Category Archives: issues

For Pulse in Orlando, for us everywhere

I was in disbelief when my friend told me the news about Orlando’s Pulse this morning. It felt surreal, remote. I may struggle with the eloquence others have expressed, but I can at least try. It feels jarring when just yesterday I was at Boston Pride, a moment of community and celebration.

Today we mourn.

With 50 confirmed dead and many more injured, there is a wake of many familes and friends who are heartbroken today. What must it feel like if you didn’t even know your loved one identified as lgbtq? How many families are reeling in the confusion and hurt of it all? Make no mistake – this was an act of hate. It was a latinx night at Pulse so I can only imagine how many QTPOC lives were lost or in the limbo. What felt so remote, suddenly felt so personal. This could have so easily been me or any of my friends. It has been repeated, but lgbt clubs aren’t like “regular” or straight clubs. They are a place where we feel we can feel unpolgetically free, a place of radical self-love and celebration.

I have built my community on the dancefloor. QAPA has organised countless events at clubs, and I’ve made my share of closest friends at Queeraoke or Milky Way. For someone to violate that kind of sacred space, for someone to steal and hurt so many lives, it is a heartbreaking tragedy with a rippling effect everywhere. Where can we be safe? What does it mean to be safe? Can we ever be safe?

I also want to take this moment to discourage any Islamphobia rhetoric that will consequently make those of that faith unsafe. Many of our LGBTQ+ are also Muslim or Sikh and will be unfairly targeted for how they appear or what they believe. Hate has no religion. Think about all that hurts even more lives than the lives lost at Pulse. For us, Pulse is a visible body count. But the pervasive transphobia, homophobia, police brutality, racist immigration policies, and more takes so many more lives than we can even grasp. To the LGBTQ+ youth that we lose to suicide from immense bullying and in the face of domestic policies that turn the other way. To the QTPOC lives and futures we lose to police brutality, incarceration, or deportation. Just because your politician didn’t use a gun doesn’t make them less guilty of the blood on their hands.

Please mourn for the lives we lost in Orlando. We will feel this heartbreak, but please also understand this is not a simple incident and it only represents the work that remains for us to do. Hold each other gently, love fiercely, and work hard to make sure this never happens again.

What to do when your own face hates you

So yesterday I watched the Mass House of Representatives debate and ultimately pass HB 1577, a bill we affectionately call the Trans Equal Access Bill. I have worked on this bill for over 6 years, and I have spoken about it at length before. This bill would protect transgender people from discrimination in all public accommodations, a legal term for spaces like libraries, restaurants, hospitals and parks. In short, every place that isn’t your home, workplace or school.

Those spaces also sometimes include locker rooms, and often times include bathrooms, so of course it has been derided as “The Bathroom Bill” by the opposition. They argue that predators posing as transgender women would use this bill as a cover to prey on women in bathrooms. They forget that criminal activity perpetrated by anyone in a bathroom is already a crime. But the root of their fear is the passive crimes: peeping or upskirting, and ultimately the most dreadful, exposure of male anatomy in a women’s bathroom.

I sat in the gallery of the state house and watched the parliamentary procedures. It can be a dry process, and this day was long. As guests to the proceedings, the gallery is not permitted to interrupt, cheer, applaud or offer commentary in any form; doing so would be a cause for ejection. This bill was the only thing on the schedule, and it still took 7 hours to go through all THIRTY SIX proposed amendments. I live updated to Facebook for the entirety of the proceedings.

PA-FB image

Most of the 36 amendments were attempts to remove the heart of the bill and limit the basic protections that the legislation provided. With each proposed amendment, an opposing legislator would get up and talk about what is essentially transphobic fear, coupled with a sexist righteousness to be protector of women’s modesty and virtue. After several hours of listening to the rhetoric, I quite frankly became numb to the monotony of white cisgender men droning on, and thankfully, each and every amendment was voted down, and by large margins.

But the board looked way more green than red, and the count was quickly rocketing up.

We picked up a lot of steam once we got to the last few proposed amendments. Speaker DeLeo made a sneaky return (having abdicated several hours of procedural work to his deputy Patricia Haddad) and we cruised into the vote. It happened so fast I almost didn’t realize it was happening. It took confirmation from the vote board turning green to realize THIS WAS THE VOTE. And then it happened. We had expected the vote to pass, because our own polling numbers showed we had more than a majority of votes. But the board looked way more green than red, and the count was quickly rocketing up. The final tally was 116 votes in favor of the bill, and 36 opposed. One hundred and sixteen. That’s TWELVE more than a super majority, and a Governor’s veto, the thing we were all afraid of, was no longer a possibility. In the din of the applause and back slapping, I quickly ran outside, stating “Time to go to work” to my friend James who was sitting in the gallery with me.

Our plan was to form a line and thank the legislators as they exited. To cheer them on for doing the right thing and as they say “stand on the right side of history.” But I came to a screeching halt because the opposition had already beaten us to that exact plan.

A wall of people were standing there, holding signs and chanting “Shame!” to the legislators exiting. I was completely taken aback and afraid of what looked at first glance, like a riotous mob. The signs were pretty vile, they depicted the men’s glyph peering over the bathroom stall wall at the women’s glyph and said “No Bathroom Bill.”

And to my great shame, most of them were East Asian.

Photo by JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF

Photo by JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF

We did our best to drown out their chants of “Shame on you” with our own applause and cheers of “Thank you.” The hall with it’s marble finishes quickly became a cacophony of echo. The media was whirring, taking photos and grabbing 10 second interviews from anyone who wanted to step in front of the camera. I saw my friend Bobbi who also serves with me on the MTPC Steering Committee engaging with someone from the opposition. Bobbi, who I have always thought of as a pacifist looked like she was going to strike the man who was forcefully shoving his sign in her face and vacillating back and forth between “You’re confusing.” and “You’re just confused.” with “what about the children.” I walked over to Bobbi and gently tried to get her to disengage from the confrontation, knowing the lights and cameras were focused on us. Bobbi added “I am a parent too, what about protections for my child” and walked away.

it was very clear that when she thought about the transgender menace, she was not thinking of transmen. And she most certainly wasn’t expecting someone who was East Asian.

The crowd started to thin, and I saw the heart of the opposition and their terrible signs. And then I did the thing that I told all of our constituents not to do. I walked up to one East Asian woman and said “I’m transgender, do you want me to use the women’s room?” The look on her face was alarming. She did not try at all to hide the fact that she was judging me. But it was very clear that when she thought about the transgender menace, she was not thinking of transmen. And she most certainly wasn’t expecting someone who was East Asian.

This was a modern day battlefield.

I squared my body, put my hands in my pockets and locked slanted eye with slanted eye. Here is my loose memory of the things she said to me.

“I’m thinking about the future generations.”
“We need to protect the children. I don’t want my five year old daughter exposed to male anatomy.”
“You need to be stronger. I think you are too easily offended.”
“Are you Chinese? Where were you born?”
“What do your parents think of you?”

As I write this, I want to tell you that I refuted every one of her arguments with tact and grace. But it’s been less than 24 hours and I cannot remember the exactness of the exchange. I hope that I remembered to smile and be polite and respectful. I think I kept my voice to a non threatening decibel level. I was very aware of my body movements.

I tried to explain to her that I am indeed a strong transgender man and that I don’t belong in the women’s room. I told her that my parents love and support me and give me the strength and mandate to fight for my rights. And yes, I am Chinese, my father was born in Hong Kong.

But really, the lights, the screaming, and the setting were never correct for a civil discourse. There was no moderator, clock, or footnotes. This was a modern day battlefield. In action movies I always thought it seemed so farfetched that every single combatant from side A would square off against one combatant from side B. But here we were. The rest of the room melted away, just extras and set production, and it was just the two of us locked in the world’s most polite fight of whose feelings were more important, who was right, who was wrong, and why.

This to me seemed the most ridiculous and illogical of all her arguments.

She repeatedly said “I want you to know that I love you,” and kept touching my arms with both her hands. It seemed a strange exchange. I live in a world where you don’t touch another person without their consent, but I know she was trying to connect to me as a human being. It was a small way that her Christianity was manifesting. But even though it was a loving touch, and her words were meant to be kind, her eyes, and her heart were patronizing and condescending. It reminded me that until recently my own experience with Christianity had not be pleasant, but imperialistic with tones of superiority. I was also keenly aware that after almost 10 years of testosterone, I am very much male bodied, and men do not touch women that they do not know. I kept my hands in my pockets and was grateful for my suit jacket.

She also kept saying, “This isn’t personal.” This to me seemed the most ridiculous and illogical of all her arguments. Of course this was personal. Why else would we both have spent hours at the statehouse listening to parliamentary procedure. No one does that in their free time. And unfortunately, our society has made going to the bathroom, something that is very personal, into a public activity. Yes, this is personal.

Mason, my ED, was circling our tete-e-tete and I finally pulled away. I asked if she wanted to converse further. She just kept reiterating her beats, “I want you to know I love you,” and “this isn’t personal.” I walked away wondering if this conversation could ever be resolved, and knew that there could never really be a victor.

What if I could have spoken to her in Mandarin?

So many emotions are swirling in me right now. If we had more time, would I have been able to convince her that trans people aren’t threats? Would my chances have been better if I was wearing something different? What if I could have spoken to her in Mandarin? If my mother was standing next to me, would she have gotten into a fight with her? Would she have gotten into a physical altercation with this other mother?

In my preparations I was expecting the legislators to be horrible. I knew it would be a long day of assaultive language veiled in savior complex. But the hours of procedure left me completely unprepared for the opposition. And then to meet an opposition that was both vitriolic and had my face was like stepping into a bad twilight zone episode. And I am left hurting, wanting and confused. We may have won that vote yesterday, by several touchdowns, but there is still so much more to do in our own communities.

Marking the Day of Reflection: #TDOR

[Author’s note: This post is in conjunction with NQAPIA’s coverage of Trans Awareness Week.  It is an update to a post from 2012.  Please to Enjoy!]

Boston TDOR

Boston TDOR

Foto: © Anh Ðào Kolbe/adkfoto.com

 

It’s Trans Awareness Week (TAW) across the country; that means communities everywhere are busy holding educational and social events.  This week of events culminates with an event called Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR): a candlelight vigil where we remember and memorialize people around the world who have died for being Trans or gender non-conforming.  TDOR started here in Boston, after a woman by the name of Rita Hester was murdered in Allston just for being who she is: a Trans woman of color.

When I was still a baby queer, I like so many others trying to figure out identity, searched high and low for community.  I had been exposed to the lesbian and gay community; a community that has become it’s own culture, complete with genre music, media icons and cruise ships.  As compelling and as shiny as this world of unicorns and rainbows is, it was not where I belonged.

What I found instead, was TDOR, and let me say, it was a stark difference.  TDOR is not a glitter clad parade down Main Street USA.  There are no Dykes on Bikes or Go-Go boys.  It is NOT a celebration.  It is a somber, solemn event, where the names of murder victims are read from a frighteningly long list.  And as dark as this event can be it continues to be one of the largest events for the Trans community: a time to be with friends and loved ones, and a time to recognize our fallen.

This year, one of those names that will be read aloud is Leslie Feinberg.  Feinberg came to me the same way she came to so many of you.  In the gut wrenching 1993 novel, Stone Butch Blues.  I was 19 when someone pushed that text into my hands with the mystical command “You must read this.”  The story was dark and real, and gritty and terrifying.  But it also seeded a magical quality of truth, perseverance and hope.  Maybe it was naïve of me to squint my eyes through the passages of sexual assault, and bathe in the paragraphs that described so perfectly, the joy of finding a person to love.  But I did these things, and took Feinberg’s words as a blanket, a road map, and a shield into my own journey that I knew would be plagued by heartbreak and discrimination.

And here I am, so many years later thinking about a world without Leslie Feinberg, and I am at an incalculable loss.  One of the unfortunate side effects that I’ve experienced since starting testosterone is that I no longer have the ability to cry.  So I find it ironic that the one most influential author who enabled me to start my path has also rendered me unable to shed tears over her death.  Consequently, I can express tremendous rage.  Feinberg was a warrior poet and a pioneer who would never allow herself to be victimized, but still was suffering from basic human discrimination by an inability to access health care as a transgender person.  This is an injustice that horribly affects so many, and is something tangible that I can punch with my activist fists.

I like to remind people that gay pride in the USA was catalyzed by the Stonewall Riots in NYC.  On that fateful night in June of 1969, a group of drag queens and butch dykes had the gall to fight back.  They took a stand and said they would not be targeted any longer for their gender presentation or identity.  The modern gay civil rights movement owes it’s start to Trans and gender non conforming people who were being abused, persecuted and murdered.  Today, we will read hundreds of names of people who were killed violently: people like Jennifer Laude, the 26 year old Filipina whose hateful murder also highlights the problems with US armed forces serving abroad. And we will also add hundreds of other names of people like Leslie Feinberg who were killed by systemic and institutionalized transphobia.

My own personal copy of Stone Butch Blues was battered and loved, with notes in the margins and torn cover.  Just as it was shared with me, I needed to pass it along and share with others.  TDOR is in all our roots.  Please remember.  Come this Sunday to the Boston/Cambridge observance of TDOR.  Or, find another TDOR near you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May meets June: The Intersection of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Queerness

This post can also be found at MTPC’s website as well.

In May I celebrate and honor the work that has been done by my Asian and Pacific Islander brothers, sisters and siblings in the fight against racism. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the completion by Chinese laborers on the transcontinental railroad as well as the first immigration of a Japanese person to the United States.

And in June I remember and honor the work that my LGBTQ brothers, sisters and siblings have done in the fight against homo/transphobia. June is the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event that is credited for creating the modern LGBTQ Civil Rights movement.
While most of the time, it feels like this work is distinctive, isolated and separate, for me as a second generation Asian American and an out transman, these worlds have always been linked.

 

Have you looked at a map recently? Asia is big. Really big. There are 49 countries in Asia, a region that stretches from Saudi Arabia to the Kamchatka Peninsula and includes 60% of the world’s population. “Asia” as a concept was created when westerners were exploring the globe looking for exotic lands and rare spices. In fact, the earliest disputes about the border between Asia and the “western” world were centered on the Caucasus Mountains and so we interpret Asian to mean other.

Today “Asian Pacific-Islander” is a geopolitical term that refers to blobs of color on an atlas that are approximately close to each other. But in the “melting pot” of American race politics, to be API means you have yellow skin and slanty eyes. It possibly also means you’re good at math, have demanding parents and slur your Rs. To be Asian American is to remove all the subtlety and nuance of a rich cultural heritage and to boil it down to a degrading stereotype that was created during the Wild West, institutionalized at Tule Lake, and given household recognition by Stanley Kubrick.

I remember as a child in the early 80s, my mother would caution me repeatedly, “Make sure you tell people you’re Chinese.” The fear was that if people thought I was Vietnamese, I would be construed as The Enemy because “we all look alike”. In 1982, Vincent Chin was bludgeoned to death by two Detroit autoworkers. Even though he was not an autoworker, or Japanese, they blamed him personally for the rise of Japanese automobile companies. He was brutally murdered for the way he looked and the perceptions of his race. In the months immediately following, Asians all over this country realized that it didn’t matter where we were born or who our parents were, we would still be labeled a Chink, a Jap, a Gook, and hated for simply because we are different. Vincent’s murder inspired a movement of togetherness that has lived to this day. In fact, immediately after the attacks on 9/11, Japanese Americans who survived Tule Lake were the first to come out in solidarity to make sure the same institutionalized racism didn’t happen again to Muslim Americans.

Power politics 

I talk about these things incessantly because so many people don’t know the fundamental link between racism and homophobia the way I have experienced. Vincent Chin’s murder changed hate crime legislation in the United States. Something that happened again with the murder of Matthew Shepard. So much of the hatred in this country is based on perception of power. Most recently, a troubled misogynistic young man went on a killing spree in Isla Vista aimed at the women he perceived to reject him. It is difficult to rationalize any of his actions or his beliefs, but it is very obvious that his own internalized racism at his half Asian self was a contributing factor to his self loathing.

Intersection Junction, what’s your function?
The simple truth is that no one’s identity is simple. For me, my world and life are profoundly shaped by the color of my skin. I have long said that the two things people see about me are 1.) my race and then 2.) my gender. Before I say a single word, they assume that I don’t speak English, and that I will be submissive to them.  2011 statistics show 46.9% of hate crimes were motivated by race and 20.8% by sexual orientation. In my own life I have been subjected to decades of microaggressions that are in accordance with those statistics.

To be both API and LGBTQ in this country means you stand at the cross roads of intersecting identities. Often times we are forced to choose allegiances. We can either fight to end racism OR end homo/transphobia, but apparently not both. Could you choose to favor the right half of your body and willingly remove the left half of your body? Could you select between your head and your heart?

The author shaved his mustache to raise awareness for API Heritage month.

Do I look less like Fu Manchu, Ming the Merciless or the Mandarin, and more like Captain America?”

 

Queer it up America

People who are Asian American or Pacific Islander are subjected to stereotypes that only limit us.  We must continue to defy those stereotypes and break down the imagery that dominates this thinking.  Not all Asian Americans come from stable two parent homes.  Not all Asian Americans work in STEM careers.  Not all Asian Americans are yellow.  Similarly, just because you’re a gay man, doesn’t mean you’re automatically a hairdresser.  Just because you play softball doesn’t mean you’re automatically a lesbian.  LGBTQ people have been working for decades to break down these misconceptions by living their diverse and full lives in between the extreme polarities that people perpetually use to try to define us.  We should all be working to breaking down the same and preposterous myths and stereotypes of racism.

When I sat down to write this blog post I was inspired by this blog post about pioneering Black Transwomen. My intent was to try and write a historical perspective of API LGBTQ persons who have been doing trailblazer work. But I am not a historian, and sadly, my cultural knowledge is hugely augmented by Wikipedia. And while I could sit down and do scholarly research, I am hampered by language and terminology that is not always culturally appropriate. We need more Asian American elders who are doing pioneering work. I was mournful of the death of Senator Daniel Inouye, and most recently the death of Yuri Kochiyama, Japanese Internment Camp Survivor and Civil Rights Activist. But I am also thankful for contemporary LGBTQ activists like Helen Zia, Patrick Cheng and Pauline Park who continue to work on Civil Rights and recognize that their visibility doing so inspires us all to do more. And I am excited about rising stars like Andy Marra who bravely puts her own personal life into public scrutiny. I look forward to the day when I can rattle off hundreds of names of API LGBT activists who are household names and hope that you do too.

 

For additional reading (Thanks Prof Mo for the Bibliography):

Q & A: Queer in Asian America, ed. Alice Hom and David Eng (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998)
Asian American Sexualities: Dimensions of the Gay and Lesbian Experience ed. Russell Leong (New York: Routledge, 1996)
Howard Chiang and Ari Larissa Heinrich, eds., Queer Sinophone Cultures (New York: Routledge, 2014)
Martin Manalansan, Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003)

QAPA and Religion (and Mimosas)

So with all the recent shenanigans by Pope Francis, I think it’s time we start to talk about the place of Christianity in Queer API lives.  Last year, we were lucky to have our very own hometown hero facilitate a talk with us about this very topic.  Let’s continue the talk!  (With Mimosas).

There are various different churches in the Boston area that are Queer affirming.  Let’s check them out together!

Starting off with Easter Sunday, let’s go to Dignity Boston (Catholic).  Dignity’s service is Sunday evening, so afterwards we can go out for dinner/drinks.

Then we’ll follow up with UU (First Parish Cambridge), Episcopal (The Crossing), UCC (First Church Somerville) and maybe toss in some Baptist or Evangelical if we’re feeling ambitious.

Check out our Meetup for more details!  And if you have a church that is Queer welcoming and think would make a good stop on this little tour (and there’s a good brunch place nearby) please let us know!

QPOC Bridge

So recently QAPA was asked to participate in a larger collective of LGBT and POC groups in Boston, named the QPOC Bridge. I am hopeful that this will lead to some great partnerships, allyships and collaborations. As part of that participation, we will start posting other organizations events on the QAPA FB page. This will be a great way for us all to extend our networks and exercise our voice in the larger world. YAY QAPI Visibility!

ENDA Passes the Senate, Now to the House

ENDA has just passed the Senate 64 to 32!  It still has to pass in the House, but national leaders are calling it an amazing bipartisan victory (by the way, the outtakes of that video are hilarious).  For those of you who don’t know the back history of ENDA, it started back in 1994 and has been revised and stalled and revised and modified and burned for almost TWO DECADES.

So this really is awesome kids.

Below is a message that I sent to the QAPA listserve back in 2007 when ENDA went to the House floor excluding protections for Transgender people.  It includes the statements that Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and the HRC (yes the Human Rights Campaign is not always equal) sent to their constituents explaining why trans people needed to be sacrificed.  This is also the summation of why I will never ever give money to the HRC or ever trust hometown boy Barney Frank.

=====================

Please read.  This is not acceptable.

In the past few days there’s been a maelstorm of information flying around about the status of ENDA (employment non discrimination act) in the House of Representatives.  Barney Frank, (D-Mass) made moves to exclude trans people from ENDA, in order to get it through the House.  Right now, GLAD, HRC, and other LGBTIQ groups are protesting the segregation of trans people from ENDA.  the following is directly from GLAD:

“We need your help today to ensure that no member of our community is left behind. Contact your Representative, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at 202-224-3121 and let them know that you oppose legislation that is not fully inclusive.

Our Massachusetts supporters have a unique opportunity to impact the course of this legislation by contacting the bill’s sponsor, Representative Barney Frank. Urge Representative Frank and Speaker Pelosi to let Congress vote on the original version of ENDA, HR 2015, the version that was asked for, worked on, and supported by the community.”

For those of you who don’t know, ENDA has previously been marred by an anti trans status.  While the HRC repeatedly told the trans community that they would fight for a trans inclusive ENDA, they continually wrote it out in closed meetings.  ENDA was created in 1994, and for 10 years, this debate had be going on.

The HRC in late 2004 finally committed to that position.

http://www.transgenderlaw.org/80704.htm
http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_332/decisiondayontrans.html
http://www.nyblade.com/2004/7-30/news/localnews/transteen.cfm
http://jenellerose.com/htmlpostings/20th_century_transgender.htm

The HRC’s article and Barney Frank’s letters are below.

>
> ———— — Forwarded Message: ———— —
> From: “hrc” <hrc@hrc.org>
> Subject: HRC’s Statement on ENDA
> Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2007 22:31:16 +0000
>
> We know that everyone has been waiting to hear from HRC about the status of ENDA.  A
> lot has changed since Wednesday.
>
> Besides trying to ensure that the Senate beat the filibuster on Hate Crimes—an
> achievement which can not get lost in this controversy—we’ve spent the last 48 hours
> gathering information and using all of our resources to stay on top of very fast-moving
> developments on ENDA. Rather than issue public statements and alerts while there was
> still a chance to make the situation better, HRC chose instead to engage directly with allies
> on Capitol Hill in an effort to save an inclusive ENDA.
>
> During this entire campaign to win an inclusive ENDA, we have been guided by the
> principle of trying to achieve the end result the fastest way possible.  Without question,
> that result has been—and continues to be—an inclusive ENDA that covers the entire GLBT
> community.  We will continue to use that as our benchmark as we move forward in this
> process.
>
> Unfortunately, we now know what we’re facing.  The decision has been made, according to
> statements from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Frank issued this afternoon—the
> House will consider a version of ENDA that does not include gender identity.
>
> This is not what any of us wanted, and certainly not what we’ve been fighting for.  But, it
> has been made clear that the House leadership and bill sponsors are moving forward with
> a non-inclusive ENDA even without the full support of our community.  They view this as
> the best opportunity they will have this year to help the largest number of people—and
> have stated that they do not intend to miss this opportunity.
>
> Passing an inclusive ENDA is the right thing to do for our community, our economy and
> our country.  However, we’re facing a stark reality.
>
> House leadership and the bill’s sponsors very firmly believe that if the House votes on an
> employment non-discrimination bill without gender identity, that legislation will pass—
> again, it will pass even without the support of the GLBT organizations.
>
> After trying everything at our disposal to change this outcome, we are just beginning to
> come to terms with what that means.
>
>Since 2004, the Human Rights Campaign’s policy has been to only support civil rights
> legislation that is inclusive of gender identity. That’s why we fought tirelessly for and won
> Congressional approval for a fully inclusive hate crimes bill.  We’ve been fighting to pass
> the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for more than a decade.  The breaking news that
> the House has decided to move forward on a non-discrimination bill that is not inclusive
> of gender identity is devastating.  The Human Rights Campaign remains dedicated to the
> fight for full equality for our entire community and, in light of this new reality, continues
> to consult with members of Congress and our lobbyists to determine how we can achieve
> that goal.
>
> This has been a long battle.  HRC first started the quest for ENDA in 1994 .  We’ve been
> pushing for an inclusive bill since 2004.  Within two weeks, ENDA could pass the House for
> the first time in history, but not as an inclusive bill.
>
> For continuous updates please visit the HRC blog at http://www.hrcbackstory. org.
>
>Pelosi: `ENDA is an Historic Advancement for Gays and Lesbians’
>
>Washington , D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement this afternoon
> on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act:
>
>”For my 20 years in Congress, ending discrimination against gays and lesbians has been a
> top priority of mine.  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, sponsored by
> Congressman Barney Frank, is an historic advancement for gays and lesbians and their
> families.  I am proud to be the first Speaker to bring this legislation to the House floor,
> which was first introduced in 1994.
>
>
>
> “While I personally favor legislation that would include gender identity, the new ENDA
> legislation proposed by Congressman Frank has the best prospects for success on the
> House floor.
>
>”I will continue to push for legislation, including language on gender identity, to expand
> and make our laws more reflective of the diverse society in which we live.”
>
>STATEMENT OF BARNEY FRANK ON ENDA
>
> Being in the legislative minority is easy – pulling together to block bad things does not
> require a lot of agonizing over tough decisions.  Being in the majority is a mixed blessing.
> On the one hand, we have the ability to move forward in a positive way on important
> public policy goals.  Detracting from that is the fact that it is never possible for us at any
> given time to get everything that we would like, and so we have to make difficult choices.
> But it is important to remember that the good part of this greatly outweighs the bad.
> Going from a situation in which all we can do is to prevent bad things from happening to
> one in which we have to decide exactly how much good is achievable and what strategic
> choices we must make to get there is a great advance.
>
> The current manifestation of this is the difficult set of decisions we face regarding the
> Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  We are on the verge of an historic victory that
> supporters of civil rights have been working on for more than thirty years:  the passage for
> the first time in American history by either house of Congress of legislation declaring it
> illegal to discriminate against people in employment based on their sexual orientation.
> Detracting from the sense of celebration many of us feel about that is regret that under
> the current political situation, we do not have sufficient support in the House to include in
> that bill explicit protection for people who are transgender.  The question facing us – the
> LGBT community and the tens of millions of others who are active supporters of our fight
> against prejudice – is wheth er we should pass up the chance to adopt a very good bill
> because it has one major gap.  I believe that it would be a grave error to let this
> opportunity to pass a sexual orientation nondiscrimination bill go forward, not simply
> because it is one of the most important advances we’ll have made in securing civil rights
> for Americans in decades, but because moving forward on this bill now will also better
> serve the ultimate goal of including people who are transgender than simply accepting
> total defeat today.
>
>When the bill banning sexual orientation discrimination was first introduced by Bella
> Abzug and Paul Tsongas more than thirty years ago, it was a fairly remote hope.  Over
> time because of a good deal of work, education of the general public, and particularly the
> decision by tens of millions of gay and lesbian people over that time to be honest about
> our sexual orientation, we have finally reached the point where we have a majority in the
> House ready to pass this bill.  Those of us who are sponsoring it had hoped that we could
> also include in the prohibition discrimination based on gender identity.  This is a fairly
> recent addition to the fight, and part of the problem we face is that while there have been
> literally decades of education of the public about the unfairness of sexual orientation
> discrimination and the inaccuracy of the myths that perpetuated it, our educational efforts
> regarding gender identity are much less far along, and given the prejudices that exist, face
> a steeper climb.
>
> We introduced legislation opposing sexual orientation discrimination with explicit
> inclusion of gender identity for the first time this year.  Earlier this session under
> leadership of Speaker Pelosi, we were able to get through the House a hate crimes bill that
> provided protection against crimes of violence and property damage for lesbian, gay and
> bisexual people and people who are transgender.  There was some initial resistance to the
> inclusion of transgender people but a very organized effort on the part of Congresswoman
> Baldwin, who took a major role in this, myself, and the Democratic leadership allowed us
> to overcome it, with the support of some of our Republican colleagues.
>
>We then began the work on passing a transgender inclusive ENDA.  I was optimistic at first
> that we could do this, although I knew it would be hard.  One of the problems I have found
> over the years of discussing this is an unwillingness on the part of many, including leaders
> in the transgender community, to acknowledge a fact:  namely that there is more
> resistance to protection for people who are transgender than for people who are gay,
> lesbian and bisexual.  This is not a good fact, but ignoring bad facts is a bad way to get
> legislation passed.  I have for some time been concerned that people in the transgender
> leadership were underestimating the difficulty we faced in a broadly inclusive bill being
> adopted.
>
> Still this seemed to me an effort very worth trying, and, when I testified before the
> Education and Labor Committee on ENDA I spent much of my time explicitly addressing
> the need to include transgender people.  In fact, I believe I spent more time on that than
> any other witness.  Sadly, as the time approached for the vote to be taken in the
> Committee, we encountered a good deal of resistance.  The great majority of Democrats
> remained committed to this, but with Republicans overwhelmingly likely to be opposed –
> even on hate crimes on the critical motion to recommit we were able to retain only nine
> Republican supporters out of two hundred Republican Members – it became clear that an
> amendment offered by Republicans either to omit the transgender provision altogether or
> severely restrict it in very obnoxious ways would pass.
>
> Responding thoughtfully to this requires people to accept facts.  Some have tried to deny
> this unpleasant reality.  The Democratic leadership, which is in complete sympathy with a
> fully inclusive bill did a special Whip count.  There had been earlier informal Whip counts –
> polls of Democratic Members – that had showed significant support for a bill that included
> transgender, although even these informal checks never showed that we had a majority.
> But Members will sometimes be inclined to give people the answers they think the people
> who are asking the questions want until the crunch comes.  In the crunch – the serious
> Whip count taken in contemplation of the bill – it became very clear that while we would
> retain a significant majority of Democrats, we would lose enough so that a bill that
> included transgender protection w ould lose if not amended, and that an anti-transgender
> amendment would pass.
>
>The question then became how to proceed.  There were several choices.  One was to go
> forward with the bill understanding that an amendment would be offered to strike the
> transgender provision.  There was a proposal to have the Democratic leadership do that in
> what is known as a manager’s amendment, in the hopes of avoiding a divisive roll call on
> the subject.  But the Democratic leadership did not want to take the lead in killing a
> provision to which its Members are committed as a matter of principle, and in fact, given
> Congressional procedures, there is no way to prevent a roll call even on that.  People have
> claimed that the desire to achieve a roll call is aimed solely at protecting some Democrats
> from having to make a tough choice.  That is of course a factor, and asking your
> supporters to vote with you on a matte r that is doomed both to lose itself and to lose you
> votes is not a good way to build up support.  But it is also the case that a number of the
> Democrats were prepared to vote for the inclusion of the transgender provision even
> though they knew that it would hurt them politically.  The main reason not to put this to a
> vote is our interest in ultimately adopting transgender protection.  If we were to push for a
> vote now, knowing that the transgender provision would be defeated by a majority, we
> would be making it harder ultimately to win that support.  As recent campaigns indicate,
> Members of Congress who are accused of switching their position on votes are pilloried,
> even when this is done unfairly as it was to Senator Kerry.  Thus, forcing a vote on
> transgender inclusion now, which would without any question result in a majority against
> it, would make it harder to win when we have done better in our educational work,
> because Members who vote no now will be harder to persuade to switch their votes than it
> will be to get them to vote yes in the first place, never having voted on this before.
>
>In addition, going forward in this situation leaves us open to Republican procedural
> maneuvers in which they could succeed not only in getting rid of the transgender
> provision. This would not kill the bill, but it would substantially delay it, and would be
> have very bad psychological effect in a situation in which maintaining the right psychology
> –optimism – is important.
>
>That is why I believe that a strategy of going forward with a transgender inclusive
> provision that would certainly be stricken at some point in the procedure by a vote in the
> House would be a mistake.
>
> Leaders in the GLBT community, who strongly support the inclusion of transgender, now
> acknowledge that this would be the case – namely that the transgender provision would
> lose – so their proposed alternative was simply to withhold the bill from the House
> altogether.
>
>That is, their recommendation was that the Speaker simply announce that she was not
> going to allow the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to come up at all.  I believe that
> would be a disaster – politically, morally, and strategically.  While the reason for this would
> be the debate over how ultimately to achieve transgender inclusion, the impression that
> would be given to the country was that Speaker Pelosi, the first Democratic Speaker in
> thirteen years, and a lifelong strong supporter of LGBT rights, had decided that we could
> not go forward on what had been the major single legislative goal of gay and lesbian
> people for over thirty years.
>
> Some in the transgender community and those who agree with them have given a variety
> of strategic arguments why they think it would be better not to go forward.  One variant is
> that since the President is likely to veto the bill anyway, it does not make any difference if
> we fail to vote on it.  But it should be noted that this is directly contradictory to the
> arguments that the LGBT community has been making for years.  That is, we have been
> very critical of arguments that we should not push for votes on anti-discrimination
> legislation simply because it wasn’t openly going to win.  People have correctly pointed to
> the value of getting people used to voting for this, of the moral force of having majorities
> in either the House or the Senate or both go on record favorably even if the President was
> going to veto it, and have in fac t been getting Members ready so if that if and when we
> get a president ready to sign this, we are closer to passage.  To repeat, the argument that
> we should not take up legislation unless we are sure the President is going to sign it is
> about as opposite to all of the arguments LGBT people have been making for as long as I
> can remember.
>
>The real reason that people are now arguing that we should withhold any action on the
> antidiscrimination bill unless it includes transgender as well as sexual orientation is that
> they are, as they have explicitly said, opposed in principle to such a bill becoming law.
> That is the crux of the argument.  There are people who believe – in the transgender
> community and elsewhere – that it would be wrong to enact a law that banned
> discrimination based on sexual orientation unless it fully included people who are
> transgender.  I think this argument is deeply flawed.
>
> First, I would note that since I first became a legislator thirty-five years ago, I have spent a
>
> lot of time and energy helping enact legislation to protect a variety of groups from
> discrimination.  In no case has any of those bills ever covered everybody or everything.
> Antidiscrimination legislation is always partial.  It improves coverage either to some group
> or some subject matter, but never achieves everything at once.  And insistence on
> achieving everything at once would be a prescription for achieving nothing ever.
>
>To take the position that if we are able to enact legislation that will protect millions of
> Americans now and in the future from discrimination based on sexual orientation but
> should fail to do so because we are not able to include transgender people as well is to fly
> in the face of every successful strategy ever used in expanding antidiscrimination laws.
> Even from the standpoint of ultimately including transgender people, it makes far more
> sense to go forward in a partial way if that is all we can do.  Part of the objection to any
> antidiscrimination legislation is fear of consequences, which fears are always proven to be
> incorrect.  There is a good deal of opposition now to passing even sexual orientation
> legislation.  Enacting legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and
> getting a year or two’s ex perience with it, will be very helpful in our ultimately adding to it
>
> protection for people who are transgender.  That is, if you always insist on doing all the
> difficult things in one bite, you will probably never be successful.  Dismantling the
> opposition piecemeal has always worked better.
>
> For these reasons I have proposed along with the Democratic leadership the following
> strategy.  First, we have introduced two bills.  One will be ENDA as it has historically
> existed, banning discrimination on sexual orientation.  A second will add transgender
> protections to that basic scheme.  We will move forward with the ban on sexual orientation
> for which we finally – after thirty-plus years have the votes.  After we are successful in
> winning that vote, I will urge the Committee on Education and Labor to proceed with our
> next step, which will be to continue the educational process that I believe will ultimately
> lead to our being able to add transgender protections.  This will mean within a month or
> two hearing in the Committee on Education and Labor which, unlike the hearings we
> previously had on this bill, will no w be able to focus exclusively on transgender issues,
> and will give people a chance to meet transgender people, to understand who they really
> are, and to deal with the fears that exist.  The other options are either to bring a bill to the
>
> floor in which the transgender provision will be defeated by a significant majority, making
> it less likely that we will be able to succeed in this area in the future,  or ask the Speaker
> of
> the House in effect put aside her lifelong political commitment to fairness and be the one
> who announces that we will not pass a bill banning discrimination based on sexual
> orientation even though we have the votes to do it.  Passing ENDA in part and then moving
> on to add transgender provisions when we can is clearly preferable to either of these
> approaches.
>
>
> Dana L. Campbell
>Member Services Coordinator
>Human Rights Campaign
>1640 Rhode Island Ave, NW
>Washington , DC 20036
>

November = T Day

Yes. November in the United States is marked with that all important spectacle of Thanksgiving where millions of Americans eat Turkey. But I’m talking about a different T.

November also marks the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. For those of you who don’t know what that is, check out my post from last year.

These next few weeks there will be a variety of events to raise awareness for all walks of Trans* people.  There’s a Comedy show, a cocktail reception, a workshop on how to be a Trans Ally, a workshop on the intersection of Race and Trans Identity, and of course TDOR itself.   For QAPA’s part, we’ll be holding our next Speakout to address the intersectionality of gender and sexuality.

Check out an event. Think about the amazing work that Pauline Park, Kit Yan and Andy Marra (to name just three) do for our community. Save the Turkey for another day.

http://www.masstpc.org/community-events/trans-awareness-week/

Pet or Threat

Let’s play a game! How many racist stereotypes can you find in this video!


Asian people do not speak English
Asian people eat weird food with magical properties (Ancient Chinese Secret)
Chinese food is open late at night (after clubbing)
Pleasant Young Asian girl works behind the counter
Chinese culture is equal to Chinese food
Asian people eat weird food with magical properties (again)
All Asian culture is interchangeable (young girls dressed as Japanese Geisha girls)

I cannot even comment on the panda.

October 5 National Day of Immigration Reform

Hundreds of Immigrants and Allies from Across State to March Through Boston this Saturday, October 5, for Respect and Reform

Press Conference on Friday lays out collaboration of  50 area organizations in national day of action

 BOSTON, MA – On Saturday, October 5, hundreds of immigrants and their allies from across Massachusetts will march through Boston demanding fundamental changes in immigration laws and policies, from the passage of comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. House of Representatives, to support for bills such as the Trust Act and Safe Driving Bill at the State House. Groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to SEIU chapters will join with some 50 immigrant organizations from across the state in this action, which will culminate in a rally at the Boston Common.

The Boston gathering will be among 166 actions being held throughout the U.S. on October 5 to raise a collective voice for immigrant dignity and respect. These events will occur in 141 cities in 40 states and the District of Columbia, and will include the participation of 13 House Reps, 1 Senator and 2 Governors.

Yesterday, five U.S. Representatives from across the nation introduced the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act,” a bill that contains bipartisan-backed provisions from the Senate immigration bill, as well as the border security bill passed unanimously by the House Committee on Homeland Security. In the actions on October 5, immigrants and their allies will demand that House Speaker John Boehner allow this bill to move forward for the well being of immigrant families and the prosperity of our nation.

Organizers will hold a press conference on the morning before the march, Friday October 4, at 11:30 a.m. in SEIU 32BJ District 615, 26 West Street, Boston MA

Press Conference Speakers Include

  • Eva Millona. Executive Director of Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)
  • Roxana Rivera, District 615 Leader of SEIU 32BJ
  •  Patricia Sobalvarro, Executive Director of Agencia Alpha
  •  Natalicia Tracy, Executive Director of the Brazilian Immigrant Center
  •  Magalis Troncoso, Executive Director of Dominican Development Center
  • Affected Immigrant Family

DETAILS OF THE MARCH, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5

WHO: Hundreds of Immigrants and Allies

WHAT: March for Immigrant Respect and Immigration Reform

WHERE: Copley square to Boston Common

WHEN: Saturday, October 5, Starting at 12 Noon

SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY

  • Buses will come from FitchburgNew Bedford, Brockton, Lynn, Springfield, Williamstown and Worcester and gather in Boston
  • Hundreds of marchers will gather at the corner of  Boylston St and Dartmouth St (public sidewalk in front of the Public Library in Copley at 12 noon
  • Public figures will be the “Leaders of the March,” guiding participants towards two Bank of America branches on Boylston St. to deliver a letter demanding a public statement against anti-immigrant politics and in support of Immigration Reform.
  • The march will continue down on Boylston St. to turn on Charles St.
  • Attendees will arrive at Boston Common’s corner of Beacon St and Charles St. to begin the 1 hour program on the stage with music and the testimonies of 3 families and request the commitments of our MA congresional delegation to meet with Speaker Boehner and demand to enact immigration reform NOW.

THE MESSAGE OF THE MARCH

The Boston rally will demand an end to the deportation practices that have driven 11 million immigrants into the shadows, and the passage in the House of Representatives of a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship, which would accord these immigrants the full respect of the society to which they belong and strengthen the economy to which they contribute. Marchers will also call for the passage of important state bills such as the Safe Driving Bill and the Trust Act, measures that would increase the safety of our roads and return real security to our communities

The march will be held at a crucial moment — the final days in which the U.S. House of Representatives can move forward with an immigration reform bill this year. After the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan immigration legislation (S. 744) that includes a pathway to citizenship in June, progress was blocked by House Speaker John Boehner, who refused early this summer to bring any comprehensive bill to the floor of the House. Now, after a summer of actions in which 26 members of Boehner’s Republican party have declared their support for reform, the combined force of labor, community, ethnic and faith organizations will call for Speaker Boehner to stop blocking the passage of comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship —a concept now supported by a bipartisan majority of representatives.

To that end, the rally will call on all members of the Massachusetts delegation to the House — all of them Democrats —  to raise their voices publicly for consideration of a comprehensive bill, one with a path to citizenship and without militarization of the border. The rally will begin with a noon and march from Copley square past several branches of Bank of America, which supporters will publicly call to stop supporting Speaker Boehner with campaign contributions.

PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS

The New England Coalition for Keeping Families Together: American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLU), American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), ADL’s Latino-Jewish Roundtable, Anti-Defamation League, The African Council, Agencia ALPHA, Berkshire Immigrant Center, Birfly Conexion Juvenil Inmigrante, Boston New Sanctuary Movement (BNSM), Boston College Students, Brazilian Immigrant Center, Brazilian Ministers Network (BMNET), Brazilian Women’s Group, Brockton Interfaith Community, Centro Presente, Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores de New Bedford, Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores de Lynn, Chinese Progressive Association, Chelsea Collaborative, Citizenship Brazilian Movement, Cleghorn Neighborhood Center, Comite de Refugiados El Salvador (CORES), Dominican Development Center, East Boston Ecumenical Community Council (EBECC), Emerson College Students / EmersonUNITE, Harvard College Act on a Dream, Harvard Kennedy School Students, Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC), Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative (IWCC), Jobs with Justice, Just Communities of Western Massachusetts, La Comunidad Inc, Latinas Know Your Rights, Latinos Unidos de Massachusetts (LUMA), Maria Luisa de Moreno International Foundation, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA Coalition), MassCOSH, Matahari Eye of the Day, MIRA USA, Neighbors United for a Better East Boston, New Hampshire Alliance of Immigrants and Refugees, Oiste?, Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA), REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, SEIU 32BJ/615, SEIU 1199, SEIU Local 509, Student Immigrant Movement, UNITE HERE Local 26, Williams College Students, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD).