The letter was signed by 97 trans leaders and activists from advocacy groups including Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Chase Strangio, Elle Hearns of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, and Rev. Elena Rose Vera of Trans Lifeline.
The Human Rights Campaign has faced criticisms from the queer community, specifically the trans community before. The letter states that trans activism “has more than often been opposed and undermined by HRC rather than supported.”
In 2007, the HRC supported the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) aimed at protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to The Sundial, the HRC endorsed the bill despite the fact that it excluded protections from discrimination based on gender identity. The HRC’s justification was to support a bill that was more likely to pass, an example of their prioritizing certain members of the queer community.
The HRC statement says that their role is “to come up with solutions and stand on the frontline to provide meaningful solutions for the transgender community.” The letter from trans leaders responds, “Our lives are the frontlines. We have the solutions.”
The letter asks the HRC to genuinely listen and support trans activists who have fought for the community their entire lives. “We do not need a cisgender-led, $40 million organization to copy our work and brand it as new,” they claimed, later adding, “They must bolster our work, not take credit for it.”
However, they do acknowledge where they think the HRC has made some progress. The letter also addresses Alphonso David’s recent appointment as the first black president of the HRC. The activists “remain hopeful for David’s leadership, and recognize that he alone cannot resolve the organization’s full legacy of transphobia, racism, and its compounding effects in two months on the job.”
Hopefully, the HRC can respond to the letter with action and support for trans activists already doing work. On out.com, you can show support for the trans leaders behind the declaration and co-sign the letter in the comments.