9 Weeks for Equality

Now is the time to take action for transgender equality as we look to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) this year. Between now and Labor Day, we’ll put out a series of actions that will make a critical difference in educating Congress about the need to pass a transgender-inclusive bill. We hope that you will take action on at least three of these … and all of them if you can. We’ll include how-to information for each one.

Let’s make this a summer for transgender equality!

  1. Reach your members of Congress: Make an appointment TODAY to visit your Representative and Senators in August
  2. Spread the word: Sign the ENDA petition and get the word out to your friends by phone, email, twitter etc. to do the same; gather signatures at the local farmers’ market, street fair, the student union etc.
  3. Educate the public: Write a letter-to-the-editor, write a blog or ask local paper to write an editorial in favor of ENDA
  4. Communicate the reasons: Write letters to your members of Congress or, better yet, host a letter-writing party and invite your friends, family, support group, etc.
  5. Gather support: Collect letters of support from local organizations, clubs, unions, churches, etc that you belong to and forward them to your members of Congress
  6. Be visible: Attend a town hall meeting or other in district gathering with your members of Congress
  7. Make the work possible: Host a fundraising party for your favorite organization working on ENDA, either in person or virtually, such as donating to a Facebook cause.
  8. Build relationships: Follow up on your contacts with members of Congress to build relationships
  9. Send out your own call to action: Send out your own action alert to your friends, family and groups that you belong to.

click for ENDA toolkitWeek 1:  Reach your members of Congress: Make an appointment TODAY to visit your Representative and Senators in August

The single most important step you can take this summer is to make appointments with one or all of your members of Congress when they are in your district in August. Complete directions are available in our ENDA Toolkit, including a sample appointment request.  You need to request your appointment right away if you are going to get one.

We’re hearing from folks all around the country who are setting up their appointments and going to see their legislators. We need you to join them!

If your member of Congress is a sponsor of ENDA, thank them for their support and encourage them to be an advocate for passing the bill. If your member of Congress is supportive, but not yet a sponsor, ask them to co-sponsor the legislation. And if they aren’t supportive yet, talk to them about why transgender constituents in their district need the protections that ENDA will provide.

Once you’ve completed your visit, it’s very important that you let us know how it went. Please fill out our online Visit Report form or the form in our ENDA Toolkit.

Need more information about ENDA? Read on


Week 2: Educate the public: Write a letter-to-the-editor, write a blog or ask a local paper to write an editorial in favor of ENDA

It is important to talk with the public about why anti-discrimination measures are needed. People often have inaccurate information either about the bill itself or about transgender people in general and you can help correct that.

One effective way to do this is to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You'll find information in the paper, and on the paper's website, about how and where to send it. Here are some tips for writing an effective, and more likely to be published, letter to the editor:

  • Keep it short. Check with the particular paper for their guidelines, but most limit you to 200-250 words. If you submit something longer, they will edit it down for you-and then an editor, not you, gets to decide the parts of your letter to include. Do the cutting yourself.
  • Relate your letter to a recent article or editorial, if possible (and include the publication date and headline if you can).
  • Your letter should focus on only one point-the need to pass ENDA-and state your point clearly in the first sentence.
  • Back up your argument in short, succinct, to the point sentences. Some effective points are (but don't use them all! Pick what works for you):
    • People should be evaluated on the merits of their work
    • Transgender people, like all people, work to support our families
    • Discrimination is bad for business and weakens our communities
    • Only some local and state laws ban anti-transgender discrimination; a federal law is needed
  • Remember that you are writing to persuade the public, not people whose minds are already made up either way.
  • Avoid overly emotional language, sarcasm, jargon, clichés or defensiveness-just make your case in a positive way.
  • Include your name, address, phone and e-mail; papers require this information.

If your local papers are likely to be supportive of ENDA, you can also ask them to write an editorial. Here are some tips for doing that:

  • Select some editorials that are closest to (and supportive of) our issues that the paper has printed in the past; contact the paper and ask who wrote them.
  • Contact an author of these previous editorials and call to make a pitch to them about why you would like them to do an editorial on ENDA. In your call:
    • Tell the editor in a very brief and to the point way why you think an editorial on this topic is important.
    • Explain the problem of employment discrimination that transgender people face and why ENDA is an important part of the solution.
    • Reiterate that you would like them to write an editorial on the topic and offer to meet with the editor face to face and to provide them with any additional information they may want.
  • Remember that it is up to you to initiate contact and to follow up.

Let the public know why it is so important to pass this bill.


Week 3: Communicate the reasons: Write letters to your members of Congress or, better yet, host a letter-writing party and invite your friends, family, support group, etc.

Tell your member of Congress exactly why it is important to support a transgender-inclusive ENDA. A personal letter makes a greater impact than a petition.

This week, we encourage you to get more people to write letters by holding a letter writing party-in person or virtually-to send letters. You can use the sample letter from our ENDA Toolkit, provide pens and paper or a computer, and get everyone to write their own letter.  Doing this with others can help you motivate friends who haven't yet gotten involved and creates a sense of energy and excitement about the movement. You can also fill out letters online that will be sent to your members of Congress.

Then fax or mail the letters to your member of Congress (faxes get through much more quickly, due to anthrax screening done by Congressional offices, which delays letters up to a month).

Tips for writing:

  • Be polite, brief and to the point
  • Be concise; aim for one to two page letters or faxes.
  • Address only one issue in each letter
  • In the letter:
    • State your purpose for writing in the first paragraph.  Make your case clearly for ENDA, using the bill number (H.R. 3017 for the House, no bill number yet for the Senate), and succinctly describe why you hold that position;
    • Include, briefly, personal information that supports your point of view
    • Conclude by asking for a specific action from the legislator, such as asking them to vote for ENDA, become a co-sponsor, or meet with transgender constituents.
    • Thank them for their past support of related issues, if applicable
  • Always include your contact information, including your address (this will let them know that you live in their district and state), so they can follow up with you.

Sample letter:

Date

The Honorable (First and Last name)
United State Senate or House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

Subject: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

Dear Senator/Representative (Last name):

I am writing to you out of deep concern for the for the employment discrimination faced by transgender people. Because we are not protected by federal legislation and because of widespread discrimination against our community, we face widespread levels of under- and unemployment due to prejudice in hiring and retaining transgender workers. I believe that all Americans should be evaluated for the work that they do, not for who they are.

I urge you to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a vital piece of legislation to address the discrimination that we face.

If you have any questions about this subject, please feel free to contact me at any time. I would be glad to talk with you about it.

Sincerely,

/signed/

Your Name
Organization (if applicable)
Address
City, State and Zip


Week 4: Communicate the reasons: Write letters to your members of Congress or, better yet, host a letter-writing party and invite your friends, family, support group, etc.

Tell your member of Congress exactly why it is important to support a transgender-inclusive ENDA. A personal letter makes a greater impact than a petition.

This week, we encourage you to get more people to write letters by holding a letter writing party—in person or virtually—to send letters. You can use the sample letter from our ENDA Toolkit, provide pens and paper or a computer, and get everyone to write their own letter.  Doing this with others can help you motivate friends who haven’t yet gotten involved and creates a sense of energy and excitement about the movement.

Then fax or mail the letters to your member of Congress (faxes get through much more quickly, due to anthrax screening done by Congressional offices, which delays letters up to a month).

Tips for writing:

  • Be polite, brief and to the point
  • Be concise; aim for one to two page letters or faxes.
  • Address only one issue in each letter
  • In the letter:
    • State your purpose for writing in the first paragraph.  Make your case clearly for ENDA, using the bill number (H.R. 3017 for the House, no bill number yet for the Senate), and succinctly describe why you hold that position;
    • Include, briefly, personal information that supports your point of view
    • Conclude by asking for a specific action from the legislator, such as asking them to vote for ENDA, become a co-sponsor, or meet with transgender constituents.
    • Thank them for their past support of related issues, if applicable
  • Always include your contact information, including your address (this will let them know that you live in their district and state), so they can follow up with you.

Sample letter:

Date

The Honorable (First and Last name)
United State Senate or House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

Subject: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

Dear Senator/Representative (Last name):

I am writing to you out of deep concern for the for the employment discrimination faced by transgender people. Because we are not protected by federal legislation and because of widespread discrimination against our community, we face widespread levels of under- and unemployment due to prejudice in hiring and retaining transgender workers. I believe that all Americans should be evaluated for the work that they do, not for who they are.

I urge you to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a vital piece of legislation to address the discrimination that we face.

If you have any questions about this subject, please feel free to contact me at any time. I would be glad to talk with you about it.

Sincerely,

/signed/

Your Name
Organization (if applicable)
Address
City, State and Zip


Week 5: Gather support: Collect letters of support from local organizations that you belong to and forward them to your members of Congress.

One way to show legislators that there is support for ENDA is to show the commitment to equal rights by members of the community. This is a great way for allies to make a significant difference by adding their voices and demonstrating broad based support for this measure.

Consider the different groups that you are a part of—such as unions, professional organizations, volunteer and civic groups, and communities of faith—and ask them to send a letter to your members of Congress outlining the group’s support for ENDA.  The letter could state that the group has a non-discrimination policy that includes gender identity or give other reasons why that organization is in favor of ENDA.  Approach a member of the Board of Directors or the Executive Director, union steward, or other leader and ask them to write a letter on behalf of the organization.

Again, as with other letters, faxing is the most direct way to reach Congress, although you can mail it as well. Addresses and fax numbers are available on the Senate and House of Representatives websites.

Note: Non-profit organizations can work for the passage of legislation and contact members of Congress; they just cannot support particular candidates in an election.

Sample letter:

Date

The Honorable (First and Last name)
United State Senate or House of Representatives
Washington, DC

Subject: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

Dear Senator/Representative (Last name):

Our organization, (name of organization), strongly supports the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a vital piece of legislation to address the discrimination that transgender people face. We believe, as do the majority of Americans, that discrimination should never be the basis for employment decisions.

(Include if you can, something specific about your organization, such as “Our bowling club has had a transgender member for several years and is an integral part of our group” or “Our union has an anti-discrimination policy that includes gender identity and we believe that people have the right to work free from prejudice” or “Our synagogue has a long history of supporting equal rights for all Americans.”)

We hope that you will join us in supporting ENDA this year.

If you have any questions about this subject, please feel free to contact me at any time. I would be glad to talk with you about it.

Sincerely,

/signed/

Name of Contact Person
Organization
Address
City, State and Zip
Phone
E-mail


Week 6: Be visible: Attend a town hall meeting or other in district gathering with your members of Congress

As you've undoubtedly seen in the news recently, members of Congress hold town hall meetings and other gatherings in their home districts. Because they are in their districts during the month of August, this is a particularly good time to attend. These are a great way to raise your visibility and express your opinions.

To find out what is happening in your state, go to your Senators' and Representative's websites and check their calendars or news pages for announcements. If you don't see any (each member of Congress has their own website, so content may vary from one to another), find the phone number for the regional office closest to you and give them a call to find out. United ENDA has also put out a list of Town Hall Meetings that can help you find one in your state.

When you attend a public gathering with members of Congress, here are some tips:

  1. Please be polite. While the shouting happening at Town Halls is getting a lot of press, it is rude and is not likely to be an effective strategy. It may very well sway opinion (both of the Congressional staff and the audience) against you.  Please be careful if other audience members are being overly aggressive and use your judgment about how to approach this.
  2. Be prepared to make a very brief, well-articulated statement about why it is important to pass ENDA or ask a clear, to-the-point question about your member of Congress' position on ENDA.  You are more likely to be heard if you make your point well in as short a time as possible, so it's helpful to organize your thoughts ahead of time.
  3. Listen carefully to the response you receive. Please make a note if your member of Congress says how she or he intends to vote on ENDA or about co-sponsorship. Please send us an e-mail at ncte@nctequality.org and pass that information along. Having this information is very helpful as we visit them here in DC as we move closer to a vote on ENDA.
  4. If your member of Congress or a member of his or her staff would like additional information, please contact us and we will help you answer any questions and can provide you with fact sheets to pass along.  If you are asked for additional information, it's very important that you follow up with this.
  5. Focus on ENDA. Many people attending the Town Halls have opinions about health care reform and issues about SRS and transgender health care may arise in a negative way. It is important to remember that there are no specific medical conditions or treatments mentioned in the bill, including transgender specific health care. We'd recommend that you not take the bait of those trying to prevent health care reform or get embroiled in this fractious debate. At NCTE, we continue to take the position that transgender people not be singled out for negative mention in this legislation. What treatments should be covered should be decided between patients and their physicians.  The current bill under consideration is about how health care will be paid for, not who should receive what care.
  6. Enjoy! There is a fun social aspect of these occasions and a sense of participating in your community. We hope you enjoy the experience.

Week 7: Make the work possible: Raise funds for your favorite organization working on ENDA.

The work of organizing, advocating and educating takes time and resources. Day in and day out, fact sheets are getting printed, legislators are receiving phone calls and visits, questions are being answered and the work moves forward through the efforts of both people in local communities and organizations around the country.

But this effort costs money for people, paper, phone bills, and more. One way that you can help is donate to NCTE or one of the other organizations in the United ENDA coalition who are working on this effort.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Host a party at your home and ask guests to join you in donating money (you could also combine this with a letter writing effort). Invite friends and colleagues to your home for light refreshments and then share why passing ENDA is so important to you and ask them to be a part of the effort.
  2. Donate through a social networking site, such as a Causes page on Facebook.
  3. Mail a check or make an online donation directly to the organization.

The resources you contribute made a concrete and immediate difference in our abilities to continue in this work. And the satisfaction of knowing you helped is a great side benefit as well. Every donation, from the large to the small, moves us forward. Thank you for your generosity.


Week 8:  Build relationships: Follow up on your contacts with members of Congress to build relationships

You’ve gone and visited your member of Congress, called or written expressing your support for ENDA and urging them to do the same. What next? The way to make truly meaningful impact with members of Congress and other policymakers is to build on that relationship. Having ongoing contact lets them know that you are truly concerned about this issue and dedicated to making a real difference. It can also help put a human face on our cause.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Be sure to send a thank you note after a visit with your member of Congress or a staff member in his/her office. There’s a sample letter in Make Your Voice Heard [link: http://nctequality.org/Resources/VoiceHeard.pdf], NCTE’s resource on educating members of Congress about transgender issues. (see page 20).
  • Keep an eye on the list of co-sponsors for ENDA [link to Thomas] and notice if your member of Congress has been added to the list. If so, send them a note thanking them for their support.
  • If the member of Congress was undecided about ENDA, follow up with a staff member in the office who has ENDA on her/his portfolio. Ask if the Senator or Representative needs any additional information in order to make a decision to support this legislation. NCTE can help you answer any questions they may have.
  • Invite your member of Congress to a transgender event, such as a conference or social event. You can ask your member of Congress to speak at a Day of Remembrance vigil or gathering. This reminds them that the community is organized and active and brings some of the realities of transgender lives into focus for them.
  • After the vote on ENDA takes place, write or call your member of Congress and express your thanks or disappointment with the way that s/he voted. This provides immediate feedback to them and helps lay the groundwork for the next bill that will come along.

You should contact your member of Congress often enough to communicate that you are a concerned citizen and active in this process, but not so much that you are disruptive to their work in any way.

Moving equality forward really is about building relationships.


Week 9: Send out your own call to action

This week, send out your own action alert to your friends, family and groups that you belong to. Also ask the trans, LGBT and progressive groups that you lead or are a member of to send out the text below and get as many members as they can involved in passing ENDA.  We need every single voice we can reach to be heard on Capitol Hill. Go through your address books and send a note to people telling them why this is important to you and ask them to take action.

When the committee hearing takes place in the House on Wednesday, we need congressional offices to be hearing from constituents who support the passage of ENDA and not just from those who oppose us.

Please, send an alert out this weekend and follow up on Tuesday night. A sample text is below that you can use or adapt as needed.

Here's a sample message:

URGENT MESSAGE: Tell Congress We Need ENDA Now!

Congress is back in session, and now is our moment to take action on ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  We must tell our federal legislators how important these protections are to our community and that we need a law that protects against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While there are many issues that need to be addressed to bring about equality for LGBT people and to protect our rights, ENDA is the bill that is being considered in Congress right now.

If ENDA is to pass, we must speak up. So let's do it!

Contact your Representative and Senators to ask them to take swift action to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  Do it today.  They need to hear, loud and clear, that this bill is our top priority. 

Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: (202) 224-3121. Give the operator your postal zip code and ask to be connected to your Representative. Then, after leaving your message, hang up and call again to be connected to each of your two Senators.

Suggested voicemail message: My name is _____ and a proud resident of (your city/state). I am calling in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017/S. 1584). ENDA protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from job discrimination and it is critically important. Please take swift action to pass ENDA. I can be reached at _______ (provide your phone number). Thank you.

Take a stand today to end employment discrimination against LGBT people! It only takes a few minutes to make the calls, but the impact of your actions will touch lives across the country and for many years to come.

It's time to pass ENDA and take a stand to end discrimination against transgender people.

 

Take Action

Have you experienced discrimination? Tell us about it.

Use our easy online form to send an e-mail to your members of Congress.

Sign the petition in support of ENDA.

Visit your member of Congrss. See our Toolkit for all of the information you need

After your visit, complete our online visit report form

 

 

 

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