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November 11, 2007

Comments

In my search of what's new out there, I came across this, and am bookmarking it.

Thank you.

And if you know anyone who has questions, have 'em contact me.

One thing Folks like Sullivan, Frank, Solomonese, Avarosis, and Crain all don't want to remember is that we are always willing to educate and familiarize.

The "general public" knows that, and, surprisingly, is a lot more familiar with T issues and stuff than any of those types will ever be.

This is perhaps overly harsh, but this suggests to me that for the people quoted, their sexual identity is not simply an expression of that identity, but also a pose that permits them to play the victim. While I don't think it is fair to try an outguess someone when they say they prefer X, backhanded attempts to denigrate the transgendered (Wockner's 'remove his willy' has the rhetorical effect of suggesting that the transgendered are akin to 4 year olds talking about bodies), Sullivan implies it when he says "There are common interests in violating heterosexual norms..." While I don't doubt that Sullivan, Wockner, and Aravosis have homosexual desires, one wonders how much of their desires are simply for "épater les bourgeoisie".

I posted this on my blog in response to Aravosis' insistent claims that he's not transphobic, but I also included links and information about transgender involvement in the gay rights movement, all the way back to the Dewey's Lunch Counter sit-in. An even better blog for the political stuff is Monica Roberts' which has covered ENDA and trans involvement in gay rights history from the perspective of an experienced civil rights activist.

The information is out there, we're willing to tell anyone who will listen. They just don't want to. The myth of "trans as hangers-on" is too appealing for it's ability to justify our exclusion from civil rights legislation.

Also, hilzoy, thank you for the great posts these past few days.

Following up a post about transphobia among some gay men with a homophobic comment about those gay men is not helpful, lj.

(And yes, lj, it is homophobic.)

It's not helpful because, although I'm outraged at their transphobia, I'm also outraged at your presumption that you get to question their sexual orientation because of it.

It's no more helpful than it would be to make a racist comment about Barack Obama in a discussion about why he let a homophobic self-closeting gay man sing for his campaign.

Moving on, since I've no wish to discuss liberal japonicus's recurrent homophobia here (feel free to set up a TIO post, LJ):

Roz Kaveney did three terrific posts on her journal which are well worth a read (she's a notable figure both in the SF fandom community and in the trans community in the UK): Those who forget history are not as bad as those who distort it (4th October), Department of Kiss of Death (12th October), and Well, so now we know (Friday's journal entry): "Sullivan here is at his worst in the aftermath of the ENDA vote. His citation of the almost unfortunately named Wockner quotes him at his worst, and ignores Wockner's vaguely anguished awareness that he might be being a dickhead."

The LGBT communities include racists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, and just plain idiots: we are not transformed of our other socially-acquired prejudices just because we happen to be among a disprivileged group. (See homophobia among Black churches, etc.)

In fact, wealthy gay white men, who are disprivileged only by sexual orientation - and not even by that, if they don't mind keeping their sex life quiet and behind locked doors - are quite as capable of being conservative as any wealthy white man. (See the Log Cabin Republicans. See the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, which was the Tory equivalent in the UK.) They tend to be as objectionable to gay men and lesbians who can't "pass" - the feys and the butches, as someone else put it - as they are to transgendered people, and for the same reason. They want to be accepted as equals by other wealthy white men, and to argue that they're not really gender noncomformists - nice, normal men who just sometimes have sex with other men: they're not one with the weirdos who danced and taunted the police in the Stonewall riots, they don't dress up outrageously to march for miles in six-inch heels on Pride day. Sometimes they don't even want the rights won for them by the weirdos: they want to live as they think gay men naturally should, married to women and thoroughly in the closet and having sex only in the cubicles of public restrooms. (There are women who feel similarly, but the situation is somewhat different because of feminism - a lesbian who wants to live in the closet doesn't receive nearly the level of social reward that a gay man does for doing so, and is much less likely to be able to still have a satisfying sex life while doing so.)

Bah.

Jes, you may not believe it, but I am sympathetic to your point and perhaps I should have waited until the discussion got going a bit. But I did say 'for the people quoted' and it seems to me that the phrase that Sullivan writes leads to that question. I would not have raised the question had he written "there is common cause in demanding that we each can have the sexual identity we choose", but then his point wouldn't have worked. He clearly thinks that transgendered people are doing what they do to 'violate heterosexual norms', so he's happy to have them do the dirty work of pointing out the hypocrisies in the way we treat sexual desire and identity, but he is not willing to grant them that this choice is something to be accepted as normal. If you call observing that homophobic, you are essentially granting Sullivan an immunity from questioning his motivations while permitting him to question others.

Like Hilzoy, I don't imagine a special obligation on the part of homosexuals to educate the world about trangendered folks. But it seems to me that by calling into question the truthfulness of what transgendered folks say they want, Sullivan is opening himself up to the question of his own motivations. It comes as no surprise for Sullivan, who constantly evinces a desire to be part of the establishment. I read Wockner's post and did notice the anguish that you mention, but the use of 'willy' in that context is kinda bizarre, I hope you would admit. And John Aravosis, I'm deeply disappointed in him, though the idea/possibility that ground could be lost because of defending people he feels squicky about might provoke him to thinking of a way of framing it so that he doesn't have to argue for it.

To repeat, this is a discussion of those three people who were quoted and no others. If you wish to assign them to the racist//sexist/homophobic/transphobic slice of the homosexual community, I have no problem with that, but just because I note it does not, in and of itself, make me homophobic. And while I am sure you are referencing other things, I believe that a lot of those things are in your head and have no correlation to the real world.

Like Hilzoy, I don't imagine a special obligation on the part of homosexuals to educate the world about trangendered folks.

Don't use "homosexual": it's clinical, it sounds unfriendly, no one likes it.

To repeat, this is a discussion of those three people who were quoted and no others.

Just because you made a homophobic comment about only three gay men does not make it less homophobic.

Seriously. Take this to TIO.

Actually, "heterosexist" is probably a better word to describe lj's attitude (at 06:19 AM and at 06:53 AM) than "homophobic"; his belief that he gets to judge whether a gay man is "really" gay. And again - I think this is a topic for TiO, not least because I would rather let this thread be a discussion of transphobia, rather than lj's views of Andrew Sullivan's sexual orientation or lj's heterosexism/homophobia.

For a long, long time there's been a tension in the GLBT community between people who feel the political problem can be solved by being mainstream-but-happens-to-be-gay and people who feel the political problem revolves around radical reinvention of sexuality and gender. We can see where that stands now by the focus of the HRC and their ilk on working to make it possible for GLB-but-not-T people to get married and join the military.

A recent Max Blumenthal video shows Lou Dobbs saying that gay people have messed-up gender identity (and that it can happen to anyone!). I expect that there's some anxiety on the part of the more mainstream-oriented gay men and lesbians that including transgendered people in the movement will tend to support the arguments of people like Sheldon. "Don't treat me like crap because of my gender identity" and "Don't treat me like crap because of who I have sex with," in isolation from broader arguments, really are not the same thing and not that closely related. And I think that conservative gay people like Sullivan and practical politicoes like Aravosis really are operating in isolation from the broader argument.

I suppose another consideration is that despite LJ's assertions there's a strong desire *not* to be seen as victims, and that if the primary affinity between GLB people and T people is oppression it reduces the problem to the extremely negative.

Melinda: I expect that there's some anxiety on the part of the more mainstream-oriented gay men and lesbians that including transgendered people in the movement will tend to support the arguments of people like Sheldon.

The problem with that argument (though I don't say you're wrong - this is a criticism of people like Sullivan etc, not you) is that, as Roz Kaveney notes, trans people have always been part of the movement. Excluding trans people now is like people from the black civil rights movement trying to exclude the darker-skinned folks with the nappy hair because white folks object to them.

If you was brown,
You could stick around,
But as you's black, hmm, hmm, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."
lyrics

Look, the ultimate goal of feminism - which is why feminism and the LGBT equality movement have so much overlap - is to destroy the patriarchy. Eventually. We're the longest, least bloody, most effective revolution the world has ever seen.

The patriarchy is dependent on strong gender roles. Gay men like Andrew Sullivan want to be able to fit into the patriarchy, not to change it: to an extent, equal civil rights for women and men mean support for equality for same-sex couples. If a husband and wife have exactly the same legal rights and privileges in marriage, there is no good reason why same-sex couples can't get married - there's no question of the law having to decide "which one's the woman, which one's the man".

But acceptance of transgendered people means a thorough rethinking of gender, not just gender roles - it means accepting as plain fact that a person's gender isn't biological. A person who is biologically/genetically a normal human male can be gendered female, and their gender overrides biological sex.

Andrew Sullivan wants the privileges that come with being a man in the patriarchy. He doesn't want to change the patriarchy itself. Of course he'll oppose trans equality.

(I don't imagine that everyone who supports equality for T people would say it's because they want to be part of a patriarchy-destroying revolution: a good many would probably just say that's unfair for anyone to be bullied or discriminated against because of what they look like or which gender they identify as.)

I don't know enough about what the patriarchy is to want to tear it down. I just would like to be able to live my life as I need to to remain reasonably sane. And part of that is getting people to understand that my biological sex is not who I am.

And I'm quite willing to do my best to explain TG issues to people who don't understand them and want to learn. I only wish that more people actually fit that mold, as opposed to the many people who neither do nor want to understand who we are.

First, I'd like to make it clear that I'm not arguing in favor of excluding transgendered people from non-discrimination legislation. But, to be honest, I'm not sure I can articulate a coherent principled argument for including them, either. The fact that there have always been transgendered people in the GLB movement does not make them GLB, any more than the fact that there have always been Jews in the civil rights movement makes Jews African-American. That's affinity, not identity.

I agree that this all comes down to the same basic stuff, which is feminism, and that gets back to why conservative gay men might not be so keen on supporting including transgendered people in anti-discrimination legislation (or much else). I think the movement formerly known as "gay rights" has gotten awfully bourgeois and the tussle over transgendered rights has to be viewed in that context.

Anyway, on a personal level I'd like to see transgendered people included in ENDA as a matter of justice, and because I think it's going to be another few decades before protecting the rights of transgendered people could get any traction on its own. And because, of course, I could *totally* get behind a patriarchy-destroying revolution.

As per Jes' request, there is a thread at Taking it Outside.

Seems like a good time to introduce the site for anyone not familiar with it, it's simply a site where people can take discussions about the rhetoric of the discussion and the personalities involved so as to keep the discussion here on-topic, hence the name Taking it Outside, or, as OCSteve likes to say, what's said at TiO stays at TiO. The incomparable Jackmormon set it up as a blogger blog when discussions here concerning one frontpager threatened to get out of hand, I got a domain name and set it up, and OCSteve and DaveC joined as frontpagers. Registration is required for commenting, and if anyone wants a thread over there over something here that they think takes people away from the discussion and into meta-discussion, mention it, and I will try to put one up over there, subject to our ability to catch such a request in the comments.

it's simply a site where people can take discussions about the rhetoric of the discussion and the personalities involved so as to keep the discussion here on-topic,Jes can be a bully without risking banning or posting rules violations

Fixed.

Phil: speaking of posting rules violations...

Jes: Don't use "homosexual": it's clinical, it sounds unfriendly, no one likes it

What’s the preferred alternative? (Seriously, I don’t know.)

OCSteve: I'm not an expert, but offhand I'd suspect it might be: gay (or: gay men and lesbians)

I feel transgendered people should actually fall under the heterosexual title. They are not gay, just have a preference as to what sex they are. This is not a gay issue. Has nothing to do with us.

Actually, transgendered people are as diverse as cisgendered people. Some are heterosexual, some are gay, some are lesbians, some are bisexual.

Being transgendered has to do with one's identity, not one's sexual preference. Thom is correct that we have nothing to do with GLBs when it comes to the focal disconnect between us and the rest of 'polite' society, although most transgendered persons who choose to transition end up classed as gay/lesbian at some point: either they were attracted to their biological sex, in which case they were viewed as gay/lesbian before transition, or they retain an attraction to the other biological sex, making them gays/lesbians after transition.

Also, many gays and lesbians face similar issues as transgendered persons because they present a non-standard gender identity. While the two conditions are disparate, their sets overlap to a reasonable degree.

I think it is useful to situate the discussion of transgender inclusion in ENDA in the context of the relative success of the "gay civil rights" movement. Since 1979, we've won an unimaginable amount of freedom and public acceptance -- especially for people who are more or less gender conforming even if they "do it" with the "wrong" sex. Much of society, including all most all people under 40, is willing to put up with well-behaved gay people who don't transgress gender or "flaunt it."

Those victories mean that gay people who fall inside the acceptable categories can begin safely to behave politically according to other concerns -- usually to protect their class status. They no longer have to make common cause with folks more distressing to straight society in order to enlarge their coalition. They can revert to their predictable class interests.

The product of a successful civil rights movement is class segmentation. This is completely parallel to other movements that have won notable civil rights victories, notably for African Americans and white women.

Meanwhile, the gender transgressives, gay and transsexual, have to keep fighting our equal rights battle out without our erstwhile privileged class gay allies. What's actually amazing in the recent round is the number of big, A-gay, institutions like Lambda Legal and the NCLR, that actually stuck up for their poor relations despite considerable distance of these outsiders among their donors.

There's actually more going on here than merely transphobia, ignorance, and misunderstanding-though there is that.

Note: The following are generalizations and as such there are exceptions and over simplifications to what I say below.

The ENDA fight is an example of the power dynamics of hetero-normativity. Before the 1990s the gay movement was actually a queer movement, meaning a group of people who thought of their sexuality as a radical, counter-cultural behavior. They didn't want to conform to society's institutions, they wanted to destroy them and replace it with a more libertine society.

This desire for a libertine society manifested itself with bathhouse culture in the 80s. Bathhouses were places that gay men went to on a weekly basis to have anonymous sex with other men. More broadly, bathhouse culture valorized anal sex--the very thing that straight society abhorred. The queer movement was defined by the sex act because having gay sex was a radical counter-cultural thing to do at the time.

On many occasions during the sexual revolution, LGBT activists pointed out that the electoral and political appeal of gay rights was always about gay men wanting to have sex with other men--anything else was merely tacked on to the movement as a free rider. Overall, there was a crucial distinction between gay men and LGBT activists. The former wanted to have sex with other men and not be persecuted for it, the latter wanted equal rights for people, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

Until the mid-1980s these two goals worked well together. Then the AIDS epidemic hit. The queer movement was wiped out, figuratively and literally. First many of the queer activists died of AIDS, and ideologically the principle of having unprotected, anonymous sex had become a death sentence. Larry Kramer, a gay man and AIDS activist, wrote that gay men “…were fucking themselves to death.”

The AIDS epidemic gave rise to what we know as the modern day gay movement. The shift from a queer to gay movement was epitomized by none other than Andrew Sullivan. He wrote a book titled Virtually Normal. In it he argued that gay people should merely advocate the right to get marry and join the military, aside from that we should look and act just like straight people. The radical, counter cultural movement became a conservative traditionalist one. The gay movement doesn’t want to destroy society’s institutions anymore, it wants to join them.

The social contract that the gay movement is establishing with straight society is the following: straight society normalizes gay sex and allows gay people to marry; gay people in turn act like straight people. But in order for this contract to work, trans-people have to be thrown under the bus, and since gay men primarily only care about having sex with other men they are fine with that. This happens despite the fact that trans-people were and always have been at the forefront of fighting for gay men’s rights.

So that being the case, the gay movement and the Trans community both need to engage in some honesty with themselves and each other. First the LGBT activists need to admit the plain truth that gay men don’t care about trans-people or trans issues and as a result gay men are fine receiving legal protections that omit trans-people.

On the flip side, the Trans community needs to be honest about its advocacy. Many LGBT activists and trans people have made the argument that the ENDA would not actually legally protect gay people because so many gay people don’t conform to normative gender roles. For example, they argue a butch lesbian or an effeminate gay man could be fired for not acting like a “real” man or woman. While theoretically that’s true, in practice it is not.

Dale Carpenter, at the Volokh Conspiracy, critiques this legal argument:

As a factual matter, it would be passing strange to see such a case, since almost every instance of discrimination for gender nonconformity is accompanied by direct and explicit evidence of anti-gay discrimination (e.g., calling an effeminate man a "fag"). It would not be hard for a court or jury, and certainly would not be hard for Lambda's skilled lawyers, to pierce the pretext that the employer was not really engaged in anti-gay discrimination and thus violating the "weak" version of ENDA.

Indeed, we now have decades of experience with state laws that protect gay people from discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity. If the inadequacy of sexual-orientation protections were a real problem — as opposed to a hypothetical or theoretical one — we should expect to see many such cases. But neither Lambda nor any other organization has yet produced a single instance in which an employer successfully argued around a gay-only employment protection law by claiming that it really fired the person for gender non-conformity.

So in sum, ENDA would actually protect gay people’s rights, and adding gender identity to the ENDA would destroy any chance of the bill’s passage. Thus, people advocating for trans rights should acknowledge that they are asking gay people to make a sacrifice for the sake of trans people.

As a masculine gay man, it’s a sacrifice I would be willing to make. However, I doubt it is a sacrifice that most other gay men would make. Sad yes, but people making arguments that appeal to pragmatism only work if there’s a pragmatic case to be made. There’s just no there there.

Speaking personally, the gender non-conformists within the gay community are increasingly the exceptions to the rule. Culturally, we are starting to assimilate into straight society and within the next generation or so I don’t think there’ll actually be a gay community. Instead there’ll just be some people who have sex and marriage with people of the same sex. There are good and bad aspects to that, right now we are seeing one of the bad aspects with trans people.

Thom; I feel transgendered people should actually fall under the heterosexual title. They are not gay, just have a preference as to what sex they are. This is not a gay issue. Has nothing to do with us.

Just off the top of my head, Thom, I know three trans women who are lesbians. Why do you feel they should "fall under the heterosexual title"? (Heterosexuals are handing out titles? Toaster ovens are more useful.)

And just FYI, most of the outright abuse I've received from complete strangers (not counting the Internet... ;-) has been from complete strangers who took offense to the fact that they couldn't tell what gender I was. So though I'm not transsexual, I see transphobia as being very directly to do with me, and to any other LGB person who - trans or not - has ever been abused because the abuser couldn't deal with someone who wasn't conforming to their idea of gender identity.

OCSteve: What’s the preferred alternative?

In casual conversation, "gay" is fine. "LGBT" (meaning lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender") or "GLBT" is better in writing, because it's clear you're being inclusive. (It doesn't roll off the tongue, though. I know: I've been saying it for six years and I still stutter sometimes. Lesbian and bisexual are fine, too.

Dyke and queer are awkward words for someone who isn't either to use, because while they are used by people who are in the community in a friendly way, they are still used from outside with hostility.

(The last time a boy called me a "Speccy dyke" was because I'd just told him to put a junk food bag in the nearest garbage can instead of dropping it on the sidewalk. It was so ludicrous and at the same time so right that I was laughing when I told him he was right on both counts. But twenty years ago it might have upset me.)

perhaps this is crass utilitarianism, but do numbers matter here? i agree that in an ideal world, protections should apply broadly to all. but if the "T" is tiny fraction of the larger LGB community, then is it worth including if it shoots down discrimination protections for others?

It's similar to polygamy. As a matter of logic, it seems like the Lawrence/right of privacy cases would apply. Or at the very least, laws should allow consenting adults to do this if they want. but in the real world, it's such a small number (even assuming away the underage problem which keeps coming up in polygamous compounds) that i wonder whether it jeopardizes reform for everyone else.

now all that said, maybe I'll change my mind after joining hilzoy's book club.

but the larger questions are (1) what are the numbers here; and (2) if it's a tiny number, should that be relevant to the larger debate?

Uhh, Jesurgislac: could you maybe translate something into American for us?

"Speccy"??

Publius...the utilitarianism underlying your point is one of the reasons I have a hard time with majoritarianism and market solutions. It formalizes a system in which the majority need have no consideration for the margins. I think we need a bith more John Stuart Mill with regard to preservation of cultural options that bear no cost to the majority other than a little discomfort. It's not a matter of tolerance so much as one of hospitality. Framing it as a question of tolerance only reinforces majority privilege.

JayC,
hint--glasses

I'm wondering if a transgendered person couldn't successfully prosecute a discrimination suit based on existing protections for women and gays. I mean, if it was in your interest, could you make a logical argument that every transgendered person is both a woman and gay, or at least that they are in the eyes in the person discriminating against them? I mean, even if you used to be a woman but are now a man, could you say that your boss discriminated against you because they consider you a woman and gay, even if you do not consider yourself thus? question for the lawyers.

Also, I was under the impression that 'queer' was becoming the accepted blanket term. At least in places like New York, I feel like unless you qualify it with explicitly negative adjectives you'd probably be given the benefit of the doubt that you don't mean it pejoratively.

I don't think I did violate them, hilzoy, as what I said was both true and appropriate. To post here, call liberal japonicus a homophobe (a rather serious accusation), then declare that she doesn't intend to give him a chance to defend himself here, THEN demand that he create a space on his own site for her to call him a bigot some more, is pure bullying. She has her own site and is free to call people bigots there to her heart's content and with impunity. To have done so here then retreated into a petulant demand for the target to start a thread about it elsewhere is pure nonsense.

to follow up on byrningman, it seems like the "T"s could benefit from a reverse slippery slope. The real costs here are essentially start-up costs -- i.e., getting the protections on the book and giving them teeth administratively.

Once that part is established, it will be relatively easier to expand the web. We could do it either by interpreting the statute itself to include the Ts, or adopting more expansive administrative regulations (one of the underappreciated, but most important benefits of holding the White House).

So in sum, ENDA would actually protect gay people’s rights, and adding gender identity to the ENDA would destroy any chance of the bill’s passage. Thus, people advocating for trans rights should acknowledge that they are asking gay people to make a sacrifice for the sake of trans people.

That's a conclusion that a few very vocal gay men want trans people to accept, but it doesn't really match stuff that was said prior. The bill had 175 cosponsors to begin with, which meant that we could have - had Barney Frank bothered to tell anyone who'd act on it - worked to educate enough representatives to bring them around, even assuming we needed to bring the full 30-odd representatives around, and not the more likely case that some who were not cosponsors would vote for the bill anyway. We were never given the chance to see if the bill would pass. The idea that it wouldn't was presented as a barely justified fait accompli.

Given that much support, the premise that including trans protections on the bill and never going for the incremental approach would set gay rights back decades is panicmongering at best.

Further, there's only one or two instances where "We'll take care of GLB now and come back for T later" actually happened. In every other case, it's clear that "later" means "never." When people like John Aravosis say "You need to wait for your rights," they mean "you're never getting them."

There isn't any convincing argument that T rights would drag the bill down, just a lot of unbacked assertions. Seriously - just look into the whip count.

Thom Cape Cod,

I feel transgendered people should actually fall under the heterosexual title. They are not gay, just have a preference as to what sex they are. This is not a gay issue. Has nothing to do with us.

We kicked off the gay rights movement. Look up Compton and Dewey and Sylvia Rivera. We've been fighting for your rights for years - and it's always your rights because our rights are put on the chopping block all the time.

Also, trans is orthogonal to orientation. Just because someone is trans does not mean that he or she is not gay, lesbian or bisexual. Just because trans is orthogonal to orientation that there isn't a lot of mingling or confusion (and thus trans people experiencing homophobia, or gay and lesbian people experiencing transphobia). It's really not that easy to say "We're different, so they shouldn't be in our movement," because the stuff we experience - the bigotry we experience - is very strongly related.

Publius,

perhaps this is crass utilitarianism, but do numbers matter here? i agree that in an ideal world, protections should apply broadly to all. but if the "T" is tiny fraction of the larger LGB community, then is it worth including if it shoots down discrimination protections for others?

It's worth including the protections and helping us campaign for the inclusive bill so that it actually passes, rather than cutting us out and accusing us of trying to drag the movement down. Our population is a red herring, and the implication that we're a tiny minority (rather than well over a million Americans) is just another excuse to forget what lack of these protections costs us as human beings.

Jay C: "Speccy"??

Short for "spectacles". I wear glasses.

byrningman: At least in places like New York, I feel like unless you qualify it with explicitly negative adjectives you'd probably be given the benefit of the doubt that you don't mean it pejoratively.

In the city where I live, too - mostly. (And for that matter, I've heard both "lesbian" and "gay" used as if the speaker considered them to be pejorative.)

And come to that, "homosexual" isn't an automatic word of hostility - but it does betray a certain lack of connection with LGBT people, a certain unawareness (at best) that LGBT people consider that to be an unfriendly word. A lot of terms used about, for, or by LGBT people are hidden mines. Safer, especially if you're not LGBT, to stick to words like "gay" or "LGBT".

Publius: perhaps this is crass utilitarianism, but do numbers matter here? i agree that in an ideal world, protections should apply broadly to all. but if the "T" is tiny fraction of the larger LGB community, then is it worth including if it shoots down discrimination protections for others?

What Lisa said. Also, as I think has also been said - arguing that it's OK to discriminate because the person is trans (or you thought they were) but not on grounds of sexual orientation, gives an easy escape route to any employer who wants to sack Teddy in Engineering because she won't wear skirts or makeup.

Joseph: Very informative comment. Thanks.

Jes and Hilzoy: Thanks for the clarification. Gay/lesbian it is then. I did want to clarify only because I don’t like to unintentionally offend people. That is, I prefer to be intentionally offensive and not do it accidentally. ;)

There was a time in the 70’s when I didn’t know how to refer to black people. There was this transition time where it went from “black” to “African American”. I had a very good friend who got livid with me when I referred to her as African American. “What the heck are you talking about? I’m an American American!”

There was a time in the 70’s when I didn’t know how to refer to black people.

Funny, back in the 70's or was it 60's? when I would talk race with black people and say "colored people" (That's an NAACP term, by the way.) they would ask "What color?".

So "black" it is, as in "Say it loud: I'm Black and I'm proud."

fair points, all. i'm not necessarily arguing for that. i was just wondering what the numbers are.

Oh, and I posted this to another blog, but I think it clarifies the link between GLB and T rights:

Oh, yeah, definitely. When someone loudly asks "Is that a he or a she?" I don't think "Wow, I just transgressed and fucked his world over!" I think "Are there any witnesses here just in case he decides I have to die to prove he's straight?"

Article 1 of the Dutch constitution: "All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted."

All other laws derive from that principle {incl. the right to marry} and the 'or other grounds whatsoever' makes the intent clear.

Mind you, that does not mean that there is no discrimination in the Netherlands; it is just against the law. But hot issues here are publicity/acceptance and wether the medical insurance should cover all the costs. The newest official homo-policy from our government is a program labelled 'just being homo' which is focussed on creating social safety since that is the basis for personal emancipation.

The transgender community is just a small part of the policy program though, mentioned as one of the more vulnerable groups.

We do have tv-programs (last month I know about a talkshow and documentary where a transgender youth was followed 9 years, 7 till 17), in May we had a bi-annual transgender filmfestival and today we had a "transfusion festival".

And of course there are manifestations for the global transgender day of rememberance on November 20th.

I still think the main thing is that people should be treated equally in equal circumstances.

it's no accident that all three are members of the LGBT community

No, they're not part of the "community", because they're happy to drop the T at the first available opportunity. What's no accident is that all three are prosperous, white, male gay men who've become or want to become part of the powers that be.

Or -- now that I've had a chance to read the comments -- what janinsanfran said:
The product of a successful civil rights movement is class segmentation.

Lisa -- thanks for your wonderful comments. One thing, which is just meant as a point of information: the posting rules prohibit profanity. This is mostly because one of the founders of this blog liked to read it at work, and his employers had filters in place; however, we at least try to be a joint liberal/conservative site where people can discuss things civilly, and we find it helps keep the temperature down. That last, of course, has nothing to do with what you said; it's just part of why the rule remains in place.

And yes: from my very limited sample, TG people are not necessarily trying to transgress gender norms (though I'm sure some are, human nature being infinitely various.) It just so happens that being who they (you) are does transgress gender norms, whether they (you) like it or not.

Sorry, I did not even think about quoting the profanity; please feel free to edit it out. I usually don't even use profanity in blog posts, but I was trying to make that point a bit forcefully when I posted it elsewhere.

And I believe that for society, men sleeping with men and women sleeping with women also transgresses gender norms. The expectation is of course that men sleep with women and women sleep with men. Also, when a trans woman is murdered in a hate crime, it's usually for exactly the same reason as a gay man - the person doing it has to assert his masculinity because someone he sees as male expressed attraction toward him, or he expressed attraction toward them, or both.

We're catching the same baggage.

I feel transgendered people should actually fall under the heterosexual title. They are not gay, just have a preference as to what sex they are. This is not a gay issue. Has nothing to do with us.

And do you think that with this logic you could persuade a homophobe that I, as a male-to-female tg, am actually not a fag? Do you really believe homophobes look at transgenders and see heterosexuals with a charming twist?

1) Sure, Andrew Sullivan is being a jerk. Nothing new there.

2) However, the reason to endorse ENDA the way it is, is to pass ENDA.

If the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts, had been rejected because it didn't protect women, would that have been good for civil rights? No: protection on the basis of race would have failed, and would not have been available as a model for later protection of women. Should laws preventing sex discrimination have been rejected because they didn't protect gays? No - indeed, it's the laws protecting sex discrimination that made ENDA possible.

ENDA can set the precedent for transgendered rights. Or, it can be voted down, and no one wins.

(And for the record, no matter how much it makes your eyes roll: one of my best friends is transgendered: a former Raymond Eugene, now Gina Rae. S/he disagrees with me about this, and I don't try to persuade her, because I know it sounds paternalistic. But transgendered rights will probably happen -- if ENDA passes first. And until this year I wouldn't have thought either possible.)

Brian: If the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts, had been rejected because it didn't protect women, would that have been good for civil rights?

If the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts had been explicitly written to protect only Black Americans who could pass the "brown paper bag test", would that have been good for civil rights?

Nope. Which is the problem with ENDA in its current state.

If the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts had been explicitly written to protect only Black Americans who could pass the "brown paper bag test", would that have been good for civil rights?

If they could have been passed in 1938, but in that form, and only in that form? In my opinion, yes. There's no way the restriction would have lasted until 1964 if the precedent had been set.

To be clear, Jesurgislac: both your scenario and my response are historical fantasies. Here's a non-fantasy: the Civil Rights Act etc DID protect only some black people: black MEN. The laws against sex discrimination DID protect only some women: STRAIGHT women. We do this piecemeal, because it works: because America, to its credit, is not a country that lives comfortably with these sorts of contradictions -- at least, not once the laws have changed the culture enough to make them obvious.

I agree with other commentors and history shows that progress with civil rights is an slow, incremental process. I believe that trans-people should and will get their rights, but I don't think they have adequately made their case to the larger public. The evidence I cite for that is how 70-something percent of HRC members didn't think the transpeople should be included in ENDA. Not necessarily because they didn't think trans-people deserve civil rights, but because they don't think the perfect should be the enemy of the good. They wanted the bill to pass. You can blame that perspective on gay, conservative, white men, but you are forgetting that most of the Senate and Congress are straight, conservative, white men. If you haven't convinced the gay ones, what on earth makes you think you've convinced the straight ones?

Second, I have to agree with the commentors who have talked about conflicting agendas in the GLBT movement. There has always been a split between those that want to reinvent society, and those who want to fit in to it. I remember many gay activists in the 90's condemning the push for gay marraige (calling monogamy & marraige 'poisonous'). I remember reading articles decrying boring lesbians & gays marching in their 'Gap khakis' at the millenium march. As a lesbian who actually marched on Washington in my Gap khakis (for all of our rights), who is planning on marrying my partner next year, who is out at work and to my family in the conservative mid-west, and who goes to church many Sundays, you can guess what side of that debate I take.

Still, all of us should have the right to work and live without threat of violence or harassment. I have and will continue to work for civil rights for all people: gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgendered. We ALL are going to have to work together if there is ever going to be ANY progress.

"I believe that trans-people should and will get their rights, but I don't think they have adequately made their case to the larger public. The evidence I cite for that is how 70-something percent of HRC members didn't think the transpeople should be included in ENDA. Not necessarily because they didn't think trans-people deserve civil rights, but because they don't think the perfect should be the enemy of the good. They wanted the bill to pass. You can blame that perspective on gay, conservative, white men, but you are forgetting that most of the Senate and Congress are straight, conservative, white men. If you haven't convinced the gay ones, what on earth makes you think you've convinced the straight ones?"

I'm afraid your argument is problematic; your "evidence" for the claim that the case for TG legal rights has not been "adequately made [...] to the larger public" is that a majority of HRC members favor TG rights, but believe including them would have killed the bill, and that that proves that it's impossible to convince straight, conservative, white men to favor TG rights.

To recapitulate, no offense intended, but that makes no sense whatever, since you've not-at-all-deftly substituted "opposing TG rights," the view held by these straight, conservative, white men in Congress, for "favoring TG rights, but not including them in this bill for tactical reasons," the view held by the majority of the HRC.

One of those things isn't the other thing, and an argument dependent on the claim that they are is illogical and false.

Mind, this isn't a point about the politics, or substance: it's a point about logical form in an argument, and that's all.

Mentioning the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is interesting, because women were added specifically to scuttle the bill, and it passed.

Also, the problem here is how the removal was handled. It's presented as a pragmatic necessity, but:

* The whip count was never officially taken, and we don't know if the support wasn't really there.

* Barney Frank didn't take time to tell activists that "We don't have the votes for this particular issue. We only need another 30-odd representatives, and here's a list." He just excised the parts that he didn't like. Also: He's made many many many transphobic comments in the past, so it's not much of a stretch for him to just not bother with the effort to include trans people.

* This is all about getting an expedient victory rather than a good one. It leaves a lot of people without needed protections and only covers those who act and look straight.

This isn't how incremental gains have worked in civil rights so far, and completely ignores the historical reasons why the laws didn't cover everyone in the past.

Z, that poll was conducted in the 11th hour with some shady techniques, such as how the questions were phrased.

HRC has conducted other polls which show that a majority of Americans support transgender rights, and in one case showed greater support for transgender rights than for GLB rights, but they've done their best to bury that poll.

We have been making our case and doing the work. The idea that we haven't been doing this stuff is just revisionist history used to justify cutting us from ENDA. It's not the truth, and it never was.

"The perfect is the enemy of the good" is a tiring refrain. It's easy for those who aren't affected by exclusion from civil rights legislation to say those things because it costs you absolutely nothing to do so. If you were sacrificing your own rights on the altar of expediency, rather than demanding other people sacrifice ours, maybe you'd have a point. Now, though, you're just telling us we have no right to the honest outrage we feel at being thrown off the bus.

Sorry, I really don't buy your arguments whether they come from you, Frank, Aravosis, or Crain.

Mentioning the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is interesting, because women were added specifically to scuttle the bill, and it passed.

Actually, that's a great point, and now I'm embarrassed. Not only did I know that, I've gone out of my way to _teach_ it (it's never in the history textbooks), and I forgot.

So Lisa, I officially change my position to "ambivalent". It seems intuitively likely to me that ENDA wouldn't have passed with transgender protections, but if, as you argue, the whip count was never taken ... well, it certainly should have been. The perfect _is_ often the enemy of the good: that's why the cliche exists, because it's often true. But I'll be right with you in hating its careless use.

Actually, Lisa, I HAVE supported inclusion policy statements at places I have worked that DID NOT include sexual orientation. Not because I didn't want to be protected, but because it was pretty clear that it would go down in flames if sexual orientation was added.

As to these polls by HRC, were they done with the general public or among their members? I ask because in my area of the country, it is rare to find people who support transgendered rights.

I forgot to check back here sooner, sorry.

Brian, there was an unofficial whip count taken, but it happened during a time when the guy responsible for whip counts wasn't even in the building, after the day's session was over. At least one person reported that her representative had given "Undecided" as an answer when he supported the bill, as well.

Thanks, though. Sorry about getting heated.

Z, I'd have to go dig it up again. It was in a particular state that wouldn't intuitively be favorable to orientation or identity rights, but they favored the latter over the former. I'm spacing on it now. It was the general population, not HRC members.

The problem isn't so much whether putting T in the bill would guaranteed scuttle it, it's that there wasn't an official whip count, no one said anything about lacking support until Barney decided to pull T protection from the bill, and so on. We don't know that it would scuttle the bill because we were never given the chance to find out, to make the connections. Barney's also on record as saying a few transphobic things over the past few years, which makes (to me) his decision suspect in that regard. I mean, if a guy focusing on racial-type civil rights legislation has been known to say nasty things about Puerto Ricans, and at the last minute cuts Puerto Ricans from the bill, with several prepared arguments as to why this was necessary for the bill to pass, would this not look suspicious?

Joseph,

You State this opinion:

"Many LGBT activists and trans people have made the argument that the ENDA would not actually legally protect gay people because so many gay people don’t conform to normative gender roles. For example, they argue a butch lesbian or an effeminate gay man could be fired for not acting like a “real” man or woman. While theoretically that’s true, in practice it is not."

And back it with another opinion, [Dale Carpenter, critiques this legal argument], should not some case law be made when suggesting legal opinions? In fact, effeminate males have born the brunt of the burden while, masculine appearing male have been free riders on ENDA.

Again you state as fact:

"So in sum, ENDA would actually protect gay people’s rights, and adding gender identity to the ENDA would destroy any chance of the bill’s passage."

This is an argument used ad nauseum, however the actual vote counts do not support your assertion, do you hard facts that you have held back or is this some elaborate rationalization similar to "liberal" whites of the fifties allowing white appearing/acting people to pass?

And then this:

"Thus, people advocating for trans rights should acknowledge that they are asking gay people to make a sacrifice for the sake of trans people."

Isn't the reverse true? As stated above, it is effeminate males have born the brunt of the burden, while gay men have freely taken from the community during the plague years.

You say this:

"As a masculine gay man, it’s a sacrifice I would be willing to make."

But you advocate otherwise...please if this is how you truly feel, why not stand silent? At least your actions would match your words. Why lend support to transphobe by saying this:

"However, I doubt it is a sacrifice that most other gay men would make. Sad yes, but people making arguments that appeal to pragmatism only work if there’s a pragmatic case to be made. There’s just no there there. Speaking personally, the gender non-conformists within the gay community are increasingly the exceptions to the rule. Culturally, we are starting to assimilate into straight society and within the next generation or so I don’t think there’ll actually be a gay community. Instead there’ll just be some people who have sex and marriage with people of the same sex. There are good and bad aspects to that, right now we are seeing one of the bad aspects with trans people."

I just returned from Holland, there, the bleakness of your future vision is not born out by people who have already obtained their freedom.

This is coming in late, I know, but...wow.

This 2007 paper (PDF) on rates of transsexualism makes for fascinating reading. The authors review observable data like sex reassignment surgery and find solid reasons to believe that in at least 1 in 2500 people born physically male is a MtF transsexual, and that the rate may well be 1 in 1000 or even higher. (They review experiences of MtF people in many countries around the world, but have little to say about FtM people. I'd love to see recent studies on that.) They explain that the figures commonly cited in the psychiatric literature (1 in 30,000 is one) rely on data that is both old and worth skepticism for a variety of reasons, which they explain, along with some foundational math about rate calculations.

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