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Web Letter

Christopher Lisotta and The Nation have given commendable attention to the ENDA issue. Still, over the last thirty years the right wing has done an excellent job of controlling language and deciding what words will be used to speak of particular topics.

Laws such as ENDA don't just protect queer people from employment discrimination, they protect everyone. The failure to include protection against discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression is an egregious omission that should concern us all, not just transgender people.

The gender police will enforce the prevailing cultural standards without regard to whether a person's perceived transgression is fundamental to their identity or not. Most of the gender-based discrimination I have personally heard of has involved women (heterosexual more often than not) who were judged as being too masculine.

Speaking of language, I'd like to propose that we erase the word "effeminate" from the language--it's only use is to refer to femininity in a pejoritive sense. There's nothing wrong with feminity, and no reason to denigrate feminine men, or anyone else.

Karen Hogan

Olympia, WA

Oct 20 2007 - 11:44pm

Web Letter

The problem with Frank's idea to exclude transgendered persons in the ENDA bill is that it smacks of the never-ending "half-way" legislation we have been seeing coming from Dems in this Congress: too timid to take a bold stand, and too busy worrying about a vote count in the name of "pragmatism." I realize that issues of national security and Bush Administration malfeasance are hign on their agenda, but in those areas, too, the Dems have taken wishy-washy stands or caved completely to Republicans. A true opposition party should not be bean-counting and fretting that it would be too scary for some people to include transgendered individuals in ENDA. Dividing the community is not smart and not wise. Some of us do it to each other already, but that needs to stop with this legislation. The bill must be for "LGBT," nothing less, no compromises, no half-ass solutions.

Murton Edelstein

Keyport, NJ

Oct 18 2007 - 12:57am

Web Letter

Politics is indeed the art of the possible, and civil rights in the '60s were gained incrementally. But what has been proposed by Representative Frank is something quite different from anything from those days. It is the exact equivalent of only giving rights to those who can "pass for white."

It would have been repugnant, and would have caused great outrage then. It is repugnant, and causes great outrage now.

Zoe Brain

Downer, ACT Australia

Oct 17 2007 - 7:33pm

Web Letter

Thanks to Christopher Lisotta for an engaging and fair analysis of the recent controversy about the watered-down version of ENDA pushed by Barney Frank. There are two points that I think are worth making in relation to the debate raging about Frank's version of ENDA. The first is that the watered-down ENDA doesn't just sacrifice equal protections for transgender people. It also weakens the protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, insofar as much homophobic job discrimination is justified on the grounds of gender presentation. The second is that since the bill has no chance of passing with Bush as President, Frank's argument about "pragmatism" is clearly off-base. I can understand the appeal of passing some version of ENDA in the Congress, but this appeal is based more on symbolism than on substance. So for Aravosis and others who are taking swipes at those of us who oppose this bill: you are wrong to call us unreasonable or overly-idealistic--we just don't think there is any reason to pick at old wounds in our communities for the sake of a symbolic gesture.

Amanda Armstrong

Chicago, IL

Oct 17 2007 - 3:48pm