Last Wednesday, over 150 transgender advocates celebrated the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Ninth Anniversary, and honored the service of Gunner Scott, Andrew Barnett, and the Service Employees International Union. We were joined by keynote speaker Roy Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, who discussed the work needed to secure safety and justice for transgender Americans.
This year, Gunner Scott, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, was awarded the Julie Johnson Founders’ Award for his pioneering advocacy for transgender equality. Most notably, Gunner was at the helm of the successful five-year campaign to enact the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Bill. Scott said, “Without the work of NCTE on the federal level we would not have the progress on the state level and without the work of the state and local trans advocacy groups, we would not have the success on the federal level.” He added, “It is working together, state trans advocacy groups and NCTE that is moving the trans movement forward.”
For his work on behalf of transgender and gender non-conforming youth at the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), NCTE awarded Andrew Barnett with the Distinguished Ally Award. In his remarks, Barnett told us about Tracey, a young trans student who struggled with accessing restrooms at her school. With the help of SMYAL, Tracey was able to find the support she needed eventually leading her to stop attending that school. “SMYAL is committed to supporting young people like Tracey as they navigate systems that are sometimes oblivious and sometimes antagonistic to their needs,” Barnett said. “We could not do this work without partners like the NCTE and all of the other organizations working to defend the rights and legal protections of our transgender youth.”
Lauree Hayden spoke next accepting the Community Partner award on behalf of the Service Employees International Union. Earlier this year, SEIU’s 25th Convention unanimously passed a resolution calling upon local unions to bargain for medically necessary health care for transgender people. The resolution was endorsed by convention delegates who represent the union’s more than 2.1 million members. The resolution built upon the union’s decision the year prior to provide trans-inclusive health care for international staff members.
Roy Austin Jr. of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ) closed the evening reaffirming the Obama Administration’s commitment to addressing anti-transgender violence and bullying in our schools and communities. He discussed the DOJ’s work training the New Orleans Police Department after an investigation by the Civil Rights Division found that officers were discriminating against and disproportionately punishing transgender people.
Austin said, “All of these actions and policies are certainly promising steps in the right direction, but we also recognize there is still much work to be done. The Justice Department remains committed to equality under the law and will continue to be central to that effort over the years to come.”
Read more about Mr. Roy Austin Jr.’s remarks here.
Photos from the event can be found here.