Guess what? Time for another post about ENDA, the bitter controversy that refuses to die! But first, let’s review, shall we?
A couple of months ago, the US House of Representatives passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would grant limited forms of protection to gay people… at least as long as they don’t “act gay.” As Jill noted at the time, it was a pretty Pyrrhic victory. Even the sponsor of the bill, veteran gay congressman Barney Frank, suggested that a presidential veto was likely, and that one of the real reasons to pass it was to try and soften up Congress — to get them used to voting for LGBT rights. Unfortunately, Frank also found it was necessary to throw trans people to the wolves as part of this effort to create a kinder, gentler, gay-friendlier Congress. Discarding trans rights into a pit full of rabid, conservative lupines is a habit Frank has acquired over the years by repeatedly talking about how freaky it would be if trans people and non-trans people had to share showers. (It’s worth noting that I’ve never actually heard any trans advocate suggest what Frank is so nervous about.)
Since then, there’s been a huge amount of bitterness over the decision by Frank and Nancy Pelosi, with the backing of the most powerful gay lobby in the country, the HRC, to go forward with the non-inclusive ENDA. Prominent trans activists working with the HRC felt compelled to resign. The HRC put out a jaw-droppingly tone-deaf PR plan to win back the hearts of the trans community. Pretty much every trans person who was paying attention to this debacle felt that it was far too little, far too late. Here in New York, HRC representatives were publicly excoriated at the local LGBT center by a crowd of activists, trans and non-trans alike, and picketed by a few dozen silver-haired veteran queer activists outside the heavily symbolic Stonewall Bar.
But now, apparently, a trans activist has really crossed the line, to paraphrase the headline of an editorial just posted by Kevin Naff. Naff is the editor of the Washington Blade, the nation’s second-largest gay paper:
The recent remarks by Meredith Bacon, president of the board of the National Center for Transgender Equality, denouncing the Human Rights Campaign’s handling of the ENDA debate, serve as a vivid and disappointing reminder of why the trans movement hasn’t progressed as far as the gay rights movement.
“[A]s the chair of the NCTE Board of Directors, I can assure all who read this blog that NCTE will not work with HRC in the foreseeable future, until the current leadership is completely purged, and until we are convinced that, unlike its predecessors, any new HRC leadership is totally committed to working for transgender rights,” Bacon wrote.
“As long as HRC is controlled by and is dependent upon white, rich, professional gay men, such collaboration may never occur,” she wrote.
Her comments are offensive, counterproductive and totally unacceptable. She should either retract those comments and apologize or be removed from her position post-haste if her organization is to retain any credibility whatsoever in the gay rights movement.
Now that… that is over the line! How dare she… how does she think she can get away with this kind of “name-calling,” as Naff puts it? You know, calling people nasty names lke “white,” and “rich,” and “professional gay men.” No wait, that can’t be what he means. Everyone KNOWS the HRC is beholden to affluent, mostly-white gay folks; they provide the money, they influence the agenda. Nobody even bothers to argue otherwise. It’s how most of the large non-profits in this country work.
Maybe the point is this: how dare Bacon claim that rich white men won’t eventually come back to help other oppressed people! It’s a totally offensive assumption, and wounds the sensitive feelings and dignity of rich white professional liberal dudes everywhere, whether they’re gay or not! I mean, the HRC and its overlords are totally liberal, I mean progressive, and will always fight for the little guy, right? It’s not like the HRC endorses Republican candidates who oppose reproductive rights, affirmative action, and perform racist caricatures of Asians. Oh, oops. They DID do that. But it’s not like the HRC supported the Bush Administration’s plan to privatize Social Security. Oh, oops. They did that too, in exchange for promises that gay partners might be able to receive benefits in a privatized program. Oh yeah, you can totally trust those Bush adminsitration guys. Just like you can trust the HRC, apparently.
How dare she say that her organization won’t trust the HRC anymore? It’s appalling, this lack of trust, and she ought to be removed from her position, or none of you trannies will ever work in this town again, I say! Harrumph, harrumph. Can’t have these people insulting the rich white professional men now, now can we? Absolutely improper. Totally unacceptable.
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