ENDA and LGB without the T

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) may pass Congress this year and includes protection based on sexual orientation (lesbian, gay, bi.) A major battle is ongoing based on whether or not gender identity (transgendered) should be included.

This is a classic, for lack of a better phrase, pragmatist vs. militant split. The pragmatists say the bill won’t pass if transgender protection is included. This would result in no protection for LGB, something they’ve been working towards for years. The militants say compromise is unacceptable, and push for transgender inclusion and passage of the bill.

John Avarosis of AmericaBlog takes a pragmatist position then prints in its entirety the militant response from Dana Beyer.


The bottom line is that when we’re in the equation, the LGBT community can’t hide from gender nonconformity and all the sub-issues that raises. You’re right – let’s deal with it. Generalized fear of transgender people can be overcome just as so many Americans have overcome their generalized fear of gay men. We can make this a better country together, and do so without sacrificing anyone.


Your argument boils down to the assertion that America really does accept transgendered people far more than I’m willing to realize and therefore we’d have no problem passing a trans-inclusive ENDA. Great. I’m game. Show me the votes. Show me that you have the votes to pass a trans-inclusive ENDA, that the bill won’t go down in flames, that Democrats won’t be forced en masse to vote in favor of some hideously anti-trans amendment lest they lose their jobs next election, and I’m there for you.

Read the whole thread, this is blogging at its best – thoughtful, impassioned, and putting the issues out into the open.

  • Bob,

    Thank you for calling me a “militant.” I’ve never had the honor of being called that before.

    Actually, I’m far from being a militant. I’m a mainstream politician and retired surgeon, and most of my friends and colleagues would never fit under the rubric of “militant.”

    I don’t think it’s militant that the LGBT community should take the “T” seriously; they would never think of dropping any other group. I don’t think Congress should drop the “T,” because in working for the LGBT community you should leave no one behind.

    I personally do not find moral action difficult, though I fully understand how problematic it is for Congress. I also know that while as many Americans, based on polling, support trans-inclusion as gay inclusion, and what while no one has ever lost an election for voting for a trans-inclusive bill, and while nearly as much of America is already covered by inclusive state and local laws as by non-inclusive laws, we have never had such a passionate discussion on this issue. Yes, this has been the 800 lb gorilla in the room, and it has been very touchy because of the reasons that I’ve mentioned before — that homophobia is rooted in misogyny and gender- nonconformity.

    Straight-looking gay guys want to pass, and believe they are more likely to be accepted if the public is not reminded about sexual differences. I understand that, and I’m sympathetic, because trans women want to pass, too, and most of us have always wanted nothing more than to be ourselves, just like everyone else.

    There is a pragmatic issue here, which is votes. I cannot tell you if the votes are there for inclusion, because you just never know. There are lots of scare tactics being used, a great deal of maneuvering and manipulation — politics as usual. Tammy Baldwin is comfortable lobbying for inclusion; Barney Frank is not. I am not a Congresswoman — yet — so I can only have a limited impact. But I do know from my local political experience that this can be accomplished.

  • Dr. Dana Beyer, a transgender woman, ran for State Delegate in Maryland in 2006.

    “pragmatic vs. militant” is my fumbling phrase to describe the differing camps in the ongoing ENDA debate.

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