[good shouldn’t be the enemy of perfect: why the transgender community should give HRC another shot]

November 16, 2012

Human Rights Campaign recently donated $250 to Chicago’s Center on Halsted to be put towards the upcoming “Night of Fallen Stars” Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) event. As a result of this donation, Center on Halsted’s volunteer transgender liaison, June LaTrobe, resigned from her position, stating that she “can not be a part of putting money above principle.”

It should be noted that LaTrobe’s resignation letter included a few factual errors, most notably, that HRC was “added as a sponsor” to the event (from her letter: “When I learned that Lara Brooks, Manager of the Broadway Youth Center (BYC) had not been consulted about HRC sponsoring BYC’s ‘Night of Fallen Stars,’ much less told about, or offered  share of the grant money, my path was clear.”).

Brian Richardson, spokesperson for Center on Halsted, has stated that “HRC is not appearing as a sponsor of the event. Rather, the money was a contribution.”

The trans* community has certainly had its fair share of mixed feelings over HRC over the years. Many within the community are still upset HRC supported a 2007 version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that did not include workplace protections for transgender individuals. It should be noted that HRC supports the current version of this bill, currently stalled in Congress do to Republican opposition, that includes protection for people within the transgender and gender non-conforming spectrum.

From a personal standpoint, I think it’s time to give HRC another shot.

I feel like this type of resistance might be better put to use against groups that actively work against trans rights, whereas, in the case if HRC’s support of ENDA without trans protection was more a passive statement of where trans rights stand in HRC’s order of priorities (that is, lower than LGB).

It’s not like HRC asks for trans provisions to be stripped from protective legislation, but just that it’s the first thing they’re willing to compromise on when push back to their agenda is felt (which is very unfortunate, but not necessarily a reason, to me, to treat them as toxic in all situations).

I feel that the more productive route would be to present HRC with a list of realistic (ENDA wasn’t ever going to survive in 2007 with Bush’s veto pen ready, and the most recent version of ENDA did include trans provisions as it wouldn’t have faced a veto threat from president Obama) and actionable items they can take to improve their standing with trans individuals.

They do need to be held accountable for the times they used the “we’ll come back for you (but we never come back)” tactic in advancing their agenda. I don’t see an issue with the “small ball” (sports metaphor #1) approach to winning, so long as when the game is over, you have a complete and total victory. As a strategy, that might be the only realistic way to get to achieve their goals. Sometimes throwing up a Hail Mary (sports metaphor #2) doesn’t make sense. I suppose it’s like, if a basketball team (sports metaphor #3) is down by 2 with a minute left, do they go for the win with the lower-percentage 3-point shot or do they try to reach the same outcome with 2 higher-percentage 2-point shots? It depends. What kind of defense are you facing?

It’s a means-to-an-end approach. We just need to make sure we’re included in the “means” so we can reach the end.

(I hate sports metaphors)


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