2007: Ten Years Ago, Ten Years After

Yes, posts have been sparse of late.

This is one of multiple reasons:
Has the Future Already Been Forgotten

The full text of this article is not yet available on the website of the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law.  However, I will link to it when it becomes available.

Requiem for Unacknowledged Job Applications to Gay, Inc.

Mostly, here, I’m going to crib the words of Vanessa Edwards-Foster – from a piece she did for TransAdvocate back in 2007 entitled “Hero Worship”:

[I]f you’re of a mind to keep folks like Jeff Soref, or Joe Solmonese or HRC or even the exalted “ally” Rep. Barney Frank on the Pedestal of Heroes, feel free. I’ll respectfully and unequivocally disagree. HRC and Barney make no sacrifices – they’re simply doing what is expected of them to earn their paycheck each week. Ask them to find a real 9 to 5 job, and then do what they do on the side in their “spare time”! If our community’s heroes can be dismissed, shut out, disreputably labeled, disemployed, underemployed or fully unemployed, and live this for decades, then perhaps we can hope for a day when we’re all egalitarian, and allow the gay and lesbian community to experience the same type of living standards we enjoy.

Until that day is met, I really don’t want to hear about their “heroism” any longer.

Number of trans people since then who have been allowed to earn their paychecks each week in relevant, policy-related, Gay, Inc. jobs instead of doing the work in their spare time?  Ridiculously few.

Number of trans women?  Even fewer.

Over the past few years, the transgender community has had its share of reports of heroism from Mara Keisling and Lisa Mottet of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) about the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). It flew in the face of what this writer and many others active in the trans rights game knew as conventional wisdom. These claims were oft-repeated by others who believed this new “heroic” phase of both Barney and HRC, disbursed by blogs, claimed on list-servs, spoken about by the hand-chosen few trans people they use for PC PR, and even distributed on a prominent trans activist’s newsletter, providing a well-orchestrated legitimacy to these reputably embattled folks.

In the face of claims from our true allies on the Hill (congress-critters’ staffers, for those needing elaboration), we were always countered by Mara and Lisa with claims that “these [staffers] have their own [agenda] for wanting to bring HRC and Barney Frank down” and other dismissive explanations.

And, of course, we were – and still are – implicitly expected to believe that the Quisling and Mottet couldn’t possibly have permanent employment for themselves as their own(ly) real agenda.

[W]ho are considered the transgender community’s heroes? How about the well-funded organizations that never leave transgenders behind in their support? When HR 3128, the “Federal Employment Protection Act” (known as the Waxman Bill in the community) was introduced in 2004 protecting sexual orientation, but not gender identity, the National Organization of Women stood up to oppose the bill for it’s lack of inclusion, as did AFL-CIO’s Pride At Work and (after initially signing on) Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). All of the aforementioned organizations were heroic.

Even NCTE couldn’t oppose the bill, instead helping quietly to generate support within the trans community and supportive allies in favor of the bill (prompting one ally from the gay and lesbian community to wonder to this writer “how is this transgender advocacy?”) Was this an example of trans heroism?

In your heart – brain and every other part of your body – you know what the answer is.

And this is Different from Fifteen Years Ago….How?

Autumn Sandeen, also naming the Gay, Inc. monster:

The HRC needs some trans specific affirmative action.

The only difference as to this need between 1998 and now is that fifteen years ago HRC was not actually claiming to be a trans-inclusive organization.

Remember this part of a Q&A with Queen Elizabeth III in Houston’s OutSmart from August of 1998?

BirchOutSmart98

Number of trans employees at HRC then? Zero.

Number of trans employees at HRC now? Also zero.

Number of years in between in which there have been more than one out, open, verifiable trans employee at HRC at the same time?  Also, also zero.

The HRC needs some trans specific affirmative action.  Specifically, the organization could hire a trans staffer for their policy setting department to make sure there is always trusted trans input available for their policy decisions. Additionally, the organization could hire a field organizer that specifically could be dispatched for trans specific legislation. (Their current regional field organizers, I’ve been told by some in the know, aren’t experts on trans legislation….

So, apart from the general disgusting nature of HRC’s ongoing pattern and practice of purposeful discrimination against trans people in its hiring practices (described differently: HRC has the exact same number of trans employees today as it did when it made the genius – genius, I tells ya! – decision to endorse sure-loser incumbent racist Republican Sen. Al D’Amato over challenger Democrat Charles Schumer, which I’m sure has never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever had any negative impact in the Senate on HRC’s professed legislative priorities, eh?) there’s the continuing exposure of the complete absence of truthfulness in HRC’s perpetual mealy-mouthed meme: ‘more education is necessary.’

The implication behind the meme, of course, is that HRC is doing the educatin’.

And the implication behind that implication is that HRC actually knows what to educate about as well as how to do it. 

Right, Liz?

Outlines: The concept of trans issues … are they in partnership just like with Black issues might be, or are they integral to the agency? ENDA is just one example of how that manifests itself.

Birch: I think that the Human Rights Campaign has done as much if not more on transgender issues than most other national [ gay and lesbian ] organizations.If you really look at the actual work. I hope we can get beyond lip service …

Remember – that was barely a year after the OutSmart interview.

That service that you, I and everyone who has a nose smells?

Lip, lip, lip, lip and more lip.

What HRC clearly knows about (beyond making money to pay for fundraisers to make more money to pay for even more fundraisers to make still more money) is how to keep trans issues off of local, state and national agendas.

The OutSmart interview epitomizes one way of doing that: Make it clear that trans issues are not a part of HRC’s agenda and aren’t going to be so in the forseeable future.  End o’ story.  Shut up and pass the champagne.

The Outlines interview epitomizes the other way of doing it: Lying not only about giving a damn about whether anything ever gets done but also about whether or not HRC is actually doing it.

Critical to both methodologies, however, is making damn sure that there is never any significant trans presence within HRC. 

How many times since the ascension of Chad Griffin to the HRC throne – and HRC becoming in all but name only Gay Marriage, Inc. – have we heard the (actually true) statement that one of the biggest keys in positive change in public opinion about gay marriage is the manifestation of the Harvey Milk ‘come out’ intonation?  Of people becoming familiar with the fact that they have neighbors, friends and/or relatives who are gay and for whom marriage equality is a big deal?

The HRC elite can’t control whether HRC employees are ever contaminated with anything related to ‘the trans agenda’ but the HRC elite can control whether HRC employees have to look directly into the faces of trans people while deploying HRC corporate polocy within the castle on Rhode Island Avenue.

How well do you think Liz’s 1998 statement would have gone over within HRC HQ if she and her corporate coterie – and all non-trans employees of HRC – had had to pass a half-dozen or more trans employees in the HRC HQ hallways and/or sit across from some or all of them at strategy and policy meetings afterward instead of the zero trans employees on staff there at the time?

How well do you think HRC’s 2001 press release proclaiming Maryland to be a discrimination-free zone upon passing a gay-only rights bill would have gone over within HRC HQ if Liz and her corporate coterie – and all non-trans employees of HRC – had had to pass ten or more trans employees in the HRC HQ hallways and/or sit across from some or all of them at strategy and policy meetings afterward instead of the one token trans employee who was on staff there at the time?

How well do you think Joe Solmonese’s fraudulent 2007 statement of ENDA-inclusion support (not to mention the abject lack of such support that actually was HRC policy at the time) would have gone over within HRC HQ if Joe and his corporate coterie – and all non-trans employees of HRC – had had to pass  a dozen or more trans employees in the HRC HQ hallways and/or sit across from some or all of them at strategy and policy meetings afterward instead of the zero trans employees who were on staff there at the time?

How well do you think that the general Marriage Derangement Syndrome mentality within HRC that has completely erased ENDA (or even an ENDA executive order) as a priority would have gone over among its rank-and-file employees if Joe and then Chad and both of their corporate coteries – and all non-trans employees of HRC – would have to pass a dozen or more trans employees in the HRC HQ hallways and/or sit across from some or all of them at strategy and policy meetings afterward instead of the zero trans employees who were on staff there at the time?

HRC doesn’t want us visible in there for the same reason it doesn’t want us visible out there.

Now for those of you thinking that I’m being inconsistent in calling for the dismantling of HRC as well as for HRC to start making legitimate trans hires, I’m not.  I stand by my assertion that the LGBT rights movement would, overall, benefit if HRC ceased to exist, thereby allowing all of the money that HRC sucks away from organizations that actually want to see progress to, well, actually go toward making progress.  But, assuming that that isn’t going to happen, HRC damn well needs to stop its pattern and practice of discrimination against trans people.

And it needs to do so by looking farther back in time than to incidents of March 27, 2013.

It needs to look back at least fifteen years.

It needs to make amends not just to the entire trans community but, more specifically, to the trans activists (read: non-Wilchins, non-Keisling) who forced HRC to at least begin to pretend that it was doing someting positive to advance trans rights.

It needs to make serious, honest, legitimate job offers to those trans activists to bring those people, their experience and their ideas to the table.

And it needs to do so NOW.

And it has to be to many, many, many more than one of us.

I’m going to speak out of school here – I haven’t discussed this with either of them – but the mere fact that HRC has never beaten down the doors of Monica Roberts and Vanessa Edwards-Foster is really all the proof that anyone would ever need to prove that HRC is not and has never been serious about advancing trans issues on Capitol Hill.  I have no idea whether either Monica or Vanessa would accept an offer now or even want to listen to any of 2013’s Purple-n-Yellow Kool-Aid Monsters o’ Recruitment, but I suspect that neither would have any interest in being the token trans presence.  The same likely would be true if they were a two-pronged token that could be almost as easily ignored and/or shunted off into nowhereland as a single token.

Hell, even I would listen to 2013’s Purple-n-Yellow Kool-Aid Monsters o’ Recruitment if I knew that there would be at least a half-dozen or so other trans people collecting Purple-n-Yellow Paychecks and not terminally infected with Marriage Derangement Syndrome.

Yes, I’d give real policy efforts a whirl, but if I want to sit around by myself and look at new piles the same old poop, I’ll take my dogs out into the front yard.

They poop.

It smells.

They poop more.

It smells the same as the old poop.

But my dogs don’t try to tell me that their poop is anything other than poop.

We’ve seen what Reince Preibus thinks that the Republican Party needs to embrace regurgitate – and spin – in order to somehow regain its mojo.

I see no reason to believe that HRC’s reaction to – finally – people other than me calling the world’s attention to the reality that HRC is the home not of trans anti-discrimination employment policy but, rather, of anti-trans discrimination employment practice will be anything other than to find yet another trans body from outside all known, relevant trans activism circles, one whose background is military and/or preaching rather than law and/or policy….

thereby ensuring that the thing that not only trans people (even those who stand with HRC and others in viewing marriage to be at least close to as important as HRC has forced it into being) but also LGBs outside of New York, Massachusetts and the DC metro area need most – ENDA – is never even discussed before the end of the Obama Administration even if the Democrats regain control of the House.

Vanesssa Edwards Foster for Congress