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Letters
[Editor's Note: The following letter regarding the Court of Seattle's "Women's Summit" should have run in last week's SGN. It was the original letter that precipitated the two responses and clarifications from the Imperial Court which the SGN ran last week.]

WOMEN-BORN WOMEN?

Yesterday, my partner asked a representative of the Court of Seattle about the Women's Summit. Questions about costs to attend and so on. In addition to answering those questions, she was told the event was a Woman-born Women event. She is not Trans, but I am, and the implication was that I cannot attend (they said I probably could as I have passing privilege, but that is beside the point).

She was told that the Queen Mother Nicole felt that there were specific issues concerning women only, and concerning only Transgendered. The implication? That as I was not identified as a woman by the doctor present at my birth, I was not a woman. That stung.

I truly hope that was a misunderstanding. I do.

My passport and driver's license both have F on them. They don't have an asterisk after the F, they don't identify me as T.

I guess the state is more enlightened than the CoS in this manner.

I have the same plumbing as other women (at least those with a hysterectomy), but that shouldn't matter unless "male" genitalia is more important than anything else. I would understand that, as most of society seems to think that. Unless the entirety of the summit is about menstruation, I do have the experiences that women do. Day to day.

As far as women's experience in the past, growing up. I am a woman, therefore my experience is that of a woman. It may be different than some, but all of our experiences are unique.

While I was not an African American in the '40s and cannot fully understand the extent of their experience, I can now imagine what it may have been like to see a "whites only" sign. The irony, this "sign" has been put up by an organization that claims to fight for my rights.

I can understand that the CoS simply wants coronation to go on without drama, and therefore doesn't want to make an issue out of this. To those people who simply want to sweep it under the carpet, but have fought for Trans-rights elsewhere and do consider us women, I thank you. But I'm also disappointed. It's easy to fight for someone's rights if it doesn't affect you. It's a true sign of courage to fight for someone's rights if it does affect you. I will lose friends over this. That is unfortunate. But I chose not to be friends with people who don't consider me a woman, and I chose not to be friends with people who don't stand up for me.

I challenge the Court of Seattle, and the International Court, to do some self-exploration on what it means to be a woman, or a man.

A Seattle Woman



BOYCOTT THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN AND ITS NY DINNER


The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club asks all elected officials and others who believe in equality for the LGBT community to boycott and protest the Human Rights Campaign dinner on February 23, 2008.

Statement released today by Allen Roskoff, President of the Jim Owles Democratic Club:

"A coalition of supporters of LGBT rights will be picketing the Human Rights Campaign's fundraising dinner in New York this year. The protest will start at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 23 outside the Hilton Ballroom on Sixth Avenue at 53rd Street.

"Over the years, HRC has raised tens of millions of dollars from supporters of LGBT rights and produced very little with the resources it has. In 1973, Bella Abzug and Ed Koch proposed path-breaking legislation to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination against the Lesbian and Gay community in employment and public accommodations. In 1994, HRC and Rep. Barney Frank decided to back away from this historic fight and forged a watered-down bill that covered only limited protections against employment discrimination. That weak bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act commonly known as ENDA, almost passed the Senate in 1996 but then went into limbo for more than a decade. When former Senator Bill Bradley was running for U.S. President in 2000, he promised that, if elected, he would work to enact legislation like the original Abzug/Koch bill. Rather than heeding this call for more meaningful legislation, Rep. Frank and HRC blasted Senator Bradley.

"Year after year, HRC has held itself out as our voice in Washington and has been happy to take our money. Yet, when it should have been building support for comprehensive legislation to protect the rights of our people, HRC clung to ENDA. Finally, a few years ago, HRC agreed to add gender identity and expression to the bill, and as late as September 2007, HRC president Joe Solmonese was pledging unequivocally NEVER to compromise on that language. Within a month, Rep. Frank decided unilaterally, over the strenuous objection of nearly every voice in the community, to sell out and drop gender identity and expression from the bill, effectively denying any protection for people of Transgender experience and potentially gutting the safeguards for millions of Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals who do not conform to gender stereotypes. Rather than keeping its promises, HRC backed the change.

"It is time for our community to stop throwing money down the drain donating to HRC and start demanding equal rights for all LGBT people again. HRC is nothing more then a cash cow that must no longer be fed. More than 300 organizations nationwide, including most state LGBT lobby groups, joined together in United ENDA to fight for a bill that includes gender identity. It is imperative that our community stands firm on Transgender inclusion. Furthermore, just as we urge a boycott of HRC, we call on United ENDA to fight for a bill worth fighting for: amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Covering LGBT people in the same way that other groups are protected is, and must be, our goal.

"The HRC betrayal of the community this year is just the latest in a long line of sellouts. In 1998 HRC endorsed Alphonse D'Amato for re-election to the U.S. Senate over his then-challenger Rep. Chuck Schumer. This endorsement was a slap in the face to our community, people of color, poor people, and those who support a woman's right to choose. In 2006, HRC endorsed Senator Joe Lieberman in his bid for re-election to the United State Senate, the same senator who now supports Senator John McCain's campaign for the presidency.

"If you support LGBT rights, tell HRC that their politics are not acceptable to those fighting for full equality and redirect your donations to organizations who share progressive values."

Further support for the boycott and protest:

"After a feeble attempt of HRC to engage the New York Transgender community about ENDA and the quest for LGBT civil rights, they have reverted to their typical Gay-only fundraising agenda. After claiming that Congress does not understand Trans community and issues, I challenge HRC to show me where are the Trans programs, where are the Trans lobbyists for Congress, and where is the HRC Trans agenda for the new generation of progressives? Boycott and protest HRC"
- Melissa Sklarz, Director, New York Trans Rights Organization (NYTRO)

"Dignity and commitment to the civil rights of the entire LGBT community dictate both a boycott of the HRC dinner and support for the protest. HRC has pitted LGBT Americans against each other and has sold the Transgender community down the river with its wheeling and dealing in the halls of Congress."
- Alan Fleishman, Democratic District Leader and State Committeeman, 52nd AD and former President, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn.

"I will not be attending the Human Rights Campaign's annual New York Gala this year and will urge members of my organization, the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, to do the same. As New Yorkers, we are especially aware of the fact that the "Gay First, Transgender Later" approach does not work for civil rights legislation. SONDA, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, a state version of Gay-only ENDA, was signed into law here in 2002; more than five years later, GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimation bill, has not even gone to a vote in the Assembly, despite the fact that there are enough pledged votes for it to pass. Attending this event would condone the exclusionary policies of HRC, which we have learned from experience do not work."
- Matthew W. Carlin, President, Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City

"The Human Rights Campaign has long taken the position that my people should be sacrificed on the altar of their political expediency. HRC made a cynical decision to return to its 'Gays first' agenda at the first sign that the going might get a little rough in the House of Representatives. They agreed to support a further weakening of an already pathetic ENDA bill by pandering to additional 'religious exemptions' demanded by anti-LGBT Christian bigots. All they wanted was a mess of pottage - the illusion of a 'victory' to wave at potential donors while casting off those in the most need of protection as well as most meaningful protections for those who remain covered. NOW is the time to vote with your wallet to tell HRC that your money will be better spent by giving to one of the over 300 LGBT organizations that did not abandon the most vulnerable among us for a quick, temporary, and hollow success."
- Joann Prinzivalli, State Director, New York Transgender Rights Organization

"HRC should immediately create a Transgender advisory committee that has real input into future tactical decisions. Until that time, I urge all members of the LGBT community to refrain from financially supporting HRC and boycott any fundraiser. Our Trans brothers and sisters stood by our side during the Stonewall Riot and I am gravely disappointed that HRC did not stand by their side in the hall of Congress." - Gary Parker, Former President, Lambda Independent Democrats, Founder, Greater Voices Coalition
"It is important to understand that without gender non-conformity protection, ENDA provides little or no protection to any of us. ENDA without Trans inclusion would allow employers to continue to discriminate, fire and mistreat all LGBT people by claiming that they did not conform to proper gender stereotypes. Moreover, when we turn our backs on our Trans brothers and sisters we are not building alliances with homophobes, we are giving credence to their hatred."

- Yetta G. Kurland, Civil Rights Attorney
   

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