HRC Defends Position on ENDA as Trans Groups Picket Outside

Gay City News reports that a 50-strong group of transgender supporters picketed HRC’s New York dinner on Saturday, while inside President Joe Solmonese defended the group’s trans-exclusive position on ENDA.

TranspicketSaid Solmonese: “I understand and I hear every day that some members of our community are feeling forgotten or left behind. It is easy to understand why. We have to overlook our differences and we have got to see instead of our individual wants and immediate desires… a vision for the America that we all want to live in…I have to ask myself: When did we all become so impatient? When did we say to ourselves, okay that civil rights thing, I’ll give it a year, maybe two, then I’m done. Let me be very clear: No, we are not done. We are in the grueling, blinding middle of this fight and the middle of this fight is the hardest part…Some of us may want to stand back or check out, but there is no standing back. There is no checking out. Because sometimes — and I know this is frustrating — the fight for our rights feels like hell, but as Winston Churchill so aptly put it, ‘When you are going through hell the most important thing is to keep going.'”

Gay City News also notes that missing from the dinner were many elected officials who had attended in the past, many of whom cited “scheduling conflicts” as their reason for not attending. How many of those absences had to do with the ENDA position is unclear.

Snubbed by NYC Pols, HRC Answers Its Critics [gay city news]


  1. Nick says

    I think it’s time we stop lumping all of us together. I am 100% supportive for transgendered rights, but it has nothing to do with lesbian and gay rights, unless transgendered people are in a same-sex relationship with someone and then it is still an issue of sexual orientation. Gender issues are a completely separate issue. Yes, some people fall into both categories, but they are separate issues. We should be supportive of each other but to continue to be in the same category is just confusing everyone, even ourselves.

  2. Adam says

    Their position on ENDA is indefensible, so it’s no surprise Solomonese is not trying very hard to defend it.

    Nick, your comment makes no sense. HRC isn’t a gay and lesbian only organization. They had an articulated position on ENDA that they summarily rejected when they had a chance. Trans people have always been at the side of gays and lesbians in our fights, and we should do the same for them. The trannies at Stonewall got this whole thing going, after all.

  3. Michael Bedwell says

    “The trannies at Stonewall got this whole thing going, after all.”??? Oh, hogshit, Adam! I support transgender equality AND gays fighting for them, but you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, just repeating like a dumb parrot the myth you’ve heard. Have you heard the earth isn’t flat?

    First, “this whole thing” was going WAAAY before Stonewall, thank you very much. Try nearly over SEVENTY years before with Magnus Hirschfeld’s first pamphlet, “Sappho & Socrates” in Germany in 1896. The Society for Human Rights started in Chicago in 1924, publishing the first periodical for gays in the US, “Friendship & Freedom,” before being shut down by the police. The Mattachine Society, ONE, and the Daughters of Bilitis were promoting gay rights starting in the 50s. Transgenders fought police in San Francisco in 1966. There was a gay student group at Columbia in 1967.

    As for “the trannies at Stonewall,” even the best known associated with it, Sylvia Rivera—who basically considered herself nothing more than a drag queen at the time—denied that she started it and several studies, including interviews with her and others who were there, agree that there is no certainty WHO started it. The law at the time, BTW, made it hard for both drags and transgenders to express themselves—requiring both men and women in public to have on at least three articles of clothing typically identified with their “gender.”

    As for those still demonizing HRC for “going back on their promise,” someone at Queerty once made a great analogy: a mother promises to buy little Bobby a blue toy car he wants and has earned for helping out with chores. Bobby and Mommy go to the toy store but there are no blue cars available. Simply unavailable at the current time—not because Mommy “summarily rejected [blue toy cars] when [she] had a chance.” Is Bobby right to call Mommy a lying, traitorous, anti-children bitch? No. Are you and others who should know better acting like children? Yes.

  4. Lia says

    For the love of… what is with separatist gays? Do you really think that Lawrence King was killed for his “sexual orientation?” No, it was his gender non-conformity. Homophobia and transphobia share the same root, and may I remind you Michael that Magnus Hirschfeld was writing about transvestites and transsexuals (not yet recognized at such) at the same time as the pamphlet you cite? Wimping out on a segment of the community to whom you’ve promised loyalty, as Solmonese did, is simple cowardice and a philosophy of “me first.” It’s simply delusional to think that gays and transpeople aren’t part of the same fight.

    Michael: Your analogy just doesn’t wash. Who are you to say that an inclusive ENDA wasn’t available? Yes, you’ve been fed that line, but why no up-or-down vote in the House, a question many like Kucinich asked? It seems that, given the current occupant of the White House, the only thing that’s off the table is any ENDA at all for now. Pretty sad when the HRC splits the LGBT community during the dress rehearsal for a real chance at ENDA.

  5. Robert says

    Your analogy, Michael, is weak. Blue cars and human rights are not at all similar, and human rights shouldn’t be compared to a commodity that is “out of stock.”

    You are, however, right to claim that the gay rights movement began before Stonewall. But you might want to brush up on some of that history that you claim, so arrogantly, to know. The publication ONE was an early political attempt, as you note. And it was one of the most serious ones: a case involving the publication went to the Supreme Court. The major financier of ONE, however, happens to be transgender, female to male: Reed Erickson. The transition began LONG before Stonewall, and the publication also dealt with transgender issues.

    To admit that drag queens were a prominent segment of the early movement destroys your hopeful argument: the movement is composed of and involves more than just gays and lesbians. (Or, perhaps, lesbian inclusion makes you uncomfortable, too?)

    The truth is, the movement of sexual liberation (which was at the heart of Stonewall) extends beyond the distinction of gay and straight, beyond the distinction of male and female. The Stonewall riots were about creating a space and an identity that wasn’t bound by heteronormative ideology. And, without a doubt, most of the original Stonewall participants would likely be ashamed of how EXCLUSIVE the gay movement has become.

  6. kevinvt says

    Yes — in fact “the whole thing,” meaning the debate about trans inclusion or exclusion goes back to Hirschfeld (and probably before).

    Hirschfeld and Ulrichs both linked what we call homosexuality with a third sex, inversion, anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa (a female psyche confined in a male body). Hirschfeld, by the way, coined the terms “transvestite” and “transsexual.” Hirschfeld worked both to repeal sodomy laws (Paragraph 175) and to protect transvestites from police harassment.

    Hirschfeld’s colleagues Friedländer and Brand split with Hirschfeld’s Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1903 to found another organization, the Gemeinschaft der Eigene, because they felt “male-male love was viewed as a simple aspect of virile manliness available to all men” and had nothing to do with cross-dressing.

    There really is nothing new under the sun.
    I’d still be on Hirschfeld’s side.
    For a fun introduction to Hirschfeld, I’d recommend “The Einstein of Sex.” My review here:

  7. Robert says

    Thank you, Kevin. History would seem to be on our side. Gender and sexuality have always been connected (even if they are different), and the fight for gay sexuality is just as legitimate as (and tied to) the fight for transgender rights.

  8. says

    A page of history is worth of volume of logic here. The homosexual and homophile community that existed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries included all gender variant people, and each was part and parcel of the other. In fact, homosexuality was at first understood by Hirschfeld and Ulrichs as a hermaphrodism of the mind. The split between sexual orientation and gender identity is very recent, historically, and those terms themselves only came into vogue in the last 25 years. Check out the history. See my article in the Journal of Bisexuality available at

  9. Kevinvt says

    Cauldwell vs Hirschfeld:

    It looks to me like Hirschfeld coined it in German as “Transsexualismus” in 1923. Cauldwell introduced it into English usage in 1949.

  10. nic says

    i am with NICK on this topic. i am a man, and i am happy, thankful really, to be a man. my orientation (no, my inborn drive) is to love and be with another man. i have no desire to dress as a woman, and have certainly no desire to be a woman.

    the saliancy of the difference between homosexuality (the inborn attraction to the same sex)and transgenderism (the inborn need to BECOME the other sex) is so obvious that i don’t understand the debate.

    i am not persuaded by irrelevant erudition. do i believe that all beings should be equal under the law? of course. but, please, do not subsume the sexual others into one.

  11. jacquelyn says

    The principle issue of many transsexuals with HRC and Solomese right now is he lied! He said I will support a trans inclusive bill and will work to kill and non trans inclusive bill. Then he did the opposite. Many transexuals supported HRC financially and with time becuase of that promise. If he had no intent on keeping that promise that money and time could have been better used wth NGLTF or other groups more transinclusive. Solonmese perpetrated a fraud on transsexuals in saying he was going to one thing in order to garner TS support and then betray your trust. What else does HRC and Solonmese have to offer but trust and faith. But this is not the first lie from HRC so the fallout HRC is seeing now is well deserved.

  12. Michael Bedwell says

    Lia & Robert—is your “reading for comprehension” so poor that you completely missed my stating that, “I support transgender equality AND gays fighting for them”? And I’ve written at length in other threads here about how the cause of oppression of LGBTs is essentially the same. But for one of you to screech, “Do you really think that Lawrence King was killed for his ‘sexual orientation’? No, it was his gender non-conformity” shows you don’t get it yourself. Mary, being gay IS “gender non-conformity” just as much in its own way as wanting to have your dick cut off or a fake one created.

    But the bottom line is that you’re attacking someone who agrees with you more than most simply because he disagrees with you about ENDA. A SURE sign of advanced Mad Tranny Disease!

    And don’t be asswipes by implying that I somehow was denying the existence of earlier transgender effforts simply by not mentioning them. Hirschfeld was at least a cross dresser in addition to his efforts for “different” people of all kinds to be treated fairly.

    I actually own some vintage copies of ONE, fuck you very much, and know all about Rita/Reed Erickson and her/his pet leopard, etc.

    And, no, mes enfants, I was not comparing “human rights” to toy cars but how well-intentioned promises are often derailed by circumstances beyond one’s control. That’s something you might understand better when you’re older.

    Unless you present evidence to the contrary—by which I do not mean the hysterical, hyperbolic ranting propaganada of the spreaders of Mad Tranny Disease—neither of you are in any better position than I am to know what the REALITY was within the halls of Congress. What we DO know is that Tammy Baldwin who was initially hailed by the sufferers of MTD for introducing a trans-inclusive amendment to ENDA withdrew it before it could be voted on—read DEFEATED.

    But we luv, luv, luv such 50 cent phrases as “heteronormative ideology”—if for no other reason than they demonstrate you know more about books than living. Good luck with that.

  13. Robert says

    Michael, I resent the implication that book smart and living smart are so distinct. And growing up in a rural, conservative land has given me a first hand experience of homophobia and transphobia, “fuck you very much.” Book smart has helped me understand the underlying social dynamics at work in that situation. I find that resentment towards education is disgusting. We should be advocating better education: that should solve a lot of discrimination issues.

    That being said, I completely agree with your first paragraph. I never brought up the King tragedy. I understand that being gay is gender non-conformity. (Although, I have encountered many people on this blog that would disagree. They claim that they’re men through and through and being gay is irrelevant to gender issues.)

    Mad Tranny Disease strikes me as a rather problematic phrase. But whatever, maybe I’m a child and just don’t get it? Oh, except that I’m not a child. I’m 22, college educated and employed. Thanks.

    The intent of my response was simply to demonstrate that the issues that confront transgendered people and gay/lesbians/bisexuals are more connected than is usually acknowledged in the comment threads on Towleroad. And really, the fight has always been something we’ve shared with others, that we should continue to understand that, and that we’ll do far better by working together.

  14. says

    Well said, Jacquelyn. Perhaps the fallout will have a positive effect on future promises; it would be nice to think lessons have been learned.

    As for the ongoing resistance among some that gay and trans issues are related: Just because they may not be related for you, personally, to say that they’re not related for many gay and trans people is simply narrow minded. Look who gets murdered, fired, refused accommodations, harrassed in rest rooms. Usually, gay and trans people who can’t or refuse (rightly) to pass the gender test. It’s not about “irrelevant erudition,” tho I appreciate more fully learning the history; it’s about real life for real people who may happen to exist outside your little box. And I say this as someone who’s quite content being a man and who, 10 years ago, would have argued to drop the T from LGBT.

  15. Robert says

    “And don’t be asswipes by implying that I somehow was denying the existence of earlier transgender effforts simply by not mentioning them.”

    And, just to clarify, the way you framed your history implied that transgendered people were not part of the movement. Giving them proper visibility is very important in progressing rights: letting them be lost in history is a huge problem. I hope this wasn’t too hysterical?

  16. Michael Bedwell says

    “the issues that confront transgendered people and gay/lesbians/bisexuals are more connected than is usually acknowledged in the comment threads on Towleroad. And really, the fight has always been something we’ve shared with others, that we should continue to understand that, and that we’ll do far better by working together.”

    Upon that, we totally agree!

  17. Lia says

    Way to bring down the level of discourse, “fuck you very much” too. Why the need to be disrespectful? Especially since, like you said, we are on the same page with transgender equality. I agree with you that being gay is gender non-conformity; it’s a straw man argument to say that I said otherwise (I did distinguish “sexual orientation” from “gender identity,” but I think I was meaning to make the point that they get confabulated, especially outside of the LGBT community). It strikes me as odd that someone who claims to support trans equality would use the term “Mad Tranny Disease” in a negative way (as opposed to saying, for example, “faggot” in a reclaiming way between friends). So, since we’re ostensibly on the same page there’s no need to debate, but like I said, I think we should strive to not bully and put each other down.

  18. JB says

    To reject a positive vote on enhancing protections for any segment(s) of the GLBT community because they don’t include all of them is shortsighted. First of all, GWB isn’t going to sign it even if the Senate were to pass a matching bill, and it won’t survive a presidential veto. Second, passage of even a weaker bill by the house is not without any value because it doesn’t include transgenders. Yes, it sucks to have a watered down bill pass instead of an inclusive bill, but it only sucks in comparison to an inclusive bill. Compared to not having any bill pass, it’s a positive development.

    Our inability to accept incremental progress is a weakness. If transgendered people can’t accept that the broader community will continue to work for their protections, sabotaging progress to expand the umbrella incrementally when the chance presents itself, how much ill will are they going to engender from those of us kept in a position of weakness artificially?

    If you want a reasonable analogy, look at how many first-generation asians establish homes and businesses as a community: a number of families contribute to a pool which eventually allows one family to open a business. That family contributes a larger share to the pool, which grows faster to allow the next family to buy a business. Both families now contribute a larger share to the pool, and each successive venture decreases the time necessary to launch the next. I’ve seen this happen in my community multiple times. It takes trust, but it is effective.

    Given greater protections in the workplace, gays and lesbians would be in a better position to be out and open and honest. Increased exposure has always increased the rate of broader societal acceptance. There’s no shame in accepting a bill that excludes transgenders if that inclusion is going to hold back everyone else. If we abandoned them, that would be shameful. But no one is suggesting that we do. The current bridge only allows so many to cross. On the other side, there are more materials from which we can build another bridge, one strong enough for the rest of us.

  19. Alex says

    I don’t see the debate. It’s simple, people.

    Joe Solmonese stated time and time again that the HRC would absolutely NOT support an ENDA that was not trans-inclusive. He stood at a podium at the Southern Comfort Conference (as you can watch on YouTube) and made the same promise.

    And what happened after Joe said this wonderful thing? People contributed money and their time to the HRC in order to pass a trans-inclusive ENDA.

    But when the going got tough, the HRC turned tail and ran as quickly as they could. Over 300 organizations rallied to fight for the inclusive bill (UnitedENDA). HRC was the only name conspicuously absent from that list.

    On a personal note, I have asked the HRC *every year* what they are doing for the “T” in their mission statement. Every year I have been directed to pages with minimal content and inactive links.

    If the HRC wants to focus solely on the issues of gay and lesbian people (and let’s keep in mind that many trans people are gay- the two things are not mutually exclusive), so be it. But quit paying the transgender community lip service. Move on to the “real” agenda items and quit sucking resources from a community you have no intention of truly standing behind.

  20. Vi Agara says

    My opinion is that its the insistent linkage by left wing political groups of transgenderism with the comsame sex love that is the cause of all the problems with society dealing with homosexuality. When the two phenomena are separated into thier own categories, as they are and should be, is when cultural melding and understanding for both will finally take place.

  21. rudy says

    Hey Vi, Please re-read your comments. They are the most illogical and nonsensical pair of statements that have been made on this blog in a long time. It may be your opinion but it is inarticulate, illogical, and flies in the face of anything approaching reality.

  22. Sean Green says

    Okay… I understand that being gay is a kind of gender non-conformity as a result of the heteronormative society we live in.

    I understand that transgendered people have been at the front line side by side with non-heterosexual people in the fight for gay rights.

    However, what I don’t understand is why no one can separate gender and sexuality as political issues.

    Transgender people should, as they do in the UK, fight for equal rights under gender discrimination, as opposed to sexual discrimination. By fighting to be included in a bill that seeks to end employment discrimination based on *sexual orientation* transgender people are only confusing the public to their cause.

    At the moment as I understand it, a person cannot be discriminated in the workplace in the US based on their sex… the LGBT community should be campaiging to have this changed to gender identity or to have gender identity added to the list. This however IS a seperate issue, and should be treated as such.

    ENDA will be a huge step towards giving non heterosexual people the same rights as every other human being. And once it is passed, then the big fight should be to have (*gasp*) all human beings no matter what they look or act like or choose to look like and act like.

  23. Derrick from Philly says

    Tell a drag queen to “her” face that she is not gay. Who decided there should be this forced distinction? When was it decided? In the 1980s or 90s? Who had the authority to set the criteria that only those who accept gender role norms can be gay? There are gay men who don’t desribe themselves as “feminine”, but they are about as “traditionally masculine” as a pink plume(I’ve seen the hairy bitches). There are drag queens who wouldn’t have a sex change if they hit a fortune on the Powerball–so they are trans and gay at the same time. Those transfolk who describe themselves as “gay”– ARE. No gay bastard on this Earth has the right to tell a feminine male or a masculine female that they are NOT gay. Where’d your “know-it-all” ass come from? Uranus? The nerve….

    There is such a tone of bigotry and superiority in many of those who are so quick to make the distinction between “able to pass for straight” homosexuals vs “gender role rejecting” homo & trans folk.

    “I really don’t hang around those type of people–those drag queens” is the attitude many of y’all have. Who gives a fuck who you hang around with? You do not have the authority to tell non-gender role conforming people that they are not gay. Yeah, go to a typical gay pride parade or festival and start to spewin’ that crap…I dare ya’.

  24. jacquelyn says

    The previous post although disrespectful makes some good points. HRC for years has been criticized by gays and lesbians for putting forward only representatives that look like straights. HRC has always shied away from showing the full breadth of the Gay and Lesbian community. Seldom do you see Butch Lesbians and Nellie Gays. What you see representing HRC are strong masculine men and lipstick lesbians. At one time it was a statement from HRC that gays and lesbians are the same as straights except for our sexual orientation. This statement ignored all the other groups under the gay umbrella. Are we to ignore all the bears, butches , leather/levi, drag kings etc. becuase we want to project a we are the same as you (just look how normal we look and act.)

    Are far as progression in rights. I agree looking at HRC beyond their promise of support for ENDA what is there for transfolk is pretty lame or has a closed page (ie we ain’t doing nothing on this page no more). I mean I came out 15 years ago to my family and employer without HRC pamphlets on how to come out which is the preponderance of is on the HRC trans site, How to come out to your family and how to come out to your boss. WOW!!!! I’m realllllllly impressed by your support. Thanks!!!!!

    Knowing that HRC has nothing on their site beyond coming out and ENDA what can I expect them to do if and when nontrans ENDA passes. I expect that HRC will move on to other gay and lesbian only issues of marriage, adoption, military service etc.

    Some have rightly suggested that trans stand on their own and fight for their own issues. Fine then get the hell out of the way and quit sabotaging our efforts. Until recently HRC policy was to actively fight and transinclusive bill. So again get the hell out of the way. We try to pass a trans rights bill and HRC folks say it has nothing to do with bathrooms. HUH!!!! Without protections I could have been arrested any time I used a public bathroom or locker room male or female before I had my Birth Certificate changed. Try buying clothes if can’t use the changing room male or female. As a matter of fact the District Attorney in my city threatened to do just that. Trans folk need protections for use of public bathrooms. Again HRC get the hell out of the way quit lying to trans and the public about trans issues.

    I have no complaint with HRC advocating for only gays and lesbians. But if that is their polity then quit asking me for support. And quit working against my efforts to gain the same rights that they are fighting for for gays and lesbians.

    Finally, with all the atagonizism for rights for trans why is it that every pride event includes disgusting drag shows?

  25. jacquelyn says

    One further comment. I remember Milwaukee Pride having a dust up when the Pride committe told all trans that they would need to provide proof of gender ID to use any bathroom on Pride grounds. To quote a statement made above “Fuck You Very Much” for your support.

  26. says

    I agree, let’s stop lumping us together. The Right wing’s major propaganda is all about mythical gay male promiscuity, bugchasing, bath houses, and meth use. Tough sell given their propaganda machine. Not much chance of passing ENDA even without the transgendereds. Unless..we accept incrementalism and go for a Lesbian only ENDA this time. We promise to come back for you later.

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