"Born down in a dead man's town.
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground.
End up like a dog that's been beat too much,
'Til you spend half your life just a-covering up." — Born In The U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen
Cinco de Mayo – a quick blog today until I get back. It's been a Murphy's Law past couple weeks between power outages, friend watches and worst of all, extreme family drama (I'm really wondering why I even have family at all!) Oh well, hell is hell, and what doesn't kill ya makes ya stronger!
Drama notwithstanding, the lobbying packets are done and we're preparing to once again hit Capitol Hill for the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC). Thanks to competition and the horrific economy, this will be a smaller, tighter Lobby Day than previous ones. Nevertheless, these are the committed folks making it to this one. We have no real need for going slow, so we can hit the ground running! From personal experience, I've had my most efficient and productive days in either small groups or solo-lobbying (I actually made 128 offices one day on the Hill – my personal best. There was no lunch and I went 'til almost 7PM though ... not for everyone).
That said, we can at very least laud the folks hitting the Hill with us as heroic. NTAC has never lobbied for money or fame. No preening, no glitz, no show. We aren't the "HRC tranny" set. It's always been individuals lobbying – citizen lobbyists, the grassroots way. We all travel up out of our own pocket and on our own vacation time.
We've catching a break, never had the luck roll our way and yet still, after ten years, we make it up to advocate for the community's behalf. Our only reward is more of the same derision and belittling from the "moneyed leaders" of our world. Ironically though, it's these same "leaders" who've ridiculed us for our open lobby days approach, criticized our getting the media our widely back in the day or trashed our mistrust of HRC who came around to adopt our philosophy! We've never budged. And clearly since they abandoned their initial philosophies, there's no reason to move in their direction.
One thing they can never say truthfully is that we had no effect! In 2004, presidential candidate, Rep. Dennis Kucinich put transgender into the presidential campaign debates for the first of the past two cycles. Who else was conducting lobby days specifically on transgender issues in 2004 and before, putting lobby packets in legislators' hands, having sit-down visits with Rep. Kucinich? Rep. Ron Payne, who courageously dropped in on a committee testimony with trans panelists and spoke up on our behalf, learned Transgender 101 back in 1999. Who might've done that?
Yes, the folks traveling in from across the country for this coming week's Lobby Days are the true heroes. I'll say something that you'll probably never hear anywhere else: On behalf of the trans community, and also on behalf of NTAC, thank you!
"Receiving far less attention are the working class heroes, who go about their solitary work routines with quiet dignity ...." — commentator, Armstrong Williams