Alex Blaze

Do 70% of us support an exclusive ENDA?

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 06, 2007 4:57 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: ENDA, HRC, polling, The Advocate

The Advocate is running a poll that says 70% of 500 members of the LGBT community asked support going forward with a trans-exclusive ENDA.

I have a few issues with this, the first being about the polling itself. Any long-time readers of Bilerico know that when it comes to polling LGBT people, developing an accurate picture of us at any given time is pretty hard, and often these people aren't willing to put the work in necessary to do so.

The Advocate article doesn't say anything about methodology, only that the 500 people came from across the country. But were they representative? And how did they find these people? Donors to the HRC, Advocate subscribers, people with registered same-sex relationships and "across the country" means California, Connecticut, Vermont, and Massachusetts? What methodology did they use to control outside variables that would come with any list of queers?

Honest questions.

But, if true (which is entirely possible to me), this really just highlights the main reason that the ENDA should only move forward inclusively: no one's going to come back for the T-folk. They're a much smaller group, numerically, than the GLB and have even less money to be spending on lobbying. And if 70% of queers don't see how much harder it'll be to come back for the transgender people later, or the ramifications of, on the second major piece of specifically queer legislation at the federal level, splitting up the LGBTQ activist community, I don't think that they're going to put pressure on their advocacy groups over the next several years to lobby for an ENDA specifically about gender identity.

Other than that, I've never been a fan of basing what's right and what's effective on a poll. I hope that wasn't the reason it was conducted.

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This does highlight the fact that HRC was lying to all of us when they said they didn't support the non-inclusive bill. They had to have been planning this poll for a few weeks.

They lied then, they lied with their letters on their web site, they lied whne they had people pushing the non-inclusive bill in the LCCR.

What makes you think you should trust them about this polls accuracy? Their history requires skepticism.

But don't worry - they say the bills religious excemption problems are moot. They say the gender identity loophole won't be exploited by bigots to fire gays. Trust them.

The only time you can their words uncritically is - when they ask you for money - they really do want it.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | November 6, 2007 5:35 PM

It was conducted by a supporter of the gender-identity-less bill to embolden their fellow selfish bigots -- to make them feel less like selfish bigots and more like members of a late-70s-to-late-80s tribe called the GLBs which are not really the GLBs, either but if they called themselves the Gs, they'd have a harder time keeping up their self-delusionary front.

Other than that, I've never been a fan of basing what's right and what's effective on a poll. I hope that wasn't the reason it was conducted.
HRC receives money from its members. Those members pay them to advance their causes. What those causes are and what is the "right" move to make at any given time are the rub, of course, but I find it odd that "speaking to your members" is not viewed as a logical step in this process. There is debate about what to do; isn't taking a poll to get the "sense" of things from the community a wise idea? You phrased it as if it were some sort of moral offshoring, letting a poll engine guide your values compass, but that seems to be overstating the process as well as devaluing the data gathered, imho.

AOL: Maybe this is part of my general discomfort with leaving political and moral decisions up in some sort of free market, with all of its morally bankrupt mechanisms. We say that marriage shouldn't be up to a poll, so....

I don't know if we know enough about the results and methodology to say that this can qualify as HRC speaking to its constituents.

And their constituents aren't just the ones that pay them money since their work involves expanding narratives of equality to include new identities and axes of identity, i.e. they say they represent LGBT people and they get moral power off that. It can't be measured but it's there.

But even if this were some representative sample of everyone who ID's as LGBT, I'd still say that leaving it up to a poll is a bad idea. I don't know of many advocacy groups that leave tactical decisions up to large polls. And HRC's been saying this is all just a matter of disagreeing about tactics, so...

The fundmental problem here is that a lot of the 'GLB' folk don't realize that the 'T' ain't just people who take hormones.

Riki Wilchins actually has a great story on this:

As a community, we remain in deep denial about who among us is really genderqueer... as a movement, we have gotten good at including gender nonconformity only by carefully segregating it as a problem affecting transgender people. I have sat in congressional meetings with gay lobbyists who were wearing smart suits and ties, wing tips, and short, combed-back hair -- female lobbyists –- who, when the conversation turned to gender, spoke with deep compassion about how gender is a problem "for transgender people." As I say, deep denial.

(Check out the full article here - it sums up my thoughts very well, and she's a much better writer than I am.)

That ignorance is a failure on a bunch of different levels, but especially for the leaders who have the responsibility to point out the intersection/overlap, and to educate the larger community - including the effeminate men and butch women , and the people who love them - who don't get it either.

Personally, I think that problem could be solved by requiring that everyone read a copy of My Gender Workbook as a condition of getting their Pink Card - as most folks who take a Women's Studies course seem to be, these days. (Shameless plug for Kate Bornstein, no doubt - but nonetheless true.)

How odd - HRC polled this question a few years back and came up with this (courtesy of former HRC Board Member Donna Rose):

"HRC conducted polls and found that 61 percent of registered voters and 85 percent of gay and lesbian voters support workplace protections based on gender identity and expression. " - Washington Blade, Aug. 13, 2004

The numbers can only have increased from 3 years ago. As Donna states - and should know - this poll and HRC's duplicity were obviously planned for some time.

Just for the sake of clarity, The Advocate ran an article about the poll, not the poll itself. It was HRC's poll, and amazingly, they got the results they wanted!

Alex is of course correct in talking about methodology, especially if an independent pollster didn't conduct it, and it was done in house.

But my issue is, why did they spend the money to take the poll when they said they support the inclusive bill? There is only one possible answer: to cover their ass.

It's one thing to be useless. It's another to actually spend money on something which will not further the progress of the community. I think HRC needs to explain to its donors why it wasted their money.

Personally, I can't support this non-inclusive bill. So when HRCs Action Alert showed up in my e-mail box telling me to call my representative and urge them to vote for the bill, I deleted it. Obviously it would be nice to get some protections in place but not at the expense of others. I just can't do it. I won't. And HRC won't get any more money from me or my non-legally-recognized wife until they stop throwing the Ts under the bus every time it becomes inconvenient to include them.

beergoggles | November 7, 2007 9:21 AM

Hmm, I'm not entirely sure you have anything in your article that isn't purely a visceral stock-response.

1. Criticizing the polling methodology - it's somewhat valid, but then again, no poll is perfect and it's better than nothing.

2. Stating that no-one will come back for T folks in ENDA without providing any supporting evidence. Do you have statistics on how many cities/counties/states have passed ENDA equivalents for gays and then come back and passed them for T folks? During what time frame? And what the statistics are on ones that haven't done so yet? Otherwise it just sounds like unsubstantiated ranting.

3. On one hand stating that T's are too small to push for inclusion on their own when it's quite evident even with a 'skewed' poll that 30% of gays are in favor of putting their own privileges on hold to wait for T inclusion.

Personally, if someone were to do the research on point #2, it would really help clarify whether the hysterical rantings of some people should be listened to - that it would be prudent to wait for T inclusion before passing ENDA or whether they should be dismissed as being purely paranoid.

"hysterical rantings", BG? Seriously? I apologize for my uterus getting in the way of thinking rationally!

Defend the methodology all you want, but first find out what it is before you do. I'm not saying the methodology is necessarily invalid, I'm just saying that we don't know it and that I've seen enough studies of LGBT people that use awful methodology to prove whatever point they want. And it isn't just Paul Cameron, either. It seems that every few months we have a new "gays are richer than everyone else" marketing survey come out, followed by a "gays are poorer than everyone else" university study.

If you want to believe that people will come back for the T-folk, then fine. I would say that when 65% of Americans support the protections and Congress is too afraid, obviously there's a lack of leadership on this issue there that's the main problem. And that's not going to change with a few years.

I know that New York came back for the transgender, but I can't think of a single conservative state that did.

HRC has a track record for this kind of behavior. so why are we (used in the collective sense) so surprised.

This is the time to stop supporting HRC and anybody who supports their position.

HRC has not received a single dime from me and won't because of they backed the gutting of the ADA. 80's

Susan Robins


Here's a few quick stats for you:

1. Wisconsin passed an ENDA for gay and lesbian people 22 years ago. Transgender people remain unprotected in the state to this day.

2. Massachusetts passed protections for gays and lesbians in 1989, 18 years ago. Transgender people remain unprotected.

3. New York passed protections for gays and lesbians five years ago. Transgender people remain unprotected.

4. New Jersey passed a law protecting gays and lesbians 19 years ago. Transgender people were protected for the first time by a law passed last November and enacted this February, but only after:

A. 18 years of waiting.

B. A trans-protective bill in the NJ legislature that had the support of a strong majority in the legislature and NJ voters was ignored for over two years.

C. The threatened public condemnation of a high-ranking Democratic Party official's transphobic public outburst at the 2006 State Democratic Convention.

5.Maryland passed protections for gays and lesbians in 2001. Transgender people are still waiting.

Notice a pattern here?

There is a conflict: Alex is saying that New York now has protections for trans individuals, and Rebecca is reporting that they do not.

No conflict. I'm wrong, Becky's right.

beergoggles | November 7, 2007 6:19 PM

Ok, so we have 5 states in the US that have a gay inclusive ENDA with 1 of those 5 having added Trans protections. However, a sample size of just 5 isn't very big to draw any conclusions from.

Any info on the rest of the states? It can't be just 5 states that have gay inclusive ENDAs. How about California? Washington?

How about cities/counties?

If one of the groups that get paid to do these things could compile a total list of this for the US and clearly demonstrate that trans inclusion doesn't happen, I promise, I will take those statistics and spam citizencraine and americablog and a whole bunch of other blogs when they say trans inclusion needs to happen when gay inclusive ENDA passes.

Not to mention you'll have substantiated evidence to prove your point, which would convince me of the fact that we need to get trans inclusion before the federal ENDA passes - yeah I know, big whoop just convincing one person, but there may be more people like me out there who are more swayed by fact and evidence than rhetoric.

And Alex, sweetie, I always thought you were a guy. My bad if you have a uterus. Being gay is usually enough for hysterics (some people just say drama queen) - you don't have to have a uterus you know :)


First, register to comment so I don't have to approve you every time!

Second, I looked it up, but I could only find states. You're right - we should know this. There are:

  • 8 states that did it all together: Washington, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Maine;
  • 5 states that went back for the T-folk: California, Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey;
  • 7 only have sexual orientation only, with those laws dating all the way back to 1982: Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Maryland;
  • 30 haven't done jack taco.

So we've gone back for the T in 5 out of 12 states that passed sexual orientation only. That's not a great record.

But I'm thinking that if this can pass in Iowa, Colorado, and New Mexico altogether, then it can do it nationally. That's (one of) my big problems with this whole thing - w/ 65% support for T protections nationally, there shouldn't be any reason for Dems to be afraid. But then again, the numbers are in their favor for attaching deadlines to Iraq funding, and they can't seem to do that.

Third, my imaginary uterus is doing just fine, no need to apologize. One day I'll have an imaginary baby with it and name her Beer Goggles.

beergoggles | November 7, 2007 7:56 PM

Alex, thanks for doing the research. I've bookmarked this thread so I can come back for that info in the future. It's not a great record, but it's not abysmal either, which means I'm still sorta undecided on the whole thing. I am a little shamed that so many New England states haven't included trans folks in their ENDAs though.

We knew the issues with the Dems getting into bed with them. Less gay bashing than Republicans, but less spine as well. Whether gay bashing and spinelessness are correlated is another matter.

No need to name your baby after me, just drink a lot and hit on guys that all your friends (and husband) think are really unattractive - hence the name.

I have tried registering before but the validation email never makes its way to my email box. Either there's something up with the mail generator or comcasts filter just drops some registration emails like that - I dunno.

Yeah - 5/12, that's about half. People can use that either way, although since more conservative states did do it.....

Have you tried registering w/ both openkey and movable type? Or with another email address? Seriously, sometimes I get to my computer in the morning and there are comments that have sat unapproved for hours, I feel bad about them!

There are many, many, men who have uteruses. So if Alex has one, he would still be a guy. One of the reasons we want a T inclusive ENDA is for guys with uteruses.