By Erin Rook
The Rose City T-Girls will host a forum Friday, Sept. 7, to address the allegations of anti-trans discrimination against the P Club and discuss effective community responses.
“We have set up a meeting for everyone including the RCTG’s, all rights activists, media, and anyone else that would like to attend. Beth Allen our lawyer will also be present to answer any questions,” RCTG founder Cassandra Lynn says.
As PQ reported in our August/September issue, the Bureau of Labor and Industry is currently investigating the North Portland bar (formerly the Portsmouth Pizza Pub) following allegations of discrimination by Lynn, who says P Club owner Chris Penner left her two voicemails asking the group not to return because they were transgender. (You can hear the voicemails allegedly sent by Penner here.)
The meeting emerged out of discussion around a protest against transphobia planned by members of the International Socialist Organization. Members of the RCTG and Allen, the attorney representing six of them in the BOLI case, raised concerns about how a protest might affect the pending case, while others objected to the fact that the RCTG had not been consulted prior to planning.
Protest organizers ultimately cancelled the event and are now planning to attend the forum to discuss ways to show solidarity with the RCTG. In a statement submitted to PQ, they apologized for their previous approach and encouraged other activists to attend the meeting at Fox and Hound’s:
In response to charges of discrimination of transgender women by the owner of P-Club, local members of the International Socialist Organization hastily called a protest for Friday August 31st. We have cancelled the protest due to concerns that were raised about how such an event may conflict with the ongoing court case being taken up by BOLI and the Rose City T-Girls.
It is not our general practice to call protests without the input of those most affected. While we always want to see community action against bigotry, the most important aspect of building solidarity can’t be forgotten, and that is building relationships with the people who are in struggle, whatever that struggle looks like. The silver lining of our blunder is that we are now in continued communication with the RCTG, who are currently putting together an event where the entire community can come together and further discuss the issues surrounding the alleged discrimination at the P-Club. This event (held on Friday Sept 7th, 3pm, at Fox and Hounds) will be open to all activists fighting for equality, to the media, and anyone else that would like to attend.
The LGBTQ community in Portland remains angered and continues to search for answers after the Rose City T-Girls were barred from returning to the P-Club. What happened to the RCTG in June shows that even though the LGBTQ community has won some small victories in recent years, discrimination and oppression against us continue, especially for those who are transgender. Even in a city such as Portland, a city that prides itself on being environmentally friendly, one of the largest cities in the nation with a gay mayor, a city known for being “liberal,” we still have a long way to go in the fight for LGBTQ equality. This is why we felt that it was so important to hold a protest or some type of event that raises the level of awareness of the ongoing oppression of transgender people.
The issues of the transgender community must be seriously addressed by the broader LGBT community. The transgender community faces some of the harshest oppression in society. Transgender people are more likely to be fired from their job, face physical assault, suffer harassment from the police, and face discrimination in areas of everyday life that include employment, education, health, housing, and public accommodations. It is time that we pull together a robust and grassroots movement that seeks to eliminate these grave injustices.
The ISO, across the country, has a strong history of being allies and acting in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Many of our members who identify as LGBTQ are able to take their personal experiences of oppression, combine it with our political analysis and perspective of society, and work together with allies to demand full equality. For more information about how socialists around the country are fighting many forms of oppression, please check out www.socialistworker.org. For a more thorough analysis, we recommend reading Sherry Wolf’s Sexuality and Socialism.
As activists, we must be able to react to every manifestation of injustice and oppression, when and wherever it appears. We must be able to correctly tie these, although separate, cases of oppression together and link it to a corrupt system that operates on the continuance of these oppressions. We must be able to show that, for instance, LGBTQ oppression is linked to the oppression against women. We must be able to show the links between environmental and racial oppression. The liberation of one form of oppression is bound up with the liberation of all oppression. Therefore this is why, as activists, we strive to involve ourselves in all movements against oppression. We help and promote the growth of these movements. Finally, we seek strong alliances and solidarity between them.
We hope that, going forward, as a community we can come together to address the issue of transphobia. Surely there are many stories to tell, many ideas to hash out, and much work that needs to be done. Between the different groups and forces out there, we may have different goals and strategies, but the fact is that if we work together, in solidarity, we will be able to push forward, closer to a time when having to organize against these injustices will be a thing of the past. However, for now, we must organize, and a good place to start would be next Friday, Sept 7th, at Fox and Hounds!
PQ will continue to follow this developing story.