h1

The HRC and Trans* Exclusion [Update at Bottom]

2 April, 2013

The HRC has issued an apology for asking a trans individual to remove the Trans* Pride flag from the marriage equality rally. They stated that the persons who asked this were not living up to the HRC’s high standards on inclusion and equality. I think it is important, however, to recall that the HRC has not held itself to these high standards when looking at trans* equality issues. There was the EDNA debacle back in 2007 where the HRC refused to back a protection bill that included gender identity. They insisted that leaving trans* people out now ensured their inclusion later (sound familiar? 1971). Further, they offered strong support to openly gay Rep. Barney Frank who described trans* people as “crazy queens” who would cost gay people their rights. As with the flag issue, they acted in a transphobic manner and apologized for it after the fact. Further, these attitudes seem quite prevalent within the HRC. A year ago I had a conversation with the HRC representative polling the GMU campus. When I asked what was being done in regards to fostering a trans-inclusive attitude in the HRC the representative told me that “the HRC does not represent those people.” When I pointed out he was talking to one of those people he acknowledged he knew and that was why he clarified we were “not welcome in the HRC because [we] are self-hating gays.” The HRC has long been influenced by the attitudes of Jim Fouratt, who had Sylvia Rivera and other trans women removed from the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), and Janice Raymond, author of the transphobic feminist treatise “The Transsexual Empire.” They have continually made decisions and statements that exclude trans* people from the community and later offered a weak apology only to continue in their transphobic behavior. Perhaps the HRC would do well to consider what I tell my students: the best apology is to stop doing the offensive behavior.

 

Update: I am exceptionally pleased to report that in the years since I wrote this piece Chad Griffin, President of the HRC, has proven both himself and the HRC to be committed to atoning for their poor treatment of the trans community. He has listened to our voices and taken stances that demonstrate a commitment to repairing relationships and healing the old divides. I admit I was quick to judge him when he took his position because of previous experiences and, in this case, I am glad to be wrong.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: