The Petty Queer Establishment is not happy with Congress’ decision to remove language relating to gender identity from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Sexual orientation remains within the bill being pushed by Barney Frank, among others.
This controversy has brought to the fore what many gay people have been saying privately for years: why are transgendereds included within the gay community (GLBT)? It’s not that anyone wants to exclude them necessarily, but is their struggle the same? And who exactly made the decision to affix that “T” to the acronym?
Before the bigot card is dealt, let me repeat: I endorse equality for everyone. But should gay people lose workplace protection just because America isn’t ready to accept transgendereds? Is the PQE making a principled stand or simply a politcally correct one? Most likely the latter, since no one thought EDNA would pass with gender identity included, according to John Aravosis:
I have no insider information leading me to this conclusion, but, I think that gender identity was finally added to ENDA out of shame and fear. Neither the Congress nor the lead gay groups wanted to be seen as anti-trans, even though some of them clearly knew that adding trans was a death-blow to ENDA. So they did it anyway.
As is so often the case with special interest groups, the people they’re alleged to represent have little say in how they’re being represented.
I would argue that the gay community never collectively and overwhelmingly decided to include the T in LGB (or GLB). It happened because a few groups like NGLTF and GLAAD starting using it, and they and a handful of vocal activists and transgender leaders pretty much shamed everyone else into doing it. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the T shouldn’t have been added. I’m just saying that I don’t think the T was added because there was a groundswell of demand in the gay community that we add T to LGB. I think it happened through pressure, organizational fiat, shame, and osmosis.
It’s a conversation that needs to be had, even if the PQ(T)E has closed the debate.