The video that the HRC made for the Transgender Day of Remembrance is still a cool video. It's still outstanding. It's the sort of thing in many ways that trans folk are waiting to see on television shows and in movies. It is also still the outside looking in, and it is still made by the HRC.
The HRC is still seen as an opponent by many trans people -- they are still an enemy.
They are a useful enemy, but they still have a long way to go to regain even the little bit of trust they had back then, that they hurled out the window in a few short weeks. The anger and fury has subdued a bit -- but that's because the HRC is far more subdued and has avoided overtly pissing off the trans community.
That was the wrong thing to do.
They have still been working towards things which are positive -- the HRC Corporate Equality Index is a big deal, in most ways, really, and trans folk are encouraged to see stuff like the changes they are making happen. We are impatient, yes, but we've waited 40 years for things to come back full circle, and we aren't really pleased with delays.
Most transfolk do still believe that the HRC sits around and thinks "What can we do to co-opt the Trans community for HRC's benefit?". We are, however, aware of Allyson Robinson, and those of us who have met her have had some of that edge taken off of that anger that's still there. She's an awesome woman that way.
But these days we also think the HRC is very much aware of how much damage they did, and so we also add a caveat to that thought above: "And how can we do it without creating even more problems?". There is great suspicion, in other words, an outcome of the sense of betrayal of trust and hope that roared through the trans community following the ENDA debacle.
In the time sense then, the trans community has indeed done what was asked of us by Rep. Frank -- in spades. We have educated. We have spoken out. We have made ourselves visible. We have engaged to a level above and beyond the expectations of many.
And in the process of doing that education, of speaking out, of being visible, we have encountered people telling us we are "too angry". Usually with a flippant dismissal or a harsh statement, always forgetting that we have a very real reason to be angry that comes from 12 years of being a bargaining chip, and when we even whisper something unusual or different or we stand up and say we are to be included, we are told all manner of things that always boil down to a simple "get back in your place and be quiet".
Right now, many on the Trans community are talking about changes to ENDA -- rumors and questions are flying about, and people aren't sharing sources or speaking openly of how they know these things. And one of the things you generally won't see asked in very public places is the question that Gives an opportunity for HRC to begin repairing the broken relationship it has: What's HRC doing?
What are they doing about ENDA? Are they staying away from it? Are they supporting changes to stuff dealing in trans people? Are they opposing changes to the Trans language?
We want to know, and I'll tell ya, right now, the answers in the Trans community are never positive when it comes to them. They could do a great deal by stating the oppose changes to ENDA, and that it needs to be inclusive -- even though, when they say it, people will immediately suspect they are lying and there will be a lot of stuff said as people begin to expect the worse.
Now, if HRC doesn't lie and does those things -- publicly, and using a mouthpiece other than the one that most trans folk will never have a positive word about -- then they can start to rebuild their image in the trans community.
And that's important to do, as the fight over ENDA is absolutely going to be about Trans issues. The hold up is over trans stuff. Our opponents are already gearing up for the attack against trans folk. The rumors are all about bathrooms and erasure and they are not pleasant ones and they are indeed pissing us off.
Yes, we have our own internal fighting going on -- subtle under the table accusation about X person doing Y because of Z made by person A and enthusiastically agreed to by person B. We are not immune to issues of one person disliking another person -- put a large number of trans activists in a room together and there will be some pretty nasty fights over different things.
But keep this in mind: trans folk overwhelmingly support ENDA. Even the crippled version that's currently under discussion.
They just really, really dislike the idea that they will be used, once more, as a bargaining chip. And make no mistake, if there are limitations on the basis of genital configuration, then Trans lives are being used that way, and there will be a nastier repeat of what happened before.
Yes, it's that kind of thing.
Among other changes, Trans folk are not so much an afterthought, these days. It still happens with great frequency, but it's better than it was. We still aren't equal -- at the LGBT CIR session, trans lives were recognized but buried by broader issues. But we are getting there. There was a palpable presence felt at Creating Change, and I suspect next year it will be even greater.
NGLTF has become more popular among trans folk. The Task Force has made a concerted effort to bring trans issues in, and works closely with NCTE -- which, no matter how some trans folk feel about it and the people involved, is still there, still doing it, and in no small part thanks to the dedication of the staff there.
So we are not an afterthought any long, but we are still secondary, still less than.
And we are still very tired of it. But many of us are seeing what's happening. The explosion of trans stuff within the LGBT community online has reached not only the LGB ears, but also the ears of our opponents, and they have seen the reactions by cis folk within the LGBT community and they have decided to use the wedge of trans involvement against us.
Something that allows them to bypass the very issues that were raised in the Prop 8 trial, which even they acknowledge was a screw up on their part, though only privately. And they know that enough LGB folks are unprepared for this and will, in fact, fall for the attacks themselves.
We still don't play well in Peoria. But we *are* playing. Which is better than it has been in the past.
What we still want is action. Concrete, visible, purposeful, intense action.
We still want them to give our single greatest need the same amount of effort they give to marriage. Because we dying faster than the GLB community is, and there's a hell of a lot fewer of us.
Think for a moment.
When was the last time that you, personally, felt a physical threat to your existence, not just your body, in an encounter with another person? I mean murder, not a beating.
When was the lat time someone called you faggot and then threw a bottle at you?
When was the last time you heard or saw one of our opponents use the term "tranny"? They still use "faggot" against us. We are still part of an amorphous blob of "gender confused" people which they are already starting to apply to gay people -- because that's what heteronormative halfwits do.
We are hearing those words we long to hear: "We want an inclusive ENDA now!" Not from HRC, mind you, but from the grassroots and many of the big orgs.
It still takes 10 good things to make up for each bad one.
But trans folk are not coming up hat in hand anymore. We are, however, still waiting for others to come to us that way.
And we are seeing they are going to have to, sooner than they realized. They aren't seeing that yet, though, those bodies and groups that we are still waiting for.
And now, as ENDA gets ready to either die for the next few years or face a trial by fire once more, we are doing something we have been doing the whole time.
We are raging against the Mattachine. We are fighting a battle with Assimilation, which an essentialist idea -- something that strips from us our names, our identities, and hurls back at us false ones.
We are still fighting hold outs from the old guard, still ferreting out little bits of it here and there, individuals who say things like there are sound public policy reasons for not passing ENDA with trans stuff.
There are still people willing to sacrifice trans people so that they can get theirs -- people who believe that rights are negotiable, and that there are too many degrees of separation between them and the Other they create out of trans people.
We know better. And we are watching.
To see if we can afford to trust other people once more.