Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I won't be going to Albany next week.

I won't be going to Albany next week.

The Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) has decided to sponsor an "Equality and Justice Day" again this year (they didn't do one last year) on Monday, May 9th.  I've been to two of these events before and I won't be going this year.

I thought about going.  I even made plans to do it and made a commitment that I will be breaking, something I do not do lightly.  The unwillingness to go was present before I figured out the motivations behind it.  I was hemming and hawing about right up into the deadline for registration.

What sealed my decision was yet another email from ESPA about the upcoming event.  I'd received a number of these emails before and they were all very similar to what I've seen over the past few years:
MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality Gender MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality GENDA MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality GENDA MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality MarriageEquality etc.

Then, the last missive from ESPA had the following (paraphrased), ". . . marriage equality being a life and death issue for them."

That little piece of bullshit sealed my decision.  After nine years of waiting to get gender identity protections under the law that gave the same to cis GLB people in 2002, after all the misery and pain and the Deity knows how many deaths that NY trans people have suffered because they couldn't find a job, or were humiliated by being thrown out of a bathroom, or were made homeless by some intolerant landlord and complaining tenants, I heard the head of ESPA write that the convenience of being married in the state you reside is a matter of life and death???  Sorry, they can go do for themselves without my help.

I've become convinced that, in New York State at least, trans LGB and straight people will not get equal protections until in-state marriage convenience/equality is achieved.  Yeah, most of the cis people who are working for marriage equality will then go home.  Yes, most of the resources of the cis GLB political community will go on to other things.  But then, at the very least, the issue of civil rights protections for gender vairiant New Yorkers will have the space to be seen and heard without the looming, oxygen depleting issue of marriage rights muffling the voices and drowning out the cries of the afflicted.

I've always maintained that the best way to separate your true friends from those who really don't care a whole lot is to change your sex.  The passing of the marriage equality issue in NY will do the same.  The true friends and allies of the trans community will keep working, no matter how few in number they may be.  Of course, winning on this issue will be difficult.  It'll take more time.  More trans people, including myself, will suffer the consequences of being an unprotected but vulnerable minority.  The huge distraction, however, of false friends who pay lip service while pushing you to the back of the room - and all too often out the back door - will be gone.  The selfish political activists who work only for their own immediate gain in marriage equality, at the expense of others, will have gone home.  And then, only then, will the trans community and its true allies be able to be heard. 

In the meantime I'll visit my state representatives when they are in the local area and will write them legible handwritten letters about the vital importance of civil rights protections for gender identity.  As an afterthought, I might even mention how stupid it is to grant same sex couples full marriage equality when they get married in another state or country where it's legal but not allow the ceremony performed in-state to be legally recognized.  Hopefully then, when the marriage equality brass band has stopped blaring in their ears, they may actually start to listen, having hear some faint echos about the issues before!

3 comments:

  1. Great post, Emelye. Your understanding of the issues is spot on. After getting marriage equality, most gays and lesbians will simply leave the movement and forget T-people. Unfortunately, Trans people are the Niggers of the 21st Century. true equal rights for us are at least 1 or 2 generations away. Sigh...

    Keep up the good fight.

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  2. Hi Emelye,
    I appreciate your commentary regarding trans inclusion at the upcoming Equality and Justice Day. I want to express my sincere hope that you will change your mind and decide to attend. If trans people and our allies show up and speak up, we certainly will have a strong presence. Our visibility and our voices will help make GENDA a front and center issue. I work at the Pride Agenda as the (newest) Transgender Rights Organizer. I assure you that the Pride Agenda is equally committed to three issues – transgender equality and justice, marriage equality, and LGBT health needs.
    I hope to meet you on Monday and discuss the recent progress that has been made on the GENDA campaign and collaborate on moving forward to see that this critical bill is passed.

    Sincerely,
    Christopher Argyros
    Transgender Rights Organizer
    Empire State Pride Agenda
    cargyros@prideagenda.org

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  3. Thanks, Christopher. I'll be happy to attend the E&J Day after marriage equality is achieved in NY. If they ever have one afterward.

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