It Depends On What The Definition Of “Better” Is

Much has been made of the “It Gets Better” series of videos that are going around.  My general feeling is that they are overall a good thing.

But, at the same time, I worry.

I don’t want any kid to commit suicide because of seeing and hearing – constantly – the piping-hot shit that bubbles from Carl Paladino‘s pores and oozes from the various orifices of exterminationist-wannabees, be they holders of public office or just high school BMOCs.

But I don’t like lying to people either.

I want to post something that I just ran across on my computer.  I didn’t write it, so I probably should get permission – and if Sarah contacts me and asks me to yank it I will.  But I have a feeling she won’t – for the same reasons I’m posting it.  First, its been posted publicly before.  Second, its not only about ENDA but also about people being driven to give up.  Third, the only reason that 2010 was not a repeat of 2007 on the ENDA front was not the neo-imaginary inclusive bill that was introduced (and whose revised language St. Mara of the Undeserved 80K saw but would not show to those she claims to represent) that the throwing-under-the-bus was spread around to all corners of LGBT-land.

Is that better?  Or worse?  Or a creature of a different odor entirely.

The datestamp on the text file that contained this is Dec. 29. 1998.  I don’t recall if that’s actually when it was posted publicly, but its probably close – far closer than we are to ENDA.

Annotation to a Still-Necessary Debate

by Sarah DePalma

In a unique corner of the internet you can find the Houston Activist Network – a series of mailing lists designed to help keep the Houston queer community (and those who are interested in it; Houstonians and Non-Houstonians alike, feel free to join in at [Kat’s note: Onelist eventually became Yahoogroups; and the HAN groups are no longer active] up to date on what’s happening.  One of HAN’s lists is called Point of View.  Its basically a queer cyber soapbox for queer cyber debate.

One major debate of late has centered on transgender inclusion in gay civil rights legislation.

The principal debaters?  Houston attorneys (and Triangle columnists) Katrina Rose and Dale Carpenter.

As this great debate has moved along through the Texas bandwidth, several people have contacted me and asked why I have not become involved. Frankly I’m busy.  The first ever Transgender Lobby Day in Austin is only a few weeks away and the  response has been overwhelming.  I’ ve been interviewed by both the national and state media.  The idea that transgenders could have the courage to stage an event in what is perceived nationally as a “redneck” state has genuinely captured their imagination.  There have been briefing papers to create, one hundred E-mails per day from across the country to answer, and a career to maintain while the craziness swirls around me waiting for my attention.

There is another reason I have not responded: I respect both individuals a great deal.

I disagree with nearly every word Dale writes, but when it has been deserved, I’ve also defended him on my segment of KPFT’s “After Hours.”  Dale is not my enemy.  He is a person with whom I have genuine disagreements even as I defend his right to write and say what he thinks.

I agree with much, but not all of what Katrina writes.  There have been times when I thought her frustration managed to get the best of her.  However, she also expresses the anger that many transgenders feel when they hear the opinions Dale expresses.  Dale’s telling us to wait for our turn sounds like the words of the people who told black women to wait until white women got the right to vote.

Waiting was wrong then and its wrong now.

Let me tell you why transgenders cannot and will not wait.

One result of doing a radio program like mine is the letters I receive. Week after week I hear from transgendered children in the age range of 13 to 17.  They tell me how miserable their lives are as they pretend to be something they are not in order to keep their parents happy.  But they also tell me how proud they are of the queer activists who are fighting for their rights. As one person put it, “Who knows?  If you all succeed I might actually have the rights of a normal person by the time I graduate high school.”

So Dale, you have the right to tell us we should wait.  But I, and those of us who are activists have a responsibility to those young people, and we are not going sell them out. Waiting is out of the question.

A few years ago a member of my community became so despondent about the loss of his job and the inability to find another job he quietly went back to his room and set himself on fire.

A fluke occurrence?

Unfortunately the answer is no.  Far and away the leading cause of suicide among transgenders is economic destruction due to employment discrimination.  Those of us who are activists are not willing to sacrifice one more human being on the altar of job discrimination while we are told to wait in line.  Waiting is out of the question.

When Reverend Martin Luther King wrote his famous Letter from the Birmingham Jail it was not aimed at whites.  The letter was aimed at his fellow clergy who were telling him to go slow and wait.  If  I kept on writing for another month, I could never express myself as clearly as this:

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.  I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom in not the the White Citizens’s Council-or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you in the goal that you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advised the Negro to wait until ‘a more convenient season.”  Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Dale, stop telling us to wait.  Stop telling us how we hurt your chances of passage.  Stop telling us the time is some other time, only not now. We will accept now and only now.  Waiting is out of the question, period.

And yet we wait.

At the time of that piece, I was pretty damn close to the edge – and I got closer before I finally did manage to find a job three months later.

Did things get better?

That job I found was great, but it was just a clerkship.  I stayed there longer than most clerks do, but ultimately clerkships are still temp gigs.

I’m working on a Ph.D. right now, but even while doing so I’ve tried to find real jobs.  Now, instead of self-righteous establishmentarian-gays blowing me off of their own accord, they are encouraged to discriminate against trans women by one of our own who thinks that the seat she’s been given at the table is not covered in trans blood.

So, is it better?

For some reason, I’m recalling Culturcide‘s evisceration of “Ebony and Ivory”:

And Paul and Steve, they think that we’ll be saved,

When blacks and whites are equal slaves.

Businessmen who are phony and hyped,

Get together to make a hit overnite.

In 1998, we were subjugated by the corporate homosuperiorists and all gay issues were as good as the gold that HRC told the world that Elizabeth Birch’s shit was.  There is no debating the point. 

In the decade-plus since?

Hype?  Check.

Phony? Check.

ENDA (of any kind)? DADT? DOMA repeal? No cricket sounds – just dead crickets, who died of starvation at some point between 1998 and now.

Well, now all LGBT issues are shit in HRC’s eyes.  Their only concern – and now transparently so – is making money (hell, if we do some digging we’ll probably find that one of the other things that Christine O’Donnell “isn’t” is a lesbian and interning at HRC is where she got the idea to make a living by lying about what she’s actually up to.)  Yes, in the hearts and minds of the HRCsatzgruppen who actually make the real decisions about what the organization actually wants to see happen, the T is still viewed with the same disdain as it was in those anti-glory days of the Republican Congress that almost instantaneously decanted DOMA (so, how was it again that any definitional categories in ENDA were going to make any difference given the virulent opposition to anything gay? no one has ever really addressed that), but now…

the stuff that even some of the rank-and-file folks who may have opposed a T-inclusive ENDA actually do want has been compromised away to pad the bank account(s) of Joe Solmonese and the K-street cred of Hilary Rosen.

Those believed in HRC, they thought that we’d be saved,

By T and LGB becoming equally expendable.

Does it get better?

Yes – to a degree.

But it will get a lot better if HRC and NCTE cease to exist.

One Response to It Depends On What The Definition Of “Better” Is

  1. Your article was interesting to read.

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