Stadtlander’s trans apology rings hollow

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imageContributing blogger Monica Helms has been an activist for the transgender community since 1998 and has lived in Atlanta since 2000. She is a co-founder and president of the Transgender American Veterans Association and blogs at Trans Universe.

After reading “Gay Atlanta City Council candidate apologizes for anti-trans comments,” I have to say that Charlie Stadtlander’s apology on how he characterized transgender people back in 2005 and 2006 is weak at best. Consider what he wrote just little more than two years ago:

“It would be a simple task to banter with the liberal and often times irresponsible gay rights movement, as to why events such as drag shows greatly harm the gay and lesbian community and set our cause back immensely.”

In two years, how much can Stadtlander deviate from his past ramblings? It makes it difficult for a transgender person to accept his apology. Consider this outtake from his 2006 newspaper commentary:

“Transsexuality, including transgendered people and drag queens, represent a fringe part of society that has nothing to do with being gay or lesbian and is not representative of our community as a whole.

“By giving this radical and unrelated group a launching ground for freak behavior associated with gays and lesbians is detrimental. The gay community must recognize that either fair or unfair, we are the ones fighting for equal rights. In this role, we must always put forth an image of responsibility, diversity, and normalcy.”

By the way, Charlie, you do not put an “ed” at the end of the word “transgender.” It is an adjective, not a noun, such as “transgender people, transgender community” and my favorite, “Transgender Americans.” Are you going to start using “gayed” or “lesbianed” next?

There’s also this tidbit from his newspaper piece:

“Being gay and lesbian is not a choice.”

Excuse me? And, being transgender is? I guess trans people just up and decide to change their sex because it seems the right thing to do at the time. This, of course, is ignoring the fact that we can lose our families, our homes, our children, our jobs, our places of worship, our standing in the community and our lives.

You can hide your sexual orientation (to a point,) but you can’t hide your gender identity at all. If you’re trans, everyone finds out, even those you don’t like you. Yeah right. If being transgender is a choice, then so is being human.

He apologizes now for his statements in 2005 and 2006, but what he wrote makes it difficult to accept, especially when his most recent volunteer work is raising funds for the Human Rights Campaign and he doesn’t support trans inclusion in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Ask me if I’m surprised. HRC (and Log Cabin Republicans, which Stadtlander used to help lead in Missouri and Georgia) are the two largest LG(b) organizations that still won’t support a fully inclusive ENDA, even when the new President-elect does.

In the Project Q Atlanta article, Stadtlander says this:

“This is a gay and lesbian movement, a gay rights movement. I welcome transgender people into that movement, but I am not willing to say that if a piece of legislation that has been introduced that protects gay and lesbian, like ENDA at the federal level, I am not willing to say that I will sacrifice that entire piece of legislation. It is an incremental step and incremental movement.”

Apparently, Stadtlander, 28, has no idea about the history of the “gay movement.” He may do well to read the Wikipedia entry on the Stonewall Riots, which took place in June 1969. If it weren’t for drag queens, transgender people and butch lesbians, there wouldn’t be a “gay movement.” Transgender people decided to let straight-looking gays and lesbians in their movement because they were nice and they understood the concept of including everyone. It’s a lesson Stadtlander may do well to learn.

Now, he wants to run for the Atlanta City Council seat held by Anne Fauver for nearly eight years. I stated above how Stadtlander really thinks of the transgender population as a whole. To those transgender people and allies thinking on voting for Stadtlander, consider that Fauver has been highly supportive of the transgender community during her tenure in the Atlanta City Council.

She has shown her support in many ways, including issuing an Atlanta City Council proclamation on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The transgender community has very few political friends in Georgia. Ask yourself, why would we trade away one for somebody who isn’t?

For the gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight people in District 6, ask yourself why would you trade away experience for a person who has none? Anne Fauver has done a good job. Let’s keep her there.


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