Saturday, October 4, 2008

Biden Keynotes HRC’s DC Gala. But Where’s The Protest?

“I detect the El Supremo
From the room at the top of the stairs
Well I’ve been around the world
And I’ve been in the washington zoo
And in all my travels as the facts unravel
I’ve found this to be true
While the poor people sleepin’
With the shade on the light
While the poor people sleepin’
All the stars come out at night.” — Show Biz Kids, Steely Dan

Glitz, glamour and all the glorious accoutrements will greet Sen. Joe Biden tonight the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) National Gala. It’s one of their top money draws per year, their ostentatious display to Washington and political America beyond it. And they’ll no doubt put on the good face, playing up their strong points and hard-pushing for gay and lesbian rights. They’ll even have a tranny or two in attendance, including their throwdown “transgender leader” to mouth the words that everything’s fine, all is okay, we have no urgent need for transgender rights at the moment, we’ll wait.”

My advice to Joe Biden: as you would do with John McCain’s rhetoric on policies, look behind the façade!

They can give slogans about equality and believing in equal treatment, but leaving people out of equal rights bills, that’s not equal rights! You don’t see transgenders as leaders or even employees in their own organizations, that’s not equal rights! You don’t see all voices being heard and all issues taken seriously, that’s not equal rights! Come on!

Meanwhile, it’s been very silent on the DC Gala. Too silent. If there is a protest this year, it’s very much beneath the radar – but I get the impression there is no transgender presence getting the truth out there. If so, this will be very tragic for the transgender community! It’s message is: HRC wins, transgenders give up … and basically HRC will continue disenfranchising our community with impunity.

One year ago, of course, was the very same gala – very hotly protested by the transgender community. It was the first gala that followed the removal of the trans-inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA). It was NTAC’s very first sponsoring of an HRC protest, and drew folks from around the country and media as well. Even Mara Keisling got into the act corralling media and picking up a few donations as well. Two board members of NCTE were out protesting with us, but another NCTE board member (also a board of governors member of HRC) attended.

Since then the protests have continued and grown, drawing much-needed and beneficial attention to HRC’s prejudice. Without a doubt, it’s had a good effect for the community – even for Mara Keisling (their previous “throwdown” tranny) who’s traveled around the nation doing the “I hate HRC’ tour and raising more funds.

It makes me wonder if they are throwing in the towel. It’s counterintuitive to keep a high profile protest silent. And it’s not like there’s a lack of potential organizers as there are a number of capable folks in the DC area, including Keisling, NCTE board member Donna Cartwright in Baltimore, and NCTE board member Dana Beyer (who will likely be attending the banquet rather than protesting as she is still on HRC’s Board of Governors).

In fact, this reminds me. There was allegedly a meeting Beyer had also mentioned back in July about a tentatively scheduled meeting with transgender leaders and HRC.

If that’s going on, it’s the best-kept secret in the country. More likely, HRC backed out of the deal. Unless you’re an apologist or a good lap-dog, there is no desire by HRC to meet, much less know about our issues first-hand anyway.

Over the years HRC developed a thick insularity: hire or promote as leaders financially stable trans people who’ve never had to live through the job losses or hate crimes first-hand. They then go to the trans community in general as a liaison for the gay community to hear the stories, find out the issues (as they’ve been mostly removed from the common day-to-day trans existence and the difficulties thereof), then report back. They function as go-betweens.

HRC will state it’s due to the lack of communication skills or ability to articulate our issues. That’s garbage. It’s all about insulating them, and preventing them from being made to face up to what they’ve done. They managed to communicate this to the African-American community after the Civil Rights Law. But they don’t want, and in fact refuse, to see that they’ve done the same – and worse – to transgenders that was done to Bayard Rustin and their own. They’re in DC this weekend, but they’re really in a state … of denial.

“Show business kids makin’ movies of themselves
You know they don’t give a fuck about anybody else.” — Show Biz Kids, Steely Dan


Polar said...

I have heard no mention of a protest of the gala in SC. Dana Beyer is a table captain at the gala, and I'd wager that many of the DC area T leaders are at SCC this weekend.

I have also heard little of the meeting in question; the last I heard of it, it would happen at IFGE in DC in February, but nothing since. I have no idea who'd debase themselves by sitting down with them at this point. Last year at this time, such a meet might have been useful. Now, fuhgeddabouddit.

Kara said...

Unfortunately (and rather ironically) there is no real trans activism group in DC. There are some, but mostly they focus on local issues and will help with a national thing. One guess what DC trans org most usually count on to alert them to national issues.