Friday, November 9, 2007

Dear Joe

I wanted to share the response which I sent today as a reply to the 11/07/07 email from Human Rights Campaign President, Joe Solmonese, entitled "It Happened today!" -- which was addressed "Dear Gabrielle".

His letter is now posted here on the HRC website.

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Regarding "It happened today!"
Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2007 09:37:48 -0800
From: Gabi Clayton
To: Human Rights Campaign

Dear Joe,

On Wednesday you wrote in "It happened today!" about the passing of ENDA:
Supporting this version of the bill was a difficult and painful
decision. But, without a doubt, the only path to achieving a bill
protecting our whole community was by achieving the
successful House vote today. A defeat of ENDA would have
set back the possibility of an inclusive bill for many, many years.

HRC remains 100% committed to doing the hard work
necessary to pass legislation that protects our entire
community, including transgender workers who remain
especially vulnerable to workplace discrimination.
and you wrote:
Along this road, there will be challenges, but we must not
allow them to divide us. We know we are working towards
the same goal: equal rights for all.

We can get there, together, and we will.
And I say to you, who has divided us? YOU have
.

While on your website it states: "In a world defined by difference, our strength depends on our common humanity. HRC unites diverse communities into a powerful whole striving for equality." and you claim to be the "largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans" -- this is a lie.

HRC has NEVER been 100% committed to pass inclusive legislation, or you would never have supported this legislation. Your organization has continued to sell out transgender persons, and I say to you that friends and allies like you are helping those who hate the community by dividing us.

HRC and those who were also part of the decision to pursue -- and have the audacity to celebrate -- the passage of a law that is not inclusive of all those who you claim to serve are deceiving, hypocritical, insincere and bigoted.

Shame on you.

Warmly,
Gabi Clayton
--
Gabi Clayton
Families United Against Hate

FUAH provides support, guidance and assistance to individuals, families* and communities dealing with incidents based on bias; and to the people, organizations and agencies who serve and support them.
* We define family broadly to include biological, extended and chosen family.



This was HRC's reply:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Regarding "It happened today!"
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2007 14:19:36 -0500
From: ENDA ENDA@hrc.org
Sender: Lisette Fee Lisette.Fee@hrc.org
To: gabi.clayton@fuah.org

Dear Gabi,

We understand your concern and anger at the situation; HRC acknowledges that the ENDA bill that passed in the House is an important first step to fight workplace discrimination and we are not in anyway celebratory of the fact that our transgender brothers and sisters were not included in this bill. We want you to know that we will not stop fighting for the inclusion of gender identity in ENDA.

Although we decided to support this version of ENDA in the final hour, throughout the entire process our goal was to have a fully inclusive bill go to the floor. The disagreement on strategies by advocates for equality should not make us question each other’s commitment to the common goal of getting protection for all members of our community. The truth is our real enemies will stop at nothing to prevent equality from moving forward for GLBT people. That the extreme right wing is doing all they can to lobby for the defeat of ENDA, but it has nothing to do with whether or not it includes gender identity. Their goal is to simply have our movement fail and for ENDA to die in Congress, which would severely hinder any chance of protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans.

While the bill Congress passed this week was not the bill we wanted, the Human Rights Campaign decided to stay at the table with Congress to ensure that millions of Americans receive the protections they deserve, and because passage of this bill is a first and absolutely necessary step toward preventing discrimination based on gender identity. Very soon, HRC will launch a new initiative to ramp up efforts on educating Congress on the importance of including gender identity in ENDA and protecting the entire gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. HRC continues to break down barriers in the corporate world through our Workplace Project. This year a record 195 major U.S. businesses earned the top rating of 100 percent on our Corporate Equality Index, and for the first time, a majority of rated firms — 58 percent — provide employment protections on the basis of gender identity.

The bottom line: The commitment of HRC’s Board of Directors for a fully inclusive bill has not changed. Because HRC stayed at the table, something we will continue to do, we were able to secure an unprecedented commitment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Without a doubt, the only path to achieving a bill protecting our whole community was by securing passage on this historic vote.

After twelve years of hostile leadership, we have come so far and changed so many hearts and minds. Only a year ago, it never seemed possible that we could pass any GLBT legislation. For the first time in history, both houses of Congress passed a hate crimes bill, and for the first time ever a workplace antidiscrimination law passed in the House. Even a year ago, we could not imagine this coming to fruition. Our fight will not be won overnight; it will be won one step at a time.

Whether or not you stand with HRC, we hope that you will continue to take action in the fight for equality for the entire GLBT community.

Respectfully,
Lisette

Lisette Fee
Member Services Manager
Human Rights Campaign
1640 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036-3278
Phone 202.216.1525
Fax 202.216.1505
Email
Lisette.Fee@hrc.org
www.hrc.org/membership



And this was my reply back to her:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Regarding "It happened today!"
Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:11:26 -0800
From: Gabi Clayton
gabi.clayton@fuah.org
To: ENDA
ENDA@hrc.org

Dear Lisette

Many transgender people ARE gay, lesbian and bisexual. What about them? Where do you draw the line?

You write, "The bottom line: The commitment of HRC’s Board of Directors for a fully inclusive bill has not changed." and unfortunately I agree with you.

You write, "... we are not in anyway celebratory of the fact that our transgender brothers and sisters were not included in this bill."

If you mean that, then HRC will not mention this passage of ENDA in any list of accomplishments that the organization has done or assisted with, nor mention it in any kind of fundraising venture -- until you help pass legislation that included [includes] transgender persons.

If I am in error then I will be able to see that through your actions - not your words.

Gabi
--
Gabi Clayton
Families United Against Hate

FUAH provides support, guidance and assistance to individuals, families* and communities dealing with incidents based on bias; and to the people, organizations and agencies who serve and support them.
* We define family broadly to include biological, extended and chosen family.



Afterthoughts ... the next morning (Saturday 11/10/07).

Lisette Fee had written:
The truth is our real enemies will stop at nothing to prevent equality from moving forward for GLBT people. That the extreme right wing is doing all they can to lobby for the defeat of ENDA, but it has nothing to do with whether or not it includes gender identity. Their goal is to simply have our movement fail and for ENDA to die in Congress, which would severely hinder any chance of protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans.

Okay, if "
... the extreme right wing is doing all they can to lobby for the defeat of ENDA, but it has nothing to do with whether or not it includes gender identity." then why not work for the whole, instead of leaving transpeople in the dust? I don't get it.


I'm really proud of PFLAG National. They have come a long way from not including transgender people in their mission statement to full inclusion and the position they have taken now.

It wasn't an easy transition.


In September 1998, at the annual meeting in San Francisco, "gender identity" was added to PFLAG’s mission statement. Read TNET – A Brief and Biased Background by Mary Boenke.

That was just the beginning.

Read About PFLAG’s Trans-Inclusive Legislative Policy by Carolyn Wagner. I'm honored that I was quoted in her essay, where she wrote:

On September 27, 2002 the National PFLAG Board of Directors adopted the following Public Policy Resolution:

"That PFLAG can only support legislation that provides explicit inclusion of all who are included in our mission statement and ENDS."
Getting there was a sometimes bumpy road.

On September 04, 2002 I was pushing PFLAG for a trans-inclusive Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (LLEEA) policy along with Carolyn Wagner and others. Including transpeople was not supported by HRC, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), Senator Edward Kennedy (MA) & Congressman Barney Frank (MA), and I was told by a PFLAG staff person (who is no longer working there):

The idea is to:
  • move forward with a plan to educate coalition partners, people on Hill and others who should be supportive of trans inclusive language - and use this as a vehicle to keep momentum going generally here in Washington - keep moving forward on what I think has been a pretty effective effort to educate our own grass roots over the past couple of years and help them to educate their allies on the broader issues and prep them to understand and support trans inclusive language
  • and all the while, move forward playing nice but firm to get inclusive language in the bill
And manage it all in a way that is respectful of the rest of the work on our plate so we can do it all well.
We need to stick together on this - especially with G.W. looking to start a war before the November elections and totally through everyone off track.

Please be patient as we get through the conference and continue to lay some groundwork so we can do our part to staff this strategy effectively.
Play nice? I DON'T THINK SO! I don't take well to being told to play nice. This was my reply:
Play nice with whom? With our allies who are not ready? I still don't understand what it is they need to be educated about while the hatemongers are killing and beating and terrorizing people. These are civil rights activists -- are you saying that before they will be ready to support inclusive language they need some kind of basic education about transgender people?

First, I think that it is insulting to all the transgender people who have been doing that education for years to say that PFLAG needs to do this to get it done right. And second, it is letting people who say they don't know enough yet off the hook for us to accept that they need more time. I think that they had a responsibility to educate themselves once it was brought to the table.

Or do they need proof that transgender people are being targeted? How many victims do we have to show them there are before it counts? While we are playing nice, people are dying. In all honesty, I am far more concerned about the hate crime victims and the people who love them than I am concerned about making some allies who don't understand this yet [get] upset or angry. Maybe that is what it will take for this to happen.
What are we afraid of?
Now moving five years down that road to the end of 2007, I see that while I am sure the organization has its flaws (as all do) PFLAG has become a model of integrity on this issue.

Read SYMBOLISM OR SUBSTANCE IN ENDA DEBATE?
by Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director of PFLAG National. October 23, 2007

and Marcie’s Turn: Inclusive ENDA
by Adam Ratliff, Communications Coordinator at PFLAG’s national office. November 8th, 2007.

and Post-ENDA Vote Statement
also by Adam Ratliff. November 8th, 2007.

So when I posted my "Dear Joe" letter to the PFLAG-all listserv and another list member answered by sending us the email he had just sent to the HRC, in which he wrote: "I was appalled by Gabi Clayton letter ..."

You will forgive me if I am not upset. I was raised to be a troublemaker, and learned a long time ago that change doesn't happen if we are afraid to spill a few applecarts.

2 comments:

Danielle said...

Gabi,

Thank you for your continued support of transgender and gender variant people everywhere. Your letter to HRC was perfectly concise. It is unfortunate that an organization with so much money uses it so poorly. Thank you for mentioning PFLAG National's stance on transgender inclusiveness. As a former intern at PFLAG National, I can attest to how deeply they feel that inclusive legislation is the only way to go.

Jerry Hebert said...

Gabi,
As a Washington State Human Rights Commissioner and an openly gay man I have followed the ENDA debate with great interest. Our state legislature had the same issues that HRC faced with ENDA when we passed our new GLBT jurisdiction two years ago here in Washington. The far right and anti-gay folks used the same arguments and threats - the strength of our legislators committment to inclusion and the efforts of the State Human Rights Commission and the dedicated community activists in our state made damn sure that Transgender people are given the same respect and protections as any other class of people - if we can do it - so can Washington DC - any step back from full equality is a step towards injustice. Thank you for keeping the fight real and for keeping the vision for all of us.

Jerry Hebert
Commissioner
Washington State Human Rights Commission