Andy Cray and His Life’s Work

By Lisa Mottet, Deputy Executive Director, NCTE

As so many have expressed, Andy had a tremendous impact on the LGBT movement, even though he was only 28 when he left us this Thursday. He was a quiet force behind many transgender health care wins, but he was also genuinely humble about his impact on the lives of so many people. I first met Andy in 2009 when I got to witness first hand his rise from a wide-eyed and somewhat shy law student hopeful about changing the world into a fierce advocate for transgender health. I am not sure when exactly our relationship changed, but it did; at first he peppered me with questions given my years of trans advocacy—and then there was a shift: suddenly, I would turn to him because of his greater expertise in transgender health advocacy. As activists around the country said they wanted to take on discriminatory healthcare exclusions and get my thoughts, we all sent them straight to Andy. I can’t tell you how proud I felt of him, even though it seems kind of odd to say that of someone who quickly rose from intern to colleague, to close friend.

Now, I’m a detail-oriented person—and so was Andy. In fact, this is one of the qualities I greatly appreciated about him. He used words and facts in a precise way in his day to day work. So, in that vein, I want to share with the world, in a very detailed “Andy-like” way, some examples and themes of Andy’s work life, which is how I know Andy would want to be remembered:

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Andy cut his activist teeth at Northwestern University, where he went to college. He and his friend, Kelsey Pacha, co-founded the Northwestern Gender Protection Initiative in the fall of 2007 to lobby for gender identity and expression to be included in the university’s non-discrimination policy. Of course, in true Andy style, only several months later they achieved success in early 2008. During his college years, Andy was also the Activism Chair of the Rainbow Alliance on campus.

In the summer of 2009, Andy came to DC to work at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as a Holley Law Fellow. This was his first summer during law school; he was fresh-faced and excited about all of his assignments at the Task Force. I know because, as I said above, I was the lucky person who supervised him. Most notably, Andy worked with his companion law fellow, Heron Greenesmith, to evaluate and draft suggested language for what was to become the Ending LGBT Health Disparities Act, which was being written and introduced by then-Representative Tammy Baldwin. Andy also reviewed one of the several drafts of health care reform being considered by Congress and worked with Rebecca Fox at the National Coalition for LGBT Health to study data collection provisions. He later joked, “Lisa made me read the entire Affordable Care Act.” Andy also worked on LGBT aging issues, ENDA, safe schools, as well as supporting work being done in Colorado and New Jersey. In his exit memo to me at the end of the internship, Andy said, “I can honestly admit that I have developed a fondness for this area of law and an inclination towards advocating for greater LGBT inclusion in health care reform, both at the state and federal level.”

In 2010, following his second year of law school, Andy interned for the National Coalition for LGBT Health, where he would also return in a short-term consultant capacity after graduating from law school in 2011. Among many other things, he performed extensive analysis on

Veterans Health Administration policies that needed to be changed for LGBT veterans, writing a report titled “Reaching All Who Served.”

Out of law school, Andy joined NCTE as a legal fellow at the end of 2011, where he helped draft NCTE’s documents asking the Office of Personnel Management to lift transition-related care exclusions in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program. Andy researched the Medicaid trans healthcare exclusions in all 50 states, working with Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE’s Policy Director, on this and other issues. He reviewed anti-violence and safe schools policies and made recommendations for how the Obama administration could address these issues.

In 2012, Andy joined the Center for American Progress and his work reached full bloom. At CAP, Andy and Kellan Baker became inseparable, first professionally and then as friends. Of the several states and DC that have guidance prohibiting transition-related care exclusions in health insurance policies, Andy worked on every single one of these efforts. Here are just a few short examples of Andy’s work:

    • Colorado (related by Courtney Gray): Andy was instrumental in our efforts to bring inclusive healthcare coverage to transgender Coloradans. Andy was always willing to help educate, advocate, strategize and lend support. His warmth and commitment to helping make our world a better place reached much farther than he could have ever imagined and leave it better, he did.
    • Washington, DC (related by Andrea Bowen): Kellan, Andy, and I had these epic phone sessions before the policy came out, talking about what the policy would look like. Andy drafted these memos that were pristinely argued, sent off to the amazingly receptive government people (the Director of DC Medicaid said Andy’s memo about trans Medicaid reform was the model of what a memo should look like) and making trans health insurance reform in DC a reality.
    • Oregon/Washington State (related by Danielle Askini): Andy was instrumental in the recent trans healthcare victories in both Oregon and Washington. Andrew helped craft our arguments, empowered us with facts, and cheered us on. He was critical in rolling out our LGBT Affordable Care Act enrollment projects in both states by reviewing our outreach material, power points, and community forum presentations. He was one of the most passionate and brilliant activists I have worked with in the last decade.

Notably, several jurisdictions are in the process of prohibiting trans-health exclusions thanks to Andy’s work, but they can’t yet be named. Just two weeks ago, Andy excitedly estimated that we could still see up to 4-6 additional wins by the end of this year. I need to remain mum for now, but when they happen, we will shout it from the rooftops and always acknowledge Andy’s work.

Also at CAP, Andy helped put together Out2Enroll to get LGBT people signed up for Obamacare and traveled the country telling LGBT communities and working with LGBT groups to help get as many LGBT people signed up for health care as possible.

In his spare time, Andy was a founding member of Trans Legal Advocates of Washington (TransLAW), an all-volunteer organization started in 2012 that serves the legal needs of trans people in the DC region. TransLAW created a partnership with Whitman-Walker Health’s Legal Services to start a free trans name and gender change legal clinic. Andy was the leader of the TransLAW community outreach and engagement committee. He led meetings, created outreach plans, printed flyers, and drafted and sent out materials to community members and organizations. He lovingly harassed his colleagues to sign up for shifts for tabling at Prides. Through his positive and thoughtful leadership, the team was able to let hundreds of trans people know about the clinics.

On the most basic level, Andy’s work means that trans people throughout the country have access to and will have access to medical care when before, they had no hope of coverage. It is not an exaggeration to say that his work has helped probably hundreds of thousands of people, now and into the future, get the care they need.

Andy Cray, we already desperately miss you and we will never forget you or your work. Look at how much you did in only 5 years in the movement. We just wish it could have been another 50.

Thank you to the following people who helped me compile the story of Andy’s impact. If you have more information about his work, feel free to send me a note at lmottet@transequality.org and I will update this post. Thanks to:

Danielle Askini
Kellan Baker
Marsha Botzer
Andy Bowen
Laura Durso
Rebecca Fox
Courtney Gray
Sandy James
Mara Keisling
Sarah McBride
Kelsey Pacha
Nico Quintana

3 Responses to Andy Cray and His Life’s Work

  1. Walter Davis says:

    I am deeply saddened by this loss. I met Andy a few times in recent months and was so impressed by the energy, creativity and caring. At a loss for words,
    Walter Davis, Executive DIrector, Tennessee Health Care Campaign

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