It’s only right

By |2007-10-11T09:00:00-04:00October 11th, 2007|Opinions|

by Gwendolyn Ann Smith

Viewpoint

Due to concerns about a lack of votes, Democrats — led by Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Nancy Pelosi of California — made motions to separate protections specific to transgender people from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA, H.R. 2015). This seemingly takes the bill back to its gay and lesbian exclusive language dating all the way back to the bill’s initial introduction over a decade ago.

I would like to say that I was shocked to hear about the selling out of transgender people in ENDA. While I had been hopeful — in much the same way Charlie Brown is, when he sees Lucy Van Pelt with a football — I’ve also seen the way this works far too many times to be wholly trusting. It always ends up being the same story: a lot of promises and reassurances are given to the transgender community, transgender people are either kept out in the first place, or pushed out somewhere along the way, and the bill fails in congress regardless of transgender being in there or not. To carry the metaphor forward, we end up on our backs, and someone else walks off with the ball.
This time out, I’m far angrier than I am shocked. I’m frustrated, and I’m fed up by being routinely pushed aside for someone else. I’m sick and tired of having to sit down and shut up so that someone else can attempt to get what they — what we all — want.
I’m most frustrated with the politicians in charge. It is no surprise to anyone, save those living under a rock for the last seven years, that the democratic party is in trouble. While I am far from a friend of the republican party, it seems as if the dems have no willingness to take a firm stance on any issue. They want victories, but they want safe victories.
What we see is Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi trying to play it safe, and for no good reason. Do they think George W. Bush is going to sign ENDA if it actually makes it to his desk? Let’s not fool ourselves here. Indeed, now is a perfect time to run with a transgender inclusive version, if only to see who is willing to support it.
This is more than Pelosi and Frank. When the move went on to split the bill, nearly every GLBT organization quickly went on record condemning the move. One important organization did not: The Human Rights Campaign. HRC also has a long history with the transgender community, going back to the roots of ENDA and transgender exclusion the early 1990s, and going up to today.
This is not an issue of doing the politically easy thing, it is about doing the right thing. If you are going to fight for protections, you don’t pick and choose who should or shouldn’t have rights. Our country’s Declaration of Independence states that “All men are created equal,” and in the 221 years since the ink dried, we have routinely moved to increase the meaning of those words. Now it is time to expand this once more, and it is time to gain the right not only for sexual orientation, but gender identity and expression as well.
I urge you, Nancy Pelosi and Barney frank: do the right thing and keep transgender-inclusive language in ENDA and fight for the rights of us all. I urge you, HRC: do the right thing and stay by your words to our community that you stand for every GLBT American.
If they do not, I find myself having to urge you, dear readers: it will be time for you to do the right ting. Don’t vote for people who are not willing to represent you, and put their own politics or prejudices in front of the right of their constituents. Don’t give money to organizations who put political game-playing ahead of the needs of those who pay their rent.
Now is the time for change: either represent us, or step aside and let someone else do the job.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.