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ENDA Without the “T” is Toothless For All (2001)

ENDA Without the “T” is Toothless For All (2001)

©2001, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (2001, 12 May). ENDA without the “T” is toothless for all (Letter to the editor). Southern Voice, 14(9), 19.

This letter was a response to an editorial by he ever-clueless Chris Crain. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I used the term transgenders to refer to transgendered people.



Southern Voice Page (PDF)


Dear Editor:

Chris Crain has it backwards. Transgendered people will not be protected by an Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) without language protecting gender variance—nor will any gay man or lesbian whose dress, speech, or mannerisms vary from the ideal heterosexual norm. We all know discrimination is based more on the way we look and act than on whom we sleep with—we’re being attacked on the streets and discriminated against at our jobs, after all, and not in our bedrooms.

At best, ENDA, in its present form, would protect only those gay men and lesbians who are straight-looking and straight-acting— and how many of us are? With the toothless ENDA Crain envisions, employers would do an end-around by claiming dismissals were based upon variation from gender norms rather than sexual orientation—and it would stick.

Crain is dreaming if he thinks transgenders have other legal protections. We are specifically excluded from the Americans with Disabilities Act, and state courts have ruled that while sex is a protected category until Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, change of sex is not. In 1975, a Georgia court held that the word sex in Title VII “does not forbid employment discrimination based upon a person’s [in this case a heterosexual’s] effeminate mannerisms.” Except in the 40 or so enlightened U.S. communities which have instituted legal protections for transgenders, even gender-variant heterosexuals will be unprotected under Crain’s ENDA.

In an ideal world, transition-related medical expenses of transsexuals would be covered by insurance. Unfortunately, this is the exception rather than the rule. We must dig deep into our own pockets to pay for expensive electrolysis, hormones, and surgery, procedures too many of us can never afford because of discrimination which prevents us from getting and keeping jobs. Is it any wonder some of us cling to the faint promise of a DSM diagnosis?

Most transgenders, myself included, consider ourselves sane and healthy. Like gay and lesbian Americans, we want to work. And we’re smart enough to know Crain’s “We’ll come back and get you” promise is bullshit. Nor do we buy Crain’s claim that trans inclusion will cost votes in Congress. ENDA must include the extra sentence which will truly protect not only us, but gay men and lesbians, and we’re not gonna shut up until it happens.



Dallas Denny