I’m very pleased to offer discounted tickets to this year’s GLAD Spirit of Justice Awards Dinner. Urvashi Vaid will be honored as the 2014 recipient, marking the first time an Asian lesbian has received the honor and putting her in a circle with Deval Patrick and Chief Justice Marshall.
Because of QAPA’s place in the community, any QAPA members who would like to attend, simply enter in PROMOSOJ14 to purchase $75 tickets (in lieu of the $250 ticket) and then select Maxwell Ng/QAPA as your table captain.
QAPA will be seated with our friends, MASALA, of whom Hema Sarang-Sieminski has worked tirelessly for LGBT refugee asylum. And I am hopeful that we can also honor our own Janson Wu who has given so much as GLAD’s Deputy Director.
This event is the premier networking event of Boston’s LGBTQ community, drawing thousands of people. Purchase discounted tickets here.
As part of a collaboration with the Asian Pride Project, NQAPIA has released a series of PSAs of parents speaking directly about their love of their LGBT children. These PSAs have been recorded in
Mandarin (with English subtitles)
Cantonese (with English subtitles)
Japanese (English with Japanese subtitles)
Korean (with English subtitles):
Laotian (English with Laotian subtitles):
Hindi (with English subtitles):
Tagalog (English with Tagalog subtitles):
And will be airing in Asian ethnic television stations across the country.
This is a resource that is greatly needed and I am thankful for all that helped to put this project together as well as the parents who contributed their voices. More still to come.
May meets June: The Intersection of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Queerness
This post can also be found at MTPC’s website as well.
In May I celebrate and honor the work that has been done by my Asian and Pacific Islander brothers, sisters and siblings in the fight against racism. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the completion by Chinese laborers on the transcontinental railroad as well as the first immigration of a Japanese person to the United States.
And in June I remember and honor the work that my LGBTQ brothers, sisters and siblings have done in the fight against homo/transphobia. June is the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event that is credited for creating the modern LGBTQ Civil Rights movement.
While most of the time, it feels like this work is distinctive, isolated and separate, for me as a second generation Asian American and an out transman, these worlds have always been linked.
Have you looked at a map recently? Asia is big. Really big. There are 49 countries in Asia, a region that stretches from Saudi Arabia to the Kamchatka Peninsula and includes 60% of the world’s population. “Asia” as a concept was created when westerners were exploring the globe looking for exotic lands and rare spices. In fact, the earliest disputes about the border between Asia and the “western” world were centered on the Caucasus Mountains and so we interpret Asian to mean other.
Today “Asian Pacific-Islander” is a geopolitical term that refers to blobs of color on an atlas that are approximately close to each other. But in the “melting pot” of American race politics, to be API means you have yellow skin and slanty eyes. It possibly also means you’re good at math, have demanding parents and slur your Rs. To be Asian American is to remove all the subtlety and nuance of a rich cultural heritage and to boil it down to a degrading stereotype that was created during the Wild West, institutionalized at Tule Lake, and given household recognition by Stanley Kubrick.
I remember as a child in the early 80s, my mother would caution me repeatedly, “Make sure you tell people you’re Chinese.” The fear was that if people thought I was Vietnamese, I would be construed as The Enemy because “we all look alike”. In 1982, Vincent Chin was bludgeoned to death by two Detroit autoworkers. Even though he was not an autoworker, or Japanese, they blamed him personally for the rise of Japanese automobile companies. He was brutally murdered for the way he looked and the perceptions of his race. In the months immediately following, Asians all over this country realized that it didn’t matter where we were born or who our parents were, we would still be labeled a Chink, a Jap, a Gook, and hated for simply because we are different. Vincent’s murder inspired a movement of togetherness that has lived to this day. In fact, immediately after the attacks on 9/11, Japanese Americans who survived Tule Lake were the first to come out in solidarity to make sure the same institutionalized racism didn’t happen again to Muslim Americans.
I talk about these things incessantly because so many people don’t know the fundamental link between racism and homophobia the way I have experienced. Vincent Chin’s murder changed hate crime legislation in the United States. Something that happened again with the murder of Matthew Shepard. So much of the hatred in this country is based on perception of power. Most recently, a troubled misogynistic young man went on a killing spree in Isla Vista aimed at the women he perceived to reject him. It is difficult to rationalize any of his actions or his beliefs, but it is very obvious that his own internalized racism at his half Asian self was a contributing factor to his self loathing.
Intersection Junction, what’s your function?
The simple truth is that no one’s identity is simple. For me, my world and life are profoundly shaped by the color of my skin. I have long said that the two things people see about me are 1.) my race and then 2.) my gender. Before I say a single word, they assume that I don’t speak English, and that I will be submissive to them. 2011 statistics show 46.9% of hate crimes were motivated by race and 20.8% by sexual orientation. In my own life I have been subjected to decades of microaggressions that are in accordance with those statistics.
To be both API and LGBTQ in this country means you stand at the cross roads of intersecting identities. Often times we are forced to choose allegiances. We can either fight to end racism OR end homo/transphobia, but apparently not both. Could you choose to favor the right half of your body and willingly remove the left half of your body? Could you select between your head and your heart?
Queer it up America
People who are Asian American or Pacific Islander are subjected to stereotypes that only limit us. We must continue to defy those stereotypes and break down the imagery that dominates this thinking. Not all Asian Americans come from stable two parent homes. Not all Asian Americans work in STEM careers. Not all Asian Americans are yellow. Similarly, just because you’re a gay man, doesn’t mean you’re automatically a hairdresser. Just because you play softball doesn’t mean you’re automatically a lesbian. LGBTQ people have been working for decades to break down these misconceptions by living their diverse and full lives in between the extreme polarities that people perpetually use to try to define us. We should all be working to breaking down the same and preposterous myths and stereotypes of racism.
When I sat down to write this blog post I was inspired by this blog post about pioneering Black Transwomen. My intent was to try and write a historical perspective of API LGBTQ persons who have been doing trailblazer work. But I am not a historian, and sadly, my cultural knowledge is hugely augmented by Wikipedia. And while I could sit down and do scholarly research, I am hampered by language and terminology that is not always culturally appropriate. We need more Asian American elders who are doing pioneering work. I was mournful of the death of Senator Daniel Inouye, and most recently the death of Yuri Kochiyama, Japanese Internment Camp Survivor and Civil Rights Activist. But I am also thankful for contemporary LGBTQ activists like Helen Zia, Patrick Cheng and Pauline Park who continue to work on Civil Rights and recognize that their visibility doing so inspires us all to do more. And I am excited about rising stars like Andy Marra who bravely puts her own personal life into public scrutiny. I look forward to the day when I can rattle off hundreds of names of API LGBT activists who are household names and hope that you do too.
For additional reading (Thanks Prof Mo for the Bibliography):
Q & A: Queer in Asian America, ed. Alice Hom and David Eng (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998)
Asian American Sexualities: Dimensions of the Gay and Lesbian Experience ed. Russell Leong (New York: Routledge, 1996)
Howard Chiang and Ari Larissa Heinrich, eds., Queer Sinophone Cultures (New York: Routledge, 2014)
Martin Manalansan, Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003)
So with all the recent shenanigans by Pope Francis, I think it’s time we start to talk about the place of Christianity in Queer API lives. Last year, we were lucky to have our very own hometown hero facilitate a talk with us about this very topic. Let’s continue the talk! (With Mimosas).
There are various different churches in the Boston area that are Queer affirming. Let’s check them out together!
Starting off with Easter Sunday, let’s go to Dignity Boston (Catholic). Dignity’s service is Sunday evening, so afterwards we can go out for dinner/drinks.
Then we’ll follow up with UU (First Parish Cambridge), Episcopal (The Crossing), UCC (First Church Somerville) and maybe toss in some Baptist or Evangelical if we’re feeling ambitious.
Check out our Meetup for more details! And if you have a church that is Queer welcoming and think would make a good stop on this little tour (and there’s a good brunch place nearby) please let us know!
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
We here at QAPA.org love you and we love being proponents of all types of love. So whether you celebrate Valentine’s day with roses and chocolates, or you just think it’s a plot from Hallmark to control our wallets, be good to yourself and all those you love. Your bestie, your mom, your boo. It’s all the same.
Today, QAPA would like to shout out our love for our besties over at MASALA.
So recently QAPA was asked to participate in a larger collective of LGBT and POC groups in Boston, named the QPOC Bridge. I am hopeful that this will lead to some great partnerships, allyships and collaborations. As part of that participation, we will start posting other organizations events on the QAPA FB page. This will be a great way for us all to extend our networks and exercise our voice in the larger world. YAY QAPI Visibility!
We love you QAPArs! But we (the Steering Committee) want to make sure it’s a mutual attraction! Won’t you take our super short survey and give us some feedback? It will take you just 10 minutes and it will help us immensely!
All people who are Queer and/or Asian are welcome to respond. But we’d especially love to hear from you if you live in New England.
Please join us for our annual Lunar New Year dinner as we welcome the year of the Horse!
Sunday, February 2nd from 3:30-6pm
(Please note this is a change from previous publications. Please RSVP via Meetup or Facebook)
Our Prix Fixe tickets have sold out! But you can still come and order off the menu.
Our member and friend just opened a new restaurant and has agreed to graciously host us for a fabulous party. So let’s do it up in style this year. Wear something stylish, something dapper, something red, or something stylish, dapper, and red!
Bring your fabulous selves and your marvelous friends! Newcomers welcome! We’ve even invited the people from NAAAP and a few other professional groups, so it’ll be a great chance to meet someone new. Check out the details on our Meetup or Facebook.
This event is open to all partners, friends and allies regardless of race, gender or orientation. But please RSVP so we can properly prepare.
And there’ll be dancing with DJ Lady Spindrift!
So get fancy and come out and party with us! Let’s make sure the Year of the Horse starts with a smash!
As 2013 starts to wind down, we wanted to let everyone know that there are big things on the horizon for QAPA.
First of all 2014 is QAPA’s 35th anniversary. We are already planning a big party for the fall to celebrate. Tell everyone you know to come back to Boston for the shindig. We’d love to reconnect with as many QAPA alumni as possible.
Second, we’re getting approached by lots of other groups to partner and network. On top of our usual events with NQAPIA, MAP and MASALA, now we’ll also have a few events with NAAAP (National Assoc of Asian American Professionals), BAGLY, and maybe a few others. Make sure to check the Meetup for all these cool opportunities.
And finally, in conjunction with all these cool events and partnerships, we really want to hear from you. In a few weeks we’re going to put out a quick survey to take the temperature of QAPA. We absolutely need your feedback. If you’ve never come to an event, or if you have come to all of them, your voice is important! Please be on the lookout for that.
Hope everyone’s holidays are warm and bright no matter how you celebrate.
ENDA has just passed the Senate 64 to 32! It still has to pass in the House, but national leaders are calling it an amazing bipartisan victory (by the way, the outtakes of that video are hilarious). For those of you who don’t know the back history of ENDA, it started back in 1994 and has been revised and stalled and revised and modified and burned for almost TWO DECADES.
So this really is awesome kids.
Below is a message that I sent to the QAPA listserve back in 2007 when ENDA went to the House floor excluding protections for Transgender people. It includes the statements that Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and the HRC (yes the Human Rights Campaign is not always equal) sent to their constituents explaining why trans people needed to be sacrificed. This is also the summation of why I will never ever give money to the HRC or ever trust hometown boy Barney Frank.
Please read. This is not acceptable.
In the past few days there’s been a maelstorm of information flying around about the status of ENDA (employment non discrimination act) in the House of Representatives. Barney Frank, (D-Mass) made moves to exclude trans people from ENDA, in order to get it through the House. Right now, GLAD, HRC, and other LGBTIQ groups are protesting the segregation of trans people from ENDA. the following is directly from GLAD:
“We need your help today to ensure that no member of our community is left behind. Contact your Representative, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at 202-224-3121 and let them know that you oppose legislation that is not fully inclusive.
Our Massachusetts supporters have a unique opportunity to impact the course of this legislation by contacting the bill’s sponsor, Representative Barney Frank. Urge Representative Frank and Speaker Pelosi to let Congress vote on the original version of ENDA, HR 2015, the version that was asked for, worked on, and supported by the community.”
For those of you who don’t know, ENDA has previously been marred by an anti trans status. While the HRC repeatedly told the trans community that they would fight for a trans inclusive ENDA, they continually wrote it out in closed meetings. ENDA was created in 1994, and for 10 years, this debate had be going on.
The HRC in late 2004 finally committed to that position.
The HRC’s article and Barney Frank’s letters are below.
> ———— — Forwarded Message: ———— —
> From: “hrc” <email@example.com>
> Subject: HRC’s Statement on ENDA
> Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2020 22:31:16 +0000
> We know that everyone has been waiting to hear from HRC about the status of ENDA. A
> lot has changed since Wednesday.
> Besides trying to ensure that the Senate beat the filibuster on Hate Crimes—an
> achievement which can not get lost in this controversy—we’ve spent the last 48 hours
> gathering information and using all of our resources to stay on top of very fast-moving
> developments on ENDA. Rather than issue public statements and alerts while there was
> still a chance to make the situation better, HRC chose instead to engage directly with allies
> on Capitol Hill in an effort to save an inclusive ENDA.
> During this entire campaign to win an inclusive ENDA, we have been guided by the
> principle of trying to achieve the end result the fastest way possible. Without question,
> that result has been—and continues to be—an inclusive ENDA that covers the entire GLBT
> community. We will continue to use that as our benchmark as we move forward in this
> Unfortunately, we now know what we’re facing. The decision has been made, according to
> statements from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Frank issued this afternoon—the
> House will consider a version of ENDA that does not include gender identity.
> This is not what any of us wanted, and certainly not what we’ve been fighting for. But, it
> has been made clear that the House leadership and bill sponsors are moving forward with
> a non-inclusive ENDA even without the full support of our community. They view this as
> the best opportunity they will have this year to help the largest number of people—and
> have stated that they do not intend to miss this opportunity.
> Passing an inclusive ENDA is the right thing to do for our community, our economy and
> our country. However, we’re facing a stark reality.
> House leadership and the bill’s sponsors very firmly believe that if the House votes on an
> employment non-discrimination bill without gender identity, that legislation will pass—
> again, it will pass even without the support of the GLBT organizations.
> After trying everything at our disposal to change this outcome, we are just beginning to
> come to terms with what that means.
>Since 2004, the Human Rights Campaign’s policy has been to only support civil rights
> legislation that is inclusive of gender identity. That’s why we fought tirelessly for and won
> Congressional approval for a fully inclusive hate crimes bill. We’ve been fighting to pass
> the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for more than a decade. The breaking news that
> the House has decided to move forward on a non-discrimination bill that is not inclusive
> of gender identity is devastating. The Human Rights Campaign remains dedicated to the
> fight for full equality for our entire community and, in light of this new reality, continues
> to consult with members of Congress and our lobbyists to determine how we can achieve
> that goal.
> This has been a long battle. HRC first started the quest for ENDA in 1994 . We’ve been
> pushing for an inclusive bill since 2004. Within two weeks, ENDA could pass the House for
> the first time in history, but not as an inclusive bill.
> For continuous updates please visit the HRC blog at http://www.hrcbackstory. org.
>Pelosi: `ENDA is an Historic Advancement for Gays and Lesbians’
>Washington , D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement this afternoon
> on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act:
>”For my 20 years in Congress, ending discrimination against gays and lesbians has been a
> top priority of mine. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, sponsored by
> Congressman Barney Frank, is an historic advancement for gays and lesbians and their
> families. I am proud to be the first Speaker to bring this legislation to the House floor,
> which was first introduced in 1994.
> “While I personally favor legislation that would include gender identity, the new ENDA
> legislation proposed by Congressman Frank has the best prospects for success on the
> House floor.
>”I will continue to push for legislation, including language on gender identity, to expand
> and make our laws more reflective of the diverse society in which we live.”
>STATEMENT OF BARNEY FRANK ON ENDA
> Being in the legislative minority is easy – pulling together to block bad things does not
> require a lot of agonizing over tough decisions. Being in the majority is a mixed blessing.
> On the one hand, we have the ability to move forward in a positive way on important
> public policy goals. Detracting from that is the fact that it is never possible for us at any
> given time to get everything that we would like, and so we have to make difficult choices.
> But it is important to remember that the good part of this greatly outweighs the bad.
> Going from a situation in which all we can do is to prevent bad things from happening to
> one in which we have to decide exactly how much good is achievable and what strategic
> choices we must make to get there is a great advance.
> The current manifestation of this is the difficult set of decisions we face regarding the
> Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We are on the verge of an historic victory that
> supporters of civil rights have been working on for more than thirty years: the passage for
> the first time in American history by either house of Congress of legislation declaring it
> illegal to discriminate against people in employment based on their sexual orientation.
> Detracting from the sense of celebration many of us feel about that is regret that under
> the current political situation, we do not have sufficient support in the House to include in
> that bill explicit protection for people who are transgender. The question facing us – the
> LGBT community and the tens of millions of others who are active supporters of our fight
> against prejudice – is wheth er we should pass up the chance to adopt a very good bill
> because it has one major gap. I believe that it would be a grave error to let this
> opportunity to pass a sexual orientation nondiscrimination bill go forward, not simply
> because it is one of the most important advances we’ll have made in securing civil rights
> for Americans in decades, but because moving forward on this bill now will also better
> serve the ultimate goal of including people who are transgender than simply accepting
> total defeat today.
>When the bill banning sexual orientation discrimination was first introduced by Bella
> Abzug and Paul Tsongas more than thirty years ago, it was a fairly remote hope. Over
> time because of a good deal of work, education of the general public, and particularly the
> decision by tens of millions of gay and lesbian people over that time to be honest about
> our sexual orientation, we have finally reached the point where we have a majority in the
> House ready to pass this bill. Those of us who are sponsoring it had hoped that we could
> also include in the prohibition discrimination based on gender identity. This is a fairly
> recent addition to the fight, and part of the problem we face is that while there have been
> literally decades of education of the public about the unfairness of sexual orientation
> discrimination and the inaccuracy of the myths that perpetuated it, our educational efforts
> regarding gender identity are much less far along, and given the prejudices that exist, face
> a steeper climb.
> We introduced legislation opposing sexual orientation discrimination with explicit
> inclusion of gender identity for the first time this year. Earlier this session under
> leadership of Speaker Pelosi, we were able to get through the House a hate crimes bill that
> provided protection against crimes of violence and property damage for lesbian, gay and
> bisexual people and people who are transgender. There was some initial resistance to the
> inclusion of transgender people but a very organized effort on the part of Congresswoman
> Baldwin, who took a major role in this, myself, and the Democratic leadership allowed us
> to overcome it, with the support of some of our Republican colleagues.
>We then began the work on passing a transgender inclusive ENDA. I was optimistic at first
> that we could do this, although I knew it would be hard. One of the problems I have found
> over the years of discussing this is an unwillingness on the part of many, including leaders
> in the transgender community, to acknowledge a fact: namely that there is more
> resistance to protection for people who are transgender than for people who are gay,
> lesbian and bisexual. This is not a good fact, but ignoring bad facts is a bad way to get
> legislation passed. I have for some time been concerned that people in the transgender
> leadership were underestimating the difficulty we faced in a broadly inclusive bill being
> Still this seemed to me an effort very worth trying, and, when I testified before the
> Education and Labor Committee on ENDA I spent much of my time explicitly addressing
> the need to include transgender people. In fact, I believe I spent more time on that than
> any other witness. Sadly, as the time approached for the vote to be taken in the
> Committee, we encountered a good deal of resistance. The great majority of Democrats
> remained committed to this, but with Republicans overwhelmingly likely to be opposed –
> even on hate crimes on the critical motion to recommit we were able to retain only nine
> Republican supporters out of two hundred Republican Members – it became clear that an
> amendment offered by Republicans either to omit the transgender provision altogether or
> severely restrict it in very obnoxious ways would pass.
> Responding thoughtfully to this requires people to accept facts. Some have tried to deny
> this unpleasant reality. The Democratic leadership, which is in complete sympathy with a
> fully inclusive bill did a special Whip count. There had been earlier informal Whip counts –
> polls of Democratic Members – that had showed significant support for a bill that included
> transgender, although even these informal checks never showed that we had a majority.
> But Members will sometimes be inclined to give people the answers they think the people
> who are asking the questions want until the crunch comes. In the crunch – the serious
> Whip count taken in contemplation of the bill – it became very clear that while we would
> retain a significant majority of Democrats, we would lose enough so that a bill that
> included transgender protection w ould lose if not amended, and that an anti-transgender
> amendment would pass.
>The question then became how to proceed. There were several choices. One was to go
> forward with the bill understanding that an amendment would be offered to strike the
> transgender provision. There was a proposal to have the Democratic leadership do that in
> what is known as a manager’s amendment, in the hopes of avoiding a divisive roll call on
> the subject. But the Democratic leadership did not want to take the lead in killing a
> provision to which its Members are committed as a matter of principle, and in fact, given
> Congressional procedures, there is no way to prevent a roll call even on that. People have
> claimed that the desire to achieve a roll call is aimed solely at protecting some Democrats
> from having to make a tough choice. That is of course a factor, and asking your
> supporters to vote with you on a matte r that is doomed both to lose itself and to lose you
> votes is not a good way to build up support. But it is also the case that a number of the
> Democrats were prepared to vote for the inclusion of the transgender provision even
> though they knew that it would hurt them politically. The main reason not to put this to a
> vote is our interest in ultimately adopting transgender protection. If we were to push for a
> vote now, knowing that the transgender provision would be defeated by a majority, we
> would be making it harder ultimately to win that support. As recent campaigns indicate,
> Members of Congress who are accused of switching their position on votes are pilloried,
> even when this is done unfairly as it was to Senator Kerry. Thus, forcing a vote on
> transgender inclusion now, which would without any question result in a majority against
> it, would make it harder to win when we have done better in our educational work,
> because Members who vote no now will be harder to persuade to switch their votes than it
> will be to get them to vote yes in the first place, never having voted on this before.
>In addition, going forward in this situation leaves us open to Republican procedural
> maneuvers in which they could succeed not only in getting rid of the transgender
> provision. This would not kill the bill, but it would substantially delay it, and would be
> have very bad psychological effect in a situation in which maintaining the right psychology
> –optimism – is important.
>That is why I believe that a strategy of going forward with a transgender inclusive
> provision that would certainly be stricken at some point in the procedure by a vote in the
> House would be a mistake.
> Leaders in the GLBT community, who strongly support the inclusion of transgender, now
> acknowledge that this would be the case – namely that the transgender provision would
> lose – so their proposed alternative was simply to withhold the bill from the House
>That is, their recommendation was that the Speaker simply announce that she was not
> going to allow the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to come up at all. I believe that
> would be a disaster – politically, morally, and strategically. While the reason for this would
> be the debate over how ultimately to achieve transgender inclusion, the impression that
> would be given to the country was that Speaker Pelosi, the first Democratic Speaker in
> thirteen years, and a lifelong strong supporter of LGBT rights, had decided that we could
> not go forward on what had been the major single legislative goal of gay and lesbian
> people for over thirty years.
> Some in the transgender community and those who agree with them have given a variety
> of strategic arguments why they think it would be better not to go forward. One variant is
> that since the President is likely to veto the bill anyway, it does not make any difference if
> we fail to vote on it. But it should be noted that this is directly contradictory to the
> arguments that the LGBT community has been making for years. That is, we have been
> very critical of arguments that we should not push for votes on anti-discrimination
> legislation simply because it wasn’t openly going to win. People have correctly pointed to
> the value of getting people used to voting for this, of the moral force of having majorities
> in either the House or the Senate or both go on record favorably even if the President was
> going to veto it, and have in fac t been getting Members ready so if that if and when we
> get a president ready to sign this, we are closer to passage. To repeat, the argument that
> we should not take up legislation unless we are sure the President is going to sign it is
> about as opposite to all of the arguments LGBT people have been making for as long as I
> can remember.
>The real reason that people are now arguing that we should withhold any action on the
> antidiscrimination bill unless it includes transgender as well as sexual orientation is that
> they are, as they have explicitly said, opposed in principle to such a bill becoming law.
> That is the crux of the argument. There are people who believe – in the transgender
> community and elsewhere – that it would be wrong to enact a law that banned
> discrimination based on sexual orientation unless it fully included people who are
> transgender. I think this argument is deeply flawed.
> First, I would note that since I first became a legislator thirty-five years ago, I have spent a
> lot of time and energy helping enact legislation to protect a variety of groups from
> discrimination. In no case has any of those bills ever covered everybody or everything.
> Antidiscrimination legislation is always partial. It improves coverage either to some group
> or some subject matter, but never achieves everything at once. And insistence on
> achieving everything at once would be a prescription for achieving nothing ever.
>To take the position that if we are able to enact legislation that will protect millions of
> Americans now and in the future from discrimination based on sexual orientation but
> should fail to do so because we are not able to include transgender people as well is to fly
> in the face of every successful strategy ever used in expanding antidiscrimination laws.
> Even from the standpoint of ultimately including transgender people, it makes far more
> sense to go forward in a partial way if that is all we can do. Part of the objection to any
> antidiscrimination legislation is fear of consequences, which fears are always proven to be
> incorrect. There is a good deal of opposition now to passing even sexual orientation
> legislation. Enacting legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and
> getting a year or two’s ex perience with it, will be very helpful in our ultimately adding to it
> protection for people who are transgender. That is, if you always insist on doing all the
> difficult things in one bite, you will probably never be successful. Dismantling the
> opposition piecemeal has always worked better.
> For these reasons I have proposed along with the Democratic leadership the following
> strategy. First, we have introduced two bills. One will be ENDA as it has historically
> existed, banning discrimination on sexual orientation. A second will add transgender
> protections to that basic scheme. We will move forward with the ban on sexual orientation
> for which we finally – after thirty-plus years have the votes. After we are successful in
> winning that vote, I will urge the Committee on Education and Labor to proceed with our
> next step, which will be to continue the educational process that I believe will ultimately
> lead to our being able to add transgender protections. This will mean within a month or
> two hearing in the Committee on Education and Labor which, unlike the hearings we
> previously had on this bill, will no w be able to focus exclusively on transgender issues,
> and will give people a chance to meet transgender people, to understand who they really
> are, and to deal with the fears that exist. The other options are either to bring a bill to the
> floor in which the transgender provision will be defeated by a significant majority, making
> it less likely that we will be able to succeed in this area in the future, or ask the Speaker
> the House in effect put aside her lifelong political commitment to fairness and be the one
> who announces that we will not pass a bill banning discrimination based on sexual
> orientation even though we have the votes to do it. Passing ENDA in part and then moving
> on to add transgender provisions when we can is clearly preferable to either of these
> Dana L. Campbell
>Member Services Coordinator
>Human Rights Campaign
>1640 Rhode Island Ave, NW
>Washington , DC 20036