Friday, September 28, 2007

Transgender People Thrown Under The Bus

The Blade was right, the T in LGBT has been ripped out of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). A separate ENDA for transgender people was submitted by Barney Frank, a pack leader in this T-less ENDA debacle.

Citing pragmatism, Democrats decided it would be easier push to veto a bill that ... that what exactly? That gives the right less ammunition and might allow a safer yea vote for Democrats in conservative areas? Please. Does anyone believe for a second that a yea vote on a LGB ENDA is going get a quieter response from the bigoted right than a yea vote on a LGBT ENDA? Apparently, some legislators must.

Frank keeps saying that the votes aren't there for a fully inclusive version of ENDA, that we have to think of the votes we need to pass this legislation. Ok, then explain to me, from a civil rights perspective, what's better about passing legislation and getting it vetoed than not being able to push it through Congress?

Frank's focus on getting to the veto makes makes me suspect that a sacrifice of transgender people was made in the name of the 2008 elections. Democrats figured that if they left ENDA fully intact, the legislation wouldn't pass congress. A bill not getting through Congress isn't necessarily going to get the lead on the nightly news. That might lead LGB's to perceive a lack of effort by Democrats. That could translate into less enthusiastic campaigning and donating. On the other hand, a veto from Bush is a nightly-newsworthy conflict and Dems get to look like they are fighting an epic war for LGB equality. That could be a real vote getter and, more importantly, a powerful fund raising talking point.

I'm not making Frank out to be the devil. I fully believe that if he had the power, he would push through a T-inclusive ENDA. I think his fellow Democrats caved in to the fear of an
assumed transphobia in their constituents. But, what evidence is there, neglecting scary fliers made by psychopathic fundy Christians (more on that here), that supporting transgender equality in the workplace will swing blue-tending voters to pulling red levers (or buttons or whatever - beware Diebold)? And again, does anyone think that the religious right is going to cut slack to someone voting for LGB positive legislation because it lacks a T?

The sad truth is this, if transpeople aren't included in ENDA now, they won't have employment protection for a very long time. You shouldn't expect to see a transgender ENDA pass even with a Democrat in the Oval Office. Given that legislators aren't willing to work for an inclusive LGBT bill, what makes anyone believe they'll fight for a T-only ENDA?

There are some great posts on this at Pam's (here, here, and here).