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.”