Canard Watch: Queer Channel Media Still Pimping the Incremental ‘Progress’ Lie

These transphobes are getting desperate, aren’t they?  From the (ironic, no?) Thanksgiving edition of Queer Channel Media’s flagship propaganda organ:

Protections for transgender workers have been enacted using three different strategies: inclusion, incrementalism and concealment.

Inclusion simultaneously adds both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a civil rights law. This ideal strategy is the one that United ENDA is now demanding at the federal level.

Incrementalism also adds both traits to a civil rights law, but not simultaneously.

Something tells me that if the author of this piece of garbage, Albany law prof Stephen Clark, received an exam from a student in which that last sentence was used as an example of being ‘incremental’, it would receive an ‘F’.

Employment rights for gays now, public accommodation rights for gays later and marriage rights for gays later still is incremental – its equality a little bit at a time.

Employment rights for gays now and employment rights for trans people later is is not incremental – for anyone.  Its 100% of the essential basic rights of economic existence for those in the community who are least currently in need of such specific statutory protections – and 0% for those most in need.

Don’t believe me?  Try the dictionary.


increasing gradually by regular degrees or additions; “lecturers enjoy…steady incremental growth in salary” 

To utilize the example from within that definition, gays are the lecturers who are enjoying “steady incremental growth.”  Trans people are, let’s say, TAs – who are not part of the group covered.

You get everything – the fact that it is in increments is irrelevant.

We get nothing – and our lives continue to remain irelevant.

Of course, Clark does not stop with this algebraic fraudmeistery.  He also decides to act as though he can analyze trans legal history. (BTW – I wonder if there are any trans law profs at his school who are are afforded the opportunity to do so from a comfy position in academia?  Just wondering – even though I’m pretty confident that I already know the answer.)

Concealment is a third strategy. It adds only “sexual orientation” to a civil rights law, but transgender protections are covertly woven into the definition of sexual orientation in hopes of enacting them with little notice.

State and local experience with these strategies reveals at least four flaws in United ENDA’s demand for an inclusive strategy at the federal level today.

First, inclusion has not yet proved sufficiently viable, especially at the state level.

The results are mixed at the local level. Over the last decade, inclusion succeeded in about 34 places and became increasingly common. But incrementalism or concealment succeeded in about 40 other places. Tellingly, moreover, it is concealment that recently succeeded in such “Middle America” locales as Dallas and Peoria.

Notice how here he doesn’t mention New Mexico?  That’s okay; he probably gets his news from the Advocate.  If so, you have to forgive him for being a bit uninformed.

Notice how he doesn’t mention Iowa?



S.F. 427

AN ACT relating to the Iowa civil rights act and discrimination based upon a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Be It Enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Iowa:

Section 1. Section 216.2, Code 2007, is amended by adding the following new subsections:

NEW SUBSECTION . 9A. “Gender identity” means a gender-related identity of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.

NEW SUBSECTION . 12A. “Sexual orientation” means actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.


Approved May 25, 2007

Well, that’s okay.  If he acknowledged Iowa’s 2007 law, he’d probably have to address how this occurred 31 years after the state statutorily recognized the reality of transsexualism – and, somehow, I don’t feel he’s up to that task.  I’ve yet to meet an incrementalist who was.

Notice how he didn’t mention Colorado?  That’s okay; he probably thinks that Colorado proves his point.  Again, if so, you have to forgive him; he very likely does not have the benefit of any trans collegagues to point out the flaws in his reasoning.  Let’s look at the operative Colorado definition, shall we?  It can be found in the Colorado Revised Statutes, Sec. 24-34-401 (7.5):

“Sexual orientation” means a person’s orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status or an employer’s perception thereof.

Yes, trans protections were included in the definition of sexual orientation – no question.

But covertly?

Again, I will assert that if Clark was to receive an exam to grade in which an answer contained that definition of sexual orientation as an example of covert anything, academic ethics would require him to give it the lowest possible grade. 

And Colorado’s and Iowa’s were enacted in 2007 – you know, the same year that Barney Frank and HRC tried one again to ram to ram the lie of ‘incremental progress’ up our collective ass using this sort of logic as lube? 

But, lets go back just a couple of years – to 2005.  Here is the operative definition utilized by the Illinois Legislature (which can now be found at 775 ILCS 5/1‑103 (O-1):

“Sexual orientation” means actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender‑related identity, whether or not traditionally associated with the person’s designated sex at birth. “Sexual orientation” does not include a physical or sexual attraction to a minor by an adult.

Yes – trans is in with the definition of sexual orientation, though here without the sparkling T-word.  But, even here, can anyone honestly say that this covert?  If, in fact, I’m imagining that the following was uttered on the floor of the Illinois Senate on Jan. 10, 2005 by one Senator Roskam:

This is the entire definition that you’re being asked to rely on today: “‘Sexual orientation’ means actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender-related identity” – that’s a buzz phrase that I think we’ve got to be very, very mindful of – “whether or not traditionally associated with the person’s designated sex at birth.” The question becomes, what is the impact on business as it relates to dress codes and the assertion of, “No, you can’t put that dress code on me because I have a different gender related identity.”

then I’ll concede that Illinois was ‘covert.’

But, you know what? I don’t think I’ll be needing to concede.

At the state level, inclusion has succeeded only twice. Every other time statewide protections have been enacted, the successful strategy was either incrementalism (four states plus D.C.) or concealment (six states). Even recently, inclusion has been the least viable strategy among states.

This record suggests that public opinion has not evolved sufficiently to make inclusion a viable strategy on a nationwide basis either, as recent events in the House confirm.

Of course, this begs a couple of questions.

First, why is he trying to pull a scam by (apparently) calling a state such as Colorado one of those that ‘concealed’?  Never mind…that should be obvious.

Second, why is he casually glossing over the ‘fact’ that (in his world at least) incrementalism has been less successful than what he defines as concealment?

Third, why is he trying to absolve his own kind for the role they played in ‘cutting the record’ that he is now attempting to play at a volume sufficiently high to drown out those who are singing the accurate tune?  How many of these places where, in his self-centered view, incrementalism was confirmed via public opinion, did well-monied, well-connected gays and lesbians who had no interest whatsoever in the well-being of trans people drive the agenda?  When you come up with an honest answer to that one, get back to me.

Of course, as with most incrementalism addicts, the more he yaks, the less he makes sense.

The third flaw in United ENDA’s argument is blaming incrementalism for delays in enacting protections for transgender workers. Advocates complain that a particular state or municipality added “sexual orientation” to its civil rights law years ago but still has not added “gender identity.”

But incrementalism did not cause those delays; public attitudes did.

Well, again I’ll ask: Who has driven what the ‘public atttitude’ would become?  Incrementalists, that’s who.   What has turned the ‘public attitude’ more sour – trans rights or gay marriage?  Gay marriage, that’s what.

Before 1997, only a dozen protections for transgender workers were enacted anywhere, and almost all of them through concealment. Transgender protections were just not politically viable in most places, no matter the strategy.

Does anyone else notice how he again absolves – by omission – his own kind for any fault in the general souring of the climate for anything GLBT?  Of how he absolves – by omission – his own kind for consciously shifting the momemtum of the gay righst movement to persuading the public that not only is gay marriage more palatable than trans issues but that, somehow, ‘dem dum dirty tranny freaks just latched onto out clean-n-pure movement, like, just last week?

Only recently have attitudes evolved sufficiently to allow enactment of transgender protections on a somewhat wider basis without resort to concealment. Incrementalism first succeeded only in 1994 (San Francisco) and inclusion in 1998 (Benton County, Oregon). Since then, about 90 protections have been enacted, about as many by incrementalism as by inclusion.

You know you’ve run across either a pure propagandist shill or a complete and utter moron when he doesn’t even mention things that, on one level at least, support his position – like Minnesota.

Of course, if he mentions Minnesota, he would (assuming he wants to be honest – which I can’t assume to be the case) then have to mention that the state passed its inclusive law in 1993.

Oh – that’s the part I’m really surprised he didn’t mention.  I’m sure he wouldn’t classify that as inclusive.  He’d say it was covert (You know them trannies…just a bunch of devceivers.  I wonder if Michelle Bruce has had an opportunity to read Clark’s ‘scholarship’?  Just wondering), and by his neo-phobist standard, it is:

“Sexual orientation” means having or being perceived as having an emotional, physical, or sexual attachment to another person without regard to the sex of that person or having or being perceived as having an orientation for such attachment, or having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness. “Sexual orientation” does not include a physical or sexual attachment to children by an adult.

That’s Minnesota’s magical 1993 language, alright.  No T-word.  No GI-phrase.  But, we’re there. 

But where did that 1993 language come from?

From the belly of Barney?

From the ass of Aravosis?

From the cranium of Crain?

Oh…that’s right.  It came from an amendment to the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance in 1975 – and it was ‘incremental’!  Yet, could it also have been ‘covert’?  And could it also have come only 18 months after the original gay-only version of that city’s ordinance?

Here is how Clark concludes his tale of how us trannies are screwing up his Barney-given right to have everything now.

United ENDA refuses to admit that support is simply not yet great enough for “full inclusion” to succeed in most states, let alone in Congress.

And I assert that you – and all who are like you – refuse to acknowledge the full scope of what has brought all of us to the point we are at today. 

Your attempt to redefine what is ‘inclusive’ – to spin skunk shit into gold and mint it into double eagles – is a pure and utter con of the highest order.  The undergraduates to whom I teach trans history come away with a better – and far more accurate – picture of trans law that that which you have attempted to foist on the world just two days after the Day of Remembrance.

Yes – I’m a trans woman, so I certainly am an interested party.

But, then again, unlike seeminly all of the incremental ‘progress’ addicts and pimps, I have no desire to win by conning anyone.

13 Responses to Canard Watch: Queer Channel Media Still Pimping the Incremental ‘Progress’ Lie

  1. Thanks for bringing attention to this issue. I have tried to pull up the original article from the Blade without success so I could understand his argument better, but it does sound like an intellectually disingenuous attempt to justify keeping transgender people in the legal closet.

  2. Karen Savage says:

    To build on your use of the definition for Incremental;

    The antonym of INCREMENT is DECREMENT
    The antonym of INCLUDE is EXCLUDE

    We supporters of an inclusive ENDA need to point out that the ENDA that Barney Frank and HRC bait-and-switched is not incremental, but exclusive.

    Also, the supporters of an EXCLUSIVE ENDA keep using the term ‘trans-jacked’. I’ve noticed that when the religious and/or political fundamentalist right uses phrases such as ‘shove it down our throat’, ‘culture war’, ‘trans-jacked’, and other such phrases, it;

    a) is used to shut up/hog-tie/muzzle their opposition. We try to prove our request is reasonable, not shoving-it-down-their-throat, by backing off and trying to be reasonable and thus ineffective, and;

    b) it signals how we must proceed in order to gain ground against their stand — we must rise to the challenge and show them shoving-it-down-their-throat.

    ‘Trans-jacking’ should be our battle cry, and we should use it at the top of our lungs!

  3. […] at straws to find a new justification for trans-exclusion.  I conclusively debunked the theory here.  Even so, I didn’t look at all of the trans-inclusive laws that show how full of shit that […]

  4. […] the point that it would have put his law license in jeopardy.)  Recall that I conclusively ripped his ‘theory’ to shreds back in […]

  5. […] as a comment to that post, Stephen Clark – that Stephen Clark – goes a bit further:  Solmonese needs to realize that the future of the movement was in the […]

  6. […] But, you get the idea.  (Besides, ENDABlog still exists.) […]

  7. […] and foremost, I think its a good read; if you find my dot-connecting between the disingenuousness of those already privileged with positions in academia and like-clockwork (read: anytime ENDA is discussed) anti-inclusion drumbeating from ‘our […]

  8. […] of LGBT history.  Of course, don’t stop there.  Go back to the same shit, 2007-style: legal theories made up after the fact to conceal gay men’s political trans misogyny.  And go back for the three-plus decades before that, a melange of gay-and-lesbian-led active […]

  9. […] that there is some sort of legitimacy issue if we get what we want via bundling, or even “concealment.” 2) an injustice for any is an injustice for […]

  10. […] are nothing more than fairy tales.  Tell me, Bil – what day of the week is the sabbath in Stephen Clark-ism? Has HRC engaged in a systematic subversion of trans polifical efforts over the last fifteen […]

  11. […] Stephen Clark is noticing – and calling it […]

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