Ever notice how John Aravosis is more than ready to talk about “LGBT issues” when it will push his agenda — and his agenda, like that of most conservative gay white men (who aren’t deep in the closet), is promoting “special rights” for gay men (more on this ina sec) — but when it comes time to make the rhetoric about more than inflating your numbers of hate crime victims, he’ll happily dump the transgender folks overboard.
Not just a political compromise — he hasn’t only argued this on basis of what will win passage of a bill, but every one of his posts on the topic has been about questioning the legitimacy of the gays and the trans being in the same movement, the same community.
He’s been doing what right-wingers love to do — pick off part of the population who are even more oppressed than others, and use them as a wedge issue.
Look here at HateCrime.org — a Web site created by Aravosis years ago, and which links to his “new” political blog, AmericaBlog. The first thing on the page is, predictably enough, a plea for money — and one which explicitly refers to transgenders:
Visit our Online Shop
– Visit our online shop for books and videos about Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena, hate crimes, and other LGBT issues. You won’t pay any more for shopping via our site, but you will help us finance this pro bono effort.
See, when it comes to making money, Aravosis has no problems about claiming that there are such things as “LGBT issues” — or citing Brandon Teena by name or selling “Boys Don’t Cry” via his affiliate link.
In fact, his HateCrime.org site lists eight hate crime victims on the front page — and two of them are trans people!
The John Aravosis who made that site clearly considered trans folks to be enough “like us” — and not like non-LGBT black, Latino, Jewish, women, Muslim and other hate crime victims — to be included on that site. There’s no mention of African-Americans killed for being black; no lists of Muslim victims of hate crimes or even perceived Muslims, such as the Sikh man killed after 9/11.
Why not? Because Aravosis of HateCrime.org understood that LGBT folks have a lot in common and are part of the same group and community. Or, more cynically, he understood there was political advantage in grouping LGBT hate crime victims together; in either case, the Aravosis who built HateCrime.org didn’t disavow the LGBT concept.
But now, when Aravosis sees the chance for “special rights,” he’s quick to toss aside transgender people, leaving them behind in the dust and going so far as to mock the “LGBT” terminology which he used, claim that there’s not a community (or if there is, it’s a “we were all gay” community where transgender people are unwelcome interlopers), and question why the T even belongs with GLB!
Did he do that with HateCrime.org? Did he section trans victims of hate off in their own group, and demand that trans activists spend more time on “their” fight convincing people to support “their” rights? No — but if a senator had told him the Hate Crimes bill would fail to pass the Senate because of the transfolk, would he have tossed them aside there, too?
As far as special rights — Aravosis has repeatedly referred to the non-inclusive version of ENDA as benefiting “25 million gays and lesbians.” Where does one even begin?
Despite his claims, ENDA is not a “gay rights bill” — like any other civil rights legislation, it doesn’t give protection just to gay men and lesbians, but to everyone. The terms “gay” and “lesbian” don’t even appear in the bill. Instead, it talks about “sexual orientation” — and pretty much everyone has one of those.
ENDA, regardless of Aravosis’ claims, protects 100% of Americans (over 300 million if we want to play bogus number games) from job discrimination on basis of sexual orientation.
Think I’m being bogus myself? Well, yeah, 300 million Americans really aren’t in the workplace these days — and there are plenty of exempted jobs even in the original, inclusive ENDA. The workforce is actually around 153 million people, as of September 2007. (Surely Aravosis isn’t claiming that gays and lesbians — not even counting bisexuals — make up over 16% of the workforce?)
What’s more, some of those — such as those in California — are already protected by state statutes; many are protected under company policies; and some work in religious organizations or the military and would not be protected under any form of ENDA.
But these numbers games are a real distraction — nobody who actually cares about civil rights really sits there and contemplates whether you’re protecting 25 million or 2.5 million people. It’s important to note, however, that Aravosis is both inflating his numbers for rhetorical purposes — 25 million sounds good, doesn’t it? how can you hurt so many people? — as well as deliberately and (apparently) intentionally misstating what ENDA does.
ENDA protects straight people from job discrimination. ENDA protects gay people from job discrimination. ENDA protects people who are straight from being fired for being straight, or being fired for mistaken as gay.
It’s the same way that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, by virtue of including “sex” (not “femaleness”) protects men today from sexist workplace harassment. Did you know that of the sexual harassment complaints filed in 2006, 15% of them were filed by men? That’s one in seven.
So, if ENDA (trans-inclusive or otherwise) would actually protect maybe 85 million gay, lesbian, bisexual, and straight Americans (who aren’t living in states with fair employment laws or working for decent employers), why isn’t Aravosis using that higher figure, instead of his oft-cited “25 million gays and lesbians”?
Because John Aravosis has, from the beginning, tried to be as divisive as possible and make this only about the gays (and, he grudgingly adds, the lesbians) versus the transfolk.