Over 100 people joined the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Trans People of Color Coalition on Monday, June 17th to speak with their Congressional representatives about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and immigration reform. Thirty-two states were represented, from Arkansas to Nevada to Alaska.
Lobby Day participants were everyday trans people and allies who came to let their representatives know trans people and advocates, and understand that trans people are in their states and districts, need these bills, and demand that action be taken to get them. One Alaskan trans woman, for example, told NCTE after her lobbying visits that she felt incredibly empowered by being given the opportunity to come to Washington, DC and speak up for equality.
Participants told their own stories of workplace discrimination and two trans women illustrated the importance of immigration reform with their own horrific stories of rape and arrest while seeking asylum in the United States. When talking about what Comprehensive Immigration Reform would do for LGBT immigrants in the US, many of whom come here seeking safety, Executive Director Mara Keisling explained that, “This is the kind of country we want to be,” a country where people can come safely to live their lives in peace.
After a morning of training on how to speak to senators and representatives, participants made their way to 150 different appointments to inform their representatives about ENDA and immigration reform. Armed with facts, statistics, and powerful stories, participants answered questions, changed minds and even brought some to tears when speaking about the injustice they faced as members of the LGBT community.
Brennan Suen, who came to speak for LGBT interests in Arkansas, returned from his appointments feeling empowered and like he had created real change in his country. He told the group that evening, “Lobbying for trans equality has been one of the most educational, tough, and rewarding experiences I have ever had.”
Learn more about ENDA here.
Learn more about immigration reform here.