Trans Activists Protest HRC Dinner

by Alyson Lie
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Sunday Oct 26, 2008

A group of thirty protestors marched outside the Human Rights Campaign's annual New England Gala Dinner Saturday to show their disapproval of HRC's position on transgender inclusion in ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act).

Outside the Sheraton Hotel where the dinner was held, the protesters shouted slogans such as: "The HRC doesn't represent me. We want trans equality." The protestors, some trans, some supporters, marched on the sidewalk while clutching their signs: "HRC = Betrayal," "I May Be Trans But I'm Human Too."

The evening's lineup featured Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) as the keynote speaker, singer Martha Wash, and local comedian Mario Cantone.

The national office of HRC has been the subject of criticism lately due to their unpopular stance in support of an ENDA bill protecting only sexual orientation and omitting gender identity. Frank was instrumental in splitting the original, trans-inclusive ENDA bill into two bills, the second omitting gender identity.

"They abandoned us," said one protestor. "When Barney Frank split the bill and the HRC came out in support of it, they just left us behind. The HRC doesn't represent me."

A year ago, when the HRC voiced its support of the non-inclusive ENDA, Donna Rose, HRC board member and only transgender person to sit on the HRC board, resigned, creating a stir in the trans and trans-friendly community.

Frank has explained in great detail the reasons politically for passing a sexual orientation bill first, then focusing on a transgender rights bill-the trans community, and nearly 300 GLBT organizations continue to criticize Frank and the HRC for their stance.

Despite the controversy, HRC still has its defenders.

Diego Sanchez, a trans activist who serves as the director of public relations at AIDS Action Committee, praised HRC's stance on transgender issues.

Sanchez is also an HRC Business Council member and is the HRC Diversity Chair of Boston's Steering Committee

Sanchez told EDGE that HRC had donated $50,000 to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.


  • Diego, 2008-10-27 11:35:20

    Diego here - I didn’t see the story until now, but I’ll call David the editor to request two corrections and once clarification. I’ll do a letter to the editor, but I can craft this now so that readers of this online can know this quote isn’t accurate. Correction 1: The reporter asked me about HRC and trans issues, not activism. I said that HRC’s work is supportive of trans issues, and I cited 3 things: 1) The work I do on the Business Council on the Corporate Equality Index, for which we have 2 more phases of improvement already in the pipeline and we’re working with companies to get them ready to fully employ trans people, 2) fully inclusive ENDA known as HR2015, which is included in the new Congressional Scorecard-- as is the non-inclusive 3685 and was the only ENDA included in HRC’s Lobby Days on Captiol Hill this year in which I participated and 3) a new management position of Assoc. Dir. of Diversity making HRC the only national LGBT organization with a trans person as part of its management leadership team, among other things. I don’t use the word activism. I can’t define it, so I don’t use it, and I didn’t address it. The reporter asked me about demonstrations at HRC Dinners. I said that HRC believes that all voices are necessary, and venues always provide a place for voices to be heard. I said that there is passion and value, both behind megaphones and at policy tables. All voices matter and the people outside the hotel are people I work with on many issues that affect all of our lives. Our roles as trans people and allies aren’t always the same, but sometimes, they are.Correction 2: I erred in stating the amount of HRC’s Challenge Grant to MTPC. They provided $25,000 to MTPC as a result of my personal involvement as an HRC volunteer nationally and locally in advocating for it. I take sole responsibility for this dollar amount error, as I thought that when MTPC received funding from other organizations that matched the original grant, that it was being matched. It was my mistake and only mine.Clarification, and I explained this to the reporter but it didn’t make the story: I believe that HB1722 to bring anti-discrimination laws here to include gender identity and expression is important, as is marriage equality. It’s not less important. We should not be coy in urging equal treatment in our pursuit of full equality, and we need to recognize that we have the obligation to secure active and financial support to make it real. California advocates weren’t shy about pursuing every available resource to their side to keep the level of respect that MA citizens and now everyone else who comes here can enjoy. Including gender identity and expression protections in laws where sexual orientation exists in MA is equally important, and I will continue to advocate for more financial and legislative support for HB1722 from people and organizations, including HRC, the nation’s largest and leading LGBT social justice and civil rights organization in which I’m involved.I have a very sad personal family emergency today that will keep me from computers, so I won’t be checking follow-up posts every hour so that I can reply if needed. I’m glad to talk to anyone about any of this, but I need a couple of days to deal with a personal priority. I’m glad to talk to anyone about this later. If you know me, you know I’m never ’not available,’ so clearly, this is a rough and sad moment for my family for me to step out for a couple of days. Thank you for understanding. Again, I will reach David Foucher who I know, and I will issue something more eloquent later. For now, I want to correct the record and say that I think that HB1722 and MTPC are very important, and I’ll continue in my national capacities, including HRC, and in my MA and national LGBT and trans roles, to do all I can to fortify our work to be treated as equal -- both in people’s support and in organizations’ wallets.

  • , 2008-10-27 11:58:47

    Thank you for your corrections. None of this takes away what HRC did around ENDA. None of this takes away the fact that HRC continues to give thousands of dollars to the Log Cabin Republicans, and endorse republican Candidatse like Susan Collins over more pro-equality candidates.

  • Ethan St.Pierre, 2008-10-27 12:44:38

    Just before I left, I counted 50 protesters. Not counting one of our protesters who made it inside and distributed fliers. It was great to see so many people dedicated to a community who is unified and refuses to be divided neither socially nor politically.It’s a shame that HRC is so dedicated to that division except when it comes to fund raising, then all are welcome to donate.

  • Diego, 2008-10-27 13:30:54

    Thanks - I’m still here for a brief bit, so let me say 2 things.1. The HRC Lobby Days in DC on Capitol Hill included ONLY 2015, the inclusive bill. When I inserted something into that sentence, I realize that it needs to be clarified.2. No, nothing in 2008 changes what happened in 2007. That’s true. The Log Cabin contribution, to my understanding, is inaccurate. I’d suggest getting to Brad Luna, HRC’s Communications Director, which I’ll do in a few days. I am not able to pursue it today, but I believe that it’s false. The endorsements, I know are documented, and I’m not HRC’s spokesperson, just a volunteer who does so because I am working with them and other orgs to move the work of the LGBT, including trans, community, forward. I know there’s a rationale on endorsements, and it’s not appropriate for me to be a deliverer of a message on an area on which I’m not the expert. I am one, though, on the things I do talk about. It’s important to hold everyone accountable, so keep watching and keep talking. Thank you.

  • Ethan St.Pierre, 2008-10-27 17:57:05

    When HRC went to lobby, the sexual orientation ONLY bill, 3685 had already passed the House. 2015, the all inclusive bill was NOT even in play and will probably never see the light of day again. HRC’s board voted to support the passage of the noninclusive bill and to not join the other 300 plus organizations which form UnitedENDA. When I went to lobby, each office I visited told me 1 of 2 things. Either no one had been there to educate them on transgender issues or that HRC had already been there to lobby for the 2 bill strategy. They also told me that they would follow Barney Frank’s lead. Regardless if HRC donates money to the Log Cabins, they do donate money to the republican party, you can find that info with direct links on and HRC does in fact endorse Republican candidates who work contrary to their mission.

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