President Obama’s re-election bodes well for transgender advocacy at the federal level. But President Obama’s victory is not the only sign for maintaining our optimism. This year’s Election results include a lot of good things for transgender equality:
- New Hampshire elected the first openly transgender state lawmaker, Stacie Laughton, in addition to electing an all-female delegation of Congressional members.
- The election of Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to the U.S. Senate is good for transgender equality. Baldwin became the nation’s first openly LGBT senator, and she championed LGBT equality during her tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- The U.S. Senate has more pro-equality Senators than ever before. Congress now also has the highest number (seven) of openly LGBT elected officials in Congress’ history including the first out bisexual elected official, Representative Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), and the first LGBT person of color, Representative Mark Takano (D-CA)
- Maryland, Maine, and Washington state each passed ballot measures to approve the freedom to marry. Minnesota blocked the passage of a constitutional amendment banning the freedom to marry.
- The election outcomes cement health care reform over the long term, ensuring that the practice of denying health care insurance for “pre-existing conditions” ends for good.
Despite a notable Congress of firsts and the marriage equality victories, LGBT people did suffer some setbacks. In Kansas, the cities of Salina and Hutchinson voted to overturn their respective LGBT anti-discrimination laws. In California we saw the passage of Proposition 35, a well-meaning but poorly crafted measure that has the potential to increase the risks faced by vulnerable trans women involved in sex work. The U.S. House of Representatives is also still controlled by anti-equality leadership, making movement on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) virtually impossible until, at the earliest, 2015.
The National Center for Transgender Equality will continue to advocate for transgender equality at the federal level, and ensure that legislation moving in Congress is fully trans-affirmative. Specifically, NCTE will continue advocating against stripping LGBT protections in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and will also make sure that any kind of immigration reform protects transgender asylum seekers.
Stay tuned for part II of our analysis on what the election means for transgender advocacy.