Some Things Never Change

Sometimes I wonder if the folks in Washington D.C. understand they are playing with peoples lives…Sometimes I wonder if they were faced with the same challenges as the people whom they represent would they think or act any differently.

There is an old saying about walking a mile in another person’s shoes. Maybe the GLB great heroes of Barney Frank and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and self-proclaimed leader of the gay world, the Human Rights Campaign ought to take note of the following letter.

Today reality barged into my world once again. I am a M2F non-op TS, who happens to serve in the ministry [as a lay person] of an MCC church. Tipper Gore came to town and was brought to the home of a famous local gay lawyer. The place was crowded with GL folks. As far as I could tell I was the only TG/TS there.

I tried to talk to the host about inclusion of TG/TS folks in the hate crime bill and ENDA. All he could talk about is they get protection, then marriage, then something else; then would work to include gender identity. First he and the majority get what they want and then he wants me to believe that the forces used in that effort would still be around to work for inclusion for TG/TS folks.

The problem with this is several fold:
a] HRC is dead set against us being included. They talk the talk but all they work for is rights of gays and lesbians. Bi’s and trans folks can go fly a kite.

b] Barney Frank, the lead on ENDA and hate crimes is completely opposed to us being included.

c] Even the Fellowship of my church proud of the very small number of trans clergy, and yet I read almost nothing about protecting us. Oh, there is the mandatory mention of GLBT, and then the B and T do not get mentioned again. The web pages are filled with GL items and only the rare mention of out reach to the gender folks. Why do not the Elders go to the funerals of gender folks like they did Mathew and Billie Jack?

Many of us have worked very hard for GL rights. I have risked attacks and the like by appearing at televised city counsel meetings in my ministry role as Social Justice chair arguing for the rights of groups I do not belong to. Even though I defend GL folks the only place I seem to hear about trans folks is within our own community.

Tipper Gore arrived and gave a 6-minute pep talk about the need for ENDA and hate crimes bills and then shut up. I tried to ask about the fact that TS folks are excluded and had people shushing me. At one point I had several secret service agents looking my way.

So she escaped without being asked about safety for TG/TS folks who are often denied jobs, fired, attacked, mutilated, and murdered because they are seen as flamboyant gays or queens. Than there are some news making murders of gays [more likely to make page one above the fold], and lesbians. Lots of opportunity to get paper and news coverage so everyone goes to Wyoming, but when Tyra Banks died in the street because the ambulance refused to treat a woman with a penis, nothing was said except locally. Meanwhile trans folks, particularly women suffer higher injury and death rates than GL folks.

Tonight I feel like just quitting but know that I cannot. With the hatred and rejection of some parts of the lesbian community and the self-centeredness of many gay male organizations it is no surprise that we are used only to be discarded when they have their protections.

What would Rev. Elder Troy Perry have me and the other TG/TS folks do in the church he started? Locally our pastor and congregation are totally supportive and affirming in so many ways. Other MCCs have reputations of rejecting gender benders and Trans folks. The Fellowship seems to do not much more than a token effort through transmcc.

So the bottom line is that it’s more horrific for a gay man to be beaten to death and hung on a fence in the cold than to have a trans woman who was fired because of transition, lost her apartment, rejected by family and straight friends, having to turn to sex work to live, and die after being stabbed in the chest more than 30 times.

Are we doing God’s work?

Oh wait you say…RBS when did you get that letter? It spoke of Tipper Gore…this is from the Clinton Administration. Yes, it was and folks not a damn thing has changed in 10 years…the trans community is still being kicked around like a soccer ball.

The observations from 10 years ago were correct then and are correct today with the shameful behavior of HRC and the Democratic Leadership. Transgender people stand-alone in this world for the most part.

This is an issue that, while many people do not understand it, is the hill on which everything we as the LGBT community have fought for is on the line.

We in the gay, lesbian and Bi community cannot afford to leave anyone behind. We cannot afford to treat another group of people like we have been treated.

We cannot, and must not, allow the same shame based language to be used against our sisters and brothers.

We cannot, and must not, allow the same violence to be brought upon one part of our community and ignore the other. Yes denying one protection in employment is a form of violence.

If we do not take in the letter writer and others like her then what we are asking from the main-line straight community is a sham, selfish, self-serving and certainly hypocritical.

Trans People (God’s creation) are being denied employment, fired, even killed and beat up and some in our community, HRC and Barney Frank have the nerve to say the issues of the transgender community are too much in our fight for equal rights. It is being said if they are included it will hurt our cause, it will cause people who would help us otherwise to turn away.

To those of you who think this will hurt our cause, please know we have no cause and will have gained nothing if the brother and sisters of the transgender community are not with us.

While I appreciate the HRC says they will not advocate for this current bill, HRC has not come out and said they will not accept this version or is unconditionally opposed to the passage of this bill.

To not advocate for it is not the same thing as pulling your support…it is hand sitting and saying “oh this is the best we can do for now.”

HRC was very willing to take credit for this bill when it was fully inclusive, but now HRC and Barney Frank wants us to accept; “this is the best we can do.”

This is not the “best we can do.” Everyone knows even if it gets through the house and senate, it will be vetoed. So damn let’s get everybody on record as to where they stand. Compromise on moral issues is not a real good idea…anyone remember how the government compromised on the issue of slavery and what happened as a result?

Further, the Transgender community has always stood by the GLB community without exception even to the point of arrest and even death.

For HRC to accept and Barney Frank to push the idea that says loudly to the Trans community “you just have to wait for a better time for justice” is an act of hypocrisy at best and an act of cowardice at worse.

Maybe HRC and Barney Frank could give me the words to explain this at the next funeral I do for a trans person who ended their life because they have no job protection. Maybe HRC and Barney Frank could provide the words to explain why I am more worthy of job protection then my sister or brother who is trans.

I find it appalling HRC would even consider or allow for leaving anyone behind…but oh wait it not HRC’s job that needs protection.

I find it appalling that Barney Frank would even consider or allow for leaving anyone behind…oh wait Congressman Franks memory of the entire community rallying around him when he had his troubles with ethics a few years back seems to have gone blank.

If I sound angry…I am. I dare say I will not sit on my hands and say, “this is the best we can do.”

I will point out to anyone who will listen, that HRC and Barney Frank have declared themselves the God of our community will decide who gets justice and when they will get it.

If I had a house that was on fire, and there were people inside…I would not consider who should be saved or who should be left behind to die. I would die making sure I did everything in my power to get everybody out.

HRC and Barney Frank do not get to choose whom to save from the fire of bigotry, sexism and gender phobia.

In every negotiation there are “deal breakers” this is one of them. I will stand without job protection until my job protection is protection for my sisters and brothers of the trans community as well.

Brothers and Sisters, what is written in the scripture? Just this:

And a certain teacher of the law got up and put him to the test, saying,
Master, what have I to do so that I may have eternal life?
And he said to him, what does the law say, in your reading of it?
And he, answering, said, has love for the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;
and for your neighbor as for yourself.
And he said, you have given the right answer: do this and you will have life.”

–Luke 10:25-28

If we are to win, to gain the prize, to truly know peace, to have true equality then we must not leave anyone behind; we must not leave any part of our community out.

Come on folks it is not rocket science! There is no justice, there is no safety, and there is no protection until all really means all.

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at https://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

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