MEDIA RELEASE: Transgender Leaders Laud Unified Voice of GLBT Community in Federal Legislative Efforts
June 17, 2003
The National Center for Transgender Equality & The Transgender Law & Policy Institute
List of press contacts attached at end
Transgender Leaders Laud Unified Voice of GLBT Community in Federal Legislative Efforts
for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the Transgender Law & Policy Institute (TLPI) hosted a conference call on Tuesday, June 17 for GLBT media to discuss recent efforts to include transgender people in federal non-discrimination legislation. Also covered was the recently developed consensus and solidarity around transgender inclusion in all aspects of the LGBT movement. National Center
After brief statements by TLPI and NCTE, seven transgender leaders with experience advocating for transgender civil rights at the federal, state and local levels answered questions. A list of participants and contact information is attached.
Statement by Paisley Currah, Board member of the Transgender Law and Policy Institute
I'm Paisley Currah. I'm with the Transgender Law & Policy Institute, which is a national organization based in New York that brings experts and advocates together to work on law and policy initiatives to advance transgender equality. Some of our board members have been working on securing protections for transgender people in federal legislation for the past decade. We've convened this conference call with the
for Transgender Equality today because we believe this is a watershed moment in the struggle for transgender rights. National Center
As you all are well aware, trans activists from all over the country have been aggressively lobbying for years to get gender identity and expression included in ENDA. And we've had some notable successes: over the past decade, many of the national GBLT legal and political groups have gradually come on board and begun to voice support for that effort. And, as you know, there have been times that this has been an extremely contentious issue in the community. But this year marks the first time that virtually the entire community spoke with a unified voice in asking Congressional sponsors to amend ENDA to include transgender people.
This spring, over 20 national GLBT organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, NGLTF, the ACLU, all of the national legal organizations, PFLAG, Pride at Work, LLEGÓ, GenderPAC, the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum, and others either signed statements, sent letters, or participated in face to face meetings with the lead Congressional sponsors of ENDA and voiced their strong and unqualified support for transgender inclusion in the bill.
As you know, NGLTF in particular has long been supportive of this effort and was one of the first national groups to publicly embrace and advocate for transgender people. This year, the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign empowered its staff, led by Elizabeth Birch, to make the case for including gender identity to ENDA's lead co-sponsors. This is a tremendously important development. Among other things, it marks the first time that the entire community has approached the lead sponsors to endorse a unified, inclusive bill. We believe that this has forever altered the political landscape of our national movement. With HRC and virtually all the other national GLBT groups on board, we believe it is only a matter of time before any federal legislation dealing with gay rights will as a matter of course also include transgender people.
Reaching this milestone is a result of two main factors. One is the relentless efforts of transgender activists at the state and local level to educate, agitate, and insist on being heard and included. The other is the recognition on the part of many gay people that they are profoundly affected by gender-based discrimination, and that when protections for transgender people are left out, many gay people are left unprotected as well.
Before you hear from my colleague Mara Keisling, I would like to return for a moment to how this translates into practical politics at the Congressional level, which is a large part of what we wanted to communicate to you on this call. As I noted, this is the first time that HRC and the other national GLBT groups have approached the lead sponsors to ask for a unified bill. Since this is the first year we have presented a truly unified front, it's not surprising that the request did not meet with immediate success. Although it is not yet entirely clear, it seems likely that ENDA will be reintroduced this session without gender identity without gender identity this session. .
Nonetheless, we are looking forward to working with Members of Congress and national advocacy groups to educate Congress on transgender issues. We feel confident that the unified efforts of the entire GLBT community over the next few years will persuade federal legislators of the need for and importance of a non-discrimination law that protects all gay, lesbian, bisexual people and transgender people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.