Crossposted with permission from the Facebook note Somebody Is Saying It’s Time To Come Together
By Eva Kraus
The Maryland HB235 debacle is over. No matter which way you wanted it to turn out, it was an absolute mess. Now the hand wringing will start. It is time for the Monday morning quarterbacking. I will let the professionals in our community, our leaders figure out just what the hell happened. While politically aware, I am not particularly savvy about the backroom deals at the statehouse or in Congress. All I know is that a half-assed bill, not supported by the trans community went down in flames (and it should have), another year of equality in Maryland is lost, and we are back to square one.
With the loss of ENDA in the 111th Congress, any near term national protections are shot. The loss of ENDA was a disaster, but it may ultimately serve a greater good. It is the same good that HB 235 adds to. It is teaching the trans community that we have to stand on our own. It is teaching us that we can’t let others speak for us. It is teaching us that WE have to control our own destiny. Our gay and straight allies (cisgendered) need to follow our lead on trans rights. We can welcome, and should welcome, their help. They have the access, the support, the money that we as a community lack. But we cannot allow them to lead the discussion. They cannot be allowed to tell us what enough civil rights are. They cannot be allowed to tell us what enough equality is. They cannot be allowed to tell us that “separate but equal” restrooms or other facilities are ok. That process has thankfully started. It is an ugly process. State and local trans organizations are starting to come out from the shadows of LGB groups to stake out their positions. Trans individuals all over the country were involved in the Maryland debate.
We need trans men in the debate. We need trans women in the debate. We need trans people of color in the debate. All of our voices need to be heard. Yes, I represent the trans woman who lost white male cis-privilege. I want is back. I don’t apologize for it. I don’t want or care to be male. I want the opportunity and rights to compete on the same basis as before. I didn’t become less or get stupid from transition.
But I want more. I want those of my sisters and brothers to have a full bite at the apple. People of Color need the opportunity to work, to have a home, visit a public accommodation without harassment and discrimination. It is ridiculous that we, as either trans people or cis people, do not tap into all of the talents of all of our citizens. Trans POC need to be well represented in our organizations.
Our national organizations like the NTCE need to represent OUR interests. I was saddened to see their support of this piecemeal bill. They should not settle for the best deal they can get. The crumbs of incrementalism are unacceptable. This is not a funding bill that deserves compromise. It is a civil rights bill. There is NO compromise on basic human rights. Does our national lobby group need a “congress” of us to come together each year so they know what we want? Can we send “delegates” to this national group elected or appointed on a state basis through our state groups? Should our lobby groups because more of a political representation of our collective desire than that of insiders who think they know what we want? Should we vote on what to include in a national and state platform? Should this happen at the state level? Are they willing to share power and represent the will of the people? Would this increase the power and influence of trans people and help us control our own destiny?
These are just some thoughts as we begin the process of redesign. What does need to stop is the rampant name calling of those we disagree with politically. Yes, basic human rights are personal. The difference on how we view the process is not. I am not much for the “collaborator” or turncoat” type of term. What it tells me is that we can’t have a discussion on an intelligent level. We need to not be reduced to the behavior of the wing nuts that dehumanize us.
What it does tell me is that we don’t have the strength in our own organizations to stand alone. It means that we are forced to work through the perceived “Gay, Inc.” and compromise our values with those that don’t always understand them don’t support them or see us as a point of leverage or compromise. We need to design our own movement, uncompromising in OUR agenda and representing our aspirations and human beings and Americans.
Eva Kraus is a businesswoman and emerging trans voice. Her Facebook page is here.