August 3, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
EXCLUSIVE: D.C. Office of Human Rights to launch anti-transgender discrimination campaign
Gay News, Washington Blade, Transgender

Photo courtesy of the D.C. Office of Human Rights

The D.C. Office of Human Rights has created the country’s first government-funded campaign to combat anti-transgender discrimination, the Washington Blade has learned.

Two trans women and men and a self-identified “genderqueer” person will each appear in one of the five separate ads that the agency will place throughout the city in the fall. The spots will highlight respect, shared values and D.C.’s anti-discrimination law, which includes trans-specific protections. The ads will also encourage trans Washingtonians to contact OHR if they experience discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

“LGBT organizations are telling us this is the first government-sponsored campaign in the nation to focus solely on transgender and gender non-conforming people, and the Office of Human Rights is incredibly proud of that,” OHR Director Gustavo Velasquez told the Blade in a statement. “To ensure we take full-advantage of the opportunity, we identified three primary goals for the campaign: increase understanding of transgender and gender non-conforming people, reduce discriminatory incidents in the District and increase the number of community members who report discrimination. The courageous and bright D.C.-based participants appearing in the ads and the powerful accompanying messages can make this happen, although we know much more work needs to be done to eradicate discrimination towards this community.”

Two clients from Casa Ruby, a local Latino LGBT community center, are among the five D.C. residents who will appear in the ads. The D.C.-based Transgender Health Empowerment; the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; the Movement Advancement Project; Jeffrey Richardson, director of Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs and others worked with the OHR to develop the campaign.

“I’m very happy that they are actually doing some preventive education things,” trans activist Ruby Corado told the Blade. “This city really needs a lot of understanding and the city really needs a lot of education, so having something like this … is really exciting.”

The OHR will officially unveil the campaign more than a year after D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced an employment program for the city’s trans residents. The D.C. Trans Coalition and THE are among the groups that continue to work with the Metropolitan Police Department, the Department of Corrections and other agencies to reduce the number of anti-trans hate crimes in the city and improve the treatment of trans D.C. Jail inmates.

“Our city is a pioneer in lots of things,” said Corado. “Having the Office of Human Rights take some leadership on this for me is remarkable. I’m proud and I’m very happy that this city and [it’s] LGBT leaders has taken on this issue and supported us 100 percent.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

10 Comments
  • I’m so glad my home town is leading the way with this! For your article, though, the word genderqueer does not belong in quotes any more than trans, gay, lesbian, or bi belong in quotes. The terminology may be new to some readers, but we queers still legit!

  • Somebody better get ready to have counter strategies and arguments against “pseudo feminist,” Kathy Brennan, when she becomes aware of this initiative and “freaks out” and begins spewing her anti- transgender rhetoric and rants!

  • You may want to rethink the headline. It reads as if they are launching a campaign to discriminate against trans* folks. Perhaps, “D.C. office of Human Rights to launch campaign to combat discrimination against Transgender people”

  • This is excellent news for DC! So thankful to those responsible for helping to make this happen. And congratulations!

  • Great, now please remove the quotes around genderqueer, Genderqueer people are valid Humans too..

    • What they said. :)

      Just because some people may not have heard of the term or find it strange doesn’t mean it should be in quotes. Perhaps treat it like a new word – italicize it, as if it was just being introduced to English.

  • This is a great first step towards educating people about transgender discrimination. I hope that it is a great success in DC and that government funded educational programs and outreach ads reach the rest of the country as well!

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