Okay folks, I just got off the phone from a nationwide conference call with some of the best minds and hardest workers in the trans community discussing ENDA. We discussed the realities and the misleading falsehoods, the details and the broad scope. It was a lot to take in quite frankly and I’m still trying to process a lot of what was discussed.
But since I’m an improviser and I believe in being in the moment and going with your gut to take you where the truth is, I wanted to share with you some of my initial impressions.
A lot of what was discussed were political details. Hows and whys and the procedures to make this happen. Good stuff and absolutely fascinating to a political junkie like myself, but not necessarily easy to convey without some additional study.
Basically what I got though was that this version of ENDA stands a very good chance of being passed and being passed as a Trans-Inclusive Bill! It is not perfect, nor will it be. There are problems with ENDA. Not insurmountable problems though. And certainly nothing as catastrophically bad as the conjectures that have been making the rounds of the interwebs for the past few days would seem to imply.
There will be no “Genital Inspector General” appointed and no spot checks at the restroom. The provisions in regards to bathrooms don’t make me especially happy, but it’s nothing we can’t work with and it actually is an improvement on the current workplace situation.
Mind that: “Workplace Situation” ENDA will not affect the restroom transgender people may use when they go out to Mackey D’s or at The Courthouse. It governs only workplace related issues. Basically the situation is this. An employer will not be able to force you to use the “wrong” restroom. Though they may be able to prevent trans employees from using the “right” restroom IF it is a multi-stall restroom and they have provided an alternate solution.
That’s important. They must make a reasonable accommodation.
I agree, not ideal and not happy. It still gives employers the ability to single us out and create a “separate but equal” situation. It IS better than the current state of affairs though. Where first of all, we have no actual employment protections anyway. And second of all, as it stands today, employers in many states MAY actually force transgender people to use the “wrong” restroom
And that brings me to my next point. ENDA will not be the end all be-all. It’s not even going to be all that great. I mean, if you can describe historic friggin’ legislation as “not all that great.”…. But it will be, as Gunner Scott aptly put it, “the floor that we’re starting on.” It will be a building block on which to base state level protections and education about transgender issues.
And that is good. That is excellent.
We will still need to pass laws at the state legislative level to provide stronger, better protections for our community. But these stronger, better laws will have a national precedent to help us springboard them. And once we can get them passed they will trump the weaker ENDA. Meanwhile, ENDA will still provide at least some protection for transfolks in places that do not currently have any protections at all! And some protections are a heck of a lot better than the no protections at all we have right now.
Yes, it’s true, it will be a bit of time and probably several stages before we see any actual language. There is a lot we do not know about the final form ENDA will take. But that’s just how it is in politics folks! That’s how every bill gets passed. The legislative process requires us to take some risks. To take chances.
Right now, as a community, we are going to have to take a leap of faith!!!
ENDA needs our support to happen as well as to stay Trans-Inclusive. It’s time to stop bickering among ourselves and pull together as one, unified and powerful community. This bill must pass and it must pass this year!!! We will wait no longer.
So get out there and call your Congress People. Call your Reps and tell them that you as their constituent, as their VOTING constituent, need them to help pass a Trans-Inclusive ENDA now! Then call your Senator, so we can get them buttered up and ready to throw on the grill once the Bill comes out of The House.
There’s a tremendous amount of energy out there in the trans community right now. If we can focus that and join ranks with a single purpose, there is nothing we may not accomplish.
Now Go!!!! It’s time to get to work and there is not a second to waste!!!
ORIGINAL IMAGE AND CAPTION REMOVED BY REQUEST
People Come Together!!!
( To look at the Bill yourself, go here: The Library Of Congress: Thomas Jefferson Legislative Information Section And search for Bill Number HR3017 )
Photos by Madeline Burrows and Elle St. Claire (Amazing Shot, but Sadly Removed -LE)