Dan Choi: I Am Somebody! Autumn Sandeen: I Am Still Not Recognized As Somebody.

Cross posted from Pam’s House Blend: http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/18255/dan-choi-i-am-somebody-autumn-sandeen-i-still-not-recognized-as-somebody

With permission:

by: Autumn Sandeen

Sun Dec 19, 2010 at 15:45:00 PM EST

I have heard many senators and congresspeople use variants of Admiral Mullen’s pro-Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)  repeal phrase of relating to how DADT “[f]orces young men and women to lie…to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” For example, from the floor of the Senate yesterday (December 18, 2010):

Senator Carl Levin: …A policy, which in Admiral Mullen’s words — memorable words — quote “Forces young men and women to lie to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”

Young transgender servicemembers, transsexual servicemembers, and servicemembers who identify as both transgender and transsexual still will have to lie to defend their fellow citizens.

Dan Choi tweeted the following yesterday:

Twitter Image of Dan Choi's Tweet: Today we stand taller declaring: 'I am somebody.'I learned the equality chant from Robin McGehee of GetEQUAL where that “I am somebody” line of Dan Choi’s tweet. Here is the equality chant:

I am somebody!
I deserve full equality!
Right here!
Right now!
I am somebody!

Indeed, Dan Choi had much reason to state “I am somebody” yesterday…much reason to celebrate. He even received a tweet from Senator Harry Reid, about an hour prior to the final vote:

Twitter Image of Sen. Harry Reid's Tweet: One hour away from fulfilling my promise to you to kill #DADTMy friend, Dan Choi, is closer to being a somebody who likely will be able to resume his military career as an out, gay, U.S. Army Officer. I’m very, very happy to have participated in direct action on the White House Fence with Lt. Choi in standing up for liberty, equality, and justice. I’m incredibly happy he may be able to serve his country in military uniform again.

That said, if anyone noticed back in April and November, I never led the “I am somebody” chant from the White House fence. Repeal of DADT was not going to result in my peer transgender community members and me being closer to being somebodies, able too to serve our country in uniform without having to lie about who we are.

Many of us transgender veterans had made a conscious decision to not tie the future transgender people’s open military service to the lesbian, gay, and bisexual people’s open service. Allowing transgender people to serve in the military openly will require much more accommodation than allowing lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to serve in the military openly requires. We also know America isn’t Great Brittan, Canada, or Australia — the more conservative American people aren’t as ready and prepared for the open service of trans servicemembers as they are prepared for the open service of lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers — and even most of those countries didn’t tie the service of LGB servicemembers to T servicemembers.

So, many of us T veterans took the position of supporting our LGB servicemembers and veterans, and waiting.

So while passage of even this watered down version of DADT repeal is a big win for LGBT community, it’s not a direct win for the T subcommunity. Passage of a fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act  (ENDA) — one that includes employment protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression was a higher priority for most in the T-subcommunity, but for some reason the Democratic 111th Congress seemed only to be able to pass one piece of LGBT legislation a year, and even the repeal of DADT seemed incredibly iffy right until the end.

In other words, for me, passage of DADT repeal doesn’t leave me able to shout “I am somebody!” with the same sense of community achievement that Dan Choi had the pleasure to shout “I am somebody!” yesterday. I’m glad he could, I’m a little meloncholy I couldn’t.

Frankly, I am still not any more of a somebody in the legal sense than I was the day before yesterday. Clearly, my transgender peers and my personal freedom, equality, and justice weren’t improved with repeal of DADT. Many of we trans people are very, very happy for our LGBT community’s win, but it does come with a sense of melancholy, in that the passage of DADT repeal doesn’t improve life for transgender Americans.

Freedom, equality, and justice isn’t about me or you, or your subcommunity of the LGBT community or mine, or about any other demographic group we may belong to. Freedom, equality, and justice is about us. If an issue is an issue for even one subcommunity of the LGBT community, it’s my issue. I fought for repeal of DADT because our fight is about us, and not about me.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel a bit meloncholy because yesterday’s DADT win wasn’t about me or my subcommunity of the LGBT community.

For the next two years, we won’t see movement on repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), nor will we see movement on ENDA because of the incoming Republican Congress and their “culture war.”

DADT was prioritized over ENDA in this congress in all likelihood in large part because there was a clearer way forward, and our DADT repeal “lunch counters” were easier to identify, and the discrimination easier to articulate in simple terms, so the targets were easier to identify and target.

Thumbnail Link to GetEQUAL e-blast: We're one step closer!But if…but if…But if we see return of Democratic Party control of the House and Senate in 2012, will we see a higher priority put on repeal of DOMA, or a higher priority placed on the promise of ENDA? I can tell you what most in the transgender subcommunity of the LGBT community would prefer to see happen first, and that would passage of ENDA.

As the GetEQUAL e-blast pointed out regarding the passage of this DADT repeal bill (emphasis added):

Make no mistake — DADT is not yet repealed. There is still work to do. There is still a long process ahead, but we vow to keep the pressure up until the policy is fully and completely repealed. There are still people — especially our transgender sisters and brothers — who are unjustly left behind by this legislation.

I fought to see DADT legislatively repealed, and I took to the White House Fence twice over DADT; I went to jail twice over DADT. The legislative win on DADT yesterday is a win for LGBT community that I’m incredibly glad to have played a small part in, but my joy is somewhat tinged with melancholy. [T]ransgender sisters and brothers…are unjustly left behind…

Autumn Sandeen :: Dan Choi: I Am Somebody! Autumn Sandeen: I Am Still Not Recognized As Somebody.

2 Responses to “Dan Choi: I Am Somebody! Autumn Sandeen: I Am Still Not Recognized As Somebody.”

  1. quenyar Says:

    Yes, ENDA was a big loss, and one that convinced me that the Democratic party leadership has taken an almost irrevocable turn to the right and will never be representative to the trans community. We desperately need election reforms that make multi-party elections a possibility. Otherwise we’ll have more government of, by, and for the millionaires.

  2. Andrea B Says:

    For once, I agree with Autumn Sandeen.

    Weather a person agree’s with or disagree’s with the military is not the issue. What is the real issue is allowing every citizen who feels the need to take part in the defence of there country.

    The gender identity and tranvestitism diagnosis will destroy a lot of military careers for no other reason, than bigtory and stupidity.

    That nonsense needs to be swept away.

    The military in a lot of European countries which are NATO members now allow transsexual officers to stay in the military. Goto any transvestite club in London or Manchester and you will meet half the UK military high command in drag. The UK military is one of the most effective militaries on the planet.

    The military needs a very diverse military so it can call on expertise in all areas and outside the box thinking were necessary to deal with potential threats.

    The exclusion of an entire minority from the military is pointless, stupid and self defeating.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: