Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fresh New Lies, or How To Kill Off the Last Of Hope

“I’m up on the Tight Rope … one side’s Fate and one is Hope,
It’s a Circus Game for You and Me.
I’m up on the High Wire … one side’s Life and one is Fire,
But the Top Hat on my Head is all you see.” — Tight Rope, Leon Russell

Indeed there is a very fine line between Hope and Hell. It’s also proven pretty easy to become manic by letting our emotions fly to the sky based upon this concept of Hope. So much for this “Hope” stuff. It appears that we’ve collectively bought into the same fate as Icarus when we should’ve kept our feet on the ground, our eyes clear and our ears open to hear.

Now what was it that Joe Solmonese said to the press during the controversy exploding around their national banquet? Something about how not only would HRC “support only a fully inclusive ENDA”, but that it would actively oppose anything less?

Well, we found out a couple weeks after his grand proclamation at the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) in September before a standing ovation from the Transgender Community attending that the “actively opposing” thing was, well, just rhetoric. Made for nice speechy stuff, drew in the rousing cheers (and a few memberships and donations!), but that’s really all it was good for in Trans America.

However, in both news conferences and in person, Joe and HRC both said they stood by their board vote of 2004 where they would only “support a trans-inclusive ENDA.” Even during the protest of the HRC Banquet on Oct. 6, 2007 in Washington, HRC sent out one of their handlers to challenge the protesters, and his words to me were repeating the HRC board vote of 2004 and their commitment to the board’s vote.

While they could feign innocence over not realizing people would take their 2004 board vote as meaning they would oppose anything less or claim that Joe badly misspoke while at SCC, they’re going to have an even tougher time explaining away their most recent actions.

In her most recent Phyllabuster of Oct. 13, entitled “No more winking or nodding - HRC screws GLBT community,” Phyllis Frye had this report to the trans community.

“The Human Resources Campaign (HRC) began actively sending paid lobbyists to Congressional offices on Friday morning for the passage of the alternate Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA (HR 3685) which does NOT include the legal terms of protection in employment based on "gender identity or gender expression" but leaves only protections based on "sexual orientation."”

They’re actively lobbying for passage of HR 3685. Hmm … sounds like they’re supporting HR 3685. And guess what? That’s the bill that is distinctly not transgender inclusive! A non-inclusive bill … and HRC is specifically supporting it with their with their own lobbyists. You’ve gotta hand it to HRC: they’ve never met a bandwagon they didn’t like (to hop on).

So much for that board vote stuff about “only supporting an inclusive ENDA.”

I’d like to see how this is spun to somehow cover their ass this time. No doubt, they’ll dig deep and pull one out of their hat – a real doozy, I’m sure. But are we buying any of this?

Transgender Community! Can you say; “We Bought a Bill of Goods?”

It’s a tough pill to swallow for those who put their eggs in that HRC-and-Barney-are-friends basket. Thankfully I kept a safe distance from them (learning from a couple previous experiences with them) … others similarly stayed clear of them for similar reasons. However HRC was pretty successful in getting their marketing out to us, and enlisting some of the newer folks with more recent credibility within the trans community. You’ve got to hand it to them: they played us well (and will continue to do so for whichever of the Barnum Babies they can still manage to hook.)

Whether it’s with those outside of the community, or even from within, you always have to have a healthy skepticism. Treat this political game as you would if you were a consumer. In essence, you are. It’s caveat emptor (buyer beware, for those not familiar with the phrase). If we too easily buy into the sales pitch, we’ll end up owning a Florida time-share with a water view … of the Everglades swamp.

Be smart consumers, and take a look at the history of that used-car you’re about to buy. Don’t be afraid to look into where it’s been, nor to ask questions. Guarantees are always nice, but many times we’ve seen how they aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Beware of promises that don’t pan out.

For me personally, it means I listen intently to my couple of contacts on the Hill and pay little to no attention to the GLBT community. I must say they’ve been fully accurate every time. One of them even closely predicted the HRC & Barney Frank response to Mara Keisling in one meeting that anyone opposing them would have a price to be paid and would face little support.

His specific words were that they were “closing ranks” and “going forward with this” and if we “stand in their way, it will not be taken kindly – it’s your future.” At the time, I was feeling brushed-off (he was admittedly rushed during our briefest of visits) and the last part I took as being a bit ominous. But the candor was helpful nevertheless, especially in light of recent events.

Ultimately, that’s where we all should be moving towards: nurturing our own specific relationships with our own Congress-Critters, or even other Congress-Critters’ office staff. Or better still, the Critters themselves. At the very least, we get a more circumspect view of what we’re buying.

Oh! One last thing: once you learn what’s true and become a skeptic, be prepared to have the “Kook” label affixed to you. It happens – no big deal. Just be patient and wait for the day when all the dirt comes out in the wash.

I’m finishing this blog entry with a poem that is quite apropos, written by one of the HRC Steering Board members from North Carolina who recently resigned, activist Robbi Cohn. Thanks for expressing your thoughts, Robbi! You’re one of NTAC’s heroes!

“I am transgender.
I am the person who is unemployable merely because of my gender identity.
I am the person who lives within a heartbeat of homelessness.
I am the person who might be reduced to prostitution to survive.
I am the person most likely to commit suicide because I have no way to survive.
I am the person living with the despair of hopelessness.
I am the person my family has abandoned an d forgotten.
I am the person my church tells me is damned.
I am the person the military has asked me to “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
I am the person right-wingers think will molest women and children in bathrooms.
I am the person who has the same values as other human beings.
I am the person Barney Frank has asked to wait my turn.
I am the person my political party wishes would just go away.
I am the person who has spent countless hours educating in vain.
I am the person who my political party has claimed still needs to educate.
I am the person my community has asked to not make waves.
I am the person who advocates for equal opportunity.
I am the person who believes in diversity.
I am the person who believes people should be judged by what they do, not how they look.
I am the person who wants to love and be loved.
I am the person my one-time friends and acquaintances often shun.
I am the person who works for equality for all marginalized human beings.
I am the person who abides by the principles of Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am the person who trusts in the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi.
I am the person who finds solace in the love of the Great Spirit.
I am the person who was created to be free.
I am the person who was endowed by my creator to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I am the person whose potential should remain unlimited, yet has been marginalized.
I am the person society has disenfranchised.
I am the person who must work in stealth, lest I be fired.
I am the person who has erected a wall around myself so as to keep my reality secret.
I am the person other minorities have disinherited.
I am the person elites within my community tend to disparage.
I am the person who lives in your neighborhood.
I am the person who attends your church.
I am the person who works side by side with you wherever I am employed, if I am employed.
I am your brother, sister, father or mother.
I am transgender.” — Robbi Cohn © 2007

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