CommunityPam's House Blend

Out gay congressional candidate Jared Polis on ENDA

Jared Polis, who is running for Congress to represent Colorado’s 2nd district, has written an excellent counter to the incrementalist position on ENDA. Expect this to get scorched by those who believe leaving the Ts behind is politically palatable. From his DKos diary:

Ending workplace discrimination only for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals but not transgendered Americans would be the equivalent of passing a civil rights act that prevents only discrimination against Latinos and Asians, but not Blacks. Because the groups left behind are a smaller percentage of the population, it will be more difficult to ever include them.

Let us be honest; the gay and lesbian communities are better organized, larger, and stronger than the transgendered community. If the bulk of the gay community gets their protection through a narrow ENDA bill, it will be much harder to ever include gender identity. As a gay man, I want nothing more than to end workplace discrimination nationally. But my hands will not be soiled with the guilt of undermining our real chance to protect the rights of our whole community including those who defy prevailing gender stereotypes.

    A friend of mine is a public school teacher who recently transitioned from a female to a male.  The fear and worrying that he went through, even at an enlightened school in an enlightened district, were very real. I can only imagine what those who defy gender stereotypes face in less progressive communities.

    The closet is a terrible place for gay men and women who have to hide who they are; like all of us, I was there. The threat of losing their jobs keeps many gay people in the closet in their professional lives, which is why a federal ENDA is so very important. The temptation to seize our victory is great; the scent of victory sweet; we know that even the most narrow victory would have an enormous, positive impact across America, particularly in areas where discrimination is the norm rather than the exception.

It pains and saddens me greatly to say it, but a narrow victory would come at the expense of the larger battle for equal rights. Such a victory would undermine the moral underpinnings of our movement. We are all in this together. The brave and deserving gay men and women who face potential professional repercussions for living openly and honestly might need to stay closeted just a little bit longer so that we can all emerge from the closet together and celebrate the full rainbow of gender diversity.

I think the solid point of argument here is which faction is right on a key point — will the LGB community —  with the financial and political clout the trans community lacks — continue to fight as hard for Ts when and if an orientation-only ENDA passes? Observing human nature, I'd say no. If people don't have a personal stake in a political issue, it is more difficult to focus attention, resources and effort. As I've noted before, there are plenty of potential LGBT allies woefully undereducated on the issues — it's simply not on their radar. It's not a stretch to imagine that the same will occur in the LGB crowd, actually it's easy to believe, given the unseemly amount of hostility toward the trans community that has come to the surface in the debate over ENDA.

If that's what we are seeing on the surface, imagine the rancor beneath the waves.

Previous post

Hillary to Oppose Mukasey

Next post

Time for Another Primary Challenge for Jane Harman

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

24 Comments