The Politics of Enforced Rhetorical Amnesia and the Rhetoric of Enforced Political Amnesia

Example one:

[O]ur anger is turning on those who are distorting the truth about priestly sexual abuse. That some are exploiting this issue for ideological and financial profit seems plain. 

Every time a new wave of accusations surfaces in one diocese, not coincidentally we see a spike in accusations in other dioceses. What is not often reported is that the vast majority of new accusations extend back decades. For example, for the first quarter of this year, 80 percent of the cases of alleged abuse involve incidences that occurred before 2000.

In other words: If you got raped by a priest a decade ago, its in the past.  Get over it.

Now, example two:

[T]oo many people are trying to debate what happened in 2001….

In other words: If you and your civil rights got raped by a state’s gay elite a decade ago, its in the past.  Get over it.

But alas, is there a caveat to that?

There will be plenty of time to discuss these issues, just as the Maryland community should have serious conversations on what actually happened during the marriage campaign. We cannot move forward without acknowledging the reality.

There will be plenty of time, eh?

…and then one day you find, ten years have got behind you.

Perhaps things could have moved forward in 2011 if, in the ten years prior to the formulation of strategy for the 2011 legislative session, there really had been some sort of acknowledging of that reality.

Instead, we have this:

From whom do you want an apology? HRC? Or Joe Solmonese? Or maybe David Smith? Or Elizabeth Birch? We can go all the way back to Vic Basile if you like. Today Maggie McIntosh took her share of responsibility for 2001 — an individual, and a powerful one, not an organization.

Each organization is different, and different from time to time because of board composition and leadership.

So, of course there was no caveat.  If you don’t demand accountability from an organization and its people in real time, you forfeit your opportunity to ever do so because as soon as the board changes, the organization changes and, therefore, its all in the past.  Yet, if you do  demand accountability from an organization and its people in real time, you’re a ‘screaming [fill in the blank],’ a spoiler who is too unwashed to see the politics of the possible.

Oh, and lets not forget that if you – as a trans person – ever criticize any gay person or organization for anything for any reason, you’re homophobic.  After all, what would elitism be without orthodoxy, eh?

Does it bother you, then, when folks like Katrina Rose use homophobic references when she disagrees with us? A serious question. I have never once seen you denounce this.

Perhaps Tom Lang, the person being addressed by this kookoo cocoa puff masquerading as a comment (over at TransAdvocate) has never denounced it, because its never happened.  But apparently, referring to the “gay rights industry” is now “homophobic.”


Industry is as industry does.

And one thing industries never do is apologize.

Oh, sometimes they settle out of court – but the records are always sealed.

And if you expect them to discuss something that happened more than five minutes ago, there’s always….

well, you know….

From whom do you want an apology? HRC? Or Joe Solmonese? Or maybe David Smith? Or Elizabeth Birch? We can go all the way back to Vic Basile if you like.

Who do I want to see issue apologies to trans people?



Joe Solmonese?


Elizabeth Birch?


Winnie Stachelberg?


Hilary Rosen?


Whoever the hell at HRC declared Maryland to be a “discrimination-free zone” back in 2001?

Yes, and a list of civil rights criminals – national, state and local – too long to list here.

Of course, one would think that, if the current incarnation of Maryland’s gay elite actually gave a shit about – well, anything – they’d actually be at the forefront of demands for HRC to apologize for such a disgusting, trans-erasive characterization of the state of the law in Maryland after passage of a gay-only rights bill.


[G]et out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.

No, not HRC…

or ‘Equality’ Maryland – which, after all, would just be this:

No, the “shock”-ing quote is from merely Don Draper – who, while eminiently more fuckable than Tony Soprano is or ever will be, is just as amoral.  One has guns and fists; the other has the business of manipulative advertising and the personal ability to lie to everyone about everything.

As Marti Abernathey distills:

[Tico] Almeida points to why there was such a push for HB235:

“But the policy and legislative advocates at both NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force think it is plausible that we can now make progress and pass strong – though maybe imperfect – state workplace laws barring gender identity discrimination in Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Hawaii. However, they caution that our community will have to direct more resources into those six campaigns if we want to win.”

I agree the strategy of state based gains is a smart one. The flaw in the strategy is that those “imperfections”, like the lack of public accommodations in Maryland’s HB235 (an “anti-discrimination bill”), will end up affecting ENDA and equality bills in other states. HB235 was important for trans rights across the nation because it sets a tone for what the transgender community will accept.

People have very short memories. They forget that Barney Frank, self admittedly, was tampering with “bathroom” language in ENDA to make it “acceptable”. As Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Hawaii go, so go the nation (and ENDA).

The new buzz word for trans rights? “Imperfect”. Coming to a state near you….

If merely used to point out that something isn’t perfect, the word “imperfect” is, well, just a word.

However, when it is used to bully, to obfuscate, to demand amnesia about the past and to disinformationalize about the present, its a lie: to all of us, about everything that matters – namely, our lives.

One Response to The Politics of Enforced Rhetorical Amnesia and the Rhetoric of Enforced Political Amnesia

  1. SarasNavel says:

    Gay, Inc. does not necessarily see HR 235 as a failure.

    Barney Frank and HRC hashed together a new strategy in 2009 and gave it a test run. Trans people put up enough of a fuss about the false ‘bathroom issue’ being officially recognized by inclusion in the ‘leaked’ wording of the bill and the whole thing was eventually dropped. Many trans people felt they could not fight to push for the bill because too many LBG and even some T heard only HRC and Frank’s label of, “trans inclusive” and thought it a Good Thing.

    Fast forward to MD, 2011. The same poison pill strategy is invoked, and with the same results. Except this time, the climate was much more complex and real-world. Citizens and activists had direct impact on both the PR and the process.

    Something not unexpected happened: The bill failed.

    Some who make a good salary and/or ego stokes fighting for such things were silently relieved. They immediately wanted to “put the past behind” and started up the fund raising PR for “next year”. Get that high back and those dollars flowing. And some trans people likewise were silently relieved, as it was better that the bill fail than serve as a model for other states in it’s redefinition of GI, the exclusion of PA or simply the second class status it bestowed and reinforced from within.

    But there may exist another, deeper level of intent behind both bills. By driving this wedge via truly odious trans language that appears ‘almost’ equal to the uninformed, Gay Inc has bolstered the separation of GLB from many T activists. After enough bills have failed because of their (anti-) trans aspect, there’s little doubt more and more of the A-Gays will begin calling for G(l)-only equality drives. And a number of trans people will agree, though for defensive and far more desperate reasons.

    Should this be the turn of events it’s extremely likely in my opinion that the political separation of LGB and T would be a Good Thing for trans people. However, in order to get there via this route many bridges will be burned on both sides and much damage done. Gay, Inc. will have cemented in the mainstream public’s mind and culture the image of trans woman as sexual predators, conveniently deflecting that it’s gay men that have sex in bathrooms. Likewise, rather than decrease discomfort with gender variance these tactics will increase it. I guess it’s good to be a fully assimilation-bound gay, because the non-conforming ones will be out of luck. The list of damage goes on…

    The only way I see of avoiding such a future is for trans people to pull out now. We need a separate political entity that can *endorse* and *partner* rather than be used as a statistic when favorable and disregarded when a liability. And to answer the objection of, “we can’t even agree on X”: We don’t need to. Form a dozen orgs. Form two dozen. Form two dozen in each state. One for HBS, one for Pre- and Post Op TS’s, one for GLB Trans, one for Q-Trans, all the way down to Trans Entrepreneurs, Trans Attorneys, even Trans Amateur Astronomers. These can be local, state or national orgs and even aggregates. PR-wise, the more of our orgs that back a particular political effort when enough of us do agree -or fight against one- the stronger we will appear and the more power and clout we will gain.

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