By Mara Keisling, Executive Director, NCTE
Andy Cray came to work at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) as a law fellow right out of law school. Coming from one of the handful of best law schools in the country, he really could have gone anywhere, but he wanted to work for the transgender community and he wanted to do it at NCTE. An even smaller organization at the time than we are now, we were unable to pay Andy; so he even brought his own funding from his law school. Less than a year later he found a permanent, full-time position doing trans health advocacy at the Center for American Progress (CAP). We continued to work with him, for which I will always be amazed, but less than two years later, after accomplishing a body of work that any activist would be proud of, Andy passed away this August from cancer, leaving behind an improbably large group of devastated but amazed family, friends and admirers—people who really were touched deeply by Andy.
In honor of that body of work, NCTE is so proud to announce our new Andrew Cray Law Fellowships. The NCTE Board of Directors has also initiated an annual recognition called the Andrew Cray Trans Health Advocacy Award, which we will give each year at our anniversary event to an activist who significantly advances trans health.
Andrew Cray was such a significant part of the rapidly advancing transgender health movement. He was a key player in the recent success in eliminating insurance exclusions for transition-related care through state insurance commission rulings. His work to get transgender and other LGBT people enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans caused President Obama to name Andy as a Champion of Change.
We know how lucky we are to have known and worked with such a beautiful and brilliant star, and we know too we are lucky for our exposure to everyone of the law fellows who has and will pitch in over the years. So, having future law fellows be called Andrew Cray Law Fellows just felt like a match about which Andy would have been pleased and honored and a bit embarrassed.
Each summer from this point forward, two Andrew Cray Law Fellows will work in our office doing real policy analysis and advocacy. They will be called Andrew Cray Law Fellows to remind us of our friend and colleague Andy and to hopefully endow these young lawyers with some of Andy’s kindness and smarts.
Andrew Cray Law Fellows will be given a stipend so that they can afford to live in DC and learn from NCTE’s remarkable policy attorneys. They will also be given real substantive work that will matter to them and to the advancement of transgender people.
The Fellowships have been made possible by very generous gifts from over three hundred people who loved Andy and donated to NCTE in honor of his memory and the love he really did bring and give to everyone he knew.
His friends here miss Andy so much and always will, but we also know that thanks to the generosity of Andy’s spirit and the people who loved him, together we will cultivate more brilliant young attorneys who will do excellent lifesaving work for transgender people. The Board and staff of NCTE are proud and humbled to modestly honor Andy with the Law Fellows program as well as with the annual Trans Health Advocacy Award.
P.S., Andy’s friends created a T-shirt to honor him and two of his passions: fat kitties and justice. Each Andy Cray Law Fellow will receive one.