NCTE Makes History at Eighth Anniversary
In our largest-yet crowd of 300 transgender activists, allies, and supporters, NCTE celebrated our eighth anniversary and honored two outstanding activists, Donna Cartwright and Brian Bond. Founding NCTE board member, Donna Cartwright, kicked off the event after introductions by Mara Keisling and Peggy Shorey, executive director of Pride at Work.
“The launch of NCTE in 2003 gave the trans community its own strong, independent voice in national policy discussions,” Cartwright said, “NCTE made our community a significant factor in the national LGBT movement for the first time. I’m proud of the role I played in bringing that about.” Cartwright accepted the Julie Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor named after a longtime transgender activist, philanthropist and visionary. In homage to Julie Johnson and other transgender trailblazers, Cartwright said, “To the living, as well as to Julie Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Louis Sullivan and many other pioneers who are no longer with us, we owe our commitment to continue the struggle until trans people no longer face crippling prejudice and discrimination, until all others who suffer from injustice and oppression win justice, until the rough places are made plain and the crooked places made straight.” Brian Bond, former Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, spoke next, thanking the Obama administration after laughing that “Mara said I couldn’t be political.” He went on to add: “Beyond the policy work, as someone from Joplin, Missouri, I can’t help but think that every time the President says the words ‘transgender’ or ‘gender identity’ that he is lifting up some young kid who feels alone and isolated.” Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the night’s keynote speaker and the highest ranking government official to address a transgender audience, spoke passionately, saying, “I’m proud to discuss the historic progress HUD has made in fighting for the rights of transgender people. And I’m even prouder to do it on behalf of the first Administration that has viewed the fight for equality on behalf of the transgender community not as an issue, but as a priority.” Secretary Donovan said, “It’s estimated that 1 in 5 transgender Americans have been refused a home or apartment – that more than 1 in 10 have been evicted because of their gender identity or expression. Allowing this to happen is wrong – and more importantly, it’s not who we are as Americans.” Secretary Donovan went on to explain the new regulations that HUD has proposed, which would help house and protect people of any gender identity or sexual orientation with a firm “don’t ask” rule for HUD owners and operators. LGBT people would also be clearly included in HUD’s definition of family. “Over the last 30 months, we have worked to ensure that our housing programs are open not to some, not to most – but to all.” Before Secretary Donovan’s remarks, and in true NCTE fashion, Mara Keisling issued a fairly serious new policy proposal to Secretary Donovan. Keisling asked that HUD create a group for transgender equality called THUD. Amid a room full of chuckles, Donovan replied, “Don’t quit your day job.”