Monday, January 14, 2013

Mainstream LGBT and Corporate Lip Service

If you've been hanging out with transgender people for any useful length of time, you will realize that a large percentage of us do not trust the Human Rights Campaign, despite it being one of the main public faces of the LGBT movement in general.  This is due to a lot of deep, transphobic wounds that have yet to heal.  I'm young, but I'm old enough to remember supporting the HRC only to have them jump through hoops to avoid actually advocating for transgender people.  They are big fans of "incremental progress," which basically means "if it's good for the gays, it'll eventually be good for everyone else," which unfortunately is not true by any stretch of the word.

I'm not talking about that here, but I can't mention the HRC without feeling a burning pit of betrayal.  Rather, I'm going to talk a little about something I saw people write about lately, which is the HRC's corporate equality index.  This guide gives a 0 - 100 score to a company based on its record and policies relating to LGBT people, and one of the criteria is transgender-specific health care.  In other words, it will drive the score up if the corporation offers insurance that covers things like hormone therapy and surgery for transgender people.

Here's the reality, though:  Just because insurance with transgender-inclusive benefits is offered doesn't mean it's actually attainable.  Meaning there are people who used the corporate equality index or some other list of companies offering this benefit and got hired only to find that it was too difficult to pick up the number of hours required for health insurance benefits or, even worse, that the company has a "revolving door" thing going on... they get rid of people and replace them before they qualify for benefits.

It's relatively common for companies to, to put it bluntly, screw their employees in a manner that happens to fit the situation best for the company's bottom line.  For some, it's either firing people or making conditions so awful that nobody ever works there long enough to get benefits.  For others, it's hiring so many people that nobody ever gets the number of weekly hours required to get benefits.  And others go the opposite direction; they hire few people and over-work them so they only have to pay out benefits to those few people.

What does this have to do with the LGBT movement?  The things we place priority on are often, well, horrible.  Most of the movement's effort is being concentrated into marriage... rather than work toward real relationship equality, re-working something that was a flawed institution to begin with.  In the same way, rather than challenge the entire issue of health care in this country and the way it harms not only transgender people, but all LGBT people through a myriad of poorly-funded and poorly-educated health issues relevant to our community, the movement gives little gold stars to try shuttling some of our interests into the flawed health insurance industry... all without bothering to consider whether or not those gold stars mean those benefits are actually accessible.

But Gods forbid you talk about things like government-sponsored health care or even really any legal structure designed to increase access.  Wouldn't want people to think us queers actually want real change, right?