Karen Meets Congressman Barney Frank

This page reflects the account of two of my sisters and myself, after attending an HRC fund raiser and meeting Congressman Barney Frank. Just a mere three months after meeting Senator Jeanne Lucas, this encounter was anything but uplifting.

We all three sent our account of the event to several organizations and people. It is through all of their efforts of continuing to circulating it that it received quite a bit of attention. It is interesting to note, while perhaps coincidental, just a month later HRC issued a public statement and modified it’s mission statement to include transgender. My personal thanks to all of those who helped give this matter the national attention it deserved!

It’s Time, North Carolina! Visits an HRC Dinner
February 17, 2001

Joney’s Letter

Hi All:

Today, Angelika, Karen, and I showed up at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Cary, NC to demonstrate against the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for excluding transgendered people from ENDA. Our plan was to show up prior to the end of the dinner and speaker and pass out pamphlets explaining HRC’s exclusion of transgendered inclusive language in ENDA. We got there just after 8 PM.

Upon arriving we met Shelly, who knows me from Visions. She was assisting people attending the dinner with their seating assignments. We told her what we were there for and she supported having us there and could not understand why HRC was doing this. We left the pamphlets on a table, so we could get something to eat prior to the end of the HRC dinner.

We walked up to the dining area and were immediately seating by a lovely lady who was originally from Haiti. She referred to us as ladies the whole time. We sat down and talked with her and met our waitress, who also referred to us as ladies. We ordered and talked off and on with both ladies. Occasionally the hotel security manager asked us if everything was OK. All three of us had a good time. After dinner, we left to get ready to pass out pamphlets.

We walked to the table where the pamphlets were left and noticed the whole table was gone. We asked the catering crew what happened to the table and where the papers sitting on them were. One member said, “We put up the table and through away the papers.” We walked around looking for them while management was telling us there was not a stack of pamphlets seen on the table. Still we looked.

In the meantime, Angelika had made her way to the dining area. She had managed to find one of the top people in HRC and explained her views to her. She talked to her for over five minutes. Karen and I began to search for her, and upon entering the dining area, we noticed our pamphlets sitting on the table. We met up with Angelika and divided up the pamphlets and began to pass them out to everyone we could see. By that time a number of other girls had joined us also after dinner.

We were asked a lot of questions about what this all meant. We told them about HRC’s exclusion of transgendered people on purpose and that it would effect them as well. Like they could be fired for being too feminine or masculine. Most supported our cause and were happy to have our issues explained to them. Over all, I would say it was a success for this alone.

Angelika managed to corner Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Well known for being a gay man and elected to congress. Publicly supports human rights issues, especially those of the gay and lesbian community. Angelika soon found out he was there for himself, not the GLBT community at all. He is against inclusion of transgendered language in ENDA. Angelika gave him a piece of her mind, and then some. Angelika stormed out.

Karen soon took her turn with the Honorable Mr. Frank. Ten minutes later she came out saying, “Angelika was right, he is an asshole.” Stating one example he used to not support transgendered inclusion as, “They will picture men and woman in showers together and will vote it down.” I thought to myself, “Where have I heard that before?” Hmmmm, the military used the same excuse to kick gays out of the military. Imagine, a gay male and heterosexual male showering together, what would the world think? I thought, “Is this the views of a man who claims to be all of our champion in congress?”

This scares me more than anything. The views of Barney Frank, which mirror the views of many gays, but I dare say most, and the fact, they control HRC and put the bills before congress. If I were anyone in the GLBT community, I would be weary of this man. Obviously, the powers to be at HRC support his views as well. How could anyone in the GLBT community support these type of views, but some do. HRC should stand for Hypocrites Running Congress, not Humans Rights Coalition.

After this, we decided to leave. Proving to ourselves and others, that HRC is not there for us, but a small group of primarily gay males seeing the GLBT as a big “G”, little “l”, a silent little “b”, with an invisible unimportant little “t”, which they feel shouldn’t exist at all. I was happy that many gave us their support and agreed with our stance on the issues, but unfortunately, many of them, don’t voice their concerns to HRC.

I would like to thank Angelika and Karen and others for being there in support of all of us. I also enjoyed their company and had fun with them.

Joney Harper

Angie’s Letter

Raleigh: Where Barney goes to party… Well, it was in Cary, actually.

February’s habit is to give a last kick of really cold weather interspersed with moments of clear skies and welcome warmth.

It was therefore not surprsing to find the forecast for a February Saturday evening to call for a windy cold.

The reason to be found out in that weather must be a good one. In this case it was to attend an HRC sponsored fundraiser with guest speaker Barney Frank, infamous Honorable from Massachusetts who has won good favor from the black communities, and whom although openly gay and abiding to a choice number of gender dispositions, has great difficulty in grasping the needs of the Transgendered Community. The Honorable Barney Frank was to address the fundraiser with one particular topic of great interest to the TG community, being ENDA, or Employment Non-Discrimination Act. But somehow Barney did not see fit to include TGs in the blanket he held forth, rather reserving that degree of recognition and comfort for his chosen few.

It was this inequity that drew two Good Sisters and Myself out of the warmth of our homes and into the cold winds of the evening. We had literature to distribute at the gathering and there was another reason to be there, and that was to talk with the star speaker if a way could be found. Sometimes a guest speaker will literally disappear before your eyes once his piece has been said, others may langor around and schmooze with constituents as befits an ego in such constant need of stroking. So you never know if you will catch the fish or just drown the bait. Either way, you still have to go to the pond where the fish are. And we were there.

Being anxious to make meeting Mr. Frank a reality, and to kindly bend his ear for a brief time, I stepped into the large hall to witness the last minute of his speech. After the applause broke out he was fast to the floor and reiterating his speech from there to all who gathered. Eventually I was able to reach The Honorable Barney Frank and made introduction as to who I was and why I had come to speak with him. I knew then why the winds had chosen to remain outside; it was far colder indoors.

Not that I was unrecognizable to anyone there as a crossdresser, and had met and spoken with others and been treated with cordiality, but when I mentioned to Barney Frank that I was a board member of a local Transgender support and outreach group, then did I meet the first person to treat Me as a lesser. If you are going hunting it is always best to carry the correct weaponry and protection, and I had packed up all good will and desire for a worthy exchange of ideas. But they were not enough to improve My chances.

Mr. Frank’s mastery of deflection and redirection, avoidance of replying directly to any question and his constant use of interruption as tactic were unnerving. Still I persisted by calmly reiterating every time he used a ploy to still My voice. It took some time and no small tender of patience, but before leaving his company I had mentioned at least twice every issue before transgendereds. So in effect his ploys had only caused him to hear what I had to say twice, whereas had he been less busy trying to tell Me what is what, he would have heard it all but once.

And Barney did hear it. He heard it from Karen as well, who took up the second wave and did her best to accomplish the same as had I hoped to. We both were unsuccesful at gaining his full attentions, but we did make an impact that I can guarantee. If he heard nothing else, he heard that we are persistent and unwavering in our desires to be included in the list of peoples who want for fair and equitable treatment in their community and workplace; who do not need to fear undue reprisal due to the gender orientation. It is not about which toilet facilty or shower we may use, Lord that is the least of our concerns. It is about simple fairness. About the laws this country was founded upon that prepares a place of equality for each of it’s citizens.

It is indeed most unfortunate that HRC views Mr. Frank as some savior or champion, when he is neither. He is a professional politician with only his agenda as his focus. I ripped the veil from his facade of being a man of calibre and worth, and the face I saw was one of a man who will not yield to something as worthy as simple truth. And the truth is this; until all gender persuasions are again granted the inalienable rights already promised in our Constitution, we will have to meet with people like Mr. Frank upon the battleground of justice for all.

Having met Senator Jeanne Lucas back in November left Me with the delight of knowing that not all politicians are self-serving narrow ineffectuals. Some are good and kind people who genuinely care about whom they serve. They see being a senator or congressman as an opportunity to better and enrich people’s lives, not stand in the way of understanding and growth as does Barney Frank.

With respect and admiration to all sisters,
Angelika Van Ashley

PS… just to show how great a guy he is… a picture attached of our good friend, Barney. Special apologies to the good Senator Lucas who kindly stepped aside to allow the making of this photo.

Angie Ashley, Senator Barney Frank, and Karen Anne Taylor at HRC Fund Raiser

Karen’s Letter


I must begin with I still feel like I’ve been hit over the head with a baseball bat. I’m stunned by the experience, and still absorbing it all. So many emotions, many of them “indescribable.” But I was adamant to not let this experience inhibit my writing style. So if you find yourself laughing on occasion throughout my rhetoric of this somber experience, do not feel guilty; it simply means my attempts here were successful. [smile]

I first must express here and now my gratitude for Angie and Joney participating in this endeavor. It was my honor to be in the presence of such giving and caring souls. And you bet, fun too! But you’ve heard their accounts, so now it is my turn… My perception of the event.

To adequately do that, I must take you to earlier events of the day. By no means an impromptu decision, Angie and I paid a visit to Merle Norman and got our ears pierced that afternoon. No more painful clip-ons!!

Other than just sharing that with you, the relevance of this is making that commitment and the “anxieties” to come as family, friends, and work adjusts to my new permanent appearance trait. But hey, I can’t afford a Porsche and my hair’s already long, so what else could a mid-life crisis male do? Yea, right… That’s the ticket. [laugh]

The glaring irony I now find in this, is that the simple act of getting the ears pierced is at present a “gender expression” issue that employers have full rights to use as grounds for dismissal/denial from employment and will continue to be if HRC and Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts succeed. Gee, their actions already hit home hard enough for which reason Angie, Joney, and I were to be at the benefit. I can’t help but laugh a bit at this “coincidence.” But enough of that setup; let’s move on so there’s an ending in sight…

Now having participated in the HRC benefit last year, I had some “anticipation” of how the evening would unfold. Last year Angela Brightfeather (IT-NC Director) and I “attended” the benefit. Angela also hosted a TG hospitality suite. Several TG volunteers were on hand to talk, and to peacefully hand out literature explaining the atrocities of ENDA as people left the ballroom. This year we had no attendees, and no suite. Our itinerary simply called for handing out the literature as people left the dinner/presentation.

So… the three of us went through our “rituals” of getting ready, and decided to arrive there early and have dinner at the hotel, so as to be prepared for “whenever” the HRC attendees would be exiting. Upon arriving, we left the literature on the HRC table out front and went off to the restaurant down the hall.

I can’t speak highly enough of the dinner… Yes, the food was good. But the respect and treatment we three received from the hotel restaurant staff was outstanding. We hardly got any privacy for us to actually eat. Our Haitian Hostess could not bear to be away from us for very long, as she was on cloud nine just to be amongst us. Her charming smile never vanished. One could not hope for better treatment. These are the times we long for. But all too soon it must end, as it was time for us to ready ourselves and distribute the literature.

Upon return to the HRC ballroom area, our literature had vanished. No decent explanation could be found. Only the hotel staff offered one, that it had been thrown out with the garbage. We searched and searched. I must tell you that this was a turning point in my day. I was getting mad. It had been quite a pleasurable day until then, but now my whole purpose for being there was threatened. And then the program ended, and attendees started to exit. I threw my hands up. I had given up. Just as I went to reunite with Angie and Joney and request we leave, I “accidentally” spotted our literature. Whew! Okay, it wasn’t too late… We each took some and started passing it out to everyone we could meet. My anger subsided, as we still had purpose for being there.

After doing that for a while, Joney and I started to reunite with Angie, who had made her way to visit with Barney Frank. At first I wanted to simply join in. As we got closer, it was apparent that the discussion was a bit heated. Then I thought maybe I should “intervene.” [smile] But quickly I just “knew” the “best” thing to do was let Angie do her thing, and let it be whatever it is to become. Joney and I proceeded to continue distribution of the literature and talk with the attendees to answer any questions they may have.

Running into Joney later I inquire about Angie only to hear that she has left. Barney Frank no longer considered her a “welcome” entity. Once Angie was located and rejoined us, I found her yelling in anger and in tears. Okay, that’s all it took for me. My button had now been pushed. Nobody does this to my dear friend and sister without some answers. It’s my turn now. I leave them with a brisk and determined walk directly to Barney Frank. Determined also to have a rational “discussion.”

If there was a comparison to make how I felt and perhaps looked at that moment, it would be the scene in “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar” when Patrick Swayze stormed up to see Virgil after hearing him beating his wife. Well, up to the point “prior” to the punching scene anyway. [smile]

As I approached him I cordially introduced myself, shook his hand, and cut right to the chase. I wanted to know why the transgendered were not represented in ENDA. The answer was such a surprise, I was dumfounded at first. The whole crux of purposely and intentionally disallowing the transgendered from ENDA was something of the effect “it would cause it not to pass… it would fail due to penises and vaginas showering together in the workplace.”

Huh? You gotta be kidding! This was the most asinine thing I’d heard! When I asked what about gay and straight men in the same shower, the reply was essentially “that’s not a problem, not even in the military. Even the bathroom is not the issue. But penises and vaginas in the same shower will cause it to fail. But we can take care of that with an amendment.”

How in the world could simply “protecting people from being denied or dismissed from employment due to gender expression” get so convoluted to become an issue about penises and vaginas in the same shower? Gimme a break! I made the point that this is about the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act.” It’s supposed to be about not losing or getting a job simply due to “being transgendered.” And how could an obscure shower scene be the defining reason to not just simply not include, but purposely “exclude” the transgendered from having nondiscrimination rights?

The retort to that ludicrousness was effectively a redirection to the fault of its exclusion; it’s now the transgender groups’ fault and they need to get together on this and present it so it can be dealt with it as an amendment. Hey, I’m no dummy. If it can’t be “fixed” now it ain’t gonna be fixed with an amendment. And transgender groups have already made presentations about this.

Barney Frank’s constant claims of my “interrupting him” (this was supposed to be a dialogue; not a lecture) if used as a motive for getting away from me failed. He once threatened to stop talking with me and started to walk away because I “interrupted” him with a facial expression of surprise in which my mouth dropped. I guess “silent interruptions” aren’t allowed either. I don’t think my expression was unwarranted, as it was in response to his claiming I made certain accusations when in fact, I had merely “asked” questions, not made statements.

He wasn’t listening to me. His mind was made up. His “interests” were being met, and mine don’t count. Not only don’t count, but would be considered counterproductive to his own interest with the belief of the given unsubstantiated paranoia. I can’t help but walk away with these thoughts, and that this is a self-serving man. Furthermore, my intelligence was insulted with the lame “explanations” given. Am I really supposed to buy in to all of this?

To believe that there are no issues with gay and straight men in the same shower, is just being out-of-touch with reality. Perhaps Barney Frank talked to too many principals and generals, rather than students and soldiers. Does the gay community know he is saying these things? Since the shower scene seems to be his proclaimed focal point for exclusion, it seems like Barney Frank could be fearful of taking a shower with a vagina. Hmmm. That sounds a bit like it could be “heterophobic” behavior!

And to deny the relevance of “gender expression” in the GLB community is absurd. The “T” in GLBT is not a separate community from GLB, but rather a mere separate representation of a human characteristic. The “T” exists in all of GLB, as well as “S” (i.e., straight).

HRC and Barney Frank are making blatant and worldwide public statements that “gender expression” is valid grounds for denying or firing a person from a job, simply by what will be global awareness of their intentional “resistance” to its inclusion. It’s a loop hole and the GLB communities they claim to protect will suffer; gays that are too “feminine” can be discriminated against, as well as lesbians that are too “masculine.” The widespread knowledge of this loop hole will allow employers to continue discrimination against gays and lesbians under the HRC-approved means of discrimination, that of “gender expression.” ENDA will be effectively ineffective, as “anyone” can be discriminated against. Yea, even a female can be discriminated against because she’s too “feminine.” Anything goes. The bill may have good intentions, but will fail even if it passes.

As I speak of HRC in this light, I must clarify what I mean by “HRC.” Let me say this, and make it very clear, that the two years I have now handed out the literature to HRC attendees, they have been nothing but kind, courteous, receptive to the issue, and all but a few were surprised that “gender expression” wasn’t included in ENDA and expressed agreement that it should. They simply didn’t know. It has been truly my pleasure to have met these fine people. The “bulk” of HRC is its members, namely members of the GLB community. These are NOT the people I’m referring to harshly as HRC. The “members” of HRC I’ve met are lovely people, with genuine hearts that unselfishly care.

It is those at the top ladder, the policy makers, those who purposely excluded “gender expression” from ENDA and have “suppressed” this information from the rest of the hundreds of thousands of HRC members. Those who use an absurd and obscure shower scene explanation when confronted about it as the reason why “gender expression” cannot be an employment nondiscrimination right. Those are the ones deserving of my harsh words.

Furthermore, these same people perpetuating this unfounded paranoia are “separating” the “T” from GLB. This abominable act promotes a divisional line counterproductive to all of the past and present efforts to bring the communities together as a more powerful combined voice for basic “human rights.” Gee, isn’t that what HR in HRC stands for? We mustn’t allow these people to tear down that which many have worked so hard for.

Anyone under the illusion that HRC has concerns for the transgendered community I invite to check out their web site and read their mission statement. At the time of this writing, it was located here: http://www.hrc.org/hrc/mission.html. You won’t find the word “gender” or any variant form of that word anywhere.

Imagine for a moment that LBT was well-represented in ENDA but G was not and otherwise would prevent ENDA from passing for the LBT community. I suspect HRC and Barney Frank wouldn’t be singing the same song about company showers and amendments. No way.

It would be a great thing if the name Human Rights Campaign represented just that; but it doesn’t. For now, it is a completely inappropriate name for what it does. That’s really sad, as it could live up to that potential and the many who have been fooled to perceive it that way would no longer be wrong.

It’s not as if we’re hurting for recent evidence of a need for transgender inclusion in ENDA. We have the widely known event of the Winn-Dixie employee. Our own sister in North Carolina, a decorated officer with years of dedicated service. And another one of our sisters removed from the military. All three effectively lost their jobs for simply crossdressing in their own private lives; it was never even presented in the workplace. Where’s the company shower scene? I’m supposed to believe these atrocities cannot be stopped by ENDA, and any attempt to do so will cause it to fail? Am I going to be asked to buy swamp land in Florida next?

The “intentional exclusion” in ENDA by HRC and Barney Frank will be national news. Employers will be given a widely publicized “free ticket” to deny and dismiss “anyone” from employment. ENDA’s passing will ultimately be a complete failure. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that. Such gross negligence would also most likely result in a weakened HRC. What a disappointing waste all of that would be.

I can only hope, that with enough vocal support and sharing of this information throughout the GLBT communities, that HRC and Barney Frank can recognize the obvious disaster they’re bound for and prevent it by including “gender expression” nondiscrimination rights in ENDA. Otherwise, “everyone” loses. Everyone.

Karen Anne Taylor
Karen Anne Taylor

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