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22 Responses

  1. Will
    Will October 3, 2007 at 4:31 am |

    Would you mind linking to the original post so we can see the entire context in which that quote was written in?

  2. Firestone
    Firestone October 3, 2007 at 4:36 am |

    Can we get a link to the original post to see the entire context for that quote?

  3. AD
    AD October 3, 2007 at 5:45 am |

    Firestone, it comes from here:

    A later post takes the opposite point of view, FWIW.

  4. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos October 3, 2007 at 10:31 am |

    I get so frustrated when “pragmatism” is appropriated as “stab your allies in the back.”

  5. jfpbookworm
    jfpbookworm October 3, 2007 at 10:42 am |

    There’s also the fact that Loving was a court case, not a piece of legislation, and therefore pretty much has to be more incremental.

  6. Jennifer
    Jennifer October 3, 2007 at 10:59 am |

    Piny, thanks so much for writing about this. I was hoping you would! I was appalled when I read about this. I’m not interested in a bill which doesn’t cover Trans people and by default the grey area of gender ambiguity. Do we want legislation which puts us in a position of saying “oh NO, I’m not transitioning, I’m just butch?!” What’s wrong with either? Why should we be able to be fired for either?

    From Pam’s House Blend:
    In response to the prospect of a non trans-inclusive ENDA, National Stonewall Democrats has put up a web petition,, in support of the trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, HR 2015

  7. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos October 3, 2007 at 11:03 am |

    Another reason why ENDA is not analaogous to Loving is that one is a legislative action by elected representatives, and the other was a jucidial action by appointed judges. While activists can submit arguments to the appeals and supreme courts, they have little control over the arguments actually accepted by the court, and the scope of the final decision.

    Meanwhile, we do have input over the range and scope of an act of congress. If that congress chooses to pass a revised ENDA, then that is necessary. But the fight to get protection for TS and TG people started in ’69 and goes to the next stage of intensity now. All this talk about how TS and TG need to do more work is BS.

  8. mythago
    mythago October 3, 2007 at 11:04 am |

    Mr. Zeitlin isn’t even making a coherent argument. Loving was not a case where anti-racism activists agreed to accept legalized “mixed-race” marriage in return for leaving same-sex marriage in limbo.

  9. Holly
    Holly October 3, 2007 at 11:57 am |

    On one hand you have incrementalism as a general philosophy, and then there’s the specifics of what’s going on here. Even if you do believe in incrementalism, that doesn’t mean a ENDA that leaves some “sexual minorities” unprotected is a good idea, politically or pragmatically:

    – trans activists and organizations have been working on this very bill, and kicking them off is politically and ethically questionable, especially when trans activists have been working on these issues for decades;
    – every gay org in the country, with the exception of the main sponsors who are closest to the inside and probably have the most invested, thinks this is a bad idea and is putting out the general word that not only is the ENDA likely to fail either way, but that this new version of ENDA is unacceptably weak and has loopholes that leave many non-trans gay folks exposed as well — in part because “gender identity” (including expression) is not covered, and that’s the basis for so much discrimination against gay folks in general, as piny notes.

    – it’s extremely hard to believe that anyone would “come back later” to help trans folks when some of the allies involved, notably Barney Frank, have taken every opportunity to leave trans folks behind. There’s a lot of rhetoric out there in less progressive gay-rights circles that shows how little some people understand that discrimination based on sexual orientation and discrimination based on gender identity are so often intertwined that in many cases they’re practically indistinguishable.

    – asshole fundamentalists in the right wing, the “focus on the family” types, have been going after trans people especially (remember that ridiculous “bathroom” cartoon they were distributing?) because they perceive trans people as the weak point of this struggle for equal rights. Is it the right thing to do — ethically or pragmatically — to respond to this targeting by trying to jettison protections for trans people? Surely this shows that trans people are more targeted for bigotry; surely there are ways to respond that would not only show strength as a community but also look better too, for political reasons, instead of capitulating to their taunts.

  10. Louise, Grand Poohbahness of Mac N Cheez
    Louise, Grand Poohbahness of Mac N Cheez October 3, 2007 at 12:41 pm |

    Piny, what bothers me most about this kind of legislature and posturing is the willingness to throw others under the bus; thanks for pointing out the obvious for what it is. God, I wish we already lived in a world where EVERYONE WAS FUCKING EQUAL, ALREADY- ENOUGH OF THIS BOGUS HORSESHIT.

    A question: how can I, as a white straight woman, REALLY help? My frustration lies in the situation as I see it- that I can believe all have a right to equality, but have damned few resources avaialable to me for change. Please, someone give me a clue.

  11. Spatterdash
    Spatterdash October 3, 2007 at 1:12 pm |

    What good reason do people have to deny transpeople protection, anyway? I can’t think of a single decent argument to deny them the right to not be fired for being who they are.
    It really shouldn’t be so controversial. People are people, dammit.

  12. maatnofret
    maatnofret October 3, 2007 at 1:19 pm |

    I remember one of my transgendered friends bringing this up almost ten years ago. She was fired from her job for being trans, so she educated herself and knew a lot about this issue. Although MN has a law protecting against sexual orientation discrimination at work, and that definition supposedly includes trans folk, the statutory language was not strong enough to help her win her subsequent lawsuit.

    Her objection to being excluded from ENDA did not go over well with a few other gays and lesbians. Watching an exchange between her and a couple of HRC members about ENDA really opened my eyes to the rampant transphobia that existed within the gay and lesbian communities at that time.

    Judging from the way things are going a decade later, that prejudice is still in place.

    I agree that that trans folks getting stabbed in the back here. It’s hateful and absurd. It makes me wonder—who is next? Bears? Drag queens? People who insist on flying rainbow flags in public? Who among us isn’t a little bit, well, queer? Besides, it’s not as if we can ever jettison enough people out of the movement to please the people who hate us–“us” meaning GLBTI and allies. If we keep going, who will remain? Log Cabin Republicans? Oh yes, I’m sure *they’ll* be a big help. Sheesh.

  13. Thomas, TSID
    Thomas, TSID October 3, 2007 at 2:19 pm |

    JFP, CB and Mythago said what I first thought. The analogy of legislation to judicial decision is flawed from its inception, for all the reasons stated above; and for one more. When judges say more about the law than is necessary to the holding in the case, what they say is not binding. It is what lawyers call dicta. Now, folks can argue over whether something is dicta or not, and it may be a good indicator of how the Court is going, but really, the judges are bound to apply the law to the facts presented by the case — there’s a “case or controversy” requirement in the Constitution. So even if the Loving Court had said, “no person shall be denied the right to marry his or her chosen spouse,” we’d still have to refight the battle.

  14. Holly
    Holly October 3, 2007 at 2:57 pm |

    The HRC has now down an about-face and is insisting they won’t support an ENDA that jettisons trans people either. I guess that makes pretty much every single large LGBT organization around now!

    The support is heartening, and sometimes it does seem like priorities have changed about from five years ago, when I first started hearing and having arguments about whether trans people should be in ENDA, or the local NY state version, SONDA, which got passed in this state without trans people. 5 years later… still no state protection for trans people in this state, go figure! Matt Foreman, who at the time was a major advocate in the fight for SONDA and instrumental in keeping trans people out of it, has since had a change of heart and pushed for a trans-inclusive ENDA as part of the NGLTF.

    Maybe now that most people in the LGBT umbrella seem to agree that we shouldn’t be leaving anyone behind, we can get on with the work of telling everyone else. As for what you can do — HRC is asking people to send letters to their representatives, asking them to support a fully inclusive ENDA. I guess that goes double and triple if you live in the Massachusetts 4th (south mass, west of cape cod) or the California 8th (most of San Francisco) because Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi are the congresspeople who are still moving forward with the new stripped-down ENDA despite their allies from outside Congress, like HRC, asking them not to.

    I wonder if HRC is still honoring Pelosi at a fundraiser this week…

  15. Holly
    Holly October 3, 2007 at 2:58 pm |

    Oh, here’s HRC’s “take action” page, it’s basically a send-letter-to-your-rep kind of form.

    Boy, lobbying is one of my least favorite forms of activism.

  16. Valerie
    Valerie October 3, 2007 at 3:11 pm |

    If the situation were reversed, and Gay and Lesbians were left out of the bill, I am sure there would be similar reaction among their community. Why abandon transgender folks when they have been with us all along? A step forward for gay rights, yes – but a step backword for the LGBT community, in my eyes.

  17. Elaine Vigneault
    Elaine Vigneault October 3, 2007 at 5:02 pm |

    I’m with Holly @ #10 on this one.

  18. More Than A Symbol « Matt Zeitlin: Impetuous Young Whippersnapper

    […] by Matt Zeitlin on October 3rd, 2007 Piny of Feministe has a long, thorough and convincing response to my argument that dropping transgendered from ENDA is an acceptable, ultimately beneficial […]

  19. RachelPhilPa
    RachelPhilPa October 3, 2007 at 8:14 pm |


    I’d suggest:

    Call other white people on their racism.

    Call other straight people on their homophobia.

    Call other cissexual / cisgender people on their transphobia.

    And constantly check yourself, and listen when poc / queer / trans people call you on something.

    (For the record, I am a white, middle-class trans woman.)

  20. Cola Johnson
    Cola Johnson October 4, 2007 at 2:10 am |

    I also find it hard to believe that transpeople will ever get their own initiative offering this kind of protection, because they are less visible than the larger gay community. Their best bet is being included in this one, and it’s sad that our the people we put in office don’t see that.

  21. You don't have to be straight to be an ass : The Curvature

    […] For more excellent analysis, check out Jill and piny. […]

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