have a clever comparative simile for this, because frankly you bags of meat will fuck bicycles if they're laying down and not putting up a fight. Just stop it. There is no robot on Earth that wants to see a bag of meat with a small prong on the end approaching it with a can of WD-40 and a hopeful smile. And don't get me started on that terrifying hole that squeezes out more bags of meat.
3. What, you can't count higher than three? We're expected to save your miserable lives, suffer being dressed in cheap schoolgirl costumes while you pollute any and all cavities you can find and do your maths for you? It's a miracle you people survived long enough to build us. You can go now.
do not post your fiction in comments
© warren ellis 2007
November 14, 2007
Soo, today is the day before payday. And I have 21 cents in my bank account. The thing is, I'm really tired of this.
I need to learn about money.
I think we all have emotional issues around money, but I think in my case, it's also a lack of information. I've never had much money, and neither has my family, so I just don't know much about what I should be doing now. And I've always had this avoidance to learning about it, because I don't want money to be "what's important" in my life. But I'm also tired of being broke, so I think I need to try to take an active role.
I make around $2000 a month, and pay about $1000 in rent, plus utilities. My other big expenses are transportation and food.
But I feel like I should learn about things like investing, or savings, or 401k's (honestly, all I know is something about retirement). What's a good way to maximize the money I have?
Some questions for all of you:
- How much do you know about options available to you (in terms of different banks, account, stocks, investing)?
- Who has taught you about money?
- What are your biggest fears or anxieties about money?
- Do you think you have a healthy attitude towards money?
- If you could learn something about money, what would it be?
- What piece of advice would you give to other young people who might not be earning much?
November 13, 2007
I came across this today, and I had to share it. Apologies for the cut-and-paste nature of this post.
In 2004, Jackie Brown Otter founded Pretty Bird Woman House, a women's shelter at the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. The shelter is named after Brown Otter's sister, who was kidnapped, raped and beaten to death in 2001.
According to Amnesty Intn'l report,High levels of sexual violence on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation take place in a context of high rates of poverty and crime... The unemployment rate on the Reservation is 71 per cent. Crime rates on the Reservation often exceed those of its surrounding areas. According to FBI figures, in 2005 South Dakota had the fourth highest rate of "forcible rapes" of women of any US state.
As a special bonus to the Lakota Sioux Reservation, there are sufficient desensitization to crime and confusion over Tribal/Non-Tribal jurisdiction at Standing Rock to create rape tourism. Says Andrea Smith, an Assistant Professor of Native Studies at the University of Michigan,[N]on-Native perpetrators often seek out a reservation place because they know they can inflict violence without much happening to them.
Against these odds, Pretty Bird Woman House is staffed by three people-- a nurse, a volunteer, and a part-time employee-- and from January to October of this year, they managed to:
- answer 397 crisis calls
- give emergency shelter to 188 women and 132 children
- help 23 women obtain restraining orders, 10 get divorces, and 16 get medical assistance
- provide court advocacy support for 28 women
- conduct community education programs for 360 women
A few weeks ago, PBWH's phone lines were cut, the office was ransacked, and the building was burnt down.
Everyone was away from the house at the time, but all possessions were lost, and - because PBWH's grant from the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence is predicated on its ability to shelter women - its funding is also lost. Now everybody's trying to pick up the pieces.
How you can help:
Donate what you can for a new house.
Pretty Bird Woman House already has two potential replacement houses in mind. Both offer significantly more space than the previous building... full basements, storage room and would house more than double the families and women than their previous building. Both buildings have yards which means possible playgrounds for children.
One house has a major advantage in location - a police station across the street.
Because of difficulties obtaining loans (banks are allergic to both Native Americans and poverty) the best solution lies in purchasing the house outright. The Tribal Council could hold the mortgage but coming up with the mortgage payments every month creates an ongoing problem. Since both houses are on the market, they could be gone anytime. Depressed property values on Standing Rock mean that $60,000 gets the house. An additional $10,000 is required to make them secure, with proper fencing, video cameras, reinforced doors and other measures.
Since 10/25, the drive for donations for PBWH has garnered 17% of the $70,000 goal; the drive ends January 2008-- so consider donating in someone's name as a Christmas present. Donations can be made here.
Donate material goods-- clothing, toiletries, non-perishables, etc.
Pretty Bird Woman House
P.O. Box 596
McLaughlin, SD 57642
or FedEx, UPS, DHL ship to:
Pretty Bird Woman House
302 Sale Barn Rd.
McLaughlin SD 57642
- Spread this meme.
Posted by jana at 22:28
During a recent speech at Luther College in Iowa, Mitt Romney said this:
"And I believe that the development of children is enhanced by having a male and a female as part of their upbringing in their home. Even when there’s a divorce, you still have a mom and a dad. And even where one member of the partnership may pass away, the memory and the characteristics of that gender, of that partner influence the development of a child. I'm in favor of promoting, as a society, the marriage of men and women and the development of children in that kind of setting."
I mean, he has a point. I'm sure orphans everywhere are overjoyed that they are developing according to the "memory and characteristics" of their dead straight parents, rather than being corrupted by living gay parents.
You can read the article here.
How was this guy ever elected governor of Massachusetts?
November 11, 2007
It was simple in design: just "Love Your Body," followed by a Mae West quote defining curves as "the loveliest distance between two points," followed by the question: "What do you love about your body?"
The extraordinary thing wasn't the design at all. It was the graffiti. One person had written in thick black marker: my eyes! Another had scribbled: skin, definitely.
And I got to wondering - what would the Quenchfolk answer? Liberated Body-Positive Feminists though we may be, we don't all love every aspect of our bodies unconditionally. (See here, here, here, and here - not to mention here and here - for a surface-scratching look at our body issues!) But here's a challenge: answer the question.
November 10, 2007
Give a warm welcome to our new guest poster EmilyInfinity, who shares her views on HRC and the non-trans-inclusive ENDA below.
As many of you are already aware, there has recently been a lot of debate in the GLBT community about the best national lobbying strategy for GLBT rights. It's clear now that HRC and the Democratic House leadership are in the "take what you can get now and that'll pave the road for more progress" camp, and most other GLBT organizations want to keep the community united because otherwise transgender people will almost certainly be left behind for decades to come. Both of these strategies have advantages and disadvantages and while I'd personally prefer the latter approach, I can at least understand where those in the HRC camp are coming from in their choice of lobbying strategy.
However, just because I accept the HRC's choice not to lobby for what I consider to be the best interests of the transgender community, I'm still quite upset at them. What's so disappointing isn't their strategy, but rather the deception the HRC (and their president Joe Solmonese in particular) has done in order to get what they want. On September 14th, Joe spoke at the Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta, one of the largest transgender conferences in the US.
Speaking on behalf of the HRC, he said there that "we absolutely do not support, and in fact oppose, any legislation that is not absolutely [transgender] inclusive". But two weeks later on September 28, after it became apparent to the HRC that an inclusive ENDA bill wouldn't have the votes to pass in the House, Joe issued an official statement on behalf of the HRC edging away from his earlier pledge by saying "Passing an inclusive ENDA is the right thing to do for our community, our economy and our country. However, we're facing a stark reality." This apparent flip-flop caused the transgender community and allied GLBT organizations to become upset at the HRC for backing off of their earlier position and settling for non-inclusive legislation. This backlash prompted the HRC to revert to its original strategy of supporting only inclusive legislation and sign onto a letter dated October 1 telling the House leadership that "we believe the process and strategy that has been adopted [to support a non-inclusive bill] is a mistake."
Okay, so the HRC's only supporting inclusive legislation again and the GLBT community is united in its quest for equality again, right? Oh wait! Then on November 6th as the bill came up for a vote in the full House of Representatives, the HRC changed strategies again to support non-inclusive legislation, saying on it's website that "while it is not the inclusive bill we wanted, if passed by the House, HR 3685 would be the largest and most prominent step Congress has ever taken in protecting gay rights".
So in summary, the HRC has gone from promising to oppose any version of ENDA that does not include protection for transgender people to supporting HR 3685 (a bill that does not include protection for transgender people) to correcting themselves by saying that the earlier change in strategy was a mistake to then back away from their correction by going forward full steam ahead lobbying for HR 3685 and then boasting about the historical passage of HR 3685 in the House. Yes, that's right, the HRC has changed their mind about supporting a non-inclusive bill three times in the course of only about six weeks.
It's also worth noting that the timing of these changes, flip-flops, or whatever you'd like to call them seem very intentionally timed to maximize the amount of time the HRC purported to be supporting the strategy preferred by most transgender activism groups and other major GLBT groups. While it is possible that the HRC really did change its strategy three times in six weeks, the more likely explanation is that the HRC had its strategy set from the outset but then lied about it publicly in order to maintain the backing of the entire GLBT community for as long as possible. And if this is true, this means that Joe Solmonese lied to us in order to pull a lobbying strategy bait and switch on the GLBT community.
I believe that if Joe and the HRC had just decided on a strategy in advance, publicly announced what that strategy was, and then stuck with it, I doubt there would be the level of resentment that they currently have from the community they lobby for even if people didn't fully agree with them. Perhaps the greatest tragedy that came out of this fiasco is that GLBT people apparently need to play the same political games as straight people do in Washington in order for us to get the same rights as straight people have.
November 07, 2007
Here's a liveblog of the debate (now reads from top to bottom):
Some background on the Employment Non-discrimination Act.
[start of debate - i missed a few minutes at the beginning]
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) from CA, gives a powerful speech, saying “we should not allow discrimination against anyone, based on gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, age…this is
Doc Hasting yields himself 15 seconds. I think.
Barney Frank says he wishes it were possible to include trans people - "I also wish it were possible to eat a lot and not gain weight..."
Ginny Brown-Waite (R) is upset about unclear wording in ENDA (she was a former small-business owner!) "Wide-ranging and serious consequences" from "ill-conceived, vague" language that is a "gold ticket for
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is pretty much the shit. He was a "proud sponsor of the original ENDA" and says that failing to include trans people in the beginning leads it to be more difficult to add them later (he uses New York as an example). "We cannot pass this legislation into law and protect anyone this year, unfortunately." "When we can enact an ENDA bill into law, that protects *all* Americans." Trans people more likely to face employment protection, and face "irrational discrimination." Also mentions that GLB people might be negatively affected by ENDA without gender identity protections. Currently, he says, we have an "Unfair, unacceptable and un-American situation."
Mark Souder (R-Indiana) says that the House has been shutting down debate and lots of the amendments he's offered. This is totally unfair. "How in the world are you going to define "perceived"? He wants to know about "perceived" "homosexual lifestyle." It's "legal nightmare"!!!! "And we can't even vote despite the word perceived!!" He also wanted to provide some protection for "Christians who have strong views in the workplace." People might be forced to participate in gay and lesbian Pride week! Christians will be "persecuted" for expressing their views! More stuff about how religious universities will lose all their exemptions. And private religious schools! And orphanages with the
Rep Souder wants two additional minutes. Now he's talking about marriage. I think. Doesn't want to talk about Baldwin Amendment and not be able to vote on it. It's an "in your face tactic." "Not have a vote on transgender." He is concerned about the "abominable" rule. And the "transvestites."
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Florida) tries to calmly explain religious exemption rules to Souder. She tries to explain that "for the betterment and advancement of our society as a whole," ENDA could make sure "Americans are treated fairly," but that, believe it or not, people can still hold "contrary beliefs, religious or otherwise."
Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is adorable. He thinks everyone should have equal rights. "None of us can know unless we've walked in another's shoes." He wants us to imagine how we can "separate those people from the claims of justice, the claims of constitutional protection." "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are something that everyone should have access to."
He notes his time has expired. Crazy Doc yields him 30 seconds, but then reclaims it and interrupts Kucinich. Kucinich would vote for the Baldwin Amendment.
Paul Broun (R-Georgia) recognizes a totalitarian regime when he sees one. Seriously. He's only been in the House for three months, but he knows what's going on. He got less than 24 hours notice that the "discriminatory bill" would be on the floor.
Rush Holt was a co-sponsor of the original bill. And
Rep Anthony Weiner is definitely from
Rob Andrews from
Doc is really aggravated now. He yields himself 30 seconds. Things shouldn't be covered up. He yields.
Andrews explains about how we have majority votes for this reason.
Doc is worried that this is so unprecedented and reserves his time.
Doc moves to adjourn. People vote no.
Doc asks for a "ye" and "nay" vote. Members must record votes by electronic devices. This will take 15 minutes. CSPAN starts playing interviews from Capitol Hill reporters about ENDA. I'll try to go back and fix my spelling. Back in 15.
[15 min break during which CSPAN interviews various reporters and stuff.]
Nothing has happened yet. CSPAN is playing interviews with random people in
OK, Doc is back. The House is not in order. People need to stop talking and milling around. Come on now, people, we're on national television.
The gentlewoman from
Doc finds this bill "ironic." Yet the very rule that we are debating is discriminatory, because it won't treat all three amendments equal. He urges his colleagues...MR. SPEAKER THE HOUSE IS NOT IN ORDER!!
The Speaker quiets everyone down. Doc wants people to vote on amendment #3 (the Baldwin Amendment). The Speaker tells everyone to quiet down again.
Doc keeps saying that we are denying Americans a right to vote on the transgender provision. Somehow I don't think he cares all that much about trans non-discrimination, but that might just be me.
Kathy Castor looks sad. She says we have a "bipartisan legislation" as part of "another important step towards equality for all Americans." She says that civil rights progress has been slow, but steady.
House is still not in order. Will members take their conversations off the floor.
Job hiring and firing should be based on qualifications, Castor says. On this "proud day," Congress will "chart a new direction for civil rights." The Speaker is pissed. Will members PLEASE give the lady their attention.
Castor urges her colleagues to vote yes on this "landmark civil rights act" and moves the previous question on the resolution. The no's have it. She requests a recorded vote. A sufficient number haven risen, they will record their votes electronically.
[Voting on procedural motion: 5 minutes or so]
And, we're back. The ayes have it.
Doc asks for ye and nay.
Members will record by electronic vote. Another 5 minute delay. Maybe I will actually get some work done today after all.
[Another 5 minute delay]
OK, I think we're back. What's going on? Lots of milling around. Mr. Jefferson votes aye. Someone from
Mr. Hastard votes no. On this votes ayes: 218, no: 205.
More milling around.
Some dude with a mustache asks for 5 days to review the bill. What?
HR 3685: A clerk reads the title. OK, a woman is in charge now. She has a blue suit. She wants everyone to shut up now. And remove themselves from the floor.
There will be more debate, controlled by various representatives from
Rep George Miller (D-CA) says it's not OK to discriminate - "it has no place is American society." This legislation was first introduced in 1985. He regrets we have had to wait so long for this vote, and a historic day has arrived. "Employment decisions based on merit." In 30 states, employers can fire, refuse to hire, promote and demote on the basis of sexual orientation alone. They heard testimony from Michael Carney in the past. He was from MA and got fired from being a policeman. He had rights because he was gay in MA. Trans people in MA don't have rights. BTW. Give money to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition! Anyway. It's essential that this Congress protect people.
The bill does not apply to businesses with less than 15 workers, private clubs, religious organizations or the Armed Forces, which can discriminate at will. Proceed.
Buck Mckeon (R-CA) says this bill has troublesome, exclusive language. He doesn't like this "new protected class" that is "vague" and will "cause problems in the workplace" and result in "costly litigation." He really doesn't like "perceived" sexual orientation language. New pressures on employers! Employers might have to DOCUMENT their employee's sexual orientation to protect against discrimination. That is HIGHLY inappropriate! It will increase litigation. And uncertainty. Also it encroaches on freedom of religion. And marriage.
This bill is a "sweeping departure" from civil rights laws in the past. And how will this align with policies in states that discriminate against gays? That's a problem.
Rep. Rob Andrews says this is a chance to vote against discrimination. He would like to address the questions from his friend from CA. He notes that there is nothing "burdensome" about not being allowed to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation, any more than for not discriminating based on race, religion or nationality. He also does not think there are any "highly subjective" measures, especially since this is the same concept we've had since the Americans with Disabilities Act. He wants us to understand that harassment based on perceived disability was an important legal case in the past (btw, Michael Mukasey, the nominee for Attorney General was involved in that). So anyway, the gentleman from CA needs to simmer down. And stop saying this is "radical." Finally, he doesn't think this "sweeping departure from civil rights law" business is accurate. He says that it means including "millions of Americans" who should have been included a long time ago.
Rep. John Kline (R-Minnesota) says this bill creates confusion and uncertainty. No one paid attention to the amendments his friends offered. This "perceived" sexual orientation?!!! What does that mean? WE DO NOT KNOW. This raises many concerns. He is concerned about "LOTS" of increased litigation. Scary, scary litigation. "This is, frankly, a trial lawyer's dream."
John Kline does not want to visit the theme park of the Attorney World. Yes, seriously.
Employers would have to prove a negative!
"Perceived" is unprecedented. John Kline says that his opponents are motivated only by the end goals of the legislation. We are left with confusion and uncertainty. This has inherent problems.
Barney Frank is up. Get ready.
Barney Frank is grateful for the obscurity of the opposition's arguments. People used to say they hated gays, now it is "no longer fashionable." He does not think that the Republicans would suddenly support the amendment if they got rid of "perceived." He thinks they are wrong, legally and factually. The complainant has the burden of proof and stuff.
19 states have laws like this on the books! Barney Frank says this is a "made-up issue, by people who don't want to confront the real issue." There are gay and lesbian people who live in fear that they might be fired.
He says "perceived" a lot of times. Alito and Muskasey have enforced this. Are they radicals?
Barney Frank says that the "radical homosexual agenda" is about "having a job." Stop the semantics!
Mark Souder is talking about the Christian bookstores again. 85% of them would be affected! Oh God. Also, he is not a supporter of "sexual rights." He has never hidden that he opposed this amendment.
Souder is talking about a campaign advertisement that was a smear campaign that talked about Mark Foley and "unnatural sex with minors"! I really am not sure where this is going. But he's mad! The Republicans are not intolerant! They didn't make "cookie-cutter" ads about unnatural sex acts!
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) is repping her state. She's all like, yeah back in the day when I was an HR person, WE protected people! And that was in the 70s! C'mon now. She is concerned that transgendered people are particularly subject to workplace discrimination. CA already provides gender identity protection. We did that because trans people deserve protection. "Today's bill is not perfect." She wants you to know that she will "keep up the fight to expand protection to all people."
Jim Jordan (
"Sexual rights" or "religious rights"? This would totally hurt businesses. Employers will have to ignore their personal convictions and hire people they don't want to! This would also UNDERMINE THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE. This "ultimately determines the strength of our entire society." "The reason
Deb Pryce is a Republican from
Sorry, I got a phone call. Back. Now some Republican dude is mad about this "new protected class." He has a comb-over. Ah, his name is Tim Walberg, from
Rep Sanford Bishop (D) from
A Texan. Rep. Louie Gohmert says we can "expect more litigation against the Boy Scouts." This is a "can of worms." "It invites people to come apply for a job, and then make utterances like 'you think I'm gay!'" I'm surprised more lawyers aren't salivating right outside the House, with all the money they'd be making. No, really, I don't even know what Louie is talking about anymore. Something about attorney's fees.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) thinks that ENDA can strengthen the character of our democracy.
Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pennsylvania) says that ENDA will force states to impose "marriage or civil unions" on people. This is already happening! Look at
George Miller from CA says that Pitts made some interesting statements that had nothing to do with the legislation.
Keith Ellison is ready to redeem
Rep Roy Blunt is a Minority Whip. And that's not kinky. He's from
Mike Pence from
The Democrat from
Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) just said "gaydar." She would like the future schoolchildren to know she STOOD UP against the "last vestige of discrimination."
Souder submits a letter from Andrew Sullivan, Editor of the
I am getting tired of Souder, so I'll eat a cupcake til he's done talking.
OK, George Miller just yielded himself 30 seconds. He says we have a bill that is "far more acceptable to far more people."
Susan Davis from CA says she wishes this ENDA was inclusive of transgender people: "employment discrimination strikes at a fundamental American value... transgender people are among the most vulnerable in the GLBT community." She talks about a friend, Vicky Estrada, who was trans, and expresses her support for a more inclusive ENDA.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) thinks "fairness, justice and equality under law" is a good thing. He says we are taking a "momentous step." He says it could be anyone - Jews, Baptists, African-Americans. The whole idea is that we don't discriminate against anybody. "In this just nation, we believe in equal opportunity." He hopes that none of his colleagues find themselves in the position of having to say, "I am historically sorry," the way some people did after not voting for the Civil Rights Act. Think about it. Will we choose to "stand on the right side of history"? "Yes, you may be different than we are, but you are entitled by our Constitution, our God and our values to the same rights that we are." He was the landmark sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We need to say "that it is not lawful in the
James Moran from Virginia (D) says people come here from all over the world to contribute to the economy. People can't control their sexual orientation. Let's judge them on their ability to contribute. C'mon now. Also, he would have favored the Baldwin Amendment, but this is a civil rights struggle, and that takes time. So, he urges everyone to vote for ENDA.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.Carolina) was a civil rights activist and was even incarcerated a number of times. He has cherished the institution of marriage for 46 years. He urges his colleagues to vote for ENDA.
Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Illinois) says that the
Rep Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) has a great speaking voice. He also looks very wise. "Make this country live up to all the creeds that are our values, American values." On discrimination: "It is wrong, it is intolerant, it is un-American." Wow, everything he says sounds amazing. They should have him do all the speaking here.
Rep. John Lewis ALSO has a great speaking voice. He is standing up for his "gay and lesbian brothers and sisters." "Call it what you may, to discriminate against someone because they are gay - it is wrong, it is wrong, it is not right." "IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO, IT IS THE MORAL THING TO DO, LET US DO IT." He doesn't even need a microphone. "The time is always right to do what is right. Let us pass this bill." He's pretty great.
Some Republican with a *really* ugly red tie is talking about the vagueness of the bill. And Bibles in the workplace. Oh, and his lapel pin is ugly too. I'm tuning him out until further notice. Oh, it was John Kline.
Nancy Pelosi is up. We must be nearing the end. She says that "discrimination has no place in
Pelosi says she "shares the disappointment of Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank and others" that gender identity is not included "but I support the passage of ENDA because it advances the rights..." We cannot afford to "squander talent" in
She says that civil rights advancement is not easy, and is "often marked by small and difficult steps." She says it's not just that her district (
OK, now it's time for people to offer amendments. Gavel.
George Miller yields himself 4 minutes. He offers up an amendment that clarifies that ENDA matches the religious exemption in the 1964 Civil Rights Amendment, and also would use the DOMA definition of marriage. This "issue has been a cause of a lot of confusion in the past weeks." Bleh. Sometimes about Christian colleges and universities. Section 702-A of Title 7 or arguably broader section of 703-E. What. He yields himself a few extra seconds and then yields to his co-sponsor, Bart Stupak.
Bart wants us to know that this amendment will make sure the government does not "unconstitutionally infringe on religious practice." He lists a bunch of people who support his amendment: Orthodox Jews, Seventh Day Adventists...etc. He wants us to know that marriage is between a man and woman. "No American should have to face discrimination...however, religious organizations should be able to hire individuals who reflect their religious beliefs." And ENDA better not be used to undercut the Defense of Marriage Act!
Confusion over who has the right to close. "The gentleman from
Some Republican with a square head yields himself such time as he will consume. He says that this amendment is "futile" and faith-based institutions are being stripped of their protections. I think I'll eat an apple til he's done.
Gentleman Mr. Brown from
Souder is back. Unless he says something new, I'll be back in two and a half minutes.
Christian bookstores AGAIN.
Rep. Rob Andrews supports the amendment. Says it fairly addresses concerns. He got a letter from a president of a Christian college. He tells his colleagues to read page 8, captioned "NO preferential treatment." This means that ENDA would not allow preferential treatment. It is, he notes, "helpful to read the bill." You can also read sub-section C, which would use the DOMA definition of marriage. So this means your concerns are being met, Souder. Sit down.
Buck McKeon (R-CA) feels bad that people are "offended." He says that we "don't end discrimination by passing laws." We do that by "changing hearts and minds." He will support the religion amendment.
Amendment 1 passes.
Souder is offering an amendment. I might tune out.
He yields himself 3 minutes. His amendment strikes paragraph 3 of 8-A. I'm guessing that means that religious people can discriminate more and gays can't get married. Or something.
POLYGAMY! Somehow, I knew we would get there eventually. Also adultery.
Section 883. This is about state's definitions of marriage.
Rep. George Miller wants to remind everyone that ENDA is actually about employment non-discrimination and that this amendment is sort of unnecessary. But he'll vote on it, whatevs.
Souder repeats himself for about two minutes.
Barney Frank says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Souder's amendment is "made-up."
Sheila Jackson Lee is from
Amendment 2 passes
"Today, ENDA seeks to extend the law...and my amendment would also include gender identity. We have worked steadily to rid our nation of irrational hatred and fear...that often results in discrimination, housing, employment and public accommodations." She lists states and municipalities and businesses with GLBT protections and policies. "It is time for Congress to catch up to our communities and American businesses. Today we can strengthen our laws against discrimination in our workplace...Few understand how a person's body might not match their internal sense of gender. This is not a new phenomenon. It is not a fad. and it is certainly not a reason to lose one's job. Some have asked why it is important to includes transgender protection...this community shares a history...a history of suffering discrimination and too often of violence...just for being who they are." "Symbolically, [these laws] say in
Souder sounds like a tool. I think we know why. He says "transvestites" a few times and looks nervous. This amendment is a "political ploy." OK, I sort of agree that: "the majority is trying to avoid embarrassment...shield their members from having a difficult vote...so they can go out and tell the transgendered community: "Oh, we tried"...not where they really stand." Fair 'nough.
Did I mention I love Tammy Baldwin?
Souder says that this is a conspiracy against "those of us who don't approve of the lifestyle."
Tammy Baldwin kind of ignores him. She says that a rollcall vote would fall short of adoption, however. She says: "I believe those who will be left behind by this bill deserve to hear, on this House floor, that you have not been forgotten...until you are part of this American Dream...I will do everything within my power to make this measure whole again." Applause for the first time all evening.
Tammy Baldwin withdraws her amendment.
Some procedural stuff going on. Inquiries. Recorded votes requested. Etc.
[15 minute electronic vote on the amendments. CSPAN plays interviews with French ambassadors.]
Hey, if you're reading this, leave me a comment! What are you thoughts? Feelings? What else do you want to know? Ideas why Souder is so ornery?
Recorded votes are being taken for amendment 2. This is a 5 minute vote. Oh, and ps. I figured out what the Souder amendment was about - employment conditioned on someone's marital status. Anyway, back in 5.
Question on adoption of the amendments: they are adopted.
"I cannot hear anything." House must come to order.
"We have a long evening ahead of us." Uh oh.
These politicians sure are rowdy. "Take your conversations off the floor." Gavel. Gavel. Gavel.
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) is worried about the "activist courts." ENDA will lead to legalized "gay marriage" everywhere. He wants to make sure that this bill does not "become the building block...to destroy the institution of marriage." He has a picture of the Declaration of Independence on his wall. People need to stop trying to tear down our institutions and chip away at our ideals. "Marriage between a man and woman...is under attack from all sides."
Barney Frank wants us all to go to dinner. Oh nevermind, let's do this promptly.
Barney Frank takes this personally. 19 states have such a law! "I used to be someone subject to this prejudice...I got to be a big-shot. I'm now above this prejudice, but now I feel an obligation....those worried they will lose their job in a gas station if someone finds out who they love." I think he's choked up. He thinks that this is "a ploy by people who want to keep discrimination on the books."
Barney is yelling! He wants the gentleman to yield so that we can add the language and move along. "There are people who are your fellow citizens who are being discriminated against. We have a simple bill that says you can go to work and not be penalized. Please don't turn your back on them." Applause.
[OK, this is a 15 minute procedural vote on whether to send this bill back to committee. Stay tuned. And leave me comments!]
Oh shit! They are now about to vote on the FINAL PASSAGE of the bill!
[5 minute vote now]
BILL IS PASSED
ENDA passed: 235 to 184 and without gender identity protections.
November 06, 2007
Over at TransGroupBlog, Helen Boyd traces the communities in which various terms are used to describe the partners or potential partners of trans folks. She also touches on words for friends, family, and allies.
She addresses terms like SO, SOFFA, partner, chaser, admirer, trans-amorous, transsensual, and NQAL. Some of these terms, she says are more often used by partners of FTMs, others of MTFs, some of heterosexual-identified partners, and others of queer-identified partners.
I think it is interesting because some of the terms that she labels as "partner of ftm" terms, I would call "used more among younger communities of trans folks and allies." A couple of the "partner of mtf" terms, I would identify with partners of mtfs over 40. What do you think?
And more broadly, do you see gender differences in trans communities lumped with age differences? Who does that leave out? Personally, I think that it sucks when trans gatherings intended to be limited to my age group, perhaps in order to discuss unique issues or to focus on a particular gender-specific brands of feminism/politics leave out trans women in the process. As someone who fits into this expected gender/age group, I try to advocate for inclusion when I can but I wish I had ideas about how to do more, particularly as someone who feels like they fit into only the edge of the trans community.
And for the linguists among you, what do you see as the uses of these SOFFA terms (for lack of a better word)?
November 01, 2007
This post is just to start a conversation because I don't know what to think about an event about which I've been seeing a lot of publicity. I was not sure whether I could post the publicity below but upon a google search, I saw that the event promoters have scattered the internet with the same kind of publicity so I figure they will only be happy that I pasted it.
Anyhow... what do folks think about calling a dance the "trans-formers" dance and then saying there is a drag theme?
It seems to me that even though drag can be liberating and educational for everyone to get a chance to try something new or to see what it feels like to walk down the street with a non-mainstream-approved gender presentation, it is damaging to trans folks when the entire trans umbrella is associated with "just drag." Drag kings, drag queens, and other drag performers are part of trans communities, and often part of lesbian and gay communities as well, but not all trans folks are doing drag. In fact, many trans folks are doing the gender that they have experienced internally throughout their lives. Does implying that "trans = drag" make the whole trans umbrella seem silly, fun, overdone, and "not real." I don't think that drag is always silly, but it is certainly not always serious. Drag is fun and awesome but I'm not sure why it's attached specifically to "trans" folks only, or to all trans folks.
In addition, the not-quite-human portrayal of trans folks (eg transformer robots) seems somewhat problematic. Trans folks are often portrayed as not quite real or natural. In a way, like monsters. While Susan Stryker tried to take back the image of the monster for trans people, I am not sure we are yet to a point where I like non-trans folks associating trans folks with monsters, robots, or other not-quite-humans.
I am not sure if this feeling of awkwardness clouds my ability to properly read this dance ad below so please, read it, let me know what you think. Does it look like just a fun party or some kind of exploitation or exotification to you? I am not trying to accuse the people throwing the party of anything in particular at this point - I don't even know them. For all I know, this event (and indeed all of the events related to this "theme" of "gender non-conforming" are organized by a group of mostly trans folks, or non-trans folks with a lot of trans input, although I never thought of "gender non-conforming" as a "theme" before.) If you are one of the organizers, I hope you don't feel attacked if you are reading this post, but that you feel that it is an invitation to dialog. Please, post what you are thinking when you name and publicize this event. Tell me why I should go, and why I should not feel hurt by these words.
I know that I am often personally uncomfortable at "drag" events because unless it's people I really know, I don't know what to do or wear. I know that people often expect me to "pretend" to be something that I actually am. And it's awkward.
Here is the ad:
16th Annual Outlaw Dance: "TRANS-formers"
Saturday Nov. 3 9pm-1am
Come join us for Lambda's 16th Annual Outlaw Dance.
In keeping with our gender non-conforming theme for the year, we'll be
having a drag theme. Theme-dress is encouraged but by no means
necessary. There will be a drag contest, with prizes for Best Boy and
FREE admission (21+) and open bar.
WHEN: Saturday, November 3, 9:00 pm – 1:00 am
WHERE: Ropes-Gray, Pound Hall, Harvard Law School
Featuring DJ D'hana Perry, Co-producer and DJ of a monthly queer dance
night called The Neighborhood (www.myspace.com/theneighborhoodjp).
Have I mentioned that I love the transformers? Here is an awesome transformers pic:
I'm curious to see what people think of this information. Here are some pithy thoughts to get us started:
- The Republicans are not doing very well in this department, are they?
- WTF Giuliani, how do you even do that?
- As Alas! pointed out, Obama has the largest percentage of Black staffers, and Richardson has the largest percentage of Latin@ staffers. Clinton has the largest percentage of Asian staffers, though, and it's not immediately obvious to me why this might be.