Earlier today, I was reading about the re-introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill in Congress that would effectively outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (with exemptions for religious institutions and businesses with fewer than 15 employees). In all honesty, the bill has a snowball’s chance in hell of being signed into law as long as the House of Representatives remains in the control of Republicans.
Still, if there’s one thing we can use this as an opportunity for, it’s to make our elected officials go on record as discriminatory bigots. Occasionally, right-wing politicians will come out against ENDA by using things like “employer freedom to only employ the kind of people he wants,” but sometimes they’re much more overt.
For example, Arizona senator Jeff Flake, who voted ‘Yes’ on ENDA in 2007, has said that this time around, you can count him out unless the bill matches the 2007 version he voted ‘yes’ on. Why, exactly? What’s changed about ENDA in that time? One major thing has: transgender people (like me! *raises hand*) would now be covered under this law. Essentially, what Senator Flake is saying, is that he understands that we need to provide LGB people with protection, but screw those gross tr*nnies. Ewwwwwwww.
Thanks, Jeff. I really appreciate it.
Failed 2012 VP candidate Paul Ryan is also among those who have gone on record with a position in favor of protections on the basis of sexual orientation, but denying the same protections to transgender people. In 2010, he was quoted as saying that the addition of transgender protections in ENDA “makes it something you can’t vote for,” and that he “[thinks] ENDA is the right thing to do, but transgender language ‘changes the equation.'”
It’s not just politicians I hear this from. Often, even in the comments section of my essays, I’ll see someone say, “I’m totally in favor of gay rights, but this transgender stuff is weird.” That’s nice. Even so, whether or not one’s opinion on my existence is that I’m “weird” or a “freak” or “sinful” shouldn’t factor into the question of whether or not I deserve the same protections everyone else has. A cisgender man can’t be fired just for presenting as a man at work. A cisgender woman can’t be fired for presenting as a woman. Why is it fair that a transgender woman should be able to be fired for presenting herself as a woman at work?
This isn’t a “special right,” it’s a quest for the same rights cisgender people already enjoy. Are you really saying I’m so sub-human that I’m not worthy of that?