Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Coal for HRC's stocking

Guest Opinion

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When Santa makes his naughty or nice list for 2007, the Human Rights Campaign will find a huge lump of coal in its stocking for its betrayal of the transgender community and our true supporters. When it broke three years of "we will never accept anything less than a fully-inclusive ENDA" promises, HRC finally revealed itself as merely another political player posing as a civil and human rights organization.

Transgender people are not the only ones hurt by the HRC's divisive politics. For decades trans and LGB people have worked to build a coalition based on our similarities and common interests, to add that "T" to LGBT. Aside from the hatred that all LGBTs face from bigots who don't know or care about our differences, the overlap between gender identity/expression and sexual orientation is as varied and multifaceted as humanity. Butch lesbians and effeminate gay men break the exact kind of gender rules a fully-inclusive ENDA would have covered. 

For three years HRC built its credibility on both its promises of full inclusion and its few, highly visible yet ultimately token transgender board members. Donna Rose's resignation from the HRC board during the ENDA betrayal left a vacuum, but it appears they are grooming a new token tranny, one who is willing to defend the HRC from her own community's criticism.

Susan Stanton, the former city manager of Largo, Florida, who gained national exposure earlier this year when she was fired due to anti-transgender discrimination, may become the next symbolic transperson for HRC. On December 2, HRC sponsored Stanton's appearance in Oak Park, Illinois, where she spoke about her experiences. While she could potentially benefit the trans community, she could actually do us more harm as our HRC "representative."

Stanton maintains "until we as a trans community do a better job of education, to expect organizations such as HRC or the Congress or the city council of whatever city to give equal protection to our community – it's just not going to happen. The biggest thing we need to do as a community, instead of aiming the poison dart at HRC, is to get rid of the sense of victimization in this community." Stanton expands these comments on a blog post at, where she accuses our community of "celebrating" our "collective victimization."

Most transgender people agree we must continue to educate, however, the co-participation of non-trans people lends additional credibility to our efforts and proves that we do not stand alone. Stanton's insinuation that we haven't tried hard enough to educate and her generalizations about "victimization" shows how far removed she is from the transgender community.

Less than a year into her transsexual transition, Stanton admits she knows little about our community. She has yet to face the years of bigotry that most LGBT people have experienced. Her presumptuous remarks ill serve the community she now purports to represent, a complete acquittal of the HRC and those LGBs who lobbied for dropping us from ENDA.

According to Rose's blog, HRC has a project named "Win-Back," an effort to resurrect its image of credibility. So far Stanton seems to fit the bill: a high profile transgender figure who's willing to toe the HRC line. As an HRC mascot, Stanton could help perpetuate the appearance that the HRC truly stands behind transgender people instead of merely paying us lip service and taking our donations. And should HRC appoint an inexperienced representative over the many established transgender leaders we already have would be a huge slap in our face.

As a transsexual woman who, in San Francisco in 1985, was fired from her job for the same reason Stanton was, I am empathetic to her plight. With Stanton's employment future uncertain, I understand why she would accept HRC's outstretched hand, and perhaps even why she'd defend it from our censure. Still, many in the trans community hope she will reach out to us for our perspective and experience, especially if she aspires to truly represent us.

Meanwhile, I can only look at HRC with further disgust for its plans to use Stanton or another to try to help stem the erosion of support since its sell-out. It will take far more than tokenism to regain our trust; it will take the removal of all those in HRC that supported the ENDA betrayal. You're not fooling anybody, HRC, least of all the transgender community.

Bay Area native Christine Beatty is a longtime transsexual activist, published author, freelance journalist, co-founder of the rock group Glamazon, and a corporate computer geekette. She currently lives in Los Angeles where she's marketing her autobiography. Her Web site is

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