Trans Activists Protest HRC Dinner

by Alyson Lie

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday October 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.