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White Hats, Black Hats: HRC vs. NGLTF (1999)

White Hats, Black Hats: HRC vs. NGLTF (1999)

©1999, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1999). White hats, black hats: HRC vs. NGLTF. Two-Spirit News: The Newsletter of the Atlanta Gender Explorations Support Group.






Black Hats, White Hats


By Dallas Denny


In this issue of Two-Spirit News you’ll find two very different positions on trans issues taken by the leaders of the two most prominent gay and lesbian organizations— The National Lesbian and Gay Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign. Kerry Lobel of NGLTF has taken her organization courageously in the direction of bi- and trans-inclusion, whereas Elizabeth Birch of HRC throws out platitudes and bromides about the inclusion issue being “complex” and claims HRC will “reach back” to include transgendered people in employment protections after gay and lesbian people have achieved theirs. Birch mouths the HRC line that transgender inclusion must be preceded by a long period spent educating congress and proceeds to push a noninclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA). Meanwhile, NGLTF has withdrawn its support of ENDA in its current noninclusive state.

Birch claims her organization has expended time and energy on transgender issues, training transgender activists to lobby more effectively. Indeed it has— but many in the transgender community have concluded correctly that HRC’s offers of support to the transgender community are cynical attempts to co-opt transgender leaders and divide the community. HRC has effectively done just that. At last year’s Atlanta HRC Fundraising Dinner, local transgender activists were divided between those who wanted to pay their two hundred dollars and go to the dinner to support HRC and those who wanted to show up in black t-shirts to protest outside. There was an effective compromise, which was for those who went to hand out leaflets outlining the need for transgender inclusion in ENDA— but HRC had effectively divided the Atlanta community into two camps.

HRC has been effective in dividing the national transgender community as well. Many transgendered people believe some of our leaders, namely Riki Anne Wilchins and Dana Priesing of GenderPAC, have agreed to stop pressuring HRC about ENDA in exchange for transgender inclusion in the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Certainly Riki Ann and Dana are working and playing well with HRC. Perhaps GenderPAC has even come to some sort of arrangement with HRC regarding ENDA— but allegations that Riki and Dana have sold out the community and are laughing behind the community’s back are unfounded and unfair. Of course, we know who is really laughing— Elizabeth Birch and HRC, at the way they have successfully directed our anger and frustration from HRC to members of our own community.

HRC is a big-bucks organization. It’s been around a long time. Its staff is well-paid and experienced in the cynical arena of national politics. HRC is accomplished in the manipulation of public opinion. It knows how to put spin on an issue. And it’s spinning hell out of transgender inclusion, making itself appear concerned about us by publicly holding forth an olive branch while behind the scenes it works desperately to cut us out of ENDA.

Well, fuck you, HRC, and fuck you, Elizabeth Birch. I’m not falling for it. Don’t you fall for it either, gentle reader. Send your bucks to NGLTF.