Extremely Saddened by Rachel Maddow

Yesterday Rachel Maddow devoted a few minutes to noting Minnesota’s huge turnaround on the same-sex marriage issue – from a christianist-controlled 2011-12 legislative session which ramrodded an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment proposal onto the 2012 ballot to the reality-based 2013-14 legislature (whose make-up was determined by the same 2012 electorate which defeated that constitutional amendment proposal) which just legalized same-sex marriage.

If she’d limited herself to that turnaround, there wouldn’t have been a problem with her not saying anything about the T.

Granted, it would have been nice if she had, but it wouldn’t have been necessary – and, strictly speaking, not mentioning the T wouldn’t have been improper.  The law that was passed this week dealt with same-sex marriage.  End of story.

But limiting herself to that 2012-centric turnaround – and the result of it this week – is not what she did.

She framed all of it in terms of the history of the late Minnesota state Sen. Allan Spear, who who represented a Minneapolis district from 1973 to 2001.

In leading up to the current happenings in Minnesota, she pointed out Spear’s coming out as gay on Dec. 9, 1974 during his first term in the Senate as well as the gay rights law that he helped pass almost two decades later.

And that’s where Rachel went off the rails.

If you go to the trouble of contextualizing Minnesota’s “landmark achievements in gay rights” and you include that 1993 law, then you have to point out that it was a “landmark achievement[] in gay rights” not because it was the first state gay rights law (it wasn’t; and, to be clear, she didn’t say it was) and not because it was the first one in the Midwest (it wasn’t; and, to be clear, she didn’t say it was) but, instead, was a “landmark achievement[] in gay rights” because it was something that Allan Spear had actually opposed in 1975, the first time that a state gay rights bill entered the Minnesota legislative fray after his coming out.

It was trans-inclusive.

I’m not demanding a dissertaion from Rachel.  I’m not even saying there was a need to go into his opposition to trans-inclusion in 1975 or his being on board with inclusion when a bill finally passed in 1993.

But if you are contextualizing Minnesota in the wake of it becoming the twelfth state with same-sex marriage rights, you do have to do the bare minimum of pointing out that it was the first with trans-inclusive civil rights.

Yes, Rachel.  You do indeed have to.

So, Rachel…

I’m saddened that I have to ask this: Why didn’t you?

You did mention the 1993 law.

If you were so pressed for time that there was no room for the phrase “first transgender-inclusive” then there is no way around this: You needed to trim some copy elsewhere.  And there was plenty that could have been cut without giving short shrift to either Allan Spear or same-sex marriage.

If you – or whoever did the research on Spear and Minnesota’s LGBT history – could come up with that info on Spear and that 1993 law without finding any hint that that law stood out from those that came before it (not to mention several that would come after it; here I’m looking at YOU Maryland, New York and Delaware!), then you need some better researchers.

(I’m available!  Seriously!)

But I’m concerned about the possibility that you did have that info and purposely chose not to include it.

Gay, Inc, purposely and continuously muddies the LGBT historical narrative by conveniently not introducing people who may be new to LGBT history to those aspects of LGBT history which conflicts with the official position that ‘the trannies showed up five minutes ago, so all of that complaining about not being included – much less hired by us – is the epitome of unjustified.’

Rachel, last night, you were a participant in that trans-erasive narrative.

Rachel, I’ve been a big fan since your days at Air America.

Rachel, I’ve never had any cause to believe that you are transphobic.   But your omission last night is disturbing.  And, you live in Massachusetts – which, historically, has been the hotbed of institutionalized pseudo-intellectual transphobia.

Rachel, you owe trans people an explanation.


  1. Though I believe we need more narrative on Trans-related issues, we need to work together with LGB community and not critique everything they say. It saddens me to see people in the LGBT bash or put down others in our own community. All LGBT people need to put our differences aside and work towards our struggle. If we can’t organize together, how do we expect the rest of the nation to support us! How can we use this to educate others in our community about trans issues? We are so quick to judge people and then turn around with outrage, when we are judged.

    • All LGBT people need to put our differences aside and work towards our struggle.

      …said every non-T LGB who said that a non-inclusive civil rights bill was nevessary for the rising tide of incremental progress which floats all boats, yadda, yadda, yadda.

      And where, BTW, is the “outrage”?

      I am pointing out a glaring omission and giving her ample room to say it was just a foobar, something that I genuinely hope that it was. But, even if it was, it is the type of foobar that when repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated leades to yet another generation of 20 year-old LGBTs who have no idea that certain gay organizations are not our friends and certain others never have been.

      Non-T LGBs critique every word – every syllable – that we say and don’t say and use every bit of it to manufacture excuses to not let us be substantive (read: gainfully employed) participants on the ‘team’ for which we are dutifully, and uncritically, supposed to be ‘team players.’ (And I won’t even mention the quislings who do more damage to the quest for trans civil rights than the christianist right ever could by perpetuating the image of trans=substandard by hiring non-trans LGBs for positions for which dozens of un(der)employed trans professionals are infinitely better qualified.)

      Non-T LGBs critique every word – every syllable – that we say and don’t say. It is damn will going to work both ways until Gay, Inc. actually recognizes Ts as being equal to LGBs.

    • I appreciate your offer to educate Ms. Maddow on the issue.

      Please report back on your efforts.

  2. Len,
    It saddens me too “to see people in the LGBT bash or put down others in our own community”. However, it is possible we do not share the same definition of bash or “putting down” in so much as the preceding commentary was not a bash ( an attack physically or verbally) although it was an expression of words. Nor was it a “put down” ( to cut, dig, disparage, humiliate, in-dignify, insult, knock, pan, rebuff, slight, sneer, snub, or otherwise attempt to suppress). All of those words can mean something different, yet all of those words are attributable to the precedent.

    Ms Rose was critical. Yes. As she is allowed to be in commentary. You may agree with her commentary or disagree with it. Yet to criticize the tone without basis is naive of the discourse of deliberative commentary.

    To employ an accommodating conflict resolution style(people need to put differences aside) to any and all dynamic which we face in society, is to lay down and allow ourselves to be overrun by tyranny, a rigorous condition imposed by others. This occurs when people are afraid of conflict. Conflict exist and it is a powerful event also. It is through conflict that values are forced and movements cemented, and victories obtained.

    Perhaps what you meant to say was you hope our community can work through the problem-solving process to come to the best solution for each faction of the community. Maybe you hope we each give a little to work a comfortable accord. Those are Collaborating and Compromising styles respectively. They certainly do not involve unconditionally putting “our difference aside”.

    The only way to true community unity is through a collaborating style of resolution, however that involves equal involvement, acknowledgement, and respect for all party, to which, Ms Rose is acknowledging the lack thereof.

  3. As I am part of the LGBT community and invovled in some of the various issues pertaining to the community I hear that we should all get along quite frequently. On the surface, I agree. However, the T is always there for the LGB issues…but we’re usually not only standing alone but pushed in front of the bus when it comes to T issues. So, should we be critical of our LGB brothers and sisters when that happens?…damn right we should!

  4. she was just fine, Straight (so called T people) resent being tagged on the end of every damn gay agenda, Hell we are NOT gay. T people that ARE gay are simply ‘gay’.

    • “People” aren’t the issue here. The law is. Minnesota’s gay rights law was the first to be trans-inclusive.

      It is beyond disheartening to see how many people who claim to “resent being tagged on the end of every damn gay agenda” but who were not covered by any of the state laws that came before Minnesota don’t really seem to care.

    • Cathy, great point. I concur.

      One other point to consider. We are “gay”, in the eyes of cisgender heterosexuals.

      It wasn’t until the Gay Rights movement in the early 70s that “gay” started to mean only homosexual in the eyes of the “gay” movement. This was because they wouldn’t fight for the “queens” and the “queers” that made others “uncomfortable”.

      What does that word mean, “gay”? Happy joyous, carefree. When applied to an individual which society sees as a man, regardless of the identity of the individual, they will be considered “gay”.

      In a post-modern world, reality is subjective. It’s handy to understand others’ reality or their “truth”.

  5. […] Extremely Saddened by Rachel Maddow […]

  6. “Tagged on the end of every damn gay agenda?” You mean, like having OUR marriages recognized as valid, and not being fired just for initiating a medical transition, and being able to change our ID documents to match our presented gender, and not being arrested for “cross dressing” if you don’t “pass” for whatever reason?

    I wholeheartedly support that particular part of the LGBT agenda, and not just the tail end of them. I also support same-sex marriage, adoption, voluntary military service, and employment/accommodation rights. I can’t think of any part of the LGBT agenda that I wouldn’t be proud to support. I also happen to agree with Kat Rose that the trans-specific parts of the agenda oft go neglected.

  7. Sadly, this is not the first time Rachel has done this sort of thing. She did much the same when reporting on the passage of the hate crimes bill in 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_poyFzytQl8

    She mentions gender ID but doesn’t define the term nor does the T-word come out of her mouth. It’s an unbroken streak with just one exception in the entire history of her show, which took place just a few days after the clip linked above aired, in which she covered Amanda Simpson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3V-gtZiTzw

    Given the timing here, I strongly suspect Rachel got some mail on the erasure in the hate crimes segment and it was her way of apologizing.

  8. Rachel Maddow always, Always, ALWAYS reports AROUND trans issues. The only time she doesn’t is when she’s running pass blocking for the administration. I’m surprised it’s taken you this long to notice.

  9. […] Yeah, I’d like to know the answer to that question myself.  Here’s Kat’s ENDAblog 2.0 post.  […]

  10. Wow. Sorry but I saw the original piece and I think this article just comes across as whiny. Not every lgbt news story is gonna (or even needs to) take a trans angle. The author even noted several times in this article that the segent was about gay marriage, which, while tangentially affecting trans people, is really a separate issue from trans rights. And saying she went “off the rails” is a ridiculous statement. Unless by “off the rails” you mean she didn’t say exactly what you wished she had.

    • Maddow has a history of erasing trans people and issues.

      Ignoring trans history is a key tool of Gay, Inc. and its media apologists in perpetuating the lie that trans people and issues are new and, therefore, okay to be viewed as too scary to touch.

      The segment was indeed about gay marriage, but she framed it not as a history of gay marriage or even a history of gay marriage in Minnesota but, instead, as A History of Allan Spear. Doing so while mentioning the state gay rights law he ushered in (which was not about gay marriage) but not mentioning that it was the first to be trans-inclusive is trans-erasive propaganda. “Off the rails” is only ridiculous in the sense that it understates what Maddow did via that segment.

  11. […] had his own priorities as to what he wanted people to think about when he died; he had that right (he wasn’t the host of a national primetime news program purporting to provide an objective vie….) Having been a cohort of Jack Baker and Mike McConnell back in Minnesota in the 1970s, he not […]

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