A little over a week ago, the Jim Henson Company posted a statement on their Facebook page (which you can read in the photo to the left) basically stating that they will no longer work with Chick-Fil-A due to said companies views on homosexuality and marriage equality (or gay marriage, or same sex marriage, or same gender marriage, there’s always some other term for it). Ever since then, there’s been an uproar of photos made supporting the decision made and attacking Chick-Fil-A. The thing is, Chick-Fil-A being homophobic isn’t new, but they’re basically only now admitting to it. In the past, they’ve made donations to various religious groups that are listed as homophobic hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Last week, they finally came out and said that they believe in marriage as one man and one woman.
After said statement, a number of groups have been making decisions about how to deal with such a company. Not only has the Jim Henson Company severed all ties, but Boston’s Mayor Merino has stated that he will not allow Chick-Fil-A to set up in Boston because of this.
Chick-Fil-A has tried to back pedal and say they’re leaving the marriage issue to religions and politicians, but that they were also recalling all Jim Henson toys for “safety reasons.” So for the past nearly 2 weeks, there’s been a huge controversy surrounding the company and major companies and political officials are taking stances on the issue.
This is good for the LGBT community that such a hateful organization is seeing consequences for their actions, but it’s sad that other such companies aren’t being brought into the light as well. Cracker Barrel had a policy in which 16 employees were fired for their sexuality before the board overturned the policy. Numerous companies like Walmart and ExxonMobile deny domestic partner benefits to same gender couples.And a number of companies use trans people (specifically trans women) as the butts of jokes in their commercials, such as this Libra Tampon ad, this Holiday Inn Superbowl ad, or this Heinz Baked Beans commercial. Basically, don’t expect to see the company die away because of this.
So why am I bringing this up? This is a blog for trans and asexual issues, right? Well, as many trans activists have pointed out (including Matt kailey), marriage equality is a trans rights issue. In the state of Texas, no matter the state of my genitals or what it says on my license, I am legally male when it comes to marriage (which ironically means I can marry a cis woman and have legal gay marriage). In some states, we have to be complete with genital reconstructive surgery before they’ll accept us as the gender we identify as. That means that all those straight trans folks who are pre-op or non-op can’t get married, and in some states (like Texas) never can.
While gay rights are not always the same as trans rights, sometimes they overlap and do affect us. I remember a year ago when everyone was celebrating that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) was gone, and thinking to myself “and?” because I was still not allowed to serve openly. And believe me, if I could serve openly and transition while in service, I would stay the full 20 years or longer. I loved the job, I loved the mission, and I loved helping save lives. I bring this all up because there’s a similarity between trans rights in the military and gay rights to marry or have partner benefits in companies. A new report released this week validates an older report stating that the prevalence of trans women in the military is double that of the civilian sector. Some could point to this as a way of ending the military’s ban on trans service, and I honestly hope it does, but I doubt it will. The report is verifying theories by the same individual made back in 1988. And going back to 1984, the Air Force Judge Advocate General didn’t agree with the ban on trans service. And yet, here we are, nearly 30 years later and we’re still banned.
I guess my point is, while progress is being made on both fronts of gay and trans, we shouldn’t expect too much right away. Progress is slow, and unless we work for it actively, it will be glacially slow. If you support the rights of two people to marry regardless of their respective genders or sexual orientations, then stop spending money at stores and restaurants of companies that oppose it. Contact your Congressman and Senator. If you support open trans service in the military, also contact your legislative representatives. Don’t just hope for change, make it happen.
What do you all feel on these issues?