Transsexual Menace, Others to Protest HRC
A handful of organizations will be demonstrating outside of the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) at their Washington DC headquarters during its upcoming board meeting. Transsexual Menace is organizing the Unity Rally for Transgender Rights joined by other GLBT organizations to protest the HRC's dubious efforts on behalf of transgender inclusion in federal legislation. Members of groups such as the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC), Pride at Work (PAW) and Parents, Friends & Families of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) will be participating.
The demonstration will take place on Saturday, August 7, when the HRC boards convene to discuss whether to vote on supporting only transgender-inclusive federal legislation including the federal hate crime bill (LLEEA) and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
"In a climate where the GOP is using scare tactics to erase the GLBT people from gaining civil rights, we believe that for the largest GLBT organization in our country to be playing these kinds of political games is not only divisive to our community but unconscionable," said Ethan St. Pierre, organizer of the Transsexual Menace Event. "HRC is the largest GLBT national organization and when they support non-inclusive language in what should be trans-inclusive legislation it sends a clear message to Congress that we [transgenders] don't matter and that our lives mean nothing!"
Recent events, such as the last-minute removal of Margaret Cho from their Unity '04 Reception during the Democratic National Convention appear to have rekindled the skeptics' criticisms of HRC, who bills themselves as the nation's largest gay and lesbian organization. Many saw the decision on HRC's behalf as "unilateral" and feel this is a return to the same lack of consideration from HRC that many have experienced over the years.
In March of 2001, HRC announced the inclusion transgender people in their mission statement. After the announcement, many in the transgender community were initially pleased and hopeful, while others remained skeptical. However, HRC at that time did not change their exclusion of transgender coverage in the federal bills they pushed.
Late in 2002, HRC and select members of the transgender community conducted a study and at the Southern Comfort Conference publicly declared their impending support for legislation that includes gender identity or expression. A truce was called, the board of directors voted to support the inclusive versions of federal legislation, and new members and fundraising were sought from the transgender community under the guise that HRC was fully inclusive and supportive of transgender issues.
However, in April of 2004 a large group of transgender activists went to Washington, DC for the NTAC and GenderPAC Lobby Days to lobby Congress for inclusion of gender identity or expression. While speaking with members of Congress and their staff that expressed their full support of transgender inclusion, lobbyists from all three transgender organizations heard from numerous offices that they wished for HRC to "get on board" with the idea of inclusion.
"We learned that while HRC was professing to support inclusion of the trans community, they were totally backing up and supporting the already existing non-inclusive legislation," said St. Pierre, also a board member of NTAC. "We learned that they were speaking half-truths, manipulating the GLBT community through their media releases and collecting money to support their organization while not being honest to any of us."
"There's a lot of frustration out there. Many in the community feel we've been led down the primrose path straight into a dead end," said NTAC Chair, Vanessa Edwards Foster, explaining the sentiment behind the protest. "We're not equal, nor are we anywhere near it. We don't have an open voice, nor are we closer to having that. HRC decides who, HRC decides when, HRC decides what policy and priorities, and we're expected to quietly go along for the ride. Dj vu. It feels like we're right back to 1999 or 1994 again."
Transsexual Menace is asking for all supporting individuals to join in the Unity Rally for Transgender Rights. To get details on how to get involved, contact Ethan St. Pierre at , or Email:
Groups will be meeting at approximately 8:00 AM at the HRC Headquarters, located at the corner of 17th St. and Rhode Island Ave. NW, in the DuPont Circle district of Washington DC.
Founded in 1999, NTAC - the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition - is a 501(c)(4) civil rights organization working to establish and maintain the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to live and work without fear of violence or discrimination.