Imagine this for a second: there’s a generic firm that compiles an equality index on gay-friendly work environments in corporate, rating companies from a 0% to a 100% scale, based upon non-discrimination, healthcare policies and mental health policies. For corporations to achieve a perfect 100%, they must do all of the mentioned criteria.
Then let’s say you find out that the companies receiving a 100% perfect gay-friendly workplace award offered mental health counseling with Exodus, or any other ex-gay, reparative-therapy counseling – and not the type that was accepting of the individual’s sexual orientation. Would that be an expected, much less acceptable rating for that employer – 100% perfect? Or would that actually draw cries of foul, maybe protest? Would the gay and lesbian community seek to immediately discredit this arbiter of gay-friendly employers?
Do you think it’s far-fetched? Maybe it is for the gay and lesbian community.
But it’s a reality for the transgender community! Even more interesting, this is the current standard for the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) conducted by – yep, you guessed it!: The Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Yes our self-appointed conservators, those brave souls who “had the guts” to stand up for us in ENDA by cutting us out of the bill, have released their most recent CEI report noting all of the employers receiving a 100% perfect GLBT (as in transgender-inclusive) rating for pro-GLBT-friendly workplaces!
“Oppositional behavior is an integral part of homosexuality. I’m very certain that people who have same-sex attractions suffer from arrested development…. The penis and the vagina fit together. Two penises and two vaginas don’t work.” — Richard Cohen, Pres. of Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays
This was one of those nice discoveries we learned from GID Reform and its founder Kelley Winters in her most recent blog on the splashy presentation of HRC’s annual CEI http://www.bilerico.com/2009/02/hrc_throws_trans_health_equity_under_the.php. HRC was proud to announce the 100% scores (the nirvana for both gay and lesbian prospective employees and employers seeking to attract the community) increasing from 195 to 260 – a 33.3% increase! (http://www.hrc.org/issues/workplace/cei.htm) You would be impressed by those numbers. And as it is a study that gauges not only employment policy for sexual orientation as well as gender identity, you would be duly impressed even if you were trans.
That is … until you begin looking at the details. Or what’s not in the details, more precisely.
To be fair, HRC has done a better job with their CEI than they have in past years, where criterion was insufficient from a trans perspective, and verification (if any) was spotty. Clearly it’s something that could continue today in isolated locations in some of these same companies (I’ve heard enough trans scare-stories from Hewlett-Packard’s Houston office as is, regardless of perfect rating). That’s not necessarily the fault of HRC. However, it does beg the question: do they check the stated policy veracity with trans employees? At least two other respondents to Kelley’s blog note their “perfect” employers weren’t quite so.
That said, I won’t quibble over most of the index measurements per se. The one that gets me is “reparative therapy” issue – essentially attempting to “cure” one of their transsexual manifestations. I had heard of someone right here in Houston “perfect” HP who heard from a supervisor that “you know we can fix that kind of thing” – as in cure, not assisting in transition. Her work environ was a bit non-supportive.
“[It] is a psychological and psychiatric disorder, there is no question about it. It is a purple menace that is threatening the proper design of gender distinctions in society.” — Dr. Charles Socarides, former Pres. of NARTH
Indeed Kelley’s blog also notes a case of an employee who received a similar comment made by the employer, and the employee then transitioned and was terminated. As her blog pointed out regarding mental health care:
“There is no stipulation in the CEI selection criteria to suggest that mental health care coverage offered by a 100% company must actually be in support of transition or respectful to the affirmed gender identity of the employee.”Further, there’s no such distinctions in partners or family benefits on the same. As Kim Pearson, Exec. Dir. for Trans Youth Family Allies (TYFA) asked in response to the blog: “Non-transitioning employees have transitioning dependents...what about them? Transgender youth need appropriate medical care to ensure their survival. Is anyone asking these questions?”
Excellent question! If the standards for mental health were simply counseling, regardless of whether affirming the self-identity or reparative or aversion therapy, then what happens to parents who work at these “perfect” companies? A little electro-shock for Junior to keep him out of the dresses and heels? Maybe some faith-based curative therapy for Sissy to chase those demons out that make her want to cut the hair short, shave her face and wear hunting boots and men’s cut jeans? Yeah, maybe that’s a bit extreme … but is it really out of the realm of possibility under the overly loose definition of “mental health care”? I know in Texas I wouldn’t put it past them!
Playing devil’s advocate here, I must state that HRC has made statements through their trans business council rep, Meghan Stabler that the policy is changing, as she’s stated on both Donna Rose and Kelley’s blogs.
“From a high level here are the changes:Note that there wasn’t mention of “mental health benefits for counseling by a mental health professional,” but there could be a possibility it’s part of the changes to be determined. But the last part caught my eye about her frustration with the slow pace of change. Later Meghan also responds to Kelley:
- The current "one of five" criteria will be gone! Replaced by coverage for "medically necessary treatments" as defined by Standards of Care ( WPATH ). Policy must reference said Standard of Care.
- That a medical plan not have exclusions based on "transgender", "gender identity" etc
- That proof of coverage be supplied at time of CEI submission.
- That there be a way to notify HRC Workplace should a plan fail to meet its promises and submitted CEI, so that HRC Workplace and work with the company to rectify.
I wish Kelly [sic] had called me to say this was going to be a posted note, as she had visited HRC DC with myself and Diego to talk with the HRC Workplace staff summer last year. We took note.
The announcement of the new CEI changes is late, I know, I am frustrated about that too. But changes will be announced in a matter of weeks, not months. The changes will be significant.”
“My only observation would be to maybe suggest that next time, when writing a piece like this with the concern about the CEI, why not call Daryl [Herrschaft] or Samir [Luther] directly and ask them "IF changes are coming", "IF so, what are they" and "IF so, when". She would have had answers.”That rings a bit hollow to me. If she’s having the frustrations over the timing of these changes being a part of the HRC Business Council, it’s doubtful that Kelley would be able to pin down any more specific answers – quite the contrary.
Actually I do appreciate the pressure cooker one such as Meghan has to experience being the “HRC designate” for anything trans. We tend to have long histories and memories and long ago lost all patience, meanwhile she has to deal with what in civil rights work is a corporate behemoth. They’ll do what they want and establish their own agenda in their own time, and trannies – the bottom-feeders on the food chain to them – can like it or shove it It’s an untenable position being liaison between the two parties where nobody’s going to be pleased and everyone’s in the mood to shoot the messenger.
“We say God did not intend anyone to be this way - to be gay or lesbian.” — John Paulk, formerly of Exodus, now Focus On The Family
That said, even with the upcoming changes that are proposed for their CEI, one startling fact remains: HRC offers perfect ratings to those who offer counseling that’s even of the reparative, ex-Trans variety. So the questions beg: why is this just being attended to now, eight years after self-declaring they were including trans in their mission statement? This is equal? Are they now, or would they ever expect gays and lesbians to be okay with their employers’ perfect status for covering ex-Gay therapy?
What does this say about HRC’s ability to take a serious approach to trans equality when the real possibility exists that some of these “perfect” corporations could simply say they support us regardless of how untrue that may be in actuality, then simply do one of those four- or five- or six-figure contributions to HRC for banquet sponsorships or other sundry donations? Lord knows HRC is one of the most aggressive and slick fundraising organizations around, and they’d turn away virtually nothing as long as it’s generous.
And what were they thinking in presuming trans people were dumb enough to just go along with reparative therapy counseling as simply being an honest mistake? Just basing this on the level of hue and cry over Rick Warren or Prop 8, I surmise they would probably raise a stink if someone were congratulating “perfect” companies for counseling that included options for Exodus or other aversion or reparative therapies.
You know, I think we should be collectively just as indignant and offended for the level of fools HRC take us to be. But then again, this is the same HRC we’ve grown to know the past fifteen years plus, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.
I’m just saying ….
“There was Curt, his first love, who left him; his summer job as an $80-an-hour prostitute; and three years of performing as a drag queen. After his college pastor saved him, John tossed his high heels, dresses, jewelry and wigs into a Dumpster, telling "Candi" goodbye and "I don't need you anymore."” — from Praying Away The Gay by Margaret Carlson & Wendy Cole, Time Magazine 7/27/98