Matt Foreman Charges Barney Frank “Squeamish” on Trans Issues

Noting that he is leaving his job and therefore able to talk candidly about some of his experiences, outgoing National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman told Michelangelo Signorile on his radio show Wednesday that he felt Representative Barney Frank was “squeamish” on transgender issues.

Foreman_frankSaid Foreman: “Of the many things I’ve loved about being in the Task Force, is that, you know, we’re a progressive organization, and we’re proud of it, and that we have a history of speaking the truth and seeing the world in a bigger way than just a ‘gay-specific,’ ‘me-first-all-the-time’ attitude that affects so much of our movement. I think what really happened [ on ENDA] is [Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s] people said ‘Look, Congress has a terrible reputation right now, they’re not delivering for any progressive causes… What do we have to do to deliver to our progressive allies?’ That means labor and health and environment and gays. And, so, I mean, I don’t know this for a fact, but I would bet my life that this is what happened: They went to Barney Frank and said ‘What do we need to pass ENDA?’ Representative Frank, who has always been pretty squeamish on the trans issue, and I guess I can say these things because I am leaving my job…you know, said ‘Look the best way to pass ENDA, and the easiest way is to — let’s take out gender identity,’ and I don’t think the Speaker’s people thought this through–didn’t think it through–and then they said ‘OK, let’s do it’.”

Frank called the remarks “absurd” and has scheduled an appearance on Signorile’s Sirius show today at 3:30 to respond.

PageOneQ has audio clips of Foreman’s appearance.


  1. MCnNYC says

    Puhleez Matt:
    ” ..I mean, I don’t know this for a fact…”??
    Really then shut up…look some of our “leaders” in the gay rights movement just move from one gay job to another and so is matt. How long did he take as ED of ESPA to get a gay rights bill passed in NY?
    Never thought he was effective at ESPA or NGLTF so remind me…where is he off to now?

  2. Adam says

    The only reason gender identity came out of ENDA was because Barney was all too happy to drop it. A cadre of four Democrats mobilized to keep gender identity in in the committee discussions, but Barney decided instead to tell them to bugger off and took it out so he wouldn’t have to vote for trans protections while at the same time securing four Republican votes to get the bill out of committee. These Democrats–who aren’t afraid of gender identity protections–voted against the bill for being too weak.

  3. Schauer says

    Barney Frank has done more for Gays and Lesbians than the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force has done. The people who want an all or nothing victory clearly have no idea how the political process works. They do more harm than good. National Gay & Lesbian Task Force spends more time being self important than effective.

  4. Derrick from Philly says

    This is about politics, I know. But along with the two other stories Andy’s posted today, it brings up the issue of gay men’s reluctance (or refusal) to see that the relationship between gay and trans is intertwined. Long before trans people know and understand the word “transgender” THEY ARE GAY. In fact, they’re gay before many of you guys who came out at age eighteen or twenty-something, or later. Trans kids are gay when they are in elementary school.

    I wonder if gay men who come out late (eighteen or older) have a more difficult time with trans folk than those who’ve always been gay(knew when we were in kindergarten). Those of us who started going to clubs/bars, gay pride events, etc. very early seem to have less of a problem with trans folk.

    In highschool, there was a group of young gays who wouldn’t come near me with a ten foot pole. I was “too obvious” for their taste. They realized they themselves were gay, but they hadn’t come out yet. I thought they were just as effeminate as I was–they just didn’t have the skill to put on make-up (well, that’s what I thought). Anyway, I’d like to say that as the years went on–I let bygones be bygones. I’d like to say that I forgave them for their anti-fem attitudes–that they were too young and vulnerable to be friends with a fem. Sorry, I still hate them bitches to this day–32 years later.

    Being gay ought to make you more tolerant and accepting of difference. If it doesn’t, then you are a hypocritical coward. You’re just a homosexual–in it for the sex part. You aint gay.

  5. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED says

    At one of his final addresses to the GLBT communities Matt Foreman asked “Is our movement going to be once again seduced by lofty words, invitations to fancy cocktail parties and government appointments, or are we going to insist on tangible deliverables? Are we going to be satisfied with a few crumbs, or demand more?”

    Foreman’s heartfelt sentiment is shared by all honest activists who are sick to death of the constant backstabbing of Democrats like Billary Clinton, Frank, Pelosi, Obama and etc. After the election they might pass this or that watered down version of ENDA or the hate crimes act, but then again they may not. In their minds we don’t count for much but the ‘contributions’ of bigots do. They will NOT repeal Billary Clintons DOMA. As the war continues and spreads year after year they may repeal DADT if the need for cannon fodder becomes too great. Or they may reintroduce the draft or use nukes.

    The Democrats predictable responses on these questions will accelerate the breakup and shattering of that hopelessly antiquated assemblage of bigots, union busters and oil pirates. That’s what’s happening right now to their cousins in the Republicans Party.

    As that process of splintering continues we’ll want to be alert to form alliances with unions, groups representing African Americans and immigrants, the antiwar movement and others. But this time we want to do it not as individuals but as a group, and in OUR OWN NAME. Just as we should stand shoulder to shoulder with others we have to insist that they support us.

    The potential for alliance building is there. NAACP president Julian Bond lent his considerable support to defeat another Clintonian DOMA effort by Florida Republicans and the California NAACP is a staunch supporter of same sex marriage in spite of the opposition of Clinton and Obama. Unions are in the forefront of the fight for GLBT job protections and we can work with them on questions like socialized medicine and opposition to NAFTA.

    It’s too early to say what group or groups will carry our banner in the post election period. HRC, the Log Cabinites and the Stonewall Democrats will as usual put party before principle. They may tail along but looking to them for leadership is like asking Exxon not to pollute. It’s more likely that groups like the NGLTF, UnitedENDA and Pride at Work will spearhead our effort. It’s something to look forward to.

  6. Adam says

    Schauer, it’s undeniable that Barney has been a champion of gay rights in Congress. That’s why it’s so disappointing to see him so weak on the gender identity issue.

    As for all-or-nothing victory, I ask you where your ENDA protections are right now? I’ll tell you: they don’t exist. They’re never going to pass the Senate, and never would have with or without gender identity. The House knew this, but Barney nonetheless chose to pull the gender identity protections. He basically told the trans community and their supporters that we aren’t even good enough to be included in a bill that is all for show. That’s truly despicable.

  7. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED says

    SCHAUER – ‘The people who want an all or nothing victory clearly have no idea how the political process works.’

    You’re dead wrong. We do know how it works and more importantly that it works against us. We know that turncoats like you sabotage our struggle by supporting rightwingers like Pelosi, Frank and the Republicans who gutted ENDA and dropped it and the hate crimes bill and pigheadedly refused to repeal Billarys DADT and DOMA.

    It’d just be refreshing if for once one of you conservatives had the guts to admit it.

  8. Westerly267 says

    The alternative is not to get protections for anyone, guys. Politics is about compromise. You’re surprised that a congressman is “squeamish” about “trans issues”? Well, unfortunately, so are most Americans. Getting equal protection for gays and lesbians is realistic; getting it for trans people is still radical. We’ll get there eventually, but not yet.

  9. Adam says

    Westerly, I think you’re dead wrong about people not being ready. 19 States and hundreds of counties and cities already protect trans people in their own ENDAs. Even those left-wing standard bearers like Iowa, Maine, and Colorado. It’s far too late for incrementalism; states and localities started including trans protections in 1975; saying that we’re not ready is an easy way out for people who are too cowardly to stand up for what’s right.

  10. Michael Bedwell says

    Recently I posted on Bilerico how much, despite my visceral disagreements with him about some things, Foreman’s departure from direct activism was a loss to the movement. Reading what he said about Barney Frank, whom I’ve also criticized for other reasons, I’ve now changed my mind. Foreman being one of the chief carriers of Mad Tranny Disease was not the first instance of certifiable insanity he demonstrated last year. At the exact point when the Democratic candidates were beginning to jell on their most pro-gay positions to date he wrote a factually incorrect, totally unnecessary, and entirely hysterical diatribe against them that any 5-year old little girl using benzedrine suppositories would have been proud of. He followed that up by telling a MSM reporter how wonderful Guiliani was just as the ruthless would-be godfather for the Cossa America was running farther and farther to the right throwing his once at-best moderate gay-friendliness out the window on the way. Then he became the co-leader of the slithering, hissing mass of desperate and deceitful divas and divos who dared tell millions of gay men and lesbians that they were despicable traitors because they were not willing to sacrifice the CHANCE at job protection in 30 states. Note, of course, that Foreman and his tranny Co-Fool whose name I’ve already forgotten already had job protection themselves by benefit of the organizations they worked for and where they lived regardless of who employed them. They lied about their numbers, they lied about the history of equal protection legislation or were simply too stupid to write the truth, they insisted that their self-serving opinions were empirical fact, and they rabidly libeled people who have done more to advance everyone’s equality than all of them put together. Now Foreman is returning to the scene of his slime, or rather the main victim of the tranny/loons kangaroo court attempt to crucify him simply because he DARED disagree with them. There are a couple of names for that: one is demagoguery and the other is fascism.
    Well, I have a parting recommendation for Mr. Foreman: heal thyself. The last time I looked, the T in NGLTF still did not stand for transgender. If you can leave an organization still posing for statues because of its “destroy the village in order to save it” madness without having easily included your cause’s name in its title then your own transition—out of the movement—is long overdue.

  11. Bill Perdue says

    Michael Bedwell = Leland Frances = a poorly disguised and dishonest Log Cabinite opponent of GLBT rights.

    Our prime goal after the election and the subsequent round of backstabbing by Frank, Clinton, Obama, Pelosi, Feinstein, Reid and company should be to hurry the breakup and shattering of the Democratic Party.

    We’ll do that by building our own militant mass movement to demand the enactment of the real (i.e., before Barney raped it) ENDA, strong laws against hate crimes, hate speech and discrimination as well as the repeal of Billarys DOMA and DADT. We’re compelled to because the Democrats and Republicans are opposed to our struggle for equality and their record proves it.

    The next step of course is to join with our allies to contest the Republican/Democrats in elections.

  12. Danny says

    “Barney Frank has done more for Gays and Lesbians than the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force has done. The people who want an all or nothing victory clearly have no idea how the political process works. They do more harm than good. National Gay & Lesbian Task Force spends more time being self important than effective.

    Posted by: Schauer | Feb 14, 2008 1:04:25 PM”

    I’m not sure that the people who want an “all or nothing victory” are necessarily doing more harm than good. I think satisfactory progress takes a good mix of people like Barney Frank, who knows what it takes to get things through political process, as well as those people who will always be there to remind everyone “It’s not enough, it will never be enough until there’s full equality.” I truly hope that those voices never go silent until every battle we face has been won. And I don’t see that day coming any time soon.

  13. Maureen says

    Barney Frank, like Hillary Clinton, needs to learn that people are tired of the politics of leveraging one group against another, we are tired of being told that progress can only be made at the expense of principle, and we are tired of being told to shut up and wait our turn. We are talking about people’s basic human rights. None of us would stand for having our rights bargained away–why would we be willing to bargain away the rights of trans folks?

    As for Frank’s accomplishments–didn’t “don’t ask don’t tell” and DOMA happen on his watch?

  14. Westerly says

    I agree we need both realists to get things done and idealists to inspire us and keep us honest, Danny. We don’t need to be calling people who slightly disagree with us “cowards,” Adam.

  15. Adam says

    Tell that to the trans folks who will be standing on the outside when lesbians, gays, and bisexuals can rest assured with their employment protection, Westerly. I take it you’d be O.K. with the bill excluding gay men, while retaining protections for lesbians and bisexuals, no? Reaching for the lowest common denominator on civil rights legislation is folly, and does nothing but drive wedges between a community who are all struggling for the same thing.

    As far as Barney being able “to get things through” the political process, Danny, I’d ask you to take a look at the status of ENDA right now. It’s dead in the Senate. Playing political games in an effort to get things through the House and no further leaves us with the same protections we had 100 years ago: none.

  16. Schauer says

    Bill Perdue – I am not sure who you are calling a coward or conservative but clearly you are ill-advised or like so many on the fringe – irrational. As for me I was there in the first AIDS drugs experiments at NIH in 1985. Helped established the AIDS Law project in DC. I have been in Court time after time doing what I can to put up a firewall against discrimination. For this I get paid naughta! I seek no recognition and actively avoid it. I do not send my time at cocktail parties or seeking power for powers sake. I watched these people in action on the hill more concerned about their next job than the current job. These Groups are more concerned about there own self importance than the day to day battles. I offered to challenge the marriage laws in Florida at my own expense. Told by Wolfson that they were “handling” in house and that a law suit would be a distraction. They collect money any way they can and I would be interested to see what there administrative and fundraising costs are and then do a real cost benefit analysis. There are those of us old enough to remember real discrimination. Doctors who would not treat us funeral homes that would not burry us. Newspapers that would not cover the bashing.

    Do not ever call someone a coward unless you know where they have been. Just because you have your own agenda do not assume those who challenge it are losers.

  17. Michael Bedwell says

    Once again, the inmates are trying to run the asylum.

    One of their biggest and most consciously dishonest mindfuck games [tho I fear some are so fucking stupid and emotionally unstable that they actually believe it] is constantly writing fiction as fact.

    To hear them tell it, Barney and his gang of transhating villians were effectively taken to a table on which was placed two boxes of goodies which they could freely choose, the only difference being than one box did not have the Trans Candy Bar in it.

    Barn’ says, “Ya know, thanks, I appreciate the offer but I think I’ll just, willy nilly, take the box without the Trans Candy Bar in it. See ya.” Of course, nothing like that happened but the Children of the Scorn would like you to believe it was that simple.

    Now they also want you to forget that a second box [known as an “amendment”] which included transgenders was put together by gay Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin with the hopes of attaching it to the other box. She both deserves praise for its symbolic-only value at this time as well as recognizing that having it voted on and defeated would be worse than not submitting it at all and, thus, withdrew it.

    Let us not forget those rhetorical charlatans who screech, “The T-less ENDA is still dead in the water so what’s the big deal?” Which brings up two things. 1. If it was meaningless anyway why are they fighting so hard to be added to it? And, 2., the functional point is that they refuse to accept that progress in such things is like a ladder. Even if you don’t get to the top on the first or umpteenth try, every rung you move up to and hold onto is progress—and passage of any kind of ENDA bill was just that, as well as Tammy Baldwin being able to talk about trans rights by submitting her bill.

    Finally—and this shines a light on the real darkness of the so-called souls of Foreman et al.—please understand, if you don’t already, that he and the other inmates were not just denouncing the rung to which we had progressed but were also saying, “JUMP OFF! Everybody back to zero!” That is, they pressured gay-friendly Congressman—and succeeded with some—to vote AGAINST GAY JOB PROTECTION simply because they had failed to add trans protection to it!

    In other words, you’ll starve and like it!

  18. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED says

    SCHAUER – I‘m sorry if you misunderstood me. My main objection to party hacks like you is that you’re turncoats; the fact that you’re unwilling to admit being a clueless conservative and incrementalist just comes with the territory.

    While they controlled Congress for the last two years Frank, Reid, Billary, Pelosi, Feinstein, Obama and company aggressively sabotaged our agenda; the Clintons’ DOMA and DADT stayed on the books and ENDA and the hate crimes bill were cut after passing both houses. Our problem with people like you is that you like that. You apologize by claiming that its politics as usual and the best we can expect. But the truth is you’ve become an incrmentalist who supports what they did. Honest activists oppose it. You can’t have it both ways. You’re for us or against us. Whatever you did in the past is put to shame by your toadying apologias for Democrats.

    Except for not getting a pretty red coat to wear how are you or Barney Frank different than the turncoat who commanded West Point in 1780.

  19. Tom says

    “and ENDA and the hate crimes bill were cut after passing both houses. Our problem with people like you is that you like that.”

    Our problem with people like you is that you have shit for brains. ENDA not only did not pass the Senate last year, it hasn’t even been introduced there yet.

    “You’re for us or against us.”

    Thank you, Comrade Stalin. We’ll choose Option Two.

  20. Schauer says

    Bill Pardue – First if you stop calling names and actually looked at what people say there would be room for discourse. First I am not a party hack. I was for a number of years and am totally disillusioned with the process. That is why I operate on my own. I pick my cases and fight the battle where I think I can make a difference. Doing immigration work I am constantly in battles with the government over repressive polices.

    Second, I agree with the most of the thinking at Daily Kos. I also resent people any more who try to reach across aisles like Liberman. Third, if back in the early days of the AIDS protest we demanded an all or nothing obedience we would still be 10 – 15 years behind. If the slaves waited for an all or nothing victory they would still be waiting. Fourth, Barney is not my congressman. He represents 600,000 in another state. I cannot and do not expect him to do my bidding. I expect that from my congressman. That is called political process. I hope your congressman is more supportive than my congressman but do we have a right to expect someone else’s congressman to do our bidding.

    There are those of us who have spent 40 years or more fighting for the incremental changes that now allow the zealots to demand everything now. ONLY because of those incremental changes do you even get the chance to scream names at those who not preforming to your expectation.

    So for all your name calling I will say I have more battle scars than most from many battles. But if I could make one suggest in being taken seriously — stop calling people names and focus on the policy differences. Respect is only given to those who show it.

  21. Bill Perdue says

    SCHAUER – “The people who want an all or nothing victory clearly have no idea how the political process works. They do more harm than good.” “Respect is only given to those who show it.” etc.

    The incrementalists who support the Democrats who sabotaged our agenda have proven by their deeds that they’ve turned against our agenda- that’s the essence of what Foreman is saying.

    I’m glad you’re not a party hack anymore and that you help people out in court or wherever, which is more than more than you can say for other party hacks in Frisco. But if you’ve been at it 40 years you should know with an absolute certainty that legislation and courts are pale echoes of the real political struggle for equality. If we fight long and hard then they concede. When enough of us get over the illusion that lying candidates or the right judge is our road to equality then we can get on with building mass campaigns around a militant but eminently reasonable program for full equality. Then we’ll win.

    Tommie – Even a reactionary cretin like yourself is right once in a while. I did misspeak. The backstabbing Democrts didn’t pass ENDA in the Senate so they haven’t had to dump it – yet. I suppose that’s an improvement over the House where Barney gutted it and then handed the carcass over to the Republicans and then just dropped it. But not much of one. It’s clear that they deliberately sabotaged our agenda so it wouldn’t be an issue with bigots or businesses.

    Now run back into your log cabin and rest up so you can do a better job of toadying for people who oppose our agenda like McCain and Huckabee or those whose party actively and deliberately sabotaged us like Billary, Frank, Pelosi, Feinstein and Obama.

  22. mark says

    sexual orientation is NOT the same issue as gender identity. loving the same sex is NOT the same as hating yourself and wanting to change your sex.

    while some homosexuals identify cross-gendered, it is misguided to assume all do. many identify naturally, unremarkably with their biological gender and, more importantly, see no reason to change. therefore it stands to reason the issues, concerns and needs of “Gays” are very different from those of transgenders.

    to lump Gays and transgenders together is to assume that all Gays are cross-gendered which not only enforces hackneyed stereotypes but simply is not true.

    more power to transpeople but not on Gay time.

  23. deanpaul1 says

    Criticizing Barney Frank doesn’t help a thing. He’s been a tireless advocate for gay issues. Many people believe strongly that gay issues and trans issues are different – and that is just an evolution issue. People don’t get it yet. The confusion that appears to go along with trans issues is hard for most to understand – changing your sex through drugs and surgery is hard to relate to…for most gay people. But, it is still a human rights issue – and trans people deserve to express themselves how they please – just don’t expect congress to get it instantly just because you stomp your heels a few times. It takes work and education.

  24. says

    Any true revolution takes place on all fronts. We need the people who refuse to compromise as much as we need the people who make deals. Some progress happens because radical activists force the issues, and some progress happens because moderates slowly convince people what’s right — both are valid strategies, and neither will win on its own.

  25. PacificHeights says

    Barney Frank has a long history of championing gay causes. We as gay people are passively allowing our own self-interests to be sabotaged by the transgender community.

    Approximately nine years ago, our civil rights organizations took transgendered people into our organizations. No one asked us if we wanted to include transgendered people. No one asked us if we wanted their issues mixed with ours. It was just done. Gay people be damned. Matt Foreman is comfortable redefining our civil rights organizations. He states that NGLTF isn’t just about gay issues. What?

    The most beneficial action for gays to take is to reclaim our civil rights organizations. No, we are not left-wing political organizations that just happen to be called gay rights organizations. Our goal is gay rights first and foremost. Other issues and other causes can be dealt with by other organizations. We should be exclusively gay civil rights focused.