Yet One More Way to Oppress Transgender Americans – an Editorial

Clockwise from top left: Rhodes Perry of Rhodes Perry Consulting, LLC; Elaine Martin of The Power of Diversity; Ames Simmons of Equality NC; and Dr. Christine McGinn of the Papillon Gender Wellness Center (one sentence bio with links at bottom of blog)

I have a young cousin (actually he is my first cousin’s son) who is about to enter the Social Work Masters Program at NC State University. He is a hard working young man who has worked almost full time while paying his way through college. And he is an enlightened straight white male who truly cares about diversity issues; in his latest graduate class he wrote a series of papers on the mass incarceration of African Americans in the US and some ways that can be addressed. In fact, I will be asking Brandon to write a few guest blogs for me on this issue.

Brandon often likes to send me some interesting thoughts and articles on diversity since he knows that I am a diversity consultant. Being quite aware that my fastest growing segment is assisting companies in assisting their transgender employees who choose to go through gender transition while remaining in the workplace, Brandon will often send me his thoughts along with some interesting articles. I remember when the newly elected President Trump took initial steps to end support for transgender students in school, Brandon texted me, “How horrible is this strip of protection by the Trump administration. So transgender students have no protection over the bathroom they can use now? And pretty much all transgender people are going to migrate to the liberal states where they feel protected like New York, Colorado and California?” (see a full blog I wrote on this discussion, More NC HB-2 Discussion – Two Business Perspectives)

In terms of transgender rights, there has been great progress, but also disappointing regression. Many more companies are now understanding the value of a skilled diverse workforce, including fully supporting transgender employees. Yet at the same time, the current federal administration is oppressing America’s transgender citizens by actions such as trying to remove them from the US Armed Services.

Brandon this past month sent me an article that has quite an interesting and provocative perspective on the recent Federal Government’s seizure of the “Backpage” website, asserting that it promoted human trafficking and prostitution. (Link to article). This particular article asserted that this action disproportionately affects transgender people who may need to resort to more dangerous street work to make a
living when there is no other alternative to arrange work online. See also a NY times article on the shut down of “Backpage.”

I ask, would these two Philadelphia transgender sex workers be in this profession if they had better economic opportunities? (Photo from Joseph Kaczmarek, Philadephia Daily News)

To be fair, most transgender people work in typical jobs, but we still have many in our society, including political leaders, who demonize transgender people and treat them as sub-human. This unfair and disturbing hate coming from national, state and local leaders harms this community and gives others in society license to discriminate against transgender people. (see my blog, “Five negative impacts of NC’s HB2 on transgender people.”)

Three important closing points:

1) Instead of continually doing things to shut down transgender people’s access to making a living, non-discrimination laws need to be passed to protect the working rights of all LGBT people.

2) Ostracizing any subset of Americas as “less than” stymies them from contributing fully to our economy and community and therefore harms all of us.

3) Instead of cutting down and hating transgender people, we are a society should fully accept them and provide educational and vocational assistance along with total respect so they can thrive along with all Americans.

* * * * *
One line bios with links of the four transgender Americans in the photo collage at the top of this post:

After a robust and diverse career, Rhodes Perry formed Rhodes Perry Consulting and hosts his weekly Podcast, “The Out Entrepreneur.

Following careers as a bank executive and as owner of an aviation company, Elaine Martin has formed her consultancy, “Power of Diversity,” offering Transgender Consulting Training and Coaching for employers and their employees.

After more than a decade of in-house counsel practice at a healthcare consulting company based in Atlanta, Ames Simmons moved to North Carolina to become Equality NC’s Director of Transgender Policy.

Dr. Christine McGinn is one of the world’s leading gender transition surgeons, and the founder of the Papillon Gender Wellness Center.

Breakfast with Governor Roy Cooper – Part 2 of 2: Diversity and LGBT

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper speaking at the April 6th Triangle Business Journal “Power Breakfast.” (PHOTO: Triangle Business Journal)

The Triangle Business Journal, the very well-read and respected business weekly newspaper for the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill area of North Carolina holds a quarterly “Power Breakfast” featuring an area senior leader with a few hundred local business leaders. The Spring 2017 breakfast held April 6, 2017 featured the newly elected NC Governor Roy Cooper. Governor Cooper is quite unique as he was the first challenger to defeat a sitting governor in our state since 1850!

Part 1 of this blog (link) provides a general overview of Governor Cooper’s remarks. And since I am a diversity and career development consultant with a deep expertise in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) workplace and marketplace, this entry will expand on how the Governor addressed diversity and more specifically HB2 and the LGBT community.

Much of the focus was on the unpopular HB2 law passed last Spring which dictated the bathroom transgender people need to use in public venues, curtailed the ability of cities and counties to pass their own non-discrimination ordinances, and more. A few days before the breakfast, a compromise repeal of HB2 was passed and signed by the Governor, which removed the transgender bathroom usage provision, but disallows cities and municipalities from adding anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people before 2020. (Link to my most recent blog about HB2 and to my letter to the Raleigh News and Observer about the inadequacy of the compromise bill.)

NC’s unpopular HB2 law, a subject of protests all over the state, was a major part of Governor Cooper’s remarks. (Photos courtesy of the Charlotte and Raleigh News and Observer)

Here are the points that Governor Cooper made about diversity in general and more specifically about HB2 and the LGBT community in both his remarks and during the Question and Answer portion.

• Within 30 seconds of taking the stage, Governor Cooper started that he loves his state of North Carolina with its diverse mix of people of different genders, races and sexual orientations; that diversity is all over our state, and “that we need to encourage diversity at every step.”

• The most recent compromise bill repealing parts of HB2 is only initial first step. HB2 was very bad for our LGBT citizens, our state and our economy.

• Governor Cooper voiced his strong commitment to fight for statewide protections for LGBT citizens of North Carolina.

• We need to send a signal to our LGBT citizens and to other states that North Carolina is headed in the right direction in terms of LGBT inclusion.

• The business community needs to continue to take the lead in working on equality for the LGBT community.

• We need to be a more diverse state and include protections especially for the more vulnerable of our citizens. We need more comprehensive state non-discrimination policies; meanwhile we should keep our eyes on the Federal courts which could help shape this issue.

• When asked if he would considering issuing an executive order similar to Virginia Governor McAuliffe’s adding the LGBT non-discrimination protects requirement to do business with the Commonwealth of Virginia (see blog about this), Governor Cooper responded positively that he plans to use the executive order broadly and is working on proposals within the LGBT area and other unaddressed groups. (See latest Triangle Business Journal article about this point.)

I am heartened by Governor Cooper’s strong statement of support for LGBT Equality, and though I feel the recent HB2 removal compromise was a very weak first initial step, I would like to support Governor Cooper and provide him any encouragement and assistance to make North Carolina fully inclusive and welcoming of ALL people in 2017.