02 October 2007

A word about ENDA

On a very personal level, I'm incredibly disturbed by the way in which the recent developments around the long-awaited Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) proposal has moved forward in the House. Somewhat surprisingly, the traditionally gay-centered LGBT movement has actually taken a stand against Barney Frank and demanded that transgender-inclusive language not be removed from the legislation. Yet mainstream media has been largely silent on this issue, and when they have spoken out, it has been with tremendous disrespect.

The Washington Post editorial of September 28 entitled "A Civil Rights Law" provided a disturbing image of how the Post editorial board -- which has historically been an avid proponent of civil rights -- has an exceptionally flawed view of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act bills presented in the House of Representatives last week. The most striking disappointment rests in the line, "Delaying passage of ENDA, which was first introduced in the House in the mid-1970s by Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.), until the transgender community changes enough hearts and minds would be a mistake."

To suggest in any way that any minority must convince legislators that the Constitution of the United States protects all Americans equally runs counter to the very basic rights upon which this nation was founded. Indeed, many groups have engaged in long-running struggles for the recognition of their rights. Yet surely, after now centuries of these struggles, it should be unfathomable to ask yet another group to work for "nearly 40 years" in order to have their rights recognized in law. Surely we have reached a point in our history wherein the basic rights of all Americans, regardless of gender expression and identity or any other classification, are inherently recognized. The fact that a so-called advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights like Rep. Barney Frank believes that is it appropriate to yet again sideline the very transgender people whom he claims to support is simply another example of alleged civil rights promoters abandoning their constituents for political ends.

The Post should retract its statement, and Rep. Frank and other ENDA sponsors should stick to their commitments to the transgender community, or else both should renounce their claims on real civil rights advocacy.

To learn more, visit the National Center for Transgender Equality.

No comments: