Anti-transgender discrimination effort to launch in DC this year

WASHINGTON: The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights will launch the country's first government-funded campaign aimed at stopping anti-transgender discrimination later this year.

WASHINGTON: The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights will launch the country's first government-funded campaign aimed at stopping anti-transgender discrimination later this year.

The effort will target the Washington DC area when it launches in late summer or early fall. Its budget is yet to be determined. 

“While there are still tremendous hurdles to overcome, providing federal funds to help protect transgender Americans sends a clear sign that tides are shifting,” said Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, via email.  

The campaign will target the “movable middle,” which is made up of consumers who do not have a good understanding of the transgender community. It will also target the non-gender identifying community itself, so its members know there are laws that protect them and places to go to file a complaint, said Elliot Imse, a policy and public affairs officer at the Office of Human Rights.

The DC Office of Human Rights will launch the campaign as violence against the transgender community is on the rise in the district.

“As attacks on transgender people seems to rise, it may be harder for them to come forward with complaints,” said Vincent Paolo Villano, director of communications at the National Center for Transgender Equality. “DC's transgender communities need to know that they have rights here.”

Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens in DC grew from 40% of all hate crimes in 2011 to 67% by May 2012, according to data from the DC Center and Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence. Nationwide, a 2010 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that 50% of LGBT murders in 2009 and 44% of LGBT murders in 2010 were acts against transgender women.

“Transgender people continue to face extraordinarily high rates of violence and barriers in accessing employment, housing, and healthcare. We're thrilled to see the DC Office of Human Rights raise these issues, and we are hopeful more cities will follow suit,” said Kristine Wertz, director of policy and programs at the Transgender Law Center, via email.

The DC campaign will not only focus on discrimination that leads to violence, but also housing and employment bias as well. It will also include traditional and social media outreach, and the office will also contact direct-service providers for the transgender community so they are aware of the work the office is doing.

AM+G Marketing Communications helped the office perform focus groups for the effort. Comments from those conversations helped form the messaging for the campaign, said Karen Maria Alston, the firm's president and founder.

“If it allows one person to think differently, the campaign is a huge success,” she said. “I hope it starts a conversation in the community.”

The effort follows a massive PR storm around fast-food chain Chick-fil-A and its CEO's decision to come out publicly against gay marriage.

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