Sunday, April 20, 2008

Transgender Lives: The Intersection of Health and Law Conference

The conference was a great success, we had about 130 people pre-register (about 110 actually showed up) with about 40 walk-in. We just barely had enough meals for them and all the rooms were full to capacity. I didn’t attend any of the workshops but stayed at the registration desk all day and helping out where ever I was needed. It was another long day, I had to pick-up three people who needed a ride to the conference so that meant that I had to leave my house by six-thirty in order to get them there by eight. I didn’t get home until after six I had to drive them all home.

I was on the closing panel discussion…

National, State and Community Legislative Advocacy regarding Gender
Identity and Expression
; 3:30 – 4:15 PM
Massey Auditorium
The Closing Plenary will be a panel discussion and open community dialogue around the Legislative and Policy issues facing us at a National, State and Community level. This four member panel is composed of a broad cross-section of advocates who will speak specifically to the legislative landscape and political dynamics that directly impacts the lives of trans and gender non-conforming individuals. Given the on-going controversy and struggles between many long time activists in the Trans Community with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), we felt it imperative that the community be provided an opportunity to engage in an open and honest dialogue regarding a United ENDA and the opposition being shown by HRC. HRC has kindly agreed to provide a representative from national to listen to and dialogue with the community about these issues. The four member panel will be: Jeremy P, HRC Deputy Field Director, Diana L, Ct TransAdvocacy and Ct Outreach Society, M. Dru L, TransPride organizer, transgender activist and attorney and Jerimarie L, Ct TransAdvocacy Coalition and Queers Without Borders. [There was a fifth panel member added to the panel, Rachael G, GenderPAC]

One thing I have to say about the HRC representative is that it took guts to face such a hostile audience; I do not think that there was one question that was friendly towards them. About two thirds of the way through the questioning someone in the audience asked, “How many here believe him?” and no one raised their hand.
They said that they came to the conference to assess the mood of the community; well they sure got an ear full of what we thought of the HRC.

Update 11:55
In the order that we were speaking, I spoke just after Jeremy. One of the topics that he spoke about was the need to go out an educate Congress and that there are very few people who are lobbying from the mid-west. I was asked to speak about the NTCE Washington DC Lobbying Day and my experiences with NTCE Lobbying Day, one of the points that I made was that we had people from Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas there to lobby and that there were about 200 people there from around twenty-seven states.
All of the questions but one that were asked during the 45 minute Q&A session were directed to Jeremy, the one question that wasn’t asked of Jeremy was asked to me, “Was the HRC present during this year’s Lobbying Day?”. My answer was, “No, there was not anyone from the HRC that attended the lobbying effort that day, that I knew of”. I forgot to mention that there were other organizations that were present at the meetings like the representative from Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) who attended our meeting with Sen. Dodd staff member.


Kwizgiver said...

Very interesting!

Diego said...

Diana, thanks for telling us about the CT conference. I planned to attend but had work deadlines arise. RE: NCTE's Lobby Day, I was there and am HRC's Boston Steering Committee Diversity Co-Chair and on its Business Council and am a founding Board member of NCTE. So, there was 'an HRC person' participating, both in HRC's recent DC Lobby Day and NCTE's last week. Diego

Diana_CT said...

I knew you were with the MTPC and DNC but I didn't know that you were also with the HRC. I apologize for any mis-information.

Glenn Koetzner said...

Hi Diana,
You did a fantastic job at the conference. It was amazing.
I think it’s generous of you to call Jeremy (from HRC) “brave”, but I understand. “Brave” would have been to stand with Tammy Baldwin and the original version of the bill. As it was stated at the panel, the HRC made it clear that the trans community was not to be considered in the same light as the rest of those covered by the non-inclusive version. Personally, I think they did a tremendous amount of damage.
What I don’t understand yet is the fact that HRC knew that ENDA, inclusive or not, wouldn’t pass the mighty Veto pen of the Boy who would be King. Knowing that, doesn’t that make it even worse that the HRC threw the transgender community under the bus in order to appease Barney Frank and have their own agenda forwarded? When they weighed the collateral damage that would follow their actions did they really think that the rest of us who fully and actively supported a inclusive ENDA would think it was okay? Getting the votes on record would have made more sense with the inclusive ENDA. I agree with all those who asked how you can go back later and ask to include the trans community when it wasn’t all that important before?
For me, the only way I would ever trust the HRC (or ever donate to them again) would be for them to withdraw their support of the current, non-inclusive version.
I would have liked to hear more on the NTCE Lobbying Day, but the HRC discussion just ate up the time!