Yesterday I had the honor of meeting Congressman John Lewis when I went with 3 of his constituents–Vandy Beth Glenn, who had just testified about her experience being fired for being transgender; her attorney from Lambda Legal, Cole Thaler; and her friend, David Deriso.
It was an amazing experience to meet this incredible hero of the civil rights movement, who knows so very personally the violence that is directed at those who challenge oppression and seek basic human rights. Yesterday, he told us that he had learned long, long ago that discrimination is discrimination, and that all of its forms are wrong.
This is, of course, a powerful statement, but even more moving coming from him, and in the midst of a conversation about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the challenges that transgender people face. He told us that he would fight discrimination as long as he had breath in his body.
He and his staff were warm and personal. His office felt like a safe haven for that period of time from the struggles we face, and a reminder of the role of elected officials to make our country a better, safer place for all of us. We have a long way to go, but even in the halls of power, there are sanctuaries and allies, and it is good to remember that from time to time.
Another powerful moment for me yesterday was sitting in the hearing room, listening to the testimony before the House Committee on Education and Labor. I realized that I was surrounded by incredible trans advocates and allies–like Babs Caspar, Lisa Mottet, Shannon Minter and dozens of others–many of whom had been working over the last two decades to bring us to the day when we will pass employment protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
But we’re not done yet and I hope you’ll join us in doing all we can to make that day a reality.