Monday, October 1, 2007

The Price of Political Expediency

The debate and outcry over the removal of gender identity and expression from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act continues inside the movement and on Capitol Hill. The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force has scheduled a conference call later today with other organizations to discuss the current situation (and to reaffirm their positions). The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation references the controversy on its Web site while the Human Rights Campaign, which one can easily conclude has the most at stake in this debate, fails to do so.

The question remains: Will ENDA move forward at the expense of transgender Americans? Politics is more or less a series of calculated compromises designed to find the path of least (political) resistance. President Bush has already promised to veto the legislation. But the current debate highlights a number of possible truths. Some within the national movement continue their token transgender activism in the name of maintaining the image of inclusion. These figures arguably back down upon political pressure. Others -- wealthy white gay men for argument's sake -- are invested in issues which only affect them and their interests. Yet more may fail to understand the underlying oppression transgender Americans encounter on an almost daily basis.

ENDA is a step towards remedying these injustices but is certainly not the panacea some may conclude. The movement has a responsibility, however, to insure all of those on whose behalf it claims to advocate are included. These constituents certainly include transgender Americans who expect nothing less than their gay and lesbian brothers and sister. Anything less is simply unacceptable.

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