ENDA should not be the goal but rather the starting point for LGBT/T workers rights.
All too often when I read about ENDA the stories are about people who are already so far up the socio-economic chain as to make their struggles with employment sound like fables.
Focusing on the Susan Stantons of the world makes for good news. I’m sure she is a decent person and all that and I am equally certain that her losing her job was a vile act of discrimination.
But is the struggle for employment non-discrimination really all about those in the middle and upper classes?
What about those of us who work in restaurants and big box stores? Or those even more lumpen who have to do sex work because even restaurants and big boxes won’t hire them?
Lets focus for a moment on those workers in what has been labeled by the privileged elite as the “New Service Economy”. There is a reality that was laid out in Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America that life sucks for those workers making less than 15 to 20 thousand dollars a year. One is often unable to keep a roof over one’s head, eat, afford transportation to and from work and the clothes required to work.
Never mind the thought of getting SRS or any of the other procedures commonly required by those in transition including but not exclusive to: Mandated professional psychiatric care. Electrolysis and hormones.
The great bulk of the medically uninsured are in this category. But even for those insured medical costs related to transsexualism and transgenderism are often specifically excluded. Sometimes using the pre-existing condition clause if the policy lacks a specific exclusion.
There is another proposition slowly making its way through the process. One I hear almost no mention of in the LGBT/T press or activist circles but hear plenty about in the left wing circles that are a major influence on me.
Something called the Employee Free Choice Act that would help end the corporate strangle hold of workers attempting to unionize and organize to promote the rights and interests of the workers. Too often we have no redress, no one to represent us and argue that our working conditions are un-fair or even dangerous. Not to mention humiliating, stressful and degrading.
Working conditions suck in the US. American workers work longer hours with less job security or benefits that do the workers in almost every other industrialized nation.
Oh I forgot we live in a post-industrialized society where the rich become ever richer by moving their money around, creating nothing except an endless cycle of bubbles and recessions, while the rest of us have become the new servant class. As a member of that servant class I am required to smile and lie to sell others cheap poorly made product, food that is often a nutritional nightmare. All the while knowing the reality of what I am doing and smiling as well as shuffling in a properly subservient manner.
There is a dirty secret that misses the news for all its coverage of the Tea Bagger, neo-Nazi racist pigs. There is an equally angry left wing under class of overly educated peons who have read Marx, Kropotkin and Bukharin.
ENDA isn’t the end of the struggle for LGBT/T workers rights. It is the starting point