GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, passed in the New York Assembly on Monday and is now headed to the Senate, where it has failed the previous five times the Assembly passed it. A report issued yesterday by the NYCLU highlights just how essential this piece of legislation is:“A 2009 national survey that included 531 transgender people in New York found that 74 percent reported harassment or mistreatment on the job and 20 percent lost a job or were denied a promotion. In addition, 53 percent were verbally harassed or denied service at hotels and restaurants and 49 percent reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance. Also, 18 percent had become homeless because of their transgender status and 27 percent were either denied an apartment or were evicted. And 17 percent were refused medical care due to their gender expression, the survey said.”
This is literally life or death for people, and Governor Cuomo hasn’t voiced his support for the bill yet. A version of GENDA has been passed in several cities (including NYC) but that won’t cut it—this is about the very most basic civil rights for trans and non-gender-conforming people. It is awesome that gay people can get married, and I appreciate the Governor’s outspoken support for that bill, but if he’s truly an advocate for LGBTQI rights, this right here is the bill to push through.
Without the guarantee of housing and jobs, trans people—trans women especially, and trans women of color especially especially—are at even higher risk for violence and abuse. The statistics are chilling. Trans women are more likely to be targets of violence, less likely to receive proper medical care, more like to be abused by cops, more likely to be raped. In the last month, Paige Clay and Brandy Martell were murdered, and CeCe McDonald is facing jail time for defending herself against a group of attackers screaming epithets and smashing glass in her face. The violence against trans and non-gender-conforming people is so endemic that the community has an annual Day of Remembrance to commemorate people killed because of their gender presentation JUST THAT YEAR.
GENDA is no joke, yet where are the celebrities leaning on legislators to pass it? Where is the news coverage? Where is Governor Cuomo? What’s Occupy Wall Street doing? This is the very most basic civil right stuff: the right to equal employment consideration, the right to housing, the right to medical care, the right to protection from police and (optimistically) by police. NYCLU’s Melissa Goodman:“‘New York is really falling behind on transgender rights,’ Goodman said. ‘We were a leader in the marriage fairness fight. It’s really time for New York to be the same kind of leader in the transgender equality fight.’”C’mon everybody. Let’s pass this thing.
To be blunt, New York is behind. 19 years behind Minnesota, to be exact.
Just so everyone is aware of the context, GENDA is necessary because the LGb(t) lobby in New York cut trans people out of civil rights proposals all the way back in 1971, just two years after the LGBT movement was founded by trans* people at the Stonewall Riots. At first, gays claimed that it was simply “more practical” to pass gay rights first and trans rights second; later on, this would shift to openly attacking trans rights as a “poison pill” which would kill gay rights. For the record, “poison pill” is a verbatim quote from Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s top LGb(t) lobby.
After New York gays finally got their exclusive “me only!” civil rights bill passed in 2003, they shifted the goalposts once again, arguing that they “had to” prioritize same-sex marriage privileges for themselves over basic rights for trans people in order to “preserve political momentum.” Once they achieved marriage privileges, of course, they declared victory and talked about exporting their success to other states. Trans rights? Not even on their map anymore.
^ And this is how it has been happening, and continues to happen, all over the country. Trans women (mostly of color) helped found queer rights movements in the USA, and then were summarily kicked out by (mostly white) cis gays who thought that said women would ruin their chances of getting their rights. And now they’re patting themselves on the back for “letting” trans* folks into “their” movement, while still saying that they’ll get around to our stuff eventually, and then showing through their actions that they’re just plain lying.
I need folks to understand that this is the history of the so-called “LGBT movement”, and that this is still going on.
Let us be very clear: the LGBT movement as we know it exists largely because of AMAB trans* people, overwhelmingly AMAB trans* people of color.
At the time of the Stonewall Riots, the New York City authorities would not grant a liquor license to ANY establishment which served gay patrons, so all gay bars were speakeasies run by organized crime. The Stonewall Inn was the one for “others” — all the other gay bars in NYC catered exclusively to “respectable” middle to upper class gay white cis gays, whereas Stonewall was willing to admit AMAB trans* people and homeless local gay kids.
Gay bars were routinely raided by NYPD vice squads because a vice raid was an easy cover for the pigs to pick up their regularly scheduled bribes from the Mafia and at the same time make sure they were meeting their arrest quotas. It was a comfortably venal arrangement: raid the bar, pick up your bribes, arrest a bunch of gays, then release them without charges as a reward for going along peacefully. “Respectable” gays always refused to stand up to the police for fear of being outed by an arrest report.
The raid on the Stonewall Inn was different — the Stonewall hadn’t been raided before, and some reports indicate that the vice raid may have actually been an organized crime task force going after money laundering. But the patrons of the Stonewall weren’t “respectable” gays, and they fought back. The rest is history.
And people wonder why I got nothing but middle fingers for cisGLB when they whine about solidarity.
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