Saturday, September 29, 2007

Should We Kill ENDA if Transgendered People Aren't Included?

John Aravosis of Americablog has posted a thoughtful piece regarding ENDA, the legislation that would outlaw job discrimination against gays and lesbians. I commend it to you (click on title above for full piece):

"There's a debate raging in the gay community over an upcoming vote on the most important piece of civil rights legislation to the gay community, ever. We are on the verge of passing, at the federal level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation that would make it illegal for an employer to fire, not hire, no promote an otherwise qualified employee or job candidate simply because they're gay. Some are now arguing that if transgendered people are not included in ENDA, the gay community should not support its passage.

"Most Americans, including lots of people in the gay community, do not realize that under federal law it is LEGAL to fire someone for being gay. It is also legal in most states. Contrary to popular belief, "discrimination" is not illegal in America, and it's not illegal under the Constitution. It is only illegal (more or less) if your particular class is specified in legislation. If you read the existing civil rights act, you'll see it lists very specific categories that are covered (race, religion, national origin...). It is not a blanket protection against "discrimination." That is why ENDA is needed. And that is why ENDA is not "special rights" or extra rights being granted to gay people and not other Americans - we are not included under the current civil rights laws, and that's unfair. Currently it is legal to fire someone for being gay under federal law and in most states. Don't believe me? Look it up yourself."


My take on the subject? I see the answer to this debate in the knowledge that many people have come to accept gay and lesbian people as equal to themselves while most Americans are unaware of what a transgender person is and/or how that does or does not relate to homosexuality.

Our country has obviously reached critical mass in support of gays and lesbians while it is clearly not yet ready to accept gender identity as a class to protect. Amercans have not been exposed to nearly enough information nor have they been exposed to nearly enough transgender people to make an informed decision regarding their inclusion in ENDA. Meantime we have a good chance of protecting a substantial percentage of Americans from legal job discrimination.

The question is, Do we go forward to protect 10% to 20% of the American population or do we wait until we achieve critical mass in support of transgender people? My preference is that all sexual minorities be included in ENDA and I'm torn knowing that so many people will continue to be fired, not hired, or not promoted on the basis of sexual orientation if we insist on it.

After much consideration I support ENDA exclusive of gender identity while vowing to work very hard to help educate the American public and Congress regarding gender identity issues. A full 10-20% of Americans should not be asked to continue laboring in economic apartheid until the country is brought up to speed on gender identity when having gay and lesbian Americans treated with equality in the work place may have a beneficial effect on the issue. I say pass ENDA and get on with gender identity education in America.


8 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:06 PM

    Before I would kill ENDA when it would do so much good for so many as it is, I would accept the immediate gain and then work to improve the lives of transgenders. I think ENDA exists because society has come to the conclusion that homosexuality is innate rather than a choice. It will take a lot of convincing to bring the public to that same level for transgenders.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous4:10 PM

    Before I would kill ENDA when it would do so much good for so many as it is, I would accept the immediate gain and then work to improve the lives of transgenders. I think ENDA exists because society has come to the conclusion that homosexuality is innate rather than a choice. It will take a lot of convincing to bring the public to that same level for transgenders.

    ReplyDelete
  3. FECarson2:00 PM

    Honestly, this doesn't surprise me in the least. I was really expecting this awhile back, and I'm still wondering why it took so long for people to recognize that America just doesn't appear to be ready to examine issues of gender identity. I'm sure Kate Bornstein would probably have something profound to say about this, but all I'm going to say is that, until far more of my TG brothers and sisters come out of the closet to stand up for their own rights, we will all have to accept what we can get courtesy of the efforts of others. We will only get rights worth having when we are willing to fight for them on our own. It's one thing to demand rights, its something else entirely to be strong enough to attain them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous8:53 AM

    Transgender has been the subject of comedy for so long that it is hard to separate Christine Jorgeson from Dame Edna. The mix is so broad that it is like hobo soup. Perhaps Carnegie's advice re eating an elephant could be applied with good results: Cut it up into small pieces.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous10:17 AM

    Assignment:
    Go look a transperson in the eye and tell them that their rights are less important than yours. Don't just pontificate behind a keyboard.

    Go to www.gender.org/remember and read at least 20 obituaries. Remember that employment rights could have saved their lives.

    You complain about ignorance of TG issues. Well, the average straight person has a better grasp than the average gay in my experience- and the experience of other transfolk as well.

    Gays have never come back for transpeople. Ever. SONDA is by no means isolated. Gay rights now = trans rights never.

    Transpeople have contributed to gay rights in good faith. We were lied to, abandoned, and told we were expendable, and that our rights didn't matter. Prove otherwise (hint: you can't)

    Oh, it doesn't help you, either. Gays have been accused of being morally bankrupt for some time now. Transpeople don't have that baggage. You sacrifice the moral high ground by abandoning us.
    This WILL come back to bite you...and you just might find our energy elsewhere, and the energy of other folks, too.

    Your move...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous7:55 PM

    I could not get a job at gay run agency. I am a transwoman and it took a straight person to give me real job. I feel no particular affinity for the gay community and this ENDA mess ices it for me. Good bye and good riddance.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous8:00 PM

    NAZI Germany proves that everybody ONLY looks out for their own. As a Jewish transsexual , I have come to expect nothing from anybody. Whatever the transcommunity gets will be done by ourselves because ENDA shows that the Democratic party will compromise on anything from health care for all Americans to an immediate end to the misguided tragedy in Iraq. Both parties stink

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous1:18 PM

    In the eyes of a transgender, what would be a perfect world ?

    ReplyDelete