The editorial pages of Roll Call and the Washington Times have become a battleground for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and transgendered people are in the bulls-eye of the conservative attack. These articles distill transgendered individuals of their humanity and presents them as freaks or pieces of flesh not deserving of legal protection. “Women should not be forced to share bathrooms with people with male body parts who say they want to be females,” the Washington Times wrote on Saturday. “It is right to discriminate between honesty and dishonesty, between politeness and impoliteness, between right and wrong. And it assuredly is right… to remove from the classroom a ‘she-male’ who insists on exposing her pupils to her unnatural transformation.”
That prominent national newspapers are accepting such extreme pieces and publishing them alongside supportive editorials is just appalling. Editors who would have never thought it appropriate to run an argument that advocated inferior health coverage for some minority group just several months ago, now publish articles that say transgedner people don’t deserve legal protection because of some alleged inferiority. These editorials legitimize the most reactionary social doctrines and set them as default conservative positions in the ENDA debate.
The most interesting progressive response to these arguments comes from Lisa Mottet of the the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Mottret points to preliminary data “from a forthcoming, groundbreaking survey on discrimination against transgender people in the U.S. from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality [which] shows that discrimination in employment is a nearly universal experience:
- 97% our sample report being mistreated or harassed at work.
- 47% lost their jobs, were denied a promotion or denied a job as a direct result of being a transgender individual.
As she notes, “Americans support nondiscrimination in the workplace, including ENDA, because they aspire to workplaces where people truly are judged by their contributions to the workplace, not on personal characteristics. LGBT people simply want to be included in the American dream of equal opportunity for all.” Unfortunately, the balance in the media coverage suggests otherwise.