We can’t leave anyone behind

Guest Commentary

There seems to be an undercurrent of anger towards John Autry and LaWana Mayfield by some within the local LGBT community for their votes against the gutted non-discrimination ordinance rejected by City Council on March 2. They are upset that these Council members voted “no” on partial protection for the LGB community at the expense of the transgender community. The critic’s argument is that some progress is better than none, and their votes mean that they are not the allies we thought they were. I would argue that their vote to strike down this bastardized ordinance really means that they are the kind of political allies we need; totally inclusive and unwilling to compromise on matters of human rights.

If people in the LGBTQ community want to be upset with anyone, they should be upset with the Council members who were allies until they got scared. Be upset at the ones willing to “hold their nose” to pass a crappy ordinance because they knew they’d have the votes for that. I don’t know about anyone else, but I want the advocate that will do what is right over doing what is politically savvy. I am tired of convenient allies. I want us all to be supported when it is inconvenient, when it is hard, when it is painful.

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This recent anger seems to also target the trans* community. Some people have spoken out on social media, with LGB individuals upset that trans*-inclusion somehow stole their protections. Let’s be honest, the transgender community is far more vulnerable today than LGB people. I’m a lesbian and have the privilege to hide my sexuality at will. The trans* community often does not have this luxury because they don’t “pass” due to having some masculine or feminine features. They are visible, and a great many don’t have ID that verifies their gender expression. The LGB don’t have to prove and document their core identity in public like the trans* community. Simply put, my LGB brothers and sisters, we are privileged in so many ways. We need to be allies to our trans* siblings rather than throw temper tantrums that we missed out on protections that we don’t need nearly as much as we’d like to think.

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While this community is attacking each other for perceived slights, the opposition is united in a common cause, keeping us oppressed. They may not agree on anything else, but they agree that we must be stopped. What is worse, is that because they offered partial protection to select members of our community, some within our midst were willing to leave others behind. The carrot they dangled in front of us was an attempt to create a hierarchy within our own community where one group is more privileged and protected than another. As seekers of justice, that bastardized ordinance should anger us. How dare they think we would be so shallow that we would leave our trans* siblings behind. We are better than that. Aren’t we?

Perhaps we could take a lesson from the opposition. Perhaps, we should agree that we may not agree on the nuances or the language, but we agree that we must defeat them. We may not see eye to eye on anything, but we should be able to agree that we are all oppressed, and we must all fight it. We must agree that we can’t fight one form oppression without fighting them all because the mechanism of oppression overlap and reinforce each other. We must agree that, at the end of the day, we all deserve a seat on the bus. : :

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2 Replies to “We can’t leave anyone behind”

  1. This is politics, not religion. Everyone has their principles and ideology, but you have no place in politics if you are not willing to compromise sometimes. In politics, you usually don’t attain optimum benefit, but you do what you an to great the best outcome for the most people. Passing the amendment would have done that for the overwhelming majority of the LGBT community who would be included in the amended bill.

    ““We cannot let a totally unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal.”–Susan Rice

  2. Please understand that this is meant as no disrespect towards anyone, but facts are facts. Those who advocated for drafting and pushing the non-discrimination Ordinance made a serious political miscalculation. At first, they stated in public strategy sessions that they thought they had 7 or 8 firm votes in favor. They underestimated what a large political hurdle the bathroom issue would be, especially to the folks represented by Council members Barnes, Howard, Lyles, etc. Now, most folks in our Community seem to have decided that compromise is unacceptable, that it’s all or nothing, include the bathroom terms or nothing at all. If so, then I would like to hear a firm, REALISTIC strategy for how you intend to win over the skeptics (members of conservative African-American churches, for example). Preaching to the LGBTQ (and ally) choir is not going to cut it. You will have to change the minds of a lot of people who frankly have never been very supportive of the LGB, let alone the T. Until I hear that strategy, don’t expect me to put a lot of personal time into pushing this fight.

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