It’s time to get serious about something. I’ve spent a lot of time so far on this blog pointing out what is probably not worth our collective attention as transgendered folks. My thinking is this. If we pour our energy into addressing every slight, misperception, or even outright insult, the focus of our efforts is spread over a vast array of venues and the overall impact is significantly diluted. Today I’m going to address one of the areas I do feel we should be paying rapt attention. That’s right, rapt. I only pull that one out of my bag when I really mean it. Regarding GENDA, I really mean it.
The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) was on the NYS legislation block in 2010 along with the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA). Makes sense right? We are one big LGBTQ family and all; all for one and one for all. I’m not going to whine about the pervasive feelings of betrayal circulating the trans community after SONDA passed and GENDA didn’t. All things in their time, and yes, better some than none. I can’t argue that more people don’t stand to benefit from SONDA either. Plus, it did weaken the barrier. The fact remains that the trans community continues to lack legal protection from discrimination in NY, unless we want to get married. That avenue is also clear. It’s not every day I get to brag about my residence in a state with such a Republican sounding motto, but the accomplishments of recent years allowed me a few joyful woots.
Now why did SONDA pass and not GENDA? A lot of finger pointing abounds, but let’s be real. A certain significant percentage of the population exists, even in the really blue states, that think anyone not cisgender heterosexual is deviant by choice, mentally ill, or thrice damned in some way or another. Encouraging such moral delinquency by admitting the inherent equality of citizens will invariably cause an irritable deity to unzip and take a wicked piss on all America. Politicians, even those not of that opinion, know that these people like to call them a lot and complain. To someone whose entire career goal revolves getting reelected, this kind of thing can get in their head, even if it represents a small minority.
If a sizable portion of the voter block is against it, why should GENDA pass? Good, an easy question; it’s nice to promote rafts to castaways once in a while. (1) We exist and are citizens of this country and state. (2) As such we deserve equal protection under the law as any other majority or minority citizen. (3) Because the condition of our existence causes no demonstrable harm or inconvenience to individuals or society. (4) Or imposes said condition on anyone against their will or otherwise. (5) Attaining protected status promotes said equality and fair treatment. (6) While the lack thereof bears strong evidence to have a negative effect on employment, housing, financial management and other areas. (7) Clearly supporting the argument that lack of protective status has a significant and measurable burdensome effect on society overall.
To break it down, with GENDA we have increased opportunity to employ marketable skills that contribute to the tax base, as well as better guarantee to secure sustainable living arrangements. Without, an increased proportion of the population must subsist on public assistance and contribute to the current blight of homelessness. Isn’t enabling equal opportunity for individuals who wish to participate in capitalist democracy better than marginalizing them into an undesired socialist existence? No brainer, right? With, everyone benefits with some more than others, and without, everyone loses, again, some more than others. This of course is simple macroeconomics. The real and true reason should simply be that securing the rights and equality of all citizens should be inherent to the core philosophy of our system, making it the right thing do as Americans.
That said, what to do about self-preservationist politicians who are constantly getting an earful from groups who see any opportunity in our favor as a detriment to the common good for some contrived reason? If loud insistence is the language, I think the answer is to talk it. No matter what his personal convictions or what he tells you to your face, if someone like Chuck Schumer hears more from people who are against this, he’ll lean that way. If he hears from us more, he’ll lean our way. There are exceptions, but I’m pretty certain that is how it works. We’ve all heard the old chestnut, ‘the squeaky wheel gets replaced’, but if that can’t happen, it gets the grease.
I think there are now dozens of organizations across the state, including to the one I belong to, Spectrum WNY (see the link on the side) who have taken up the cause full fury. I’ve decided to do my part by both writing all the state legislatures as well as creating a new page on this blog. My feeling is that no matter how right it is that people take action, they are much more likely to do so if you make it easier for them. So, to make it easy…
- Pick the legislature for your district.
- Print out the letter.
- Use the conveniently provided address
- And send to them