Sunday, March 29, 2009

HRC Revisionism--from Washington Blade

HRC rewriting ENDA history?

HRC’s board released a statement this week affirming that it would not support a “gay-only” version of ENDA.

“It’s the policy of HRC that the organization will only support an inclusive ENDA,” says the statement. “In 2007 House leadership informed us that there were insufficient votes to pass an inclusive bill, so they decided to vote on a sexual orientation only bill. We made a one-time exception to our policy in 2007 because we strongly believed that supporting this vote would do more to advance inclusive legislation.

“We will not support such a strategy again.”

HRC spokesperson Trevor Thomas said the policy is not new.

“The statement is a reiteration of our current policy and should not be portrayed as new or a shift — this has always been our policy and is a clarification considering what happened in 2007,” Thomas said.

That’s not quite right. Back in 2007, HRC did the right thing in (tacitly) supporting an important piece of pro-gay legislation. At the time, HRC said it wasn’t supporting gay-only ENDA, it just was not opposing it. HRC was predictably slammed for its seemingly wishy-washy stance, but the reality, of course, is that this country has a long history of incremental civil rights gains and opposing a gay rights bill would have put HRC at odds with supportive lawmakers who were championing the bill.

More here.

My take: I'll believe it when I see it. And even then, there are a lot of organizations that are far more worthwhile to support. An acquaintance wanted to know which ones actually give a damn about helping people of color and fully inclusive legislation as well as championing those issues that are most important to trans people (and many of them also have some bearing on LGB-identified people as well, such as health care). I sent her the following brief list, and I do not claim that this is an exhaustive or complete list:

American Civil Liberties Union: Say what you want about some of their more controversial cases, the ACLU has been around for a long time and they have the added perk of, y'know, actually having a backbone. I suppose it's because they don't have any corporate overlords to worry about pissing off and they're used to pissing off people anyway.
National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce: Don't let the name fool you, they have consistently supported a fully inclusive ENDA and they are concerned about that little thing called intersectionality.
Lambda Legal: see above
National Black Justice Coalition: Very important organization, especially when one considers that whole intersectionality thing and many orgs' massive blind spot when it comes to trans and LGB issues wrt people of color.
Queers for Economic Justice: Admittedly, I had not heard of them until I posed the aforementioned query to a friend of mine who's been active for a lot longer than I have.

As for local, Mid-South organizations, I'm a big fan of The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, has done a lot more when it comes to POC and LGB & T issues than the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, who couldn't even be bothered to issue a press release after Leeneshia Edwards was shot. But their chili cookoff was such groundbreaking news that it was promptly included in their next weekly email?

To be fair, many of the people at the MGLCC mean well. The same could be said of the people in charge of the local Tennessee Equality Project chapter. But what they consistently refuse to concede is that class matters. It shouldn't, but when you're so goddamn afraid of the word 'prostitute' and sex work in general and you're so wrapped up in your belief that the police are always your friends, all they need is a little sensitivity training and everything will be copacetic and that because prostitution is illegal, prostitutes are just getting what's coming to them when they get arrested, it is more of a hindrance than any Republican politician around here. It's at least remotely possible to work around the Repubs. On the other hand, working with obstinately ignorant 'allies' is a lot like trying to drive to Alaska in a Pinto with a faulty radiator. After a few hours or days of stopping to make sure the engine isn't going to blow up, it becomes a lot more trouble than it's worth, even if nothing else goes wrong with the car. But it probably will because it's a POS car anyway.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

back (ish) after a long hiatus

This shit is fucking nuts and goes beyond ignorance, past irrationality, to the point of willful stupidity. I hate giving that douchewad Bil more hits, but it's necessary for educational purposes.

I totally get that violent hyperbole is potentially problematic and objectionable on a blog site. Lyssa, however, did apologize and, according to her, he claimed to accept her apology.

And then, the shit really hit the fan. More on that here, if you really want to know.

Here's what I see:

I get that using violent hyperbole and imagery, especially in response to a guest blogger, is inappropriate no matter how often it's used in other places. By the way, DIAF (die in a fire) and similar expressions are pretty damn common on teh intarwebz.

However, it isn't just mere hypothesizing when people are bothered by his threat to report Lyssa to the police. Police violence is an unfortunate, ugly, and real fact of life for trans people, especially trans women of color. Also, HRC has a history of using police force to silence those who protest their overpriced circle jerk self-aggrandizement dinners (the ones where even the volunteers have to pay!).

Picture a hypothetical scenario:

Cis man attacks trans woman. The police are called. Guess who gets hauled away?

If you guessed the trans woman, give yourself a pat on the back and a cookie.

But there's another twist to the story. It's NOT hypothetical at all.

Also, Bil's insistence in seeing how a trans person would take issue with the HRC and our 'refusal' to see how they really do care--but only when soliciting donations--speaks volumes in and of itself. When it comes to, y'know actual legislation that requires the backbone to stand up to that asshat Barney Frank and his rumblings about 'women with penises in showers and bathrooms' and acknowledging and apologizing for the Elizabeth Birch years, they and he are surprisingly silent. Their referring to people who take issue with our would-be overlords saviors as Projectors (the twitter link is somewhere in that first link I posted), thereby dismissing these concerns that have been festering for years, not just in the trans community, but also among people of color, and those who don't fit the image of lily-white (with the occasional white-POC relationships to show just how rainbow they really are!) gay men living in suburbia or a 'fashionable' part of town, with cushy jobs in corporate America. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with being/doing any of those things. I myself work for a corporation. But the obstinate refusal to recognize basic shit like the higher poverty rate among lesbians, especially lesbians of color, the astronomical rate of unemployment among trans people, especially out here in 'flyover country', the issues of LGB and T people who live in urban (and by urban, I mean not the gentrified fancied-up 'fashionable' areas) and rural areas, and HRC's insistence on taking credit for the efforts of those who were actually on the ground are all very problematic and insulting. Unless they actively make an honest effort to acknowledge and truly address these problems, the protests will only swell in number, frequency, passion, and, yes, anger.

What is even more infuriating, however, is their expectation, nay, their DEMAND that we as good lil' transgenders continue to support legislation that does jack shit for us and if we don't, we are called intransigent, uppity, uncooperative, ungrateful (after all, they don't actively wish for our deaths and they did 'keep tabs' on the Duanna Johnson situation last summer (but they were rather silent when she was executed at a bus stop when she was about to leave the city of Memphis)), coattail riders, usurpers, etc. And those are just the nice terms. Their refusal to see how we may take offense to this, even those of us trans folk who do identify as L, G, or B (yes, we do exist), is disheartening and infuriating as well and the issue WILL NOT GO AWAY unless the aforementioned steps are taken.

Nothing structurally or culturally has changed about the HRC. They couldn't even get their halfassed attempt at tokenization right (witness the resignation of Donna Rose in the wake of Solmonese's lies about ENDA). The only thing that's changed are the talking head meat puppets running the joint.

Fuck the HRC. Solmonese, Samir, and co. can just GDIAF. Yes, I said it. Y'all gonna come after me, too? Bring it.