By Jessica Schulberg
WASHINGTON ― Before this year, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect rarely made headlines. On the rare occasions the group, named for the young Jewish diarist who died in the Holocaust, appeared in the news, it was never tied to controversy. “Diary of Anne Frank brought to life through music,” one story that mentioned center reported last year.
But in the months since President Donald Trump took office, the New York-based nonprofit has catapulted to national prominence with a series of aggressive attacks on the new chief executive and his policies. Unlike other advocacy organizations, which take hours to craft carefully worded statements that usually land in reporters’ inboxes after their stories are already published, the Anne Frank Center’s executive director, Steven Goldstein, posts his unfiltered responses directly to Facebook.
Under Goldstein’s watch, the center has become one of the most outspoken critics of the Trump administration. His sharp-tongued approach has earned his group citations in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, The Huffington Post and others.
The group, which was founded by Anne’s father, Otto Frank, has also been the subject of several stories in Breitbart, the far-right news outlet closely aligned with the Trump administration. Goldstein “has no qualms about exploiting the name and memory of Anne Frank for his purely partisan purposes,” Breitbart’s Joel Pollak wrote. “It is Holocaust desecration, if not outright denial.”
Goldstein, who took over as the center’s executive director last year, dismisses this type of criticism. He knows his style is provocative, but he says that’s intentional ― and that, in some ways, it’s similar to how Trump reaches his own audience. The president’s way of communicating “clearly touches a chord with the people of this country,” said Goldstein, who disagrees with Trump on nearly every issue.
Goldstein’s goal “is to speak with equal directness, but add compassion and justice and morality to it,” he said.
The Anne Frank Center was founded in 1959 with the goal of creating a “world based on equal rights and mutual respect.” In the decades before Goldstein took over the organization, it existed primarily as an educational exhibition, teaching visitors about Frank’s life and the dangers of discrimination.
Goldstein had never even heard of the group when its board of directors asked him last year if he was interested in taking over as executive director. That wasn’t a good sign, he thought. “I’m a social justice activist, I’m a Jewish activist, I’m a native New Yorker, so for me to not to have heard of an Anne Frank organization means the organization must have had an extraordinarily low profile,” he said.
Keeping a low profile is not Goldstein’s style. When he was 6 years old, he skipped school to stuff envelopes at the local Democratic headquarters for then-presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey, according to a bio he provided. He has worked on Capitol Hill for Democratic lawmakers Frank Lautenberg and Chuck Schumer. In 2004, he founded Garden State Equality, the New Jersey-based marriage-equality group that went on to successfully sue for expanded rights for same-sex couples. His character was featured in a movie about a terminally ill police officer’s fight to secure death benefits for her same-sex partner.
By Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project
April 18, 2017
Last month, North Carolina lawmakers passed what they called a “compromise repeal” of the state’s notoriously costly and discriminatory anti-LGBT law, House Bill 2. HB2 mandated statewide discrimination against trans people in schools and other government buildings and restricted the ability of localities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances protecting against sexual orientation and gender-identity-based discrimination.
But the HB2 replacement, House Bill 142, is no repeal — it is just a slightly restructured version of the same discriminatory mandates of its predecessor and once again singles out trans people for discrimination in both rhetoric and law.
Shortly after the passage of this fake repeal of HB2, both the NCAA and the NBA announced that they would again consider North Carolina to host events after they had pulled events from the state in 2016 — costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue — following the passage of HB2. Showing just how quickly the defense of civil rights collapsed in the name of profit, the NBA and the NCAA have now further opened the door to new waves of discrimination in North Carolina and across the country.
Wasting no time, leading anti-trans lawmakers in Texas are now rushing to pass a clone of North Carolina’s HB142 — seizing on the tacit, if not explicit endorsement, of discrimination by the NCAA and NBA. The Texas bill, House Bill 2899, is expected to be heard on Wednesday, April 19. And like its clone in North Carolina, and the bill once again animated by the dangerous lie that it “provides clear direction to public schools and government institutions on how to protect privacy and safety by ensuring that men do not enter women’s showers, locker rooms and restrooms.”
But make no mistake — this bill protects no one.
Texas’s HB2899 and SB6 — the HB2-like ban on trans people using restrooms that accord with their gender — and North Carolina’s HB142 are not about privacy or safety. These measures are about cultivating fear of trans people in public space, and they ultimately seek to expel us from participation in public life.
The proposed laws and the support for them rely on and reinforce the idea that women who are trans are “really” men and that trans people, by living as our authentic selves, are deceiving others. And the subtext is always that our mere presence in single-sex spaces compromises the safety and privacy of others.
But this is simply not true.
Most of these lawmakers have already shared restrooms with trans people, and it went unnoticed because like all people, we (trans) people go to the restroom to do our business and get out. The only people who seem fixated on our presence there are the lawmakers seeking to bar us from the spaces we have been using for as long as we have existed.
And whether North Carolina, Texas, or any other state uses overt or covert tactics to restrict us from using the restroom that accords with who we are, the effect is the same and the message is clear: “You are not welcome here.”
In the post-modern world of gender, gender, gender where gender has become some sort of Swiss Army Knife that encompasses all those things we used to think of as sex or sex roles/gender roles it is hard not to give into the hegemonically pushed notion of there actually being a gender binary. After all such diverse groups as Trans-activist and Vogue magazine as well as Fundie religious folks of various stripes insist there is a real gender binary .
Twenty-five years ago or so when I first heard this one pushed I threw out women in the military or police who are still women and men in traditionally female considered professions.
Well merrily we roll along and it is 2017 and now if you don’t adhere to gender, gender, gender and don’t identify as transgender you are some how considered a gender variant.
Simone de Beauvoir is long dead and buried, besides even in translation The Second Sex is a slog to read. Besides isn’t it obsolete? Well no!
Masculinity and femininity are culturally defined and vary over time. Free people reject being defined by gender, gender, gender and the attendant corporate hard sales pitches.
We like what we like and don’t much care whether what we like is defined as masculine or feminine. We don’t let gender play that big a role in choosing to like an activity or not.
I never really out grew the 1960s and 1970s and era when both hippies and 1970s era dykes spit in the eye of the influence peddlers trying to sell us products by using a heavy dose of gender insecurity. Ignoring advertising or filing it under “Things to be skeptical of” immunizes one a bit from the propaganda of gender, gender, gender.
From The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/opinion/my-daughter-is-not-transgender-shes-a-tomboy.html
By Lisa Selin Davis
April 18, 2017
“I just wanted to check,” the teacher said. “Your child wants to be called a boy, right? Or is she a boy that wants to be called a girl? Which is it again?”
I cocked my head. I am used to correcting strangers, who mistake my 7-year-old daughter for a boy 100 percent of the time.
In fact, I love correcting them, making them reconsider their perceptions of what a girl looks like. But my daughter had been attending the after-school program where this woman taught for six months.
“She’s a girl,” I said. The woman looked unconvinced. “Really. She’s a girl, and you can refer to her as a girl.”
Later, when I relayed this conversation to my daughter, she said, “More girls should look like this so it’s more popular so grown-ups won’t be so confused.”
My daughter wears track pants and T-shirts. She has shaggy short hair (the look she requested from the hairdresser was “Luke Skywalker in Episode IV”). Most, but not all, of her friends are boys. She is sporty and strong, incredibly sweet, and a girl.
And yet she is asked by the pediatrician, by her teachers, by people who have known her for many years, if she feels like, or wants to be called, or wants to be, a boy.
In many ways, this is wonderful: It shows a much-needed sensitivity to gender nonconformity and transgender issues. It is considerate of adults to ask her — in the beginning.
But when they continue to question her gender identity — and are skeptical of her response — the message they send is that a girl cannot look and act like her and still be a girl.
She is not gender nonconforming. She is gender role nonconforming. She does not fit into the mold that we adults — who have increasingly eschewed millenniums-old gender roles ourselves, as women work outside the home and men participate in the domestic sphere — still impose upon our children.
Left alone, would boys really never wear pink? (That’s rhetorical — pink was for decades considered a masculine color.) Would girls naturally reject Matchbox cars? Of course not, but if they show preferences for these things, we label them. Somehow, as we have broadened our awareness of and support for gender nonconformity, we’ve narrowed what we think a boy or a girl can look like and do.
Today marks the 74th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising when the Jews rose up against the Nazi scum. April 19, 1943- May 16, 1943