...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.
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.'
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.
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.