Barney Frank Discusses ‘Ridiculous’ Trans Activists

BarneyfranktransCongressman Barney Frank has never been afraid of speaking his mind. And now that he's retiring, the Massachusetts-based lawmaker can really let loose. That's precisely what he did in a recent sit-down with the Washington Blade.

In addition to discussing his own coming out and why it would be "political suicide" for liberals to abandon President Obama, the outgoing politico offered his thoughts on transgender opposition to a recent Massachusetts law that add gender identity to the state's non-discrimination regulations, yet still allows hotels, restaurants and other public spaces to turn trans people away.

From the Blade:

Blade: The trans bill in Massachusetts became an issue to some—

Frank: An issue to whom?

Blade: Some of the more outspoken trans activists, who say they are outraged because it includes employment, housing and other protections but not public accommodations protections.

Frank: No, I would say ridiculous trans activists who are outraged, who would prefer there be no rights for employment than this. That is an example of their political stupidity. They may be very bright about other things. I don’t see how anybody can see that as a rational argument right now, nor, by the way, do I think it represents five percent of our community. I don’t even think it represents a majority of the transgender people. How can it possibly be – and by the way, these people don’t know history, because I will tell you that Martin Luther King and the other civil rights leaders would not for a second have hesitated to accept that deal. They were constantly moving toward making things better but those are both examples, I think, of the political maturity of our community – of knowing how to go about it.

Frank also offered his thoughts on Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is a "faker," says Frank, as if we didn't already know that.


  1. Mike says

    I hope he was a huge dustbuster for the amount of glitter that is gonna be stupidly dropped on him.

  2. gggb says

    I don’t know. I think I would dump glitter on him myself if I really cared enough to go through with it. What a jerk. It’s outrageous that there aren’t ALREADY those protections in place, and if the people who are impacted by it don’t get outraged, people like him are going to keep sitting fine in their little bubbles and change will just come at their convenience – f#ck that guy

  3. says

    I think Barney Frank is right. It sucks that there isn’t enough political capital to pass full protections for trans people in the workplace, but the bill in Massachusetts offers much of the protections that are sought by trans activists and allies. It is outrageous that some activists would adapt an all or nothing approach where they would rather see no protections whatsoever than a bill that offered many protections.

  4. Rick says

    Great point, Barney. Of course, transsexuals have absolutely nothing in common with gay people and should not be considered one of us or be a part of our movement. So they should be grateful for any consideration they get from any of us.

  5. MikeBoston says

    I think his point is missed here. He didn’t for one second say that legal protections weren’t warranted. What I heard in his response was that all issues can’t be addressed at once in a single piece of legislation. The bill is a step forward – a big step – and we shouldn’t lose that opportunity to take that step now just because the interests of a small minority couldn’t be included at this time.

    He is correct that other civil rights victories did not happen in all locations in one fell swoop. We are seeing it now with civil marriage equality, DADT, etc. Each small victory leads to more and larger victories.

  6. Mark says

    Good Lord,

    What Frank is saying is realistic. The Civil Rights movement was a decades long struggle. There wasn’t sudden passage of legislation that bestowed equality on African-Americans. There was one piece of legislation at a time. Yes, I understand that transfolk don’t want to nor should they have to wait for equality, but that’s just not reality. It’s a war made up of many battles.

    Getting this first piece of legislation is like getting a leg, arm, and head through the door. Equal employment rights? Hello! There are many states in the U.S. that still don’t offer equal employment rights for lesbian, gays, and bisexuals! Massachusetts is now one of the few states that offers equal employment rights LGB & now T folks.

    Now, the effort should be to focus on getting equal treatment entirely in Massachusetts.

    BTW, what happened to the federal ENDA legislation?

  7. Continuum says

    Frank is an experienced politician.

    He knows that in the real world you don’t always get everything you want the first go-around.

    Frank knows that half a loaf is better than none.

  8. JoshG says

    Dear Lord, T comes after B, G and L.

    We’re doing this in alphabetical order.

    Get with the program!

    (Barney is, of course, right as usual and will infuriate everyone. The HRC board should move to have him head up the organization, consolidate the national groups and get stuff done. He would piss everybody off but we’d be miles ahead because he knows the system unlike anyone else. Of course, Barney would say no because he’s had it with everyone. And justifiably so.)

  9. Alex says

    Barney is not putting anyone down. He is saying you grab the protections you can now and add more later.

    How many people will lose their jobs in the interim, while we wait for the perfect bill ?

    How many gay people continue to lose their jobs because we passed on the chance to get a first step on ENDA ?

    In NY we took the first step and got an employment non-discrimination bill and are now following up with adding gender identity and expression to it. But a large group of people have been protected for many years in the interim.

  10. Agg says

    I agree with him. These “trans” people are out of control. I have long advocated for dropping the “T” from LGBT. They get all worked up when someone playfully says “tranny” and they demand protections that, quite frankly, no one but their sordid clique would support. I say F em.

  11. JeffNYC says

    I lost friends over this debate, but I still side with Barney. The activists who wanted to turn down any legislation that wasn’t perfect are the equivalent of the Republican absolutists who turn down every bill that doesn’t ascribe to their agenda.

    Barney is right that Martin Luther King would have said: Take the incremental rights and keep on fighting.

  12. kujhawker says

    Barney is a politician and not an activist so see things through those eyes. His approach is politically realistic.

    That being said I can also see through the activist eyes. The Bill passes with no public accomandations part. They are happy with what they get, but when they go to ask for more, the policitians say – Be happy with what you got. It gives politicians an excuse not to actively go any further because they did get something.

    Activist push for everything knowing they might not get it all but can use the fact the pushed hard to follow up after something passed. If the activist were in totally agreement with the law that doesnt give everything than they would appear not to be with it.

    Barney has long been known for giving activist a hard time. Like the march on washington and countless other things. HE got mighty pissed off at all the whiny about ENDA.

    Barney is just being the politician he always has been … and activist need to be what they are.

  13. JohnAGJ says

    It’s not often I find myself in agreement with Barney Frank, but this is definitely one of those times.

  14. BEG says

    I’m with Barney here. Grab whatever you can, and then move on to the next bit you grab. You’ll never get everything handed to you in one package. You don’t have to like it (hey, I fume when I think of how women got thrown under the bus when black men first got the vote… but that was still a foot in the door).

    The expression “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile,” is exactly what’s going on here.

  15. gaylib says

    The only thing that Barney Frank cares about is Barney Frank. The rest of you are delusional.

  16. gregory brown says

    I’n with Barney Frank on taking a pragmatic approach. The trans zealots simply don’t get it: their turn will come. there’s no under-bus throwing, no permanent exclusion involved. I don’t think that the Assimilationists are doing much good generally, but maybe some Accommodationist logic is best all around. Rational people will see that there’s much to be gained from incremental gains–str8 and queer alike.

  17. Mark says

    What’s with the ugly trans-bashing? Just because one agrees with Frank doesn’t mean that trans people should be kicked off gay island. That’s not his point.

  18. BEG says

    To further clarify, trans activists *should* keep speaking up — squeaky wheel and all that (just as women kept (and keep) speaking up for their rights). But the gains *will* be incremental, that’s just how society works :-/

  19. Jerry says

    Andy you should be ashamed for posting that headline making it seem that Frank was bashing trans activists. Do you know how many people started writing their comments without even reading the article?

  20. Jerry says

    Glitter bomb Dan Savage all you want, but the first tranny to glitter bomb our most powerful gay deserves an ass kicking.

  21. Jesse says

    If trans activists “glitter bomb” Frank, they will be committing a federal felony and will do years in federal prison. I hope they try as it would be an excellent teaching moment for trans activist thugs when they see one of their own going off to a US BOP facility. We have become far to casual about the violent harassment that trans activists use to intimidate gays into submission.

    Frank is right, but he also misses the point. The big point that he should have made is that gay people never should have allowed themselves to be lumped in with trans activists in the first place. Gay people do not want to alter their bodies and join the opposite sex. Most gays are not trans and most trans are not gay. The only reason we have been forced into this fiction of LGBT is because some activists and academics wanted to transform the gay movement into a radical movement that opposed conventional concepts of gender. Gays have been paying the price for this decision for 15 years. It needs to end. LGBT is a lie.

  22. Jeff says

    L – lesbian (gay women who don’t like using the word “gay”)
    G – men & women who are gay (used sometimes referring to only men)
    B – bisexual – definitely gay sometimes (the sometime that gets them in trouble)
    T – transgender – gay OR straight people (NOT necessary gay or bisexual)

    Like the general population, transgender can be straight or gay. Their sexual orientation is not the issue. Any gay person (male or female) will tell you that many times they meet people who assume gay means “want to change” sex. Adding the “T” muddies the issue. I like the sex I was born with and wonder why the “T” was added when it doesn’t really go with the other three letters.

  23. mantis says


    – No progress
    – Some progress

    Sometimes there is no third option. Given those choices, which one is better? Barney knows. Some seem not too.

  24. Brag says

    I’m glad Barney Frank could validate some of you in the comments, and make it seem “ok” to you to indulge in the kind of transphobia you obviously wanted to.

    Congrats, I guess.

    The amount of bigotry in a lot of these comments is pretty disgusting, but your privilege allows that you will not have to deal with it or examine it in yourself, I guess.

    So really, it’s like Christmas for scumbags.

  25. QJ201 says

    Contemporary trans “activists” remind me of 70’s lesbian activists. “you don’t represent us, except when we expect you to,” and “nothing you do is ever good enough.”

  26. Rick says

    “The only reason we have been forced into this fiction of LGBT is because some activists and academics wanted to transform the gay movement into a radical movement that opposed conventional concepts of gender. Gays have been paying the price for this decision for 15 years. It needs to end. LGBT is a lie.”

    Amen, amen, amen, ten thousand times over. Somebody should frame this statement and hang it in every living room in the country. It pretty much says it all.

    “Movement” gay men essentially turned themselves into little wards of women, feminists to be exact, and that is where they lost their way….and why the movement has stagnated to such an extent. There is a reason the “L” comes first in LGBT, even though a) the “G” covers both genders, and b) gay men outnumber lesbians by at least 3 to 1.

    And that is why a complete overhaul is needed and why the gay culture of effeminacy and woman-worship and all that goes with it (including the T in LGBT) needs to be destroyed absolutely and completely…..and you have my blessing if you want to take the L along with it, since there seems to be no such thing as an L that does not insist on embracing feminism to be an ally.

  27. sergio says

    please keep posting this stuff so people can go to the comments section and see what transphobia really looks like.

  28. JakePHX says

    What good does employment non-discrimination do me if I can’t go to the restroom at my job?

  29. joe says

    I agree with Barney Frank’s assessment of the political landscape.

    Separately, as a G, it makes perfect sense to me to be allies with the L’s and maybe the B’s, but I really don’t see what I’m expected to have in common with the T’s. The unifying principle of L’s, G’s and B’s is orientation. For T’s, it’s identity. I’m not saying I disrespect T’s, but orientation and identity are completely different things.

  30. jamal49 says

    Another reason why Barney Frank will be missed. He’s everything Newt Gingrich wishes he could be. No b.s. Just the hard truth. Too bad that the knee-jerkers are listening to what he is saying. Because, he is absolutely correct.

  31. missanthrope says

    It’s funny that cisgender gays would be out for blood if this bastard proposed that they should settle less-than-full equality, yet when it comes to trans people, we should just “accept certain political realities” and consider ourselves “lucky” for a bare minimum of rights, while cis gays wouldn’t accept the same and never have accpeted anything but full equality. DADT was repealed because activists worked on it for its repeal for twenty years, not at all as Barney described as “being patient”

    It just seems that to lot of people here that some people are more important than others yet are to cowardly to express their cissexism openly.

  32. Jesse says


    I don’t usually respond to people who beat up their mothers and then blog about it, but I’ll make an exception for you.

    You whined:
    “It’s funny that cisgender gays would be out for blood if this bastard proposed that they should settle less-than-full equality . . .”

    But ENDA itself is less than full equality. It is only employment. Not housing. Not public accommodations. Back in the 70s, we wanted all 3 and we wanted to amend the Civil Rights Act to get them. But we realized that the best approach was to get what was most easily gettable and then fight for the remainder afterwards. So no, Barney Frank’s commonsense principle applies to everyone living in the real world.

    But of course, thanks to our incredibly destructive joinder with “trans” activists, we have been unable even to get the low hanging fruit of employment protections. “LGBT” is the primary reason that millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual (and even straight) workers today do not have protection from sexual orientation discrimination.

    And BTW, if we tied ourselves to “trans” issues on DADT, then that law would be in place today and likely we would be seeing discharges of LGB soldiers for decades to come. Thank God that someone in DC said “enough is enough” to LGBT and insisted on going ahead with the repeal w/o dealing with your bizarre potty issues.

  33. Acronym Jim says

    “yet still allows hotels, restaurants and other public spaces to turn trans people away.”

    After reading the bill, I notice that this description is over broad. The bill does not allow any of these entities to turn transsexuals away, UNLESS the facility is limited to a single sex, i.e. bathrooms, locker rooms, women’s health clubs and hotels, bathhouses, and things of that nature.

    In other words, a restaurant serving the general public cannot refuse to serve a transsexual, but that person may not be allowed to use the restaurant’s restrooms. A trans-woman could not stay in a women’s hotel and a trans-man could not frequent a mens only bathhouse that do not allow transsexuals. If you want to meet Buck Angel, you’ll need to ask about the policy at the front desk. The single-sex exceptions were added to the bill by the Republicans in the Massachusetts legislature.

    I don’t know what the civil rights laws in Massachusetts are for transsexuals who have legally changed their sex, but if full rights of the legal sex are already afforded to those individuals, it could be a bit of a sticky widget in the bill as it stands.

    “Frank: No, I would say ridiculous trans activists who are outraged, who would prefer there be no rights for employment than this.”

    I usually agree with Representative Frank, but not in this case, and would have one question for him: which transsexual members of the Massachusetts legislature blocked passage of this bill? If none, then the “ridiculous activists” did not get a vote.

  34. missanthrope says

    @ Jesse: Thank you for showing the audience here what cissexism looks like. You done a cut-up job of displaying it.

    Fact: A trans inclusive ENDA has only been put forward only for the last twelve years or so. Lesbian, gay and bi activist were trying to get it passed for twenty-five years before that without success. Don’t scapegoat trans people for the abject failures of Gay Inc homophobic legislators.

    What if gay (cis) men had been dropped from DADT because that lesbians were less “threatening” and therefore more “acceptable”. You wouldn’t stand for that for a minute and we all know that. But when it comes trans people’s rights, and our lives, then we are perfectly disposable to you, that’s clear enough to understand.

    Yet under the current situation vis-a-vis DADT, trans people get drummed out of the military out on a psychological or medical discharge while several other militaries around the world let trans people serve openly.

    You’re not my mother and you don’t have a right to lecture to me like a misbehaving child. I’m a queer and proud trans woman and as much a place in this movement as you do. So you can go shove your condescension.

    Anyway, I’ve been out as queer since I was a teen and out as trans for six years, and I encounter just as much transphobia and cissexism from other queer folk as I do cis straight people that I’ve largely become disillusioned with “the community”.

    Congratulations for you and your bigotry for making “the community” unsafe and hostile for yet another person.

  35. Lisa says

    I suppose most of the commenters here are simply unaware that Barney Frank was one of the vocal opponents to restroom and other accommodations, and that he spent time and energy presenting these accommodations as much more radical and dangerous than they actually are (since they are neither radical nor dangerous).

    Such protections that Barney says should be delayed already exist in several states, and nothing worse than trans people using the correct restrooms, etc. has happened. And that, by itself, is not a bad thing at all.

    As far as trans people being involved in the gay rights movement, trans people were there from the beginning, until forced out by assimilationists who felt that trans people were not good enough for their movement.

    Or to put it bluntly: If you’re going to say that trans people have no business being in the same movement, then you should really stop claiming the Stonewall Riot as a watershed movement, as it involved quite a few trans people.

  36. RexT says

    The reality of our political world and the process of change is – what it is, frustrating and slow. Barney Frank is an amazing contribution to all of our efforts and movement forward – like it or him – or not, he lives and breathes the process we all live with, and gets work done. Often against great odds – he gets work done. He also understands – sometimes we grab ahold of what there is and from there go forward, with more foundation in the process. All of our lives are entwined with greater understanding and conversation supporting Sexual & Gender Identity. Barney knows this, most of us know this – and most realize there will always be an angry voice of those who “don’t like the direction or action or whatever.” Hats off to Barney & Dan Savage – both of whom do support all of the LGBT community.

  37. Karen S says

    Barney Frank should remember that not everyone would be comfortable showering or going to the bathroom with him either. Is he willing to leave the loo for the sake of political expediency. He’s harped on showers and bathrooms a great deal; it sounds like a hang up on someone’s part.