Wednesday, October 03, 2007

HRC Resignation

Dear Brothers, sisters and friends,

I had decided, over the weekend, to resign from my position as steering committee member for HRC in the Carolinas. This decision was, in some ways, very others, unquestionable. I reflected upon my first meeting with members of that meeting, I posited the position that issues facing the transgender community were nothing short of survival issues. I felt, at that meeting, the opening of minds and hearts and the desire to reach out. I had believed that we, as members of the trans community in NC, had not asserted ourselves and, for that reason, our voices had gone unheard. My optimism was desire for coalition building unbounded. I felt as though we would gain credibility and clout as a broad based and inclusive community, and that all things were possible.

There were voices of dissent, which I attempted to quell...voices of trans advocates whose experience within the context of trans-activism dwarfed my efforts. I insisted that it was different now...this was a NEW HRC, with new paradigms, new goals and new methods. Never mind the fact that it seemed HRC...both locally and nationally... seemed deaf to the fact that many in the trans community would be unable to participate in HRC functions due to prohibitively expensive donation requirements. Never mind the fact that is always irritated me that none of the funds solicited stayed locally. Never mind the fact that marriage equality ALWAYS seemed more important than job discrimination. Never mind the fact that there was much talk about political actions, but rarely any REAL action.

I still believed that it was merely a matter of time...that HRC had made the commitment to the trans community and would stand with us and behind us.

I was STILL with HRC after NTAC and NCTE lobby days, when I was told that HRC had quietly made arrangements to jettison the T from ENDA. How could this be? Hadn't HRC and Joe Solmonese publicly stated that a T-less ENDA would be and ENDA that HRC would not support.

Friday I wrote Joe Solmonese a letter expressing my dismay at no HRC solidarity, and the splitting of the ENDA bill in tow.

I mulled all this over the weekend...was I being rash to resign? I believed I would need the courage of my convictions if I was to look at myself in the mirror. How could I remain a member of a group, which not only had a track record of deceit, smoke and mirrors, but was still unable to make a simple statement of support...either an all inclusive ENDA or none. The choice was made and I started to compose this letter, which I will send to HRC, as well as to my brothers and sisters in the transgender community.

On Monday, I received the canned reply from paraphrase...we are truly sorry...but...oh well...a bad ENDA is better than no ENDA...

On Tuesday...I read Donna Rose's heartfelt and incisive BLOG...

No longer is there any doubt.

I will add, lastly, that there is a silver lining in the events of the past week...we have learned who can truly be considered to be trans allies, we have seen overwhelming support from almost all corners, and we have an opportunity, once again, to educate and to build bridges.

Here is my open letter to HRC:

To whom it may concern,

Effective today, Tuesday, October 3, 2007, I hereby resign my positions as diversity and political co chairs for Carolina HRC. I find I can no longer support an organization which fails to recognize that all persons are deserving of equal opportunity and protection as stipulated by the XIV th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Opting for expedience is unacceptable. Not having the strength to maintain solidarity is unacceptable. Not standing with your brothers and sisters is unacceptable.

I joined HRC with the optimism of a new bride...I stand here an abandoned spouse, wondering why I have been told to wait my turn for equality. I am unable to fathom what occurred behind closed doors, but cannot help but feel betrayed by the seeming duplicity with which HRC has waged this campaign. We have yet to see any evidence that an all inclusive ENDA would not pass through Congress. That fact not withstanding, however, there is also no evidence to show that HRC has learned from lessons of the past, most notably the fight for trans inclusive anti-discrimination policy in Minnesota. There is no evidence to explain how, in the face of what would have to be a banner year for the trans community in terms of positive press, HRC would see jettisoning gender identity as a path forward. Equally, there is no reasoning behind HRC's decison in light of the response, nationally, to decry the splitting of ENDA in two.

I hope that the HRC Board of Governors will realize, at some point, the damage they have caused. Whether the damage is irreparable, only time will tell. It will be some time, if ever, before members of the transgender community feel they may extend any kind of trust to HRC. I can only hope that there are lessons to be learned and that HRC will make the effort to learn them.


robbi cohn, aka trickster108