A New Day Dawns - America's First National Trans Political Advocacy Group Lifts Off

04/04/2016 10:39 am ET Updated Apr 05, 2017

North Carolina. Georgia. Tennessee. South Dakota. Mississippi.

Just a few of the states pushing anti-LGBT, and, particularly, anti-trans legislation this year. They are the ones recently in the news. We've won, for the time being, in South Dakota, Tennessee and Georgia, because their Republican governors prioritized business over evangelical hate.

But we won because the national community and its allies were able to mobilize business interests in those states. The ground game in those states was limited, at best, with few resources, and that has been the case for many years. On occasion, as happened last week, a national organization like the Human Rights Campaign will step up and invite a trans person to participate in the political process. That's no longer sufficient.

I've written about the silence of our major national advocacy organizations about the issue on the lips of everyone else in these states of conflict, the bathroom predator libel. It's time that ends.

For years we've tried to encourage our national trans leadership to take the next step and create a national trans political organization. We've been met by demurrals or silence. That's been business as usual. It's time that ends.

Today I'm joining in announcing the creation of the first national transgender political advocacy organization - the Trans United Fund. Here's the press release:

"Trans United Fund" Launches First Political Action Committee

Exclusively Focused on Issues of Concern to Transgender Communities

Diverse Coalition Launches Fund as Anti-Trans Legislative Attacks Gain Momentum

Washington, D.C........April, 4, 2016.....In a historic first, a diverse group of transgender and allied individuals today announces the launch of the Trans United Fund, the first ever political action committee (PAC) committed to building the political power of transgender communities and allies to advocate for full equality for transgender people.

Trans United Fund will accomplish their mission by engaging transgender communities and allies in the political process, building political leadership and capacity of transgender people and allies and endorsing candidates with a commitment to transgender equality and a pro-transgender platform. The first-ever transgender focused Presidential Candidate Questionnaire has been developed and will be distributed to all potential candidate as part of the 2016 election cycle, in addition to a legislative scorecard program and efforts related to building political power in the trans communities and educating allies. The organization is looking at key races across the country in the 2016 election cycle to focus resources where they can make the most difference.

"The transgender community is no stranger to adversity but what we face today is a new challenge, a coordinated, national and vicious attack from the far right at municipal, school district and legislative levels. Trans United Fund will fill a crucial gap in our movement, creating a space for transgender people and our allies," ," said Hayden Mora, a founding member of the Trans United Fund. "We can not only fight these vicious political attacks that cater to fear and division, we must build a proactive politics to address other issues that impact our community - from HIV to homelessness to immigration and the horrific epidemic of violence," continued Mora.

"We need candidates to understand that being supportive of trans equality begins with supporting non- discrimination but also must proactively address the issues that impact the most vulnerable in our community. I'm exhausted and profoundly saddened every day I hear about another young trans person that has taken their life because the bullying and discrimination was too much, another trans woman of color murdered senselessly and the myriad other forms of discrimination we face. Education is crucial but so is action, there is simply too much at stake," concluded Mora.

"I'm part of Trans United because trans people need a strong political voice to support the activism, legal, policy and direct service work already happening. I fight every day to address the consequences of inhuman immigration policies, the disproportionate impact of HIV on our community, violence and disenfranchisement particularly of the most vulnerable in our community - young people, black and brown people- particularly women- and immigrants. We save lives every day but we can't reach everyone with direct services. We need to move from being primarily reactive to ore proactive, going to the root of institutionalized transphobia. And that requires a stronger political voice," added Bamby Salcedo, Executive Director of the Trans Latin@ Coalition.

"Trans United Fund's launch is the next example of sophistication within this movement," said Robert Raben, political consultant and former assistant attorney general under President Bill Clinton. "As long as we have a privately raised finance system, participating in it is crucial to achieve the progress we need. Few in the nation have faced the challenges transgender Americans face; kudos that despite the discrimination, they are still willing to engage in the political process to make this country stronger," concluded Raben.

Trans United Fund is a bi-partisan 501(c)(4) organization and is organized around the belief that endorsement and community support must be earned through both a commitment to and demonstration of support for trans people.

For more information go to: www.transunitedfund.org
On twitter: @transunitedfund
On facebook: Trans United Fund

This is the preliminary list of the advisory committee:

Jacob Tobia
Bamby Salcedo
Brynn Tannehill
Max Toth
Ruby Corado
Mason Dunn
Owen Smith
Danni Askini
Andrea Jenkins
Monica Roberts
Arianna Lint
Alison Gill
Allison VanKuiken

This story has been covered by David Crary of the Associated Press. Crary describes another project going live, the Transgender Freedom Project, another helpful addition to the national armamentarium. That is a project of Freedom for All Americans, an opaque donor-led effort to support anti-discrimination work in the 31 states that have no protections. So while such a project can only help, the fact that there will be little transparency is of great concern.

The need for the Trans United Fund was alluded to by National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director, Mara Keisling, when she said:

"All the people who lost the marriage equality fight, they've now decided that trans people are fair game," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "They're going to claim trans people are sexual predators, but the public is quickly going to learn that's just nonsense."

The problem is that people will not learn quickly enough that the bathroom predator libel is nonsense if we remain silent. Since we won the first such bathroom campaign in Montgomery County, Maryland, in 2008, our efforts have been scattershot and diffused, not organized and strategic. The new Fund is an effort to overcome the inertia of silence and fear in the trans community.

Trans United will not only focus on the work in the states. It is crafting a questionnaire for the presidential nominees, a community first, and will build on the fundraising efforts most recently evident in Trans United for Obama in 2012. It will be endorsing candidates in other races, trans and others, who are fully committed to trans equality, not simply LGBT equality with a silent "T." These endorsements must be earned with more than lip service. To that end there will be a legislative scorecard when appropriate.

Trans United welcomes support from allies throughout the LGBT community, with whom the trans community has stood from its inception before Stonewall. Standing side-by-side as equals will make us all stronger, and sharing passion, knowledge, skills and experience with mutual respect will create real progress for those most in need, For those needs are still great, and much work remains to be done. Building the political power of trans and gender expansive communities to advocate for trans equality with our allies is absolutely necessary today.

Trans United welcomes all who are committed to real, meaningful lived equality. Today a new day dawns.