Start looking inside us – the transgender people. What are we doing that is so ineffective? In the immortal words of Pogo, "We have met the enemy... and he is us"
Very few in the transgender community care if the wider society is inclusive or not. Transgender people either tend to hide in organizations that protect them from that community and take refuge in the axiom that “they” don’t care about us or we blend in the more general community and leave those who can’t or don’t swinging.
Sad, because when people from the larger community meet us and gender as it relates to transgenderism is explained, they do care.
We lose when burying ourselves in what is largely a sexual orientation community and hiding under their public positions. The LGB organizations in NY threw us (Ts) under the bus many times: when they first obtained anti-discrimination protection for themselves, when they gave us up for same sex marriage, and now, their main issue is surrogate parenting.
When they present to the public, the first words are, “We are the LGBT.” And why not? These organizations were formed to advance sexual orientation politics.
When the first proposed bill to amend the Albany County Omnibus Human Rights Law was referred to the personnel committee and resistance appeared, the sponsor, Chris Higgins, said that the transgender part was not really necessary. Who had written the legislation? The Pride Agenda abd the Human Rights Commission. What did they want? A new Human Rights Commission. Not transgender protection.
Sad but true.
We contacted a Pride representative about a truly Transgender event to start organizing a campaign for transgender antidiscrimination legislation in Schenectady County. The response? We are busy getting a city resolution to support GENDA at the state level. This was a serious call for lethargy. They continued that why not join their next big event featuring queer films. Once again, the T is lost in the main purpose of the organization.
The remedy? Follow the lead of the In Our Own Voices group here in Albany. They are not our voice, but they realized that the larger LGB community was not working for them either.
Many say that we are too small a group to have impact.
When transgender people combine with natural allies, parents, non-transgender supporters, a very few people can accomplish a lot.
Example? Four months working with a core of three people, NYCTR convinced the Albany County Legislature to pass anti-discrimination legislation. Only Dems? Only GOPers? Only passed by a majority of votes?
No, transgender nondiscrimination was passed unanimously by the entire Albany County Legislature.
The history of failure under Pride Agenda leadership.
Lastly, under the Pride Agenda and the organization’s chief Albany spokesperson, GENDA has gone nowhere. Their strategy has proven to be ineffectual for six years. No progress. As a wag once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” In the six years, the organizations pushing for GENDA legislation have created tepid supporters but no advocates.
What is gender? People don’t have a clue.
The message leads with gender expression. Gender is something the legislators do not understand, have misconceptions about, and generally don’t think it’s worthwhile learning anything connected with gender. But then neither does the Pride Agenda. They spend zero time trying to get people to understand gender in general and more specifically how transgender people express their gender in a variety of ways – just like the non-transgender population. Understanding gender and how humanity uses it, including us, gains new allies. New supporters. And yes, new advocates.
We now move on to the second word, expression. When coupled with gender, all kinds of negative vibes go out to many legislators and the general public. Gender expression calls forth images of guys in jock straps with beards invading women’s toilets. Ridiculous? Yes. True? We’ve heard it again and again. But, when people understand that gender contains two elements, identity and expression, resistance weakens and listening increases.
The impression is that only the person expressing a gender presentation has the right to say how society must react. Not true. Many of us take this position and find it wins no friends and influences few people. The public expression requires a partnership of the presenter and those to whom the presentation is directed. The person presenting and those by whom that person is being seen. This is true for transgender and non-transgender people alike.
The take away? If humans want to be accepted in specific social contexts, they will be judged by those in that context. Much of this judgment is based on gender presentation. Everyone does it. Transgenders, adults, kids – everyone.
Then we get to anti-discrimination – something people DO understand. But the average person never gets here. Too many negative vibes up front. And discrimination is what people really do understand and disapprove of.
Finally, even many in the transgender community stumble over GENDA, can’t explain what gender is and how transgender fits into the overall pattern of humanity.
As I said earlier, the definition of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting different results. Continuing a struggle for anti-discrimination legislation without featuring ANTI-DISCRIMINATION, without an ability to explain gender, and relying on sexual orientation-focused organizations to take the lead rather than putting transgender voices out front, in their own organizations, is insanity.