The Advocate ENDA poll FAIL

Just in time for Thanksgiving, The Advocate gave transgender and gender non-conforming folks a reminder of how we’ve been screwed over by the mainstream gay community. No, I’m not grateful.
The Advocate posted a poll on their website asking, “Would you support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if gender identity protections were again taken out of the bill?” Here’s what the results of this (I’m assuming very unscientific) poll look like as of this morning:
Advocate Poll. Would You Support ENDA? Would you support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if gender identity protections were again taken out of the bill? Some Yes responses, overwhelming support for No, and a few responses of Undecided. 1144 responses.
I suppose it’s nice to see the overwhelming answer of “No.” But the big problem here is that the question was asked at all. It’s my understanding that supporting a version of the Employement Non-Discrimination Act that excludes protections for trans folks is not even a consideration. Barney Frank has said we are “beyond” the removal of gender identity and expression from the ENDA. HRC was the only mainstream LGBT organization to support a trans-exclusionary bill last time around, and they came under a lot of fire not just from the trans community but the broader LGBT community. A non-inclusive ENDA seems like a terrible political idea at this point given the amount of opposition among advocates.
So why would The Advocate even ask this question? Simply publishing this poll legitimizes the consideration of throwing trans folks under the bus again. It’s genuinely scary to see the question raised, to see any credence given to the idea that ENDA without protections for trans folks could be politically viable and worth supporting.
The Advocate has demonstrated multiple times that they are a publication for those gay folks with the most power and privilege through, for example, their problematic track record on issues of gender identity and race. This poll cements the fact that this publication is not for me and does not represent me or my community.
As of this writing the poll is still up on The Advocate’s website and is still accepting written responses. More contact information can be found here. Let The Advocate know how you feel about them raising this divisive question and even suggesting that ENDA without gender identity and expression is worth considering.
h/t to Kellan Baker.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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Join the Conversation

  • Deborah

    It’s really quite a shame that trans people aren’t accepted by the gay and lesbian community sometimes.

  • aleks

    I’m glad the overwhelming majority gave the right answer, and honestly I’m quite surprised because throughout history oppressed groups have been quite eager to advance their own fortunes at the expense of even less privileged groups (see: Virtually Everyone v. African Americans). It’s certainly not a moot point, unless we assume that support for trans gender equality is equal to support for gay equality. Here in Minnesota Republicans demagogue trans issues to attack ENDA, and there’s been a huge fight over whether the GLBT community could support a Trans exclusive ENDA. Given that it’s been a hotly contested issue, asking the question seems like responsible journalism. Avoiding it because the community couldn’t bear to face the issue would have been extremely paternalistic.

  • Lamour

    I definitely agree with this post, but can we please drop the term “FAIL”? It’s just annoying, cliche, and juvenile.

  • Comrade Kevin

    How quickly groups established for altruistic purposes become all about justifying their own existence and calcifying around the status quo. That it would happen with historically oppressed minorities strikes me as quite human and quite unfortunate.

  • Cola

    Well, the next time someone tries to put their finger on the pulse of the voting public by asking what they think of gay marriage or abortion (rights we should have/rights we already have) I’ll be sure to condemn them for suggesting that these things are even worth knowing.

  • aleks

    Sometimes liberal groups can almost match the religious right for fear of asking questions and risking dangerous or blasphemous thoughts.

  • Jos

    Oh lordy. The problem isn’t fear of the topic, it’s the fact that the question is completely illegitimate and irrelevant – it has nothing to do with the current strategy on ENDA. I’m sure trans exclusion would kill the bill, but again, that’s not even supposed to be on the table. The Advocate is legitimizing an approach that’s already been rejected. That’s how much they value the rights of (normative gender presenting) gay folks over trans and gender non-conforming rights.

  • DoGooderLawyer

    Lots of times polls have questions in them that demonstrate poor strategy or a goal opposite of one that the majority of readers of the poll would like to see, which is why they tend to be choices in a poll. While I always enjoy your perspective, Jos, I do think that you’re being too sensitive in being angry simply for the inclusion of the question in the poll.
    what is exciting is that the advocate’s readership gets it, and almost no one is for leaving trans folk behind anymore. but it’s important to have the poll, so we can see how far we’ve come.
    to give another example, if i was a medical marijuana advocate, it would not make sense for me to get angry every time i saw a poll on my issue that included a category saying “keep it illegal, marijuana is not medicine”. while the fact that that is still an answer favored by some would be frustrating to me, i could take heart in knowing that each time the poll is taken, those answering yes to that shrinks each time.
    but it doesn’t really make sense to object specifically just to inclusion of a poll question, unless it’s something really out of bounds, such as “should Obama be killed” (like that Facebook one a couple months ago).

  • Cola

    Yes, not worth knowing. I’ve got you.

  • aleks

    So once a thought has fallen out of favor, in this case thankfully, it should not only be pushed up against the wall and shot but also erased from the public record and the collective conscience? The Advocate asked people what they thought, and most people answered that they think exactly what you want them to. Rejoice or don’t, but don’t blame a newspaper for investigating changing attitudes on an issue crucial to their audience.

  • Nina212

    I think the question was legitimate in trying to raise discussion. The political strategy wasnt there and its my understanding that that is not Advocate’s perogative.
    As for trans people being discriminated against in their own community is true but we have to remember that sexuality and gender are not the same and people regardless of sexual orientated are socialized to believe in gender binaries and normative looking genders.