BY CHRIS JOHNSON, WASHINGTON BLADE
A leading national transgender group has launched a political arm aimed at electing candidates to advance transgender rights.
The National Center for Transgender Equality, which has existed since 2003 as 501(c)(3) lobbying group, announced its new 501(c)(4) at an event Tuesday evening at the D.C.-based law firm of Squire, Patton, Boggs.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund, said during the event the new political arm will foster a new direction for the organization.
“We’re really here to serve to trans people, we’re here to take action, to get things done, hold people accountable and move the ball forward,” Keisling said. “Things are scary right now, trans people and our children are being attacked everywhere, but I promise you we have not come this far to only come this far. We’re still moving forward.”
Already the organization has made three endorsements upon its debut. One is Danica Roem, a Virginia transgender journalist seeking to replace anti-LGBT Del. Bob Marshall in his seat representing the state’s 13th district in the House of Delegates. Roem could be the first openly transgender person to be elected and serve in a state legislature.
The other two candidates are running for Minneapolis City Council. One is Andrea Jenkins, running to represent Ward 8 on the city council, and the other is Phillipe Cunningham, who’s running to represent Ward 4. Both candidates could be the first openly transgender people elected to city council in a major U.S. city and Cunningham would be the first openly transgender man to hold public office anywhere nationwide.
Additionally, the organization launched two new initiatives aimed at enhancing the voices of transgender people. One is “Voices for Trans Equality,” which seeks to train trans people to be better advocates for trans rights. The other is “Families for Trans Equality,” which seeks to work with families with trans youth.
The organization also launched the National Council of Advisors, which seeks to solicit input from local transgender leaders across the nation.
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, director of external relations for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the new efforts will “amplify the voices of trans people.”
“We’re going to send out our storytellers so they can help change the narrative that’s out there,” Freedman-Gurspan said.