Thursday, June 4, 2009

Now They Figure Out We're Getting Screwed?


“Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.” — Isaiah 2:6

"First you said you would, if you just could, yeah.
Then you said you could if you just would, yeah." — Double Talking Baby, Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps


A little over two months ago, I took the Massachusetts chapter of the Equality Federation – MassEquality – to task. After the history of their organization and others dealing with rights in the Bay State over the past couple decades plus, I found their use of a friend on one of their promotional spots on their website a bit too exploitative. My blog entry Massachusetts' Shame noted it as follows:

Just yesterday I saw an advertisement for MassEquality with a photo of my friend, Ethan St. Pierre, on it. It was a very flattering photo of him showing up link stating "get the resources to help fight transgender discrimination here." Indeed it's an important first step for Mass. Equality -- an important first step in 2009.

Many would think this a positive development.

Many would ... and would also completely gloss over the shameful history of both Massachusetts and this very organization, MassEquality, on transgender rights. Many would completely ignore the selfish agenda of this organization and the gay and lesbian community in Massachusetts – commonly referred to by no less than Rep. Barney Frank as "the most liberal state in the union."
My whole beef around this was the seeming lack of concern they had with capitalizing on a trans issue when there was already an existing trans group there working on these very issues, and here was a gay and lesbian group, with virtually every right they'd ever had on their wish list accomplished, thinking they could simply waltz in like presumed heroes and just take over like the pros from Dover!

Of course, as my posts tend to be blunt, there were reactions to my Mass In-Equality post on March 14. Two of Massachusetts's own levied severe hand-slaps for my apparent harsh views on MassEquality.

From Cong. Barney Frank's hired trans staffer on the Hill, Diego Sanchez, came this response:

Vanessa shame! ... There's too much false information in this to flag each piece. From me, someone who HAS been involved for 20 years in MA LGBT, civil rights and social justice work: Every step that MassEquality has made, since its inception (and I say that because I was there when it was a spark in an eye and not yet formed) has been strategic and with participation, collaboration, negotiation, compromise and discussion with transgender people in MA. Your thoughts about Mass are so off base, you might want to focus on the many things you actually have lived through or are working on. Mass is NOT one of them. We'll handle MA as we have. I can't imagine what compels you to talk about Mass when you know us, the people who HAVE been doing the work. This is utter nonsense.
And from Gunner Scott, Exec. Dir. of Mass. Transgender Political Coalition (a group whom I suggested should've been getting the attention instead of MassEquality on trans issues) came the following response:

MassEquality has been one of our many strong partners in the coalition that MTPC's leads in advancing transgender rights in Massachusetts. I should know as the Director and founding member of MTPC.

Vanessa your assessment is off base, additionally you don't even live here or participate in MTPC. Lashing out at organizations and partnerships that you know nothing about is not helping build coalition, move our transgender rights movement forward, or encourage other state LGBT advocacy groups to work with their local transgender political groups.

You might want to focus on your own damn state, Texas, in moving transgender rights.
Points taken. NTAC and I weren't the only group to ever get involved with locals on other state issues as NCTE and Mara Keisling do likewise rather regularly. Perhaps, I thought, I'd been given less-than-accurate information on Massachusetts, and particularly MassEquality who I'd heard was directed resources to help other adjacent states in New England win marriage equality – not toward assisting trans groups and trans individuals lift up their own within their own state. Perhaps I was wrong.

Well, during NTAC's Lobby Days early in May I read a piece of a screed on MassEquality and had to put it down and come back to it (as we were in the midst of working Capitol Hill). Recently I had the opportunity to read it en toto. It's a blog on LiveJournal from the same Gunner Scott who sniped at my blog blasting MassEquality. Here's what he had to say less than two months later in his GenderCrash blog on May 7 from http://transgender.livejournal.com:

I posted this as a response to NH not passing trans rights, but I would like more people to see this...

Transgender issues will never be a priority for LGB(t) groups. Whether that is achieving laws, changing policies, or advocating for resources. I am not just saying this because I am part of MTPC, but if we want our community to be equal then we need to do the work. LGB(t) can support this, but we need to be steering that ship and not waiting for LGB(t) groups throw us a bone.

There is more to equality/rights/liberation then just passing non-discrimination laws. I think California is a good example - even though they have non-discrimination laws many trans people are still experiencing employment/poverty issues, so they next step is services, job fairs, education etc... and that is what Transgender Law Center does and this is and will be the types of stuff MTPC will do before and after a law passes.

We need our transgender organizations to advocate for us... we cannot wait for HRC, NGLTF, or MassEquality or any other state equality group to do it for us. We need to do it ourselves which means we need to fund our trans organizations, we need to volunteer, and we need to show up.
Wow. He made that 180-degree turn look effortless! And right on the heels of saying the exact opposite so recently at that! Well, I'm glad he's finally learned now after seeing the light. Maybe ... or maybe it's something else?

Gunner's LiveJournal blog continues:

If you have a job, then start donating (if you don't already) to a transgender specific advocacy group in your area and/or NCTE - monthly, $5 a month does make a difference when we have several people doing that. If you can do more then do that. I give to several transgender specific orgs, some monthly, others once a year. Lets get more transgender people hired to work for trans rights full time - it makes a huge difference to have trans people at the table advocating for rights and resources. We are the experts on our lives... we are not some LGB(t) group.

If you don't have money then donate your time and show and do something...
... And there's the rub! Now I see what this is! Keep in mind that it was Mara Keisling that popularized the notion, and NCTE who's entire raison d'etre was about "working collegially and collaboratively with our allies." Allies like ... HRC and NGLTF, et al. We're all quite familiar with the mantra from Mara, pushing back on all those of us who tried to warn the Trans community that Barney Frank and HRC were going to ditch us, and cutting off discussion by declaring that "everyone is on board" with trans inclusion, end of story.

Shortly after Southern Comfort, notice how facile the "collegial and collaborative" Ms. Keisling was in suddenly adopting the supposed "negativity," and NCTE calling for resignations of Joe Solmonese, all second-level staff and all board, calling it "controlled by and ... dependent upon white, rich, professional gay men." Mara's a master equivocator. So is this who's knee Gunner is learning from? Is that what our movement has come down to: whoever can sell the snake oil the slickest succeeds?

“Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” — journalist, H.L. Mencken

"They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening." — novelist, George Orwell



Continuing on Gunner's blog:

"I know I sound like a broken record, but after doing this for over ten years and the reality is no one and I mean no one is going to fight as hard for our rights, for resources for our community then we are, trans people.

LGB people don't get us and I don't think they ever will...(and I also identify as being queer) yes they can be our ally, but our issues will never ever and I mean never be their priority. We as the larger trans community need to stop thinking that someday they will. The LGB(t) orgs are not going to save us. As long we have no power or influence in their organizations, meaning on boards and big donors, trans issues and the needs of the trans community will never be at the top of the list. There is no incentive for that. Our needs will always be pushed to the bottom.

So yes be mad at HRC or NGLTF or your state marriage group or equality group, but do something more with that anger...

We need to be our own movement, we need to make our allies and not just with LGB groups, we need to fund our own organizations, and push for our own rights.

LGB people don't get us and I don't think they ever will...(and I also identify as being queer) yes they can be our ally, but our issues will never ever and I mean never be their priority. We as the larger trans community need to stop thinking that someday they will. The LGB(t) orgs are not going to save us. As long we have no power or influence in their organizations, meaning on boards and big donors, trans issues and the needs of the trans community will never be at the top of the list. There is no incentive for that. Our needs will always be pushed to the bottom.

So yes be mad at HRC or NGLTF or your state marriage group or equality group, but do something more with that anger...

We need to be our own movement, we need to make our allies and not just with LGB groups, we need to fund our own organizations, and push for our own rights."
I'd comment on how great it was to hear the above, but it would be personally vain. It's something I've been espousing, and many others "supposed" heretics have been warning, for years now.

Nevertheless, it's good that he's come around and is now helping us get the truth out. That is, if he's truly come around. Time will tell if it's true, and those of us who've been in this independence camp will welcome the new blood if indeed they are now joining up to stay.

That said, I'm also very well aware of how many johnny-come-lately, flash-in-the-pans we've seen adopting faux anger for a time. Hell, even NCTE is back to casting furtive glances HRC's way, and NCTE's two board members who were on HRC's board of governors never left. In fact, NCTE's Dana Beyer is even helping rope in an occasional trans person to paid work for HRC. It's part of the old plan: keep talent, funding and resources away from trans people by tying them up in our "allied" organizations like HRC!

We've spent too much attention and allowed too much distraction by people claiming leadership in our community and yet have all the resolve of a flag in a hurricane. The only thing you can count on from the flag in a hurricane is that it will stand at full attention in whichever direction the wind blows, which could well be a 180 degree switch before the day's out.

We need to start holding these irresolute "leaders" accountable. We face enough obstacles with the gay and lesbian organization leaders, weak-kneed Democrats and virtually any Republican these days as they've rid themselves of nearly all moderates. Following our own leaders who zig and zag from one direction to the other doesn't lead us anywhere except to fatigue and ultimate frustration. All they've served to do is to run interference for gay and lesbian rights while keeping us directionless.

When it comes to the trans community, we need leadership who will take a firm stand and not simply adopt a posture because it's suddenly trendy.

"Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. Nothing up my sleeve ... presto!" — Bullwinkle J. Moose from the cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle & Friends

"My friends tried to tell me, but they were too late, yeah.
What a fool I was to fall for your bait, yeah." — Double Talking Baby, Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps

“Nothing so completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity himself, than straightforward and simple integrity in another.” — writer, Charles Caleb Colton

2 comments:

dyssonance said...

One small quibble. Vanessa, hon:

It's been *our* movement all along, and we are just as culpable as they are.

Its taken us a while to find the arguments, is all. And now we have them, and now we can do more than they can.

In response to a former HRC boar member whining about how we have no magnetic leader, how we fracture ourselves, how we fail to get behind a large organization, I wrote this:

Replied to: http://www.bilerico.com/2009/06/how_many_letters_does_it_take_to_kill_a.php#comments

I am you and you are me and we are they and we are all together.

I am the eggman.

I am the walrus.

Koo koo ka choo

----------------------------------------------

Evolution of an advocate: self realization, research, development, application, innovation,

Business as usual.

It is an Identity movement. It is a break from the idea that we should all try to blend in, to woodwork, to be just like everyone else.

To believe such, or think such, is self affirming (which is good), but also a betrayal to all others (which is bad).

Our soup is driven by internal politics -- the letters come from inside as each of the groups fights to be recognized within the movement as distinct from the others.

We fight outside pressures, so what those outside call us is irrelevant to *us* -- we're too busy dealing with ourselves.

From ages 5 to 13, most of us are found in the DSM-IV. Soon to be the DSM-V. And subject to reparative therapy that is still considered ethical. Based on descriptions of their youth, this includes Bil Browning, Alex Blaze, Michael Crawford.

We are they and they are we and we are all together...

Too many of us are bigots -- we despise the religious, practicing the bigotry against the religious even as they practice the bigotry of the religious.

Yet many of us are religious, and such an incredibly ecumenical bunch we are, with dedicated church goings and temple studies and coven gatherings and more.

We are Weird and Freaks and Crazies and Faggots and Dykes and Whores and everything disliked about men and women who aren't like everyone else, and those who work so hard to be like everyone else are forgetting that everyone else is different, is unique, is weird or freaky or crazy.

We know all of this. How do you lead a herd of cats with one person?

The answer is, you don't.

we are mainstream now. 40 years ago we were not, and it took a bunch of the most visibly different men and women getting pissed off to make a change to the way things were.

We are all part of the *Different* movement, the strange and unusual.

We are Queer. We are Queens and Kings, each of our own independent Duchy, and while many can call for single leadership, gathering around a monlithic superpower, the age and the time for such is gone.

We can fight under a thousand leaders. A thousand fires burning across the nation, each one leading a thousand, so we have a thousand thousands.

Money talks.

Where is our money, while the largest block of that soup battles just to get a freaking job even when the economy is good, and are subject to the first rounds when it is bad?

Where is our money when the largest block is doing their best just to keep a roof over their head, stuck dreaming of a day when it will be something other than a ghettoized dive, the cheapest place they could find?

Every last one of those complaints is a valid one -- a true one. All of them stem from a generation that has fucked everything up because they haven't adapted to the change from counter culture to mainstream, hasn't realized that its a hell of a lot more than just people who are attracted to people of the same sort.

We need to scrap the current leadership, to look to the generations after to find our new leaders, and tell them *LEAD*, damn you, stop fucking around trying to build consensus, but don't use that fiat to forget anyone.

I sign damn near nothing. The Dallas Principles are wonderful and everything, and I did indeed sign on to them, because that's where I am.

dyssonance said...

(Part Two)

I'm now one of the leaders of the only Transrights orgs in Phoenix.

And I don't give a rats ass if anyone really likes the way I think or has a problem with my methods. I'm doing it.

What am I doing? I'm doing an omnibus bill and setting it up so that when they start to ask for compromises, I have some in place that don't involve throwing another segment under the bus.

Because I am you and you are me and we are all together.

Its a powder keg on the street, folks. One straw will piss the world off like it did 40 years ago, and we will indeed riot, no matter how many calls for non-violence and calm there are.

We are born of rage, as a movement. Our rage now is against the Mattachine way of thinking -- and until we can cast that off, lose that to the annals of history, we will not have that charismatic leader.

A thousand fights drains resources, a thousand fights separates forces, keeps your opponent struggling to move fast enough and wears them down far better than one massive army.

But I say put down your Ghandi and pick up your Sun Tzu, who's first rule is never fight when you don't have to.

While we are having victories all over the place, those victories are from those thousand points of light, and a whole crapload think that in those places where marriage exists, the war is over.

Those who do are hurting us.

I am the eggman.

I am the walrus...

Reference back to a book wherein a tale is told of a herd of clams led astray to their deaths by a friendly old walrus who merely wants clam stew and lets them walk their way into it.

Right now, and rightfully so, we fear the walrus. For the walrus leads our opponents.

Not us.

Come together, right now.

Over yourselves.


Note however, that we do have a few walruses of our own.

http://www.dyssonance.com