This piece originally ran at Slate's Outward blog.

Barred from employment with the federal government. Considered mentally ill by the psychiatric profession. Seen as criminals under state laws. Subjected to invasive surveillance and targeting by the FBI.

This hostile backdrop of the "Lavender Scare" in the 1950s gave rise to some of the earliest organized advocacy efforts on behalf of LGBTQ equality.

J. Edgar Hoover's FBI and its "Sex Deviate" program worked feverishly to ruin the lives of untold numbers of gay men and lesbians and to intimidate members of groups like the Mattachine Society, which dared to agitate for the basic dignity of gay people.

A half-century later, this history has not been lost on the nation's leading LGBTQ equality organizations, which yesterday joined allies in the civil liberties and human rights community in sending a letter to President Barack Obama, raising serious concerns over revelations that the FBI targeted leaders of the Muslim community for yearslong secret surveillance.

The letter notes that this appears to fit a disturbing pattern, both past and present, of the government engaging in discriminatory and abusive surveillance against individuals, based not on what they have done but what they believe or who they are.

We know from history and experience that discriminatory surveillance and profiling by law enforcement agencies has had a disproportionately negative impact on LGBTQ people, particularly people of color. The largest national survey of transgender people to date found 22 percent of respondents who have interacted with police reported experiencing bias-based harassment, with substantially higher rates reported by respondents of color.

Remember the police raids and harassment that led to the eruption of a rebellion at the Stonewall Inn 45 years ago? How about the unlawful sting operations targeting gay and bisexual men and the profiling of transgender women as sex workers from our own decade? The harms of ineffective and un-American profiling—regardless of the communities it is directed against—are of clear concern and importance to the LGBTQ community.

So what can be done? The most important step that the government can take to curb abusive surveillance and profiling is to update existing guidance banning racial profiling by federal law-enforcement agencies. The guidance must be amended to explicitly ban profiling on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, as well as close existing loopholes that permit all forms of racial profiling in the national security and border contexts.

We must learn from past abuses. Minority communities cannot enjoy the equality and dignity afforded them by the Constitution when they can be routinely subjected to discriminatory profiling for things like "driving while black," "praying while brown," or "walking while trans." As a country, we can and must do better.

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Anonymous

And including a Q on LGBT is, if you ask me, showing prejudice thinking.
Besides, people don't say Queer anymore, they say Gay. There's no way to make the word 'queer' have a positive connotation and when people hear it the first image that comes into their minds besides Queer people is not positive.
Queer USED to mean 'odd.' What kind of image does the word 'odd' bring forth that could be considered positive?

Pearson

All words have new meanings so ""Queer"" is fine.
We are no longer have the freedom to use the word ""gay"" in it's proper context either.
""Homosexual"" is best and ""Queer"" is slang and is not good English. But then I don't own the discourse, that has been hijacked too.
Isn't it ironic that America's biggest ever criminal J Edgar Hoover targeted his own?

Anonymous

Okay, let me start by saying I am bisexual and transgendered (I was born with a male body but identify as female). That said, I find this article to be factually wrong and inflammatory. Like many others in our modern society, the article appears to attempt to paint TGLB folks as victims; folks who need to benevolent protections of an enlightened liberal class. While it's true that equal rights laws and non-disrimnation laws were needed (and continue to be needed), this continued effort to claim victim status does nothing but encourage members of the TGLB community to embrace their victim status and people outside the community get annoyed with the victim mentality.

The most egregiously misleading parts of the article include the statement that 22% of transgendered people -- the majority of whom were non-whites -- felt victimized by the police. What the article doesn't indicate is that a great many of the same people who claim to be victimized, also indicate that they have worked as street prostitutes. Now if you want to be upset that so many trans- folks fall into a situation that requires them to work as prostitutes, then I agree. However, if you want to be upset that street prostitutes were stopped, questioned, and arrested by police and that those people then claimed they were victimized by the police, then you are going too far.

The second part of the article that really annoyed me was the claim that police were "targeting" gay men in Baton Rouge during sting operations. What the article didn't indicate is that parks in many urban areas are negatively affected by gay men who meet for anonymous sexual encounters...in the park! Along with that activity comes along a fair amount of open air drug use, assault, and other crime. As a parent, I am wholeheartedly in support police doing everything they can to keep sex and crime out of city parks.

Yes, I know the article reference another article that makes reference to the police of Baton Rouge enforcing a law against "unnatural sex acts". Yes, it's a crappy, obsolete law. However, that's not the fault of the police. They didn't make the law and they don't have the discretion to pick-and-choose which laws they'd like to enforce. If the law sucks, then the legislature should change it. If the legislature is unwilling, then the people should speak up.

I could go on with more examples, but my point is simply this: Stop painting people generally, and TGLB folks specifically, as victims. We aren't victims. There are people in the past who have been victimized. There are examples of people now who are victimized. However, as a class of people, we aren't victims. It's time for people to stand up and make changes, if needed. Not embrace their victim status and wait for someone to come along and save them.

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