Friday, October 05, 2007

Include Transgenders in ENDA!

Dear Rep. Pelosi,

As a gay man and a longtime activist I am as eager as anyone to see civil rights legislation such as ENDA in place, but I am not willing to tell my transgendered brothers and sister s that they are any less entitled to job protection than I. Not only do they need the protection so much more than I do, but they have always been at the forefront of the GLBT movement. Cutting them out of this legislation would be a terrible betrayal.

As a longtime activist I have seen transmen and transwomen put their lives on the line for our larger community. In August of 1966 transgendered women at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco’s Tenderloin rebelled against harassment in an incident that rallied the nascent queer community to new heights of activism. This was echoed in New York three years later at the Stonewall uprising, also started by trannies.

If we betray these sisters and brothers who have done so much and risked so much for us all, saying, later, later, when would that “later” be? If gay men and lesbians are willing to cast off our transgendered comrades now, when will they be willing to welcome them back in to the struggle for equality? And what perverse logic makes them even temporarily expendible?

The old logic of community organization is to include everyone. I have to wonder about the gays and lesbians who think that we should work for transgenders’ rights later. Later when? Will these “incrementalist” homosexuals be any more willing to fight for others’ rights later than they are now? Or will the protections afforded by civil rights for gays and lesbians satisfy them so that they forget our tranny friends as easily as they are willing to now?

I’ve seen enough transphobia in the gay community, not to mention just plain old self-satisfied complacency that I have little faith in this sort of incrementalism. I know politics often requires long treks by baby steps, but let us take those steps together, and never leave our brothers, our sisters, and often in this case, our heroes and pioneers behind.

Yours truly,

Jack Fertig

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