Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Top Capitol Newspaper Publishes Responses to Traditional Values Coalition on ENDA

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | April 23, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Andrea Lafferty, employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Traditional Values Coalition

In Roll Call2.jpg response to an article published Tuesday by Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition, who outrageously contends that ENDA will trap young children in classrooms in hundreds of schools districts to be schooled in sexual fetishes by drag queens, Roll Call Magazine published my response.

Of course, by defining the ENDA debate as being about whether transgender teachers will trap and harm our young, Lafferty wins no matter what. That's why my response, in this mainstream context, ignores Lafferty's crazy fantasies, and discusses the real issue: is ENDA an appropriate response to discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace?

Thank you to Lisa Mottet and the people at the Task Force, who helped me craft this response. I wanted to poke fun at her crazy ideas about ENDA resulting in molestation of wounded Iraq-war veterans, but they convinced me that it wouldn't be a good meme for stuffy Roll Call readers and they were right. More about that, and the Roll Call article, and TVC's outrageously personal response, after the jump.

When I first saw Lafferty's article, my head exploded. I could not believe my eyes. I felt sick. Here's a woman from a known hate group on the watch list of the Southern Poverty Law Center, spouting feverish nonsense with very little relationship to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and Roll Call gave her a national forum! So I wrote a blog post on it here.

What I didn't know until later was that Roll Call didn't know that TVC was on that watch list. One could say that they should have known, but frankly, the information is not that easy to find. When I was told about the watch list, it took me quite a while to find it, and I knew what I was looking for. A staffer at Roll Call told me that, had they known this information, they might have made a different decision about whether to run her article. Well, we're all human, and we all make mistakes.

Imagine my surprise when I saw, the next day, that CBS had not only picked up on TVC's press release, but they had swallowed it whole and re-framed their own coverage to reflect TVC's biased agenda. Then I really saw red. I published a blog post excoriating them.

I communicated with CBSNews.com's editor. He was very nice. He pointed out that they merely report the news objectively, and without any bias towards one side or the other, but that he was open to suggestions about how to cover the story.

He also pointed out that they are very sensitive to transgender issues. He sent me links to several reports they had done, including such gems as "India's Transgender Beauty Pageant," and "Minister Reveals Transgender Secret." He didn't send me a link to "Transgender Killer Tells Massachusetts Taxpayers to Put Mammogram on Her Tab," but that was an equally sensitive portrayal. Naturally, I sent him a warm thank-you letter. Very warm. JK Rowling would have called it a Howler.

I also sent him a copy of the joint press release from the Task Force and other United ENDA organizations, and asked whether he would cover that. Haven't heard from him yet. But I'm sure we'll be getting together soon.

In my response to Lafferty in Roll Call, I didn't spend much time talking about her weird ideas, which would just perpetuate them to a crowd that knows little about ENDA or the problems that LGBT people face. Instead, I pointed out the hate group status of TVC, and their desire to distort the facts, and quickly moved on to what ENDA is designed to accomplish and the studies showing the need for it.

I looked to the testimony that the Task Force provided to Congress, discussing core American values, and the Census 2000 data showing a strong link between thriving economies and diversity. I noted the polls in which more than 70 percent of Americans favor a law against firing or harassing people just because they are gay, and the fact that a majority of the Congress is in favor of ENDA.

I asked readers to imagine what our lives would look like if we had listened to the bigots in the 1950s and 60s, pointing out that ENDA simply seeks to accomplish those same goals.

How would you have written a response?

Here's her article from Tuesday, and here's the link to my response.

UPDATE: The Traditional Values Coalition responded to my Roll Call article on their website, with an article entitled " 'Transgender' Man Attacks TVC." They spend quite a bit of space musing about my "genitals." Here's the compassionate tag line: "Tragically, Weiss will continue to live under the delusion that he is a woman, while pushing his political agenda on our nation's children." And they're wondering why they were labeled a hate group?

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Washington DC
April 23rd, 2010

Dear Dr. Weiss,

Well crafted response. An adroitly handled and measured retort to TVC's shrew's hateful rhetorical dreck & drivel.

Your emphasis that; "ENDA is designed to redress the persistent job discrimination levied against people in this country based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, problems demonstrated by the many studies cited by experts in their fields at Congressional hearings on ENDA." absolutely nails it and that particular paragraph should stick with the lawmakers & their staffs as the legislation continues to languish.

Thank you.


Brody Levesque

Tim Gillean | April 23, 2010 11:10 AM

Dr. Weiss,

Thank you for your measured response, and your attention to facts as opposed to the mad rantings used by Lafferty and her ilk.

While I live in Oklahoma and have been summarily dismissed by all my representatives in my attempts to get them to support ENDA, I appreciate your thoughtful response in the publication that is accessible to them.

Dr. Weiss,

Your article was excellent! I like the approach you took.

The article on their website? Wow, just WOW. I can see her sputtering with anger and hate as she wrote it. I'm guessing that an article by her about illegal immigrants would read pretty much the same, too. And prolly a generation ago, same for people of African descent.

On the lighter side, the pic they posted of you was awesome! Also, I didn't know that trans ppl could become hybrids! I really could use a little more juice most days--do you know where to go to get a battery installed? ;)

Thanks for representing us so well, and your tireless efforts in support of ENDA!

Carol :)

It's interesting to note that they do not allow any comments on their site. I wonder why?

Generally, the Radical Religious Right Wing christofascists don't allow comments on their websites because they are above criticism (in their eyes) and don't know the definition of dialogue. They believe that they are right in their religious delusion that their buybull trumps our Constitution, so why bother to debate or even listen to the other side (science)?

Thanks. I know. I was just being facetious. (grin)

"Of course, by defining the ENDA debate as being about whether transgender teachers will trap and harm our young, Lafferty wins no matter what."

I agree with this. It is precisely why it is political malpractice for gay organizations to insist that ENDA include transgenderism. I was glad to see that the current bill has included some limits on workplace cross-dressing, which should prevent the drag-queen teacher scenario. But it is clear that if gay people lose this opportunity to pass ENDA, it will be largely the fault of those who insisted on including an extraneous category in the law. If nothing else, the defeat of an "inclusive" ENDA will at least educate gay people about the consequences of the parasitic relationship between LGBs and Ts.

Barret Hedeen | April 23, 2010 10:37 PM

A wise politician once said - 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' This is a lesson those in our community would do well to heed. Rights for some but not all means that those rights are not secure for any.

Thank you, Jillian, for speaking in kindness and clarity in response to Andrea's confusion and hurtfulness. You have my respect and you have an ally in our quest for equality and compassion for all.

Um… why include Gender Identity/Gender expression in ENDA?

Some Gay men do have long hair, finger nails. Some do wear ear rings, jewelery, nail polish, eyeglasses with frames that are not basic black and loud color clothes. Some even haul around ‘man purses’.
{Black sequined tank under a see thru yellow shirt? Yep, and on the plus side he is really cute!}

Some Lesbian women do have very short hair, eschew all physical adornement (no jewelery, nail polish, basic black eyeglass frames) and like to wear jeans, boots and plaid shirts or polo’s.
{Sometimes plaid shirts over polo’s. To me, that’s a bit over kill but it was a bit cool in that part of the building that day.}

Those are personal choices of fashion, I think its termed ‘free expression of self’.
Right now, many work places can demand that a male cut his hair to a military high and tight or demand a woman grow her hair to 18 inches (even tell her that she needs to have C size boobs to hold the job, just look at Hooters) to project a certain image that the company demands.

Where I work is cool enough that they let you be yourself.
Even if it is a stuffy military industrial complex kind of company, the place rocks!

Occasionally you run in to a person who has hormonal issues.
A woman who can grow a full beard, or a man who has C cup breasts.
I’ve seen first hand what can happen when a supervisor …is ‘unkind’ in informing someone that they simply do not ‘fit in’ due to a their physical body being different and to either change or find a new job.

One coworker who had life ling hormonal issues was told to go home and shave…and also to put on make up because she looked to man-like. Then she was told not to come back to work until she did something with her hair (she kept it cut short due to the heat and the job).

At that same employer I was told that I had to undergo a radical mastectomy to retain my job. But it was ‘ok’ since my employer at the time would pay for it…

Ya know…looking this over. I have to wonder why they should include sexual orentation in ENDA. Its not like anyone can see you having sex at work unless your job is in either the porn or sex industries. The first half of this I talk to the First Amendment and freedom of expression and the second half I speak to physical issues that can only be affected with medical intervention. But I do understand, that united we stand and divided we fall. Not just one falls, we all fall. Its part of being a community ya know?

If you believe that the so-called "drag queen teacher" scenario was ever plausible, then:

Wolfgang Pauli liked to say "That's not right. That's not even wrong."

You're not even wrong.

Also, I've found that it helps guide my moral and ethical compass to ask myself, "Is what I just said in line with the philosophies and politics of a known hate group?" And if the answer is "yes," I know for a fact that I should seriously reconsider that opinion.

Wonderful reply Dr. Weiss! Of course I still do not understand why it was necessary. Doesn't Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition read her Bible? I'd think rather than spending so much time writing gibberish that instead she'd be looking for a place to hide given her wickedness.

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Exodus 22:18

If she in fact reads it, she sure is not getting what she needs to from doing so. I suspect they are just making a good living off promoting hatred and bigotry, which is their main stock in trade. The scary thing is their claim to have something over 40,000 people contributing to promotion of their views.

Great response, Dr. W. And your use of irony above is so skillful... that editor from CBS forwarding you their coverage... if I didn't laugh, I'd have to cry!

Great response. The focus shouldn't be on teachers.

And Lori, that's the issue. It's not transgender people exactly, but the whole kids/teachers/schools connection. These are people who are already weary of public education, hence the homeschooling and private schools, and assume that everyone else is. So they hone in on child molesters in school and hang that around our necks, like they did with Kevin Jennings, the cis gay man appointed "safe schools czar." (not that into the "Czar" rhetoric, but his real title is really long and I don't want to look it up.)

When it comes to schools and child care, Americans have a specific fear that LGBT people will horrify, molest, confuse, and convert their children. That's why Lafferty is focusing on teachers. And I don't think that problem is solved by making an "educational institution" exemption to ENDA.