Sunday, October 21, 2007

ENDA: the continuing saga; or, the politics of "I got mine, Jack, or at least I would if you didn't keep messing it up for me, you embarrassment"

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, that is.

...the bill provides employment protections similar to those of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (also known as "Title VII"), but specifically directed to gay, lesbian, bisexual (and under HR 2015, transgender) employees. The bill is different from Title VII in that it contains exemptions for religious organizations and specific provisions about employer dress codes.


Oh yeah, about that parenthetical.

Currently, there are two versions of the bill:

* H.R. 2015, introduced on 24 April 2007 by Representatives Barney Frank, ChrisShays, Tammy Baldwin, and Deborah Pryce, does includes gender identity within its protections; and
* H.R. 3685, introduced by Representative Frank on 27 September 2007 and passed by the Education and Labor Committee on 18 October, does not include gender identity within its scope. Representative Baldwin has said she would attempt to introduce an amendment to the bill that would return gender identity protections to the bill but it is not yet clear if her amendment will be made in order. Having been favorably reported by Committee, H.R. 3685 is currently awaiting consideration by the Committee on Rules, which would set the rules for the debate and consideration of any amendments to the bill.

...The most recent version of the bill, introduced by Representative Frank, no longer includes language regarding protections for transgender people and has been protested by many LGBT rights organizations -- with the notable exception of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT organization in the United States.[2]


Now, I'd been aware of HRC's previous rather dismal track record wrt trans rights. Stupid me, I'd been under the impression that was at this point a thing of the past, sort of like NOW's erstwhile issues with the "Lavender Menace." Apparently not so much:

HRC stood virtually alone among LGBT rights groups in not pledging to oppose any version of ENDA that is not trans-inclusive.


Well, they didn't call it the "Human Rights Champagne" for nothing.

They're far from alone in the "let's pitch the transfolk over the side" sentiment, though. There's Frank himself, of course, who introduced the "two bills" in the first place. There's dear John "Mattachine" Aravosis,
who thinks we oughtn't to be mucking up perfectly sensible gay rights with other peoples' wacky special interests. Susan Stryker's response is rather on-point and worth reading:

Transgender people have become this political season's version of the unisex-toilet issue that helped scuttle passage of the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 1970s, of Willie Horton's role in bringing the first Bush presidency to the White House in the 1980s, and of the "Don't bend over to pick up the soap in the barracks shower room" argument against gays in the military in the 1990s -- a false issue that panders to the basest and most ignorant of fears. This is unfortunate because protecting the rights of transgender people specifically is just one welcome byproduct of the version of ENDA that forbids discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender expression or identity. This full version of ENDA, rather than the nearly introduced one that stripped away previously agreed-upon protections against gender-based discrimination and would protect only sexual orientation, is the one that is of potential benefit to all Americans, and not just to a narrow demographic slice of straight-looking, straight-acting gays and lesbians. It doesn't really even do that much good for this group, as Lambda Legal points out, because of a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.


That loophole being, in LL's nutshell:

'You can't be fired for being lesbian, gay or bisexual, but you can be fired if your boss thinks you fit their stereotype of one.'


to wit:

In addition to the missing vital protections for transgender people on the job, this new bill also leaves out a key element to protect any employee, including lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who may not conform to their employer's idea of how a man or woman should look and act. This is a huge loophole through which employers sued for sexual orientation discrimination can claim that their conduct was actually based on gender expression, a type of discrimination that the new bill does not prohibit.


Funnily enough, that would also tend to leave straight non-trans folk who present just a little too butch or femmey for an employer's liking out in the cold, too. Sort of related to the phenomenon of fag and dyke-bashing in the streets and schools sometimes including among its victims hetero folk who looked too gender non-conforming--and, hence, "gay"--for the bashers' liking.

Stryker continues:

Transgender people have their own history of civil rights activism in the United States, one that is in fact older, though smaller and less consequential, than the gay civil rights movement. In 1895, a group of self-described "androgynes" in New York organized a "little club" called the Cercle Hermaphroditos, based on their self-perceived need "to unite for defense against the world's bitter persecution." Half a century later, at the same time some gay and lesbian people were forming the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, transgender people were forming the Society for Equality in Dress. When gay and lesbian people were fighting for social justice in the militant heyday of the 1960s, transgender people were conducting sit-in protests at Dewey's lunch c There was a vibrant history of transgender activism and movement building through the 1970s, when it suddenly became fashionable on the left to think of transgender people as antigay and antifeminist. Gay people were seen as freeing themselves from the straitjacket of psychopathology, while transgender people were clamoring to get into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association; feminists were seen as freeing themselves from the oppressiveness of patriarchal gender, while transgender people were perpetuating worn-out stereotypes of men and women. It's a familiar refrain, even now. Transgender arguments for access to appropriate healthcare, or observations that no one is ever free from being gendered, fell on deaf ears...


...and, sure as shit rolls downhill from a privy, one can (if one cares to go look, i'm not bothering this time) still find various personalities on and off the Internets mouthing that warmed over Janice Raymond crap, too, which mentality has informed such dubious milestones as the recent Vancouver Rape Relief vs. Kimberly Nixon decision. Nonetheless:

[In the early 1990's], a new generation of queer kids, the post-baby boomers whose political sensibilities had been forged in the context of the AIDS crisis, started coming into adulthood. They were receptive to transgender issues in a new way -- and that more-inclusive understanding has been steadily building for nearly two decades.

Aravosis and those who agree with him think that the "trans revolution" has come from outside, or from above, the rank-and-file gay movement. No -- it comes from below, and from within.


Now, it is true that there is a certain...oh, what's the word I'm looking for. Poignancy? Irony? Headdeskishness?...to these sort-of-internecine wars among the various strata of the oppressed when one considers that merely plugging the term "ENDA" into a google news search immediately brings up headlines like this:

"Bill On Special Rights for Homosexuals Advances"

and, more to the point, there is this:


Most ENDA United members have pointed out that President George W. Bush has not even dropped his opposition to hate crimes legislation and would certainly not sign ENDA, stripped down or otherwise.


(aside to Alon: now that he's gone ahead and vetoed expanding ffs childrens' health services, still think he won't keep his word on this?)

But of course it's the same damn story as it ever was. "Justice" and "united we stand" suddenly become a lot less interesting when it looks like you might have a shot at covering your own ass, just yours, mind you. Not true for everyone, of course, but for way too many people who goddam well ought to know better by now.

Monica Roberts, aka transgriot, has been covering ENDA extensively over a number of recent entries. A sample:

"Your GLB Movement is NOT Like Mine"

The 60's civil rights movement wasn't an 'incremental movement', so you can drop that spin line right now. Even if they had to take 'half a loaf' as they did with the 1957 Civil Rights Act (which by the way was just as controversial back in the day as the current furor over Frank's Folly), they made sure that no one was left out and that whatever compromises were made put them in a better position to get what we African-Americans needed the next time.

This is the first civil rights movement in history that has not only cut people out, but doesn't even want to pass legislation that will help all of the people in their OWN group.

So a memo to you GLB peeps who agree with Barney. Until you've waited 246 years to get your rights, start working to craft and pass legislation that considers other people worse off than you and make them an equal partner in writing that legislation, please refrain from comparing your selfish civil rights push to mine.


At minimum, Aravosis and his ilk might want to shut the fuck up about "practical politics" and take a good long hard look at this.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was "well timed," according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the words [sic]"Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."


Guide for the perplexed: if you can happily and easily substitute your own affinity group for "Negro," but not the one you're willing to sacrifice for the sake of "practical politics" because well that's DIFFERENT? Point: MISSED. Do not pass go, do not collect your civil rights, go directly to that jail cell and sit on your ass till you figure it the fuck out.

Or till the end of time, because They have the key and there's no one else left to speak up for you.

50 comments:

Renegade Evolution said...

well said.

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

Whoops, me up there, reposted here:

Thanks for covering this, Belle, with links n all. Transphobia pisses me off -- and I'll not allow the guise of "feminists" like Raymond to sugar coat or cloak anything for me. It's wrong, plain and simple.
In fact, it's hate, isn't it?

I'll be doing some more reading on this for sure.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Yes, fantastic and comprehensive post, and thanks for lining up for me who is who in the fight.

Human Rights Champagne! :D Never heard that one before!

assembling words to armory, she waits... said...

fantastic post. thorough and spot-on ~ especially the HRC bs. they disappoint me time and again with their coin-tossing, as-it-suits-them view of justice. hypocritical asses.

Alon Levy said...

In New York, the courts already ruled that language prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation is enough to cover gender identity.

belledame222 said...

yeah, i remember.

Lisa Harney said...

Thank you for posting this.

MLK's entire letter from Birmingham Jail is worth reading in this context (or any other civil rights issue). That one passage is extremely to the point, and I'm grateful that Monica quoted it on her blog when she did.

There's other irregularities too - Monica pointed out that James Clyburn (who would've taken a whip count) was not actually present, and congress was not in session, when the alleged whip count was supposed to take place. In addition, a post in response to Susan Stryker's rebuttal on Salon indicated that her representative's office told her that no official whip count was taken.

I'm still disappointed that Salon published Aravosis' article with hate speech intact (men who want to cut off their penises), but it does show us his true face.

Janice Raymond did so much damage to trans people in America. She sabotaged our civil rights as well as any chance of guaranteed coverage from any health insurance. Yes, some insurers do cover trans stuff, but most don't, and most don't want to. Further, her paean to transphobia is still used to justify hate speech about trans women (usually) and trans men (rarely).

I'm forevermore calling them the Human Rights Champagne.

Kim said...

"Or till the end of time, because They have the key and there's no one else left to speak up for you."

Which brought to mind this gem:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Lisa Harney said...

ENDA's delayed again, plus it looks like Baldwin's amendment has support.

I guess having the White House say "No, really, it's getting vetoed" brought some people back down to Earth.

I wonder how John "I don't want to cut my penis off" Aravosis feels about that, since he based so much of his "push through the crippled ENDA" argument on "Bush never said he'd veto it, I bet he'll let it pass!" assumptions.

Tim Wayne said...

That loophole being, in LL's nutshell:
'You can't be fired for being lesbian, gay or bisexual, but you can be fired if your boss thinks you fit their stereotype of one.'


But is this really happening or is it just a theory? Aravosis said it's not happening and I can't find any evidence that it is in any way as wide spread as basic trans bigotry.

It looks to me like we are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Lisa Harney said...

http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2004/12/29/woman_fired_for_not_wearing_makeup/6510/

This is a case that Barney and Aravosis insist do not exist, and they might discount it because it's a straight woman. The fact is that there is indeed a precedent upheld by a federal court for firing a woman who's not feminine enough.

They may be accurate that there's not any case of a gay man or a lesbian woman fired for being too feminine or masculine to this date, but that doesn't really mean anything, because the loopholes still exist.

Also, odds are that most circumstances where this has happened have been where it's legal to do so, the employers claimed they were doing it for another reason, or the person fired didn't sue because he or she didn't want to take it to court.

And letting "The perfect be the enemy of the good?" Bullshit. There's no chance of this bill passing - it'll die in the senate. If by some miracle it makes it to the president, he'll veto it. It doesn't matter if it has transgender protections or not. That means, even if the bill fails now, we have another two years to try again. Frank could have gone ahead with the inclusive bill now and said all the same patronizing things he said about education anyway.

Never mind that Barney Frank provided some of the ammunition for conservatives to try to shoot down the bill - like his panicmongering four years ago about trans women in women's showers.

If Barney Frank hadn't let his transphobia overwhelm him, he wouldn't have turned over 300 GLBT rights organizations against him and caused this split.

"Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good?" How about: We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

"The perfect being the enemy of the good?" Would you say the same thing if it was gay men getting tossed out of ENDA, because anal sex is icky? If Tammy Baldwin were calmly explaining that America's not ready to accept gay men - just lesbians (because they're sexy), bisexuals (because they're only half-gay), and transsexuals (because some are straight, some are lesbian, and some are bi), what would you do, sir?

This is not some abstract matter of "perfection" denying "good," this is a concrete matter of a mattachine gay man one more time throwing trans people under the bus now that he can get what he wants. Trying to sabotage solidarity among GLBT rights activists, and the HRC revealing its true colors one more time.

"Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good" is nothing more than a sound bite used to justify the denial of civil rights for trans people on the flimsy justification that people don't like us enough. I didn't realize that civil rights should be a popularity contest, nor did I realize that being in more dire need of those rights was a reasonable excuse to deny them. In fact, I thought the point of civil rights activism was to overcome the idea that your civil rights should depend upon how popular your minority is. I don't recall other minorities getting needed legal protections because white male America loved them.

Lisa Harney said...

Further, I would add that a perfect ENDA would include clauses for housing, as well as guaranteed recognition of civil unions. An ENDA that only protects employment rights for GLBT people is far from perfection.

I swear to god, you guys and your "I'll take half a loaf, as long as it's all for me" attitude.

Tim Wayne said...

You said: "They may be accurate that there's not any case of a gay man or a lesbian woman fired for being too feminine or masculine to this date, but that doesn't really mean anything, because the loopholes still exist."

So if I understand you correctly: you want to throw away the whole GLB ENDA over the *theory* that some trans people *might* be discriminated against because of a case against one straight woman?

So we have a GLB ENDA that would give *actual* protection to millions of gays. You want it gone because of a loop hole that under some theory might exclude someone but then again might not.

And we GLBs are the ones called selfish. Wow.

Here's a quote from the womanspace blog that blows your legal argument out of the water.
"So-called “gender variant” behavior is already protected under current Title VII law through good old-fashioned sex discrimination law. It is already illegal to discriminate against women because they’re not feminine enough or too masculine, or against men because they’re not masculine enough or too feminine. In Hopkins v. Price Waterhouse, Ann Hopkins sued precisely because of this type of discrimination: not being feminine enough, not wearing make up, wrong haircut, etc. In short, Hopkins was discriminated against because she was “too masculine”. That’s exactly what Hopkins and Title VII forbids, as does Smith v. City of Salem, a 2006 case finding discrimination against a transsexual woman illegal under Title VII because it was illegal sex stereotyping as defined by Hopkins.

Under Title VII, if I don’t wear makeup, am “too aggressive” or do anything that society thinks of as “masculine”, and my employer discriminates against me because I’m “too masculine” or not “feminine enough”, I can sue for illegal sex stereotyping discrimination as the woman I am. Title VII says, you don’t get to discriminate against people because of how you think men and women should act or be."
Go read the whole thing

Tim Wayne said...

you said "There's no chance of this bill passing - it'll die in the senate."

That's speculation. I happen to have a different one. I believe the GLB ENDA had a chance. A good chance. The votes were there for it at one point.

Tim Wayne said...

You said " "The perfect being the enemy of the good?" Would you say the same thing if it was gay men getting tossed out of ENDA, because anal sex is icky? If Tammy Baldwin were calmly explaining that America's not ready to accept gay men - just lesbians (because they're sexy), bisexuals (because they're only half-gay), and transsexuals (because some are straight, some are lesbian, and some are bi), what would you do, sir?"

Ask me when it happens. Until then, I'm not going to play thought games and attack people or trash their bills because of what they might not do for me.

Tim Wayne said...

You said "For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

Interesting you bringing up the blacks. Since it seems you're proposing no minorities should get any additional rights or protections until the T's get theirs, have you thought about what you are going to tell the blacks or the Asians or women? Or does this gate only come crashing down on us GLBs? And if so, why do you draw the line there? Still haven't heard anyone, anywhere explain this one adequately.

Tim Wayne said...

you said "This is not some abstract matter of "perfection" denying "good," this is a concrete matter of a mattachine gay man one more time throwing trans people under the bus now that he can get what he wants."

That's one interpretation. My interpretation is a GLB ENDA bill that's been slowly moving along for a while now, but in the last year an entirely different class of Americans want to be included in it. Whether or not the T's deserve protection as much as the GLB's is not at question: Aravosis doesn't dispute it, I don't dispute it, and you typing it over and over on your blog doesn't make it so. We all believe the T's deserve the rights too.

However, if adding the T to the GLB ENDA kills it, I'm not in favor of it. Some would call that throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Others call it letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. You called it a sound bite.

little light said...

Tim, this isn't about other axes of oppression, racial or otherwise. Trans and gender-variant people have been part of the great queer civil rights movement since the very beginning. The struggles are not disconnected and it's not about trans folk jumping on the bandwagon at the last minute. We've been part of the movement without recognition for decades, have constantly been shunted off and promised "later, later," and constantly been snubbed in order for other groups in the 'GLB' umbrella to look more mainstream.
We were there at Stonewall and before that. We aren't stealing "your" movement. It's "our" movement and we're asking that all this work and sacrifice might be met with the simple courtesy of not cutting us out as a bargaining chip every time the water gets hot.

Some would call that biting the hand that feeds you, or maybe betraying people who've fought at your side for as long as the fight has been fought, for convenience's sake.

There were trans people in other civil rights movements, sure, but trans people have fought long and hard for other folk you might call 'GLB,' waiting for some crumbs from the table.

And this ENDA? Because of its specific removal of trans protections? It actually hampers already-established rights for gay people. It's one step forward, one step back, and it's against the express wishes of every major queer advocacy group in the country, all of which are dominated by gay men and lesbians. Why do you think that is?

Because you might say you have nothing against our rights, despite writing us out of the history of the movement and characterizing us as whiny interlopers out to get you and yours; I would call that disingenuous. Especially if you're supporting your argument with quotes from a rabid, incessant transphobe.

belledame222 said...

what LL and Lisa said, in spades.

and, Tim? "Why don't you fall on your sword so I can be comfortable?" isn't "the perfect being the enemy of the good," is incredibly entitled and selfish. Whom do you imagine you're talking to, here?

belledame222 said...

and, Tim? How were you feeling when everyone was blaming gay marriage proponents for the failure of Democrats to win in '04? Did you miss that one? I sure didn't. You selfish gay people with your selfish and untimely demands, ruining it for everyone. Ring a bell?

Do you actually know any transpeople? Do you tell it to their face that you think gay rights are more important than theirs?

And, Tim, if it was no big deal then why would anyone go to the trouble of trying to rewrite the bill in the damn first place? And, hello?

And letting "The perfect be the enemy of the good?" Bullshit. There's no chance of this bill passing - it'll die in the senate. If by some miracle it makes it to the president, he'll veto it. It doesn't matter if it has transgender protections or not. That means, even if the bill fails now, we have another two years to try again. Frank could have gone ahead with the inclusive bill now and said all the same patronizing things he said about education anyway.

Never mind that Barney Frank provided some of the ammunition for conservatives to try to shoot down the bill - like his panicmongering four years ago about trans women in women's showers.

If Barney Frank hadn't let his transphobia overwhelm him, he wouldn't have turned over 300 GLBT rights organizations against him and caused this split.

"Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good?" How about: We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.


YES. THAT.

belledame222 said...

Since it seems you're proposing no minorities should get any additional rights or protections until the T's get theirs, have you thought about what you are going to tell the blacks or the Asians or women?

"the blacks"

Um, Tim, do you know any history at all? You know that ENDA is being modeled on civil rights ordinances for and by exactly those people (yeah, next time I see a The Women I'll think about what I'm going to tell Her ffs), right? Wouldn't be happening at all if it hadn't been for the work -other people have already done?- Did you read any of the links above? Transgriot? Letter From A Motherfucking Birmingham Jail? Helloooooo?

And, are you under the impression that these are all discrete categories? I know people who fall into all of those at once. Fall into more than one, myself (what exactly do you imagine a "lesbian" is, Tim?) They're really not so easy to separate out.

Oh well. "Aravosis said it, I believe it, that settles it," eh?

Oh yeah, and that womensspace blog is a grrreeeeat friend of gay men, Tim. Did you know she's running for President and includes a "man tax" in her platform?

Tim Wayne said...

Didn't answer a single one of my questions. Just a whole lot of name calling and put downs and gnashing of teeth.

I guess I'm done here.

Cheers.

Lisa Harney said...

Didn't answer a single one of my questions. Just a whole lot of name calling and put downs and gnashing of teeth.

I guess I'm done here.


The last cry of the wounded troll.

For future reference, though: Quoting Heart in reference to trans issues is like quoting David Duke in reference to racial issues. She's declared herself opposed to trans rights more than once, and slanders trans people as a group and individually on her blog. She allows and even encourages transphobic and especially misogynistic hate speech about trans people on her forum while simultaneously silencing (via moderation) any attempt to counter her extreme views. What she said about Title VII is a lie. With the court case I pointed out (which is a valid precedent for disallowing claims of wrongful firing for gender presentation issues) and the gutted ENDA, there is no protection here.

I quoted the letter from Birmingham Jail because you're here telling us we should have to wait, that my freedom must be voluntarily given by my oppressor, that it is selfish for me to demand, that trans rights are not "well-timed." I quoted that passage (which belledame quoted in her post) because it is wrong to have to wait for those things to come to pass to get civil rights. We need them as soon as possible, just as everyone else does.

And yes, "the perfect is the enemy of the good" is nothing more than a sound bite. It's just a way to say "stupid trannies, sit down and shut up and wait your goddamned turn. We were here first." Aside from being historically wrong (does the name Sylvia Rivera ring any bells for you? It should. Trans people have been in the gay rights movement from the beginning, and white gay men and lesbian women pushed us out of the movement after we did heavy lifting on your behalf.

Trans inclusion in ENDA is not something that only came up last year, it's something we've been trying to get for as long as ENDA's been on the table. Never mind the times that HRC has actively sabotaged our efforts for inclusion, never mind the small-minded bigots like yourself who can only think of yourself.

When you accuse me of wanting to kill ENDA, you're projecting. I don't want to kill ENDA. I know for a fact that ENDA in either form can't pass now. What's the point of eviscerating it if it won't be law? We still have two more years to work on getting an inclusive bill passed, since Hell will freeze over before it passes this year.

Seriously, learn your history. You won't have to limp away from the next thread, declaring victory while wearing ignorance and bigotry as a badge. You might actually learn something.

belledame222 said...

Yeah, you didn't exactly respond to anyone else's points here, or even show any sign of having read them. Or for that matter much of the original post. Don't let the door hit you.

Lisa Harney said...

Also, there wasn't any name-calling or gnashing of teeth, but that parting shot was note-for-note perfect of standard male sexist "shut down the wimminfolk" talk.

belledame222 said...

Tim's login links to "Go Grid," which sure looks like a splog, albeit nothing to do with this.

i don't understand the internets some days. or people, for that matter.

Lisa Harney said...

When I said "slanders" above, I meant "libels," because, of course, it's written.

Tim Wayne said...

I didn't intend to come back here---i figured the discussion is pointless and I see no reason to further subject myself to the barrage of personal insults mixed in with the replies. But the subsequent comments landed in my inbox somehow. I read what you wrote and I appreciate the fact that you went out of your way to parse your earlier response a bit more.

Lisa Harney has left a new comment on the post "ENDA: the continuing saga; or, the politics of "I ...":
Didn't answer a single one of my questions. Just a whole lot of name calling and put downs and gnashing of teeth.
I guess I'm done here.
The last cry of the wounded troll.


Bzzt. "An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who intentionally posts controversial or contrary messages in an on-line community such as an on-line discussion forum with the intention of baiting users into an argumentative response." - wikipedia.

I'm not trying to bait you into an argument. The argument is already happening, on this blog and others (which is how I stumbled upon your blog). I'm just participating.

My reply to was your fiery post about ENDA, Frank, Aravosis, et al. Your post was one of the better written ones on the topic, so I figured you'd probably be the best one to argue with. If you could shoot down the arguments I've been reading (again, from Aravosis, that womanspace blog, et al.) then I'd change my mind. It's happened before. However, I failed to anticipate the blown gaskets. I can certainly be won over with facts or even a well argued position; with insults? not so much.


For future reference, though: Quoting Heart in reference to trans issues is like quoting David Duke in reference to racial issues. She's declared herself opposed to trans rights more than once, and slanders trans people as a group and individually on her blog.

I had no idea. Duly noted.

I quoted the letter from Birmingham Jail because you're here telling us we should have to wait, that my freedom must be voluntarily given by my oppressor, that it is selfish for me to demand, that trans rights are not "well-timed."
Actually, I'm not. I'm asking questions, not telling. My question is if we can't get the whole bill through Congress all at once, why not do it piecemeal? Progress is usually made in increments and the examples are numerous.

Here in SF, we have full transgender protections in public policy. But these changes came incrementally, and were never bundled with other shit.

You can demand anything you want, all you want. It's a free country. I'm not saying you have to wait for your rights, either. Do what you want.

I quoted that passage (which belledame quoted in her post) because it is wrong to have to wait for those things to come to pass to get civil rights. We need them as soon as possible, just as everyone else does.

The thing is, I agree with you here. I really do.

I just don't think the principle is applicable to the way laws actually get passed in this country. But that's a different conversation.

And yes, "the perfect is the enemy of the good" is nothing more than a sound bite. It's just a way to say "stupid trannies, sit down and shut up and wait your goddamned turn. We were here first.

it comes from Voltaire, actually. Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien. I'm afraid you are not going to convince me that Voltaire was out to "screw the trannies."

It's the basic argument of pragmatism. I've heard it applied to many different types of laws: environmental, social, civil (usually during the amendment period when bills are malformed, twisted and supplemented with all sorts of idiocy). Some people are pragmatic, some people are more idealistic. I don't think it's a crime to be one or the other. Idealism is great and I think it's something you should hold on to as long as you can, but I also think that when it's time to get down to business, if you want to make progress in anything, you work with what you have towards achievable goals. Progress is hard won, tough, incremental, and a bitch, but that's the way it is. I've never known it to be otherwise.

I'm not telling you to sit down or shut up or wait for anything. I'm not telling you to do a god damn thing.

" Aside from being historically wrong (does the name Sylvia Rivera ring any bells for you? It should.

I just read her wiki page. Interesting lady. It would have been neat to know her.

Trans people have been in the gay rights movement from the beginning, and white gay men and lesbian women pushed us out of the movement after we did heavy lifting on your behalf.

Some gays and some lesbians. You paint with too wide a brush. Are you saying there are no gays and no lesbians in the current trans movement?

Trans inclusion in ENDA is not something that only came up last year, it's something we've been trying to get for as long as ENDA's been on the table. Never mind the times that HRC has actively sabotaged our efforts for inclusion, never mind the small-minded bigots like yourself who can only think of yourself.

See, again with the insults. I might come back if you can keep that shit in check.

Deoridhe said...

I didn't intend to come back here

...I might come back if you can keep that shit in check.


...

...

How about you just go.

belledame222 said...

See, again with the insults. I might come back if you can keep that shit in check.

Oh my! Smell YOU, Nancy Drew.

I'm sorry; were you here to try to tell us about what is and isn't effective politics? Cause I gotta tell you, you're setting a pretty dismal example right here wrt winning friends and influencing people. I don't know where that high-handed shit flies for you, but it ain't here, I'll tell you that, son.

belledame222 said...

That said:

yes, people are well aware there are gays and lesbians in the current trans movement. Some of them are right here, posting. And, the thing is, when you have more than one oppression going on? you really can't just separate them out.

belledame222 said...

And, okay: insults: generally not great for winning friends and influencing people either. Thing is, I think people here had pretty well decided you weren't here in good faith, and found your tone condescending. Find. And, I just don't know how to make it clear to you how people who're experiencing you as throwing them under the bus are gonna respond when you blandly tell them it's -pragmatic.-

Seriously. Is that how you respond when straight liberals tell you so sorry, but please be quiet, your special rights are ruining it for everyone else? p.s. send us money and don't forget to vote!

Don't tell me you've never heard that one before. I know I have. I bet Aravosis has, too. Are you really that eager to sacrifice your -own- shit for the good of the party? What if "later" never comes? What if the promises come with pats on the head alternating with condescending shit like--do you even -know- how incredibly insulting Aravosis' crap about "men who cut their penises" off -is-? How can you not, for heaven's sake? How do you respond when some happy asshole political hack starts questioning what -his- civil rights has to do with some disgusting ass bandits? And then he and his supporters tell you that they really -do- care about you, they're just being pragmatic. Buy that one? -Neither does anyone else.-

You know what "pragmatic" is? "Pragmatic" is,

"Dance with the ones that brung you."

The Democrats keep forgetting that, the big bloggers keep forgetting that, the white liberals keep forgetting that, big fleas and little fleas, all the way down the line. Thanks for the work, grassroots! Don't call us, we'll call you. It. Doesn't. Work.
Why do people never learn?

Oh, the other part of pragmatics is:

You can screw some people over all of the time, and you can screw all of the people over some of the time; but you can't screw over all of the people all of the time.

And particularly if you're running on the basis that you're NOT the elitist party, you're NOT the ones who discriminate and rule from the top down, then sooner or later you have to put your money where your mouth is. -Because people aren't stupid.- Least of all the ones who're fighting for their damn -survival- while you're just fighting for a better place at the table.

belledame222 said...

I mean, basically, what you are asking me to convince you of, in that first entry, is how and whether the watered-down bill will affect plain ol' gay folk like yourself. Yes? That's all you wanted to know, right? Because, if that's the only thing that's bothering you here, then there's not much to talk about.

by the way: this is also -pragmatic-, even though it's all gussied up in powerful idealistic sounding language:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller


Know why? Because that shit actually happened.

belledame222 said...

oh, and you know what Voltaire -also- said:

"A witty saying proves nothing."

In -this- case, people are saying that it's -not applicable.-

"Let's share a banana, Ernie! I'll take the inside, and you take the outside! Fair's fair!"

...would be closer to what's actually happening here.

Thanks for the French lesson though, really.

belledame222 said...

also, as per "insults," the thing about "bigot" is, think of it as more a verb than a noun, mkay? It's not an immutable characteristic. One isn't "born that way." Consider it Another Fucking Opportunity For Growth.

belledame222 said...

My question is if we can't get the whole bill through Congress all at once, why not do it piecemeal?

Because. Whatever happens in Congress. Bush. Is going to veto it. Yeah?

Please don't tell me you really believe he's okay with a gay rights bill but not a gay AND transgender rights bill. This is -Dubya- we're talking about. He vetoed a damn childrens' health insurance bill; think he won't make good on this?

It doesn't -matter-. And, -every- major queer rights organization understands that, except for HRC. This wasn't -pragmatic.- This was just unnecessarily divisive, and -stupid.- It makes us look weak and eager to please people who have no intention of recognizing -any- of us as human beings anyway. It alienates all the "T" folk who the HRC were going out of their way all this time to try to convince no no really, we're not so bad, please come back and help us build our base and movement, all the way back to ground zero. You think it doesn't matter? Then why do you think HRC was trying to reinvent themselves as kinder gentler toward transfolk all this time? That's wight wabbit! -Pragmatics.- They know they -need- as much help as they can get, and T is a natural part of the -base.-

And, they just pulled the same damn stupid Lucy and the football shit as the Democrats do over and frigging over again. They treated people like they were stupid, and think they can get away with it because they assume that the drop-kicked part of the base, angry as they might be, know that they have nowhere else to go.

Except for: sometimes they -make- another place to go; and sometimes they just stay home, and either way, it's -divisive,- as all the -pragmatic- people immediately start to bitch and moan about as soon as they see that they can't win without the splinter group; but what they -don't- see is that -it's their own damn fault.-

Lisa Harney said...

I don't really have time for a longer post at the moment, but on the Voltaire thing...

It doesn't matter what Voltaire meant when he wrote and/or said it. I'm sure as hell sure he didn't mean "Throw the trans people under the bus," either, but that's what it's used for here. What matters is how the people who are saying it now are using it, and they're saying:

"We're going to get our rights now, and we'll come back for you, honest!"

And they never do. I've been through this before. Many trans people have.

Also: I'm a lesbian, too.

belledame222 said...

the other thing about Voltaire is, just because he was a cynical ol' humanist who didn't believe in the -perfectability of humanity- (neither do I) doesn't mean he would've been down with this. He was as passionate about democracy as he was about the joys of this mortal coil and the idiocy of ideologues.

"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Defend to the death.

THAT is what the goddam Democratic party should be about. Not some goddam milquetoast bureaucratic "well tsk it's not terribly -convenient-, not practical, come back tomorrow-. Fuck that shit.

Civil. Fucking. Rights.

If our "friends" won't defend them to the death, ALL of them, who the hell WILL?

Tim Wayne said...

Oh my! Smell YOU, Nancy Drew.

LOL

I'm sorry; were you here to try to tell us about what is and isn't effective politics? Cause I gotta tell you, you're setting a pretty dismal example right here wrt winning friends and influencing people. I don't know where that high-handed shit flies for you, but it ain't here, I'll tell you that, son.

Politics is my hobby. Or obsession, probably, based on the number of hours every day I read political news, listen to Randi Rhodes (podcast, 2 hours a day) and blogs and aggregate readers. From a casual reading of your blog I would guess that you’re fairly politically savvy as well.

I definitely have my opinion about what is effective in politics (in this case as it relates to strategy) and what isn’t effective, an opinion formed from my own experience with advocacy organizations in the 80’s and 90’s, my work in local San Francisco politics, and from the media.

I think reasonable people can disagree reasonably and politely about strategy.

I can understand, though, when you’re talking about your own rights that politeness can go right out the window. Justifiably so, I think, in your case. These are, after all, your rights we’re talking about separating out from the GLB ENDA. I’m not blind to that.

And, shit, I guess I’ve been out of the political loop so long that I’ve forgotten how bitchy and angry and mean some of my cohorts in ActUP! were, back then. “Polite” is the last word I would use to describe them. Or Larry Kramer, our role model at the time. They were staring death in the face and volume and shock were the only weapons at our disposal. It really sucked. A lot. Fucking horrible, dark times that I don’t even want to remember.

That said, I guess it’s not really fair of me to insist on niceness on your part, especially since I disagree with some of what you are saying.

But one can hope. ;-)


yes, people are well aware there are gays and lesbians in the current trans movement. Some of them are right here, posting. And, the thing is, when you have more than one oppression going on? you really can't just separate them out.

I’m well aware that it’s usually the same bigots who go after the trans people that go after the GLBs. There are some people in this country who, in their heart of hearts, would like to see all of us go to hell.

But again, I was just talking about ENDA.


And, okay: insults: generally not great for winning friends and influencing people either. Thing is, I think people here had pretty well decided you weren't here in good faith, and found your tone condescending.

I apologize if I gave you the impression I was a shit-starting troll, and for any condescension you perceived. It wasn’t my intention.






Seriously. Is that how you respond when straight liberals tell you so sorry, but please be quiet, your special rights are ruining it for everyone else? p.s. send us money and don't forget to vote! Don't tell me you've never heard that one before. I know I have.

Yes and no. I live in San Francisco. No one says shit like that here, not out loud, at least. They’d be lynched. By drag queens, most likely.

Still, score one for you:

I did say to a large group of people after the 2004 Kerry fiasco, “I’d be willing to lose the next hundred presidential elections over gay marriage.” I guess it’s applicable.


I bet Aravosis has, too. Are you really that eager to sacrifice your -own- shit for the good of the party? What if "later" never comes?

Fuck no, I’m not. I can see your point. The problem is, I can also see Aravosis’ point too --- he is not fighting for your rights, he is fighting for HIS rights. He never agreed to advocate for anyone other than himself. That’s clear from the opening paragraph of his Salon article. He sees the tans inclusion on ENDA as a “poison pill” --- the far-too-easy target for the enemies of ENDA to gin-up opposition. From a pragmatic, political, strategic standpoint, he does has a point. And I guess I’m trying to square the two sides in my mind. This is precisely where the rift exists. And this is why I ask questions.

I understand the women’s movement went through something similar with lesbians back at the beginning of their movement---the women’s movement was full of lesbians who were doing the “heavy lifting” but when it came time to having lesbian’s rights included in the efforts of the larger organization, the leadership balked. This was before my time and the history is murky and I’m not sure how it worked out. The only thing I’m sure of is that there’s a lesson there, somewhere.

What if the promises come with pats on the head alternating with condescending shit like--do you even -know- how incredibly insulting Aravosis' crap about "men who cut their penises" off -is-? How can you not, for heaven's sake?

Actually, I winced when I read that. It was inflammatory and totally unnecessary. And not particularly accurate, either. He revealed himself as someone who will not ever stand with the trans people in their fight for civil rights.

Aravosis used to be a Republican. He’s a Democrat now but he’s never adopted the all-inclusive mindset of the standard-liberal. I think there’s always going to be GLBs who are hell-bent on assimilation, who see the trans peoples’ inconvenient visibility a threat to their own movement. Lucky for you, those people aren’t in charge of any of the gay organizations except HRC (an organization which I loathe, and whose volunteers I give an earful at every pride event) and the Log Cabin.

Oh, the other part of pragmatics is: You can screw some people over all of the time, and you can screw all of the people over some of the time; but you can't screw over all of the people all of the time.

Well, you could always screw women, until the day you couldn’t.
You could always screw blacks, until the day you couldn’t.
You can still screw the gays, though those days may be coming to an end.
I’m afraid you’ll be able to screw the trans people for at least a while longer than that.



by the way: this is also -pragmatic-, even though it's all gussied up in powerful idealistic sounding language:

First they came for the Jews...
Pastor Martin Niemöller


Using a Nazi analogy is not going to get you very far with me. That was written about people getting shoved into ovens. My people , babe. I’m just going to ask you to humor me on this one.


My question is if we can't get the whole bill through Congress all at once, why not do it piecemeal?

Because. Whatever happens in Congress. Bush. Is going to veto it. Yeah?


Not a good enough answer.

Getting a bill passed by Congress and then vetoed is still a victory, of sorts, and makes it MUCH easier to pass the bill again later, when there’s a more sympathetic President. (I am not hopeful that will be Hillary, by the way. The Clintons have shown a *remarkable* tendency to sell out the GLBs when it’s politically convenient to do so. They’re light years ahead of any of the Republicans running but I’m not exactly feeling enthusiastic. )

As I said earlier, my question is if we can't get the whole bill through Congress all at once, why not do it piecemeal? Progress is usually made in increments and the examples are numerous. Here in SF, we have full transgender protections in public policy. But transpeople protections in the law came incrementally, and were never bundled with other shit. Why do you insist on not acknowledging this victory and the method by which it was attained?


"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Defend to the death.
THAT is what the goddam Democratic party should be about. Not some goddam milquetoast bureaucratic "well tsk it's not terribly -convenient-, not practical, come back tomorrow-. Fuck that shit.


No argument there.


If our "friends" won't defend them to the death, ALL of them, who the hell WILL?

You will.

I don’t think you can rely on the GLBs to fight the fight for the trans people. You can’t rely on any group to fight for another group. Shit, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard pissed off ostensibly liberal African Americans go ballistic on me when I have so much as *compared* the civil rights movement to the modern gay movement, even though, again, it seems like the same bigots who we’re fighting against. I wouldn’t dream of expecting African Americans to fight for me or to include GLBs on their agenda (though, some of them do).

Scream all you want, but this is the nature of people. I will always support trans people’s rights, even if it comes at the cost of putting off my own rights for a while. But don’t expect my sort of altruism to be common, ‘cause it just ain’t.

Do you actually know any transpeople? Do you tell it to their face that you think gay rights are more important than theirs?

Irrelevant.

Yes, I know transpeople. I dated one, which gives me at least some license to bitch. But, knowing people in a community does not confer understanding. I have lots of straight friends, and quite a few of them just don’t get the whole “gay pride thing.” But I don’t need them to.

Alon Levy said...

I don’t think you can rely on the GLBs to fight the fight for the trans people. You can’t rely on any group to fight for another group.

It's only true to some extent. When the nature of discrimination is the same, it makes no sense to be exclusive. I mean, take the Civil Rights Act of 1964: it forbade discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, and race, even though only race was pertinent to the civil rights movement. The Feminine Mystique had only been published a year before, while Jews were already not subject to discrimination in most places they lived in.

So what you're saying is only applicable to specifically trans concerns, like being able to change your sex and picture on ID cards. There gay rights groups indeed stop being the main vehicle to achieve equal rights, and become only one natural ally out of several, including feminist and civil libertarian groups.

He sees the tans inclusion on ENDA as a “poison pill” --- the far-too-easy target for the enemies of ENDA to gin-up opposition. From a pragmatic, political, strategic standpoint, he does has a point.

No, he doesn't. Suppose that it really is a poison pill, so outrageous to mainstream America that it's going to drop its 11-to-1 support for equal employment rights for gays over it. That's what amendments are for. First, you introduce the broadest serious bill you can, which in this case covers gender identity. If and only if it fails to pass after opponents criticize specific provisions, then you drop the said provisions.

So far, the part about trans people has never been the main argument against the ENDA; opposition to gay rights is. There aren't enough trans people to rile the mainstream up against. Everyone likes the abstract idea of equal rights, especially for a group one has encountered no member of. That's basically the Northeast's contribution to the civil rights movement. It's no coincidence that the movement stopped being effective the second MLK shifted gears and began criticizing national rather than just Southern problems.

Aravosis used to be a Republican. He’s a Democrat now but he’s never adopted the all-inclusive mindset of the standard-liberal.

That's a very different kind of dynamic... there's tension between traditional liberals, and people who only moved left after the Republican Party from the 1990s on scared them away. But I've only seen it manifested in general issues of values and priorities. Typically, those newer Democrats tend to be,
- More libertarian and less populist, hence sometimes even more supportive of choice and gay rights than the average Democrat.
- Very concerned with issues of security and foreign policy, and realist rather than neocon or liberal internationalist or isolationist.
- Identified with rural or suburban rather than urban values, and often with the West rather than the East Coast, whose cities often swung right between 2000 and 2004.
- Of a reformist rather than progressive mindset.
- Less concerned with traditional Democratic issues like universal health care and education spending.
Gay rights never figure into that. The type of people who'd cross over tend to have the standard liberal attitude of "Live and let live, but let's not talk about it in polite company."

belledame222 said...

Hi, Tim,

A few points before I go to bed:

See, my thing is, although I'm not trans, I -do- feel this very viscerally. I don't see it as "altruism." I do think we're all in this together; that's my idea of "pragmatic." I think that what you noted about Aravosis is key: he's in it for himself. Thing is--well, as long as we're quoting the Klassiks,

"We must all hang together, or we shall assuredly all hang separately."

Maybe that would have been more apropos for this particular case than the PMN quote; but you know, Godwin notwithstanding, yep, I'm One Of The Tribe also; and you know--well, you say you were part of the early ACT-UP days; it's not always a question of relatively civilized negotation over employment bills, as you know; lurking behind the gentility there IS very often a question of life or death.

And, y'know, as a queer Jewish girl, I actually feel a lot more nervous about "Them" wrt my queerness than my Jewishness. These are dark times, and about the last thing I want to do is throw my friends and allies over the side for a relative longshot at a possibly short-term gain. Even if everything you say here is correct--that it's much more likely to pass with GLB only than the gender protection, and that the Congressional victory will make the difference between it passing or not under a sympathetic Democratic president which we may not even get anyway--and yeah, I agree with you, the Clintons haven't exactly been dependable allies here--what does it profit? What did we lose?

To me, it's a micro version of the same damn thing the Democrats have been running into over and over and over again. They think that in order to win, they have to be more like the current winners in that they're more ruthless, more aggressive, more--what is it, "on message." Don't be -wimps.- (*and of course there's no inherent subtext -there.- You've heard the phrase "pink tutu Dems" before? It's not a compliment, obviously; and it's not irrelevant, here). Throw the "special interests" over the side as unnecessary ballast if need be; of course the "special interest" is so rarely one's own; one's own interests are -central-, because one is the center of the universe, and why can't everyone else just understand that and get behind one? One is Every Voter; It's All In One.

And--no. It might work a bit in the short term; but it's not...really working. You can't beat these people at their own game: being selfish, entitled, elitist, top-down bastards who steal from the poor and give to the rich, who lie like rugs and use people shamelessly, and smile while they do it. They'll always be better at it. Putting ENDA aside for the moment, this is the greater problem as I see it. It's not pragmatic to lose sight of who you are and what you supposedly stand for. "We're not as bad as they are" isn't good enough. And while it's true that no, you're -not- gonna win every battle the first or even the tenth time, there is a difference between losing when you've already given it your best shot, in good faith; and deciding ahead of time that you can't possibly win unless you cut the weakest link. And then, come right back and tell the people you've just voted off the island to their face, well, it's just that we need to do this piecemeal; it's practical.

Because the answer to that is, "what do you mean WE?" This wasn't done in good faith; people have just said in so many words that there IS no "we," so...why should we trust you ever again? Why should we support you? Think you'll ever need us again some day? Because it's one or the other; either you think people aren't important enough you can afford to burn bridges with them; or you treat them like real friends and allies, and don't piss on their head and tell them it's raining.

No, he doesn't. Suppose that it really is a poison pill, so outrageous to mainstream America that it's going to drop its 11-to-1 support for equal employment rights for gays over it. That's what amendments are for. First, you introduce the broadest serious bill you can, which in this case covers gender identity. If and only if it fails to pass after opponents criticize specific provisions, then you drop the said provisions.

So far, the part about trans people has never been the main argument against the ENDA; opposition to gay rights is. There aren't enough trans people to rile the mainstream up against. Everyone likes the abstract idea of equal rights, especially for a group one has encountered no member of. That's basically the Northeast's contribution to the civil rights movement. It's no coincidence that the movement stopped being effective the second MLK shifted gears and began criticizing national rather than just Southern problems.


"What he said."

And the thing of it is, you can say "practical politics," meaning wrt ENDA only, but--the damage has been done. It's not trivial that Frank decided to pre-emptively gut the bill, or that the HRC has gone mum again, or that fairly prominent people like Aravosis are making not just the ghastly "cut off his penis" remark but, again, making it abundantly clear that he wants to vote transfolk off the island. That's not a signal that "we" might get a bill through "piecemeal." Those are signals that we don't give a shit about you.

And, well, people remember; and, just, to me, it's neither ideal nor pragmatic to treat your allies and/or part of your base like shit.

belledame222 said...

...actually, I'll quibble a bit with AL's second quoted paragraph there; it's not so much that most people are more sympathetic toward trans rights because there are fewer transfolk and familiarity breeds contempt (if I'm reading that right). It IS true though that -most- people simply don't make that distinction. Maybe some very assimilated gay people like Aravosis would like that to be the case; but honestly? Not so much. Here's why:

Peoples' objection to "gay" -isn't- just about "what two people do in the bedroom," although obviously sex panic is part of it It's about -gender transgression.- -Men don't sleep with men.- -Women don't sleep with women.-

And the thing of it is, people like Aravosis and various "mainstream" gays and lesbians can present as respectively butch or femme and "normal" as they like. And sure, it helps reassure some people...but it doesn't change the basic issue:
gender policing runs really deep. Really really deep; and while "privacy of what you do in your bedroom, yadda" works to a certain degree because of the American tropes about privacy and pursuit of
happiness and so on...it's still a really damn big deal.

And, going back to "pink tutu Dems" (now I'm thinking of it, didn't Aravosis use something like that? Or he made some kind of really sexist remark that pissed a bunch of people off): maybe y'know it's time that a -lot- of people, including "mainstream" gay men, take a look at our across-the-board femmephobia. Because, you know, I do think that that's really got at least as much to do with Aravosis' wish to put distance between himself and -those people- as "pragmatics.- That "what do -I- have to do with men who cut their penises off?" business didn't just come out of nowhere. There's a real fine line between transphobia, femphobia, homophobia, and misogyny. And, well, I think there's a lot of ways in which we all internalize the values of the dominant party/culture; and we pay for it in the end.

As for the business about second wave feminism and the burgeoning lesbian movement: yes, in a nutshell, what happened was,

I wouldn’t dream of expecting African Americans to fight for me or to include GLBs on their agenda

Why on earth not? Do you think there aren't plenty of black queer and/or trans folks? Do you think it's easy or desirable or even possible for them to compartmentalize? Do you know who Bayard Rustin is? Can I ask you again to read Monica Roberts?

Specifically, this post, and this one; and wrt "comparing," read this.
Yeah, there are black homophobes who play "I got mine" as well, and she does talk about that in her blog as well--obviously, she's not a fan there either--but here, she means something else. To me, the answer to this is -not-, oh, okay, well in that case let's do even -more- "separate ways." Bye! It's "oh shit, we fucked up, yeah, I feel implicated too, there's work to do."

As for the womens' movement

And by the way, the line about trans rights taking longer--I hear that word for word wrt gay rights from straight people with their own various "special interests" all the time. It just sounds like common sense to them; again, "for the good of the party." Generally speaking, they're not too terribly worried about this prospect really; because they think they don't have to be.

Well, you could always screw women, until the day you couldn’t.
You could always screw blacks, until the day you couldn’t.
You can still screw the gays, though those days may be coming to an end.
I’m afraid you’ll be able to screw the trans people for at least a while longer than that.


That is entirely dependent on We The People. Yep, you're implicated in that too, even if it's just a little drop in an ocean.

And by the way, wrt women and blacks--the screwing has not ceased, not even slightly. But it took incredible hard work to even get to the point where we are now, and we were -always- strongest when we hung together.

Because that IS -also- how people work. We're social animals. Reciprocation is "pragmatic." Empathy is "pragmatic." That's a big chunk of how we survive.

belledame222 said...

Oh, and this:

I understand the women’s movement went through something similar with lesbians back at the beginning of their movement---the women’s movement was full of lesbians who were doing the “heavy lifting” but when it came time to having lesbian’s rights included in the efforts of the larger organization, the leadership balked.

Yep. Specifically, Betty Friedan caved in to the lesbian-baiting from the anti-feminists and called lesbianism a "lavender menace."

The phrase "Lavender Menace" was first used in 1969 by Betty Friedan, president of NOW, to describe the threat that she believed associations with lesbianism posed to NOW and the emerging women's movement. Friedan, and some other straight feminists as well, worried that the association would hamstring feminists' ability to achieve serious political change, and that stereotypes of "mannish" and "man-hating" lesbians would provide an easy way to dismiss the movement. Under her direction, NOW attempted to distance itself from lesbian causes — up to omitting the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis from the list of sponsors of the First Congress to Unite Women in November 1969. Friedan's remarks and the decision to drop DOB from the sponsor list led lesbian feminist Rita Mae Brown to angrily resign her administrative job at NOW in February 1970 (Jay 137-138, Brownmiller 82). On March 15, 1970, straight radical feminist Susan Brownmiller quoted Friedan's remarks about the "lavender menace" and dismissed her worries as "A lavender herring, perhaps, but no clear and present danger" in a New York Times Magazine article.

...Rita Mae Brown suggested to her consciousness-raising group that lesbian radical feminists organize an action in response to Brownmiller's comments, and the public airing of Friedan's complaints. The group decided to target the Second Congress to Unite Women in New York City on May 1, 1970, which they noticed featured not a single open lesbian on the program (Jay 140). They planned a "zap" for the opening session of the Congress, which would use humor and nonviolent confrontation to raise awareness of lesbians and lesbian issues as vital parts to the emerging women's movement. They prepared a ten-paragraph manifesto entitled "The Woman-Identified Woman" and made t-shirts, dyed purple and silkscreened with the words "Lavender Menace" for the entire group (Jay 140-142). Karla Jay, one of the organizers and participants in the zap, describes what happened:

Finally, we were ready. The Second Congress to Unite Women got under way on May 1 at 7:00 PM at Intermediate School 70 on West Seventeenth Street in Manhattan. About three hundred women filed into the school auditorium. Just as the first speaker came to the microphone, Jesse Falstein, a GLF member, and Michaela [Griffo] switched off the lights and pulled the plug on the mike. (They had cased the place the previous day, and knew exactly where the switches were and how to work them.) I was planted in the middle of the audience, and I could hear my coconspirators running down both aisles. Some were laughing, while others were emitting rebel yells. When Michaela and Jesse flipped the lights back on, both aisles were lined with seventeen lesbians wearing their Lavender Menace T-shirts and holding the placards we had made. Some invited the audience to join them. I stood up and yelled, "Yes, yes, sisters! I'm tired of being in the closet because of the women's movement." Much to the horror of the audience, I unbuttoned the long-sleeved red blouse I was wearing and ripped it off. Underneath, I was wearing a Lavender Menace T-shirt. There were hoots of laughter as I joined the others in the aisles. Then Rita [Mae Brown] yelled to members of the audience, "Who wants to join us?"

"I do, I do," several replied.

Then Rita also pulled off her Lavender Menace T-shirt. Again, there were gasps, but underneath she had on another one. More laughter. The audience was on our side.

—Karla Jay, Tales of the Lavender Menace, 143

After the initial stunt, the "Menaces" passed out mimeographed copies of "The Woman-Identified Woman" and took the stage, where they explained how angry they were about the exclusion of lesbians from the conference. A few members of the planning committee tried to take back the stage and return to the original program, but gave up in the face of the resolute Menaces and the audience, who used applause and boos to show their support. The group and the audience then used the microphone for a spontaneous speak-out on lesbianism in the feminist movement, and several of the participants in the "zap" were invited to run workshops the next day on lesbian rights and homophobia (Jay 144). Straight and gay women from the congress joined an all-women's dance (a frequent organizing and social tool used by Gay Liberation Front men and women) (Brownmiller 98).

[edit] Effects

The "Lavender Menace" zap, and the publication of "The Woman-Identified Woman," are widely remembered as a turning-point in the second-wave feminist movement, and as a founding moment for lesbian feminism. After the zap, many of the organizers continued to meet, and decided to create a lasting organization to continue their activism, which they eventually decided to call the "Radicalesbians." At the next national conference of NOW, in September 1971, the delegates adopted a resolution recognizing lesbianism and lesbian rights as "a legitimate concern for feminism" [1].

In 1999, Susan Brownmiller described the impact by writing that "Lesbians would be silent no longer in the women's movement" (98). Karla Jay described it in her memoirs as "the single most important action organized by lesbians who wanted the women's movement to acknowledge our presence and needs," and said that it "completely reshaped the relationship of lesbians to feminism for years to come" (137). "We felt as well," Jay wrote, "that the zap was only the first of many actions to come and that lesbian liberation was suddenly and unstoppably on the rise" (145).




So, ayuh, I -would- say there's a lesson in that. The lesson -I- take from it is that if the "Lavender Menace" hadn't spoken up, it would've taken a lot longer for NOW to include lesbians in their platform, to the detriment of both feminism and lesbian/gay rights.
The lesson I take from that is the same one that I'd expect any activist worth hir salt already knows: the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and no one ever got power by sitting around and waiting for the more powerful people to benignly decide to share it with them.

belledame222 said...

oh, and the other lesson: that when the opposition accuses you of being something "undesirable," unless the "undesirable" thing is -truly- something you don't want to be associated with for ethical and obvious reasons--the Society Of Axe Murderers, say--it's -weaker- to try to distance yourself from that label as well as from the people who really bear it. Not just because, again, you're alienating potential allies (and people who did the heavy lifting); but because as long as you go, "No! No! I'm not -that-," the opposition knows that that's a sore spot they can always attack.

Whereas if you go, "So what if I am? Why do you have a problem with this?", you've just taken a big step toward disarming them.

When Flo Kennedy was speaking, a man in the audience yelled out,

"Are you a lesbian?"

She answered,

"Are you my alternative?"

Others would go on to say, basically, "Damn right. And your point is?..."

So much stronger than "No," or "None of your business," or "Yes, but i didn't inhale," don't you think?

belledame222 said...

(a defensive "no," that is, especially if the real answer is "yes")

Alon Levy said...

It's sort of true about the Lavender Menace... basically, Friedan was openly a sexual prude, who didn't care much for the sexual revolution. She was also very suspicious of radicals, like Brownmiller, who kept ranting about rape and porn and consciousness raising and distracting from issues like the ERA and pay equity.

So when lesbian activists said gay rights were an essential part of feminism, Friedan recoiled and branded them the lavender menace. I don't think she ever opposed lesbian rights - just the notion that there could be no feminism without them.

It was basically an overreaction to a legitimate problem, though. Brownmiller's response to rape was to apologize for the Emmett Till lynching and declare that all evils in the world stem from rape. Friedan's response to radical feminism was to take it out on lesbians. At least Friedan eventually recanted her moment of stupidity...

Tim Wayne said...

I don't think further comment on my part can bring anything to the discussion. But suffice it to say, you've convinced me.

belledame222 said...

Thank you for saying so; that's a rare thing to hear. I'm glad.

Lisa Harney said...

Wow, the conversation really took off. Great posts. :)

Thanks for staying in the conversation, Tim.