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Transgender Lobbyists
Hit the U.S. Capitol Building

Compiled by GayToday
Courtesy of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition

"Oh my stars!" exclaimed U. S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) to lobbyist Jessica Redman's story of being born intersexed - a person born with both sets of genitalia. That was typical of the surprised and surprising reactions as some three dozen gender variant folks took to Capitol Hill on behalf of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC). March on Washington: Members of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition brought the case for transgender rights to the U.S. Capitol

The lobbying effort, held May 14-16, was the first organized event for the emerging civil rights group, NTAC; whose core constituency is transgendered and intersexed persons. For their initial foray, the group began with a basic educational approach to familiarize Congress on this little-known and widely misunderstood phenomenon .

By initial reports, NTAC's first effort "was a resounding success!" claimed lobby days organizer, Vanessa Edwards Foster. "We covered every office in the Senate, and over 2/3 of the offices in the House of Representatives. In all, 474 packets were distributed."

Board chair Yose˝io Lewis measured success not only by the number of visits, packets distributed, he also measured it in the encounter he and boardmembers, Roslyn Manley and Jerry McCracken had meeting with an aide to Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA).

"At that meeting the aide confided to us that she had a close friend struggling with gender issues and that she'd been trying to help her friend," Mr. Lewis recalled. "When Roslyn, Jerry and I offered NTAC as well as ourselves personally as resources, the aide's face lit up. She thanked us over and over again for being there. That is just another example of how transpeople are touching everyone's lives.

The packets created to achieve this gender diverse education garnered a good amount of positive feedback from the Congressional aides. "There's certainly a need for education within Congress on these issues," stated Scott Dunaway, Office Manager for Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), "and in fact that's just what you're doing." Referring to the packet, he finished, "this is a good first step!"

Added Stanley Allen, Senior Legislative Asst. to Nick Lampson (D-TX) "You're doing exactly what you need to be doing!"

Indeed reports coming back from lobbyists Dawn Wilson and Yose˝io Lewis' visit to Rep. Edolphus Townes (D-NY), and by Naomi Goring and Julie Maverick's visit to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) were very promising. "These were very important meetings for our community," proclaimed former NTAC Board Chair, Dawn Wilson. "They will provide a solid foundation for us to build on in the future."

Ms. Foster, Boardmember Kathy Padilla and first-time lobbyist Janis Stone enjoyed a very welcomed ear in Rep. Jan Schakowsky's office (D-IL). Legislative Aide, Reva Gupta, who was new to the office, invited the NTAC representatives in for an extended chat.

"This is an issue I will be covering in this office, and I really had limited information on it." Thanking the lobbyists, Ms. Gupta added, "I'm really, very glad that you stopped by! [The visit and the packet] is exactly what I needed!"

"While the turnout wasn't quite what we had expected," organizer Foster added, "our productivity and our impact surpassed our expectations!"

"The information gathered by this lobbying effort will constitute an extensive database of immediate and ongoing use for lobbyists," added NTAC Secretary, Anne Casebeer.

Some recently notable names within the transgender community took part in the historic first effort for NTAC. Christie Lee Littleton VanDePutte, of the Littleton v. Prange malpractice suit brought against the doctor who treated her late husband said: "I wouldn't have missed this for the world!" Ms. Littleton VanDePutte teamed up with the transgendered civil rights attorney who filed her case in the Supreme Court, Alyson Meiselman. The dynamic duo of Meiselman and Littleton made an effective one-two punch in Congress.

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
Transgender Equality: A Handbook for Activists Published

Transsexual Amanda Milan, 25, Murdered in Manhattan

Tracy Thompson, Transvestite, Beaten to Death in Georgia

Related Sites:
The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition
GayToday does not endorse related sites.

Peter Oiler, and his wife Shirley, also hit a number of offices, including most of the Louisiana delegation. Peter Oiler is plaintiff in a suit against his former employer, the Winn Dixie supermarket chain. Winn Dixie fired Oiler in early 2000, simply because he was trangendered. The husband and wife combo even managed a photo opportunity with their own U.S. Representative, William Jefferson (D-LA).

The dedicated band of nascent lobbyists produced professional numbers. NTAC Board Chair, Yose˝io Lewis summarized it simply by saying: "We were successful!"

"NTAC distinguished itself by presenting lobbyists from all socio-economic, racial, age and physical ability strata on all levels of transgender and transsexual experience," Lewis said. Numerous congressional staffers commented on "how nice it was to see a diverse group of people that more accurately represented the range of the transgender population and hence, of their constituency."

Chairman Lewis finished by promising that "we will be following up on suggestions made by the congresspeople and aides." Indeed, the up-and-coming transgender rights group is showing a lot of promise of its own.



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