I don’t see leadership at NCTETrans Progressive Thursday, December 8th, 2016
Commentary: Trans Progressive
Watching the premiere, national transgender civil rights organization flounder would be heart wrenching if it weren’t more devastating. We’re at a time when tactics and strategy need changing to reflect a changing situation, but it appears these won’t be.
What changed are the party presidential administrations; what’s happening is the likelihood that administration regulations and decisions that favor transgender people are likely to be reversed by the nationalistic, reactionary, hyper-conservative nominees that are likely going to be appointed to the executive agencies by the Donald Trump administration in charge of those regulations.
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) was so surprised and caught off guard by Sec. Hillary Clinton not winning the presidential election that they aren’t prepared for how to respond to the Trump administration’s cabinet nominees. As if to highlight this, National Center for Transgender Equality’s Harper Jean Tobin told The Atlantic recently, “Unfortunately, the president-elect’s nominee for secretary of education and other members of his leadership team have shown an indifference or hostility to civil rights enforcement in general, and hostility to certain communities in particular, including LGBT communities …”
The latest e-blast from NCTE of Friday, Dec. 2, is an example of this shows timidity, and a lack of new ideas for a new environment. They are asking transgender people and allies to engage in a likely ineffective email writing campaign to their senators to oppose the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to attorney general. I’m a Californian who plugged in a California zip code into their email letter generator. In their sample letter, NCTE suggested telling my Democratic senators:
“As a constituent who cares about equality and justice, I am asking you to oppose the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general. The job of the attorney general is to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice to all people. Sessions has a long history of opposing and obstructing civil rights laws, minimizing sexual assault, sharing his racist beliefs and demonizing people based on who they are, who they love, how they worship or where they were born. This record raises grave questions about his temperament and commitment to fairness, equality and the rule of law.”
NCTE does not ask its Californian members to be bold in mentioning about transgender civil rights. It’s not boldly asking senators to filibuster the nominee either.
NCTE, as transgender community civil rights leadership, appears it knew how to ask for civil rights of a friendly presidential administration, but doesn’t know how to demand civil rights in a hostile environment. What they’ve been doing and will no longer work on their own are press releases, letter writing campaigns and lobbying.
What did the leaders of the black civil rights movement do to change the situation in the 1960s, the women’s movement of the 1970s, the gay liberation movement of the 1980s, the disabilities movement of the 1980s and 1990s?
Learning from previous civil rights movements means demanding ordinary equality and civil rights.
The NCTE itself will release a survey that will come out in three days that will show the statistics of how the transgender community is oppressed. Demanding is what must be done to achieve civil rights and ordinary equality, free of harassment and discrimination based on gender identity.
Demanding means impact litigation, which is the model of the ACLU and Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. But for the NCTE, the model would need to change to one of previous civil rights movements: the King philosophies of the Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change combined with the Six Principles of Nonviolence. These include discussion with “enemies” and direct action where discrimination occurs – in our case schools and bathrooms.
Will our leaders at NCTE lead or fail? Currently, I don’t see leadership.
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