For TG Dems the 2016 Convention Was a Political Revolution

| Aug 15, 2016
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buttonFor the record, the degree of transgender inclusion at the Democratic National Convention was “off the charts.”

But wait, there’s more — history made!

There was no lack of publicity for Sarah McBride who became the first transgender speaker at a National Political Convention . . .  and she delivered it with great poise and class. I met Sarah and her mother in January of 2013. Sarah and I along with a trans male college student served together on a panel advocating for transgender equality legislation in Dover, Delaware. I came away with 2 strong impressions that afternoon, one that Delaware would soon pass a Transgender non-discrimination law, which it did later that year, and two, that Sarah Mc Bride would one day become the first out transgender Governor of a State! One can say that she has the right stuff and is on the right trajectory.

Sarah’s feat, her notable moment was the tip, albeit and bright and lustrous tip of the iceberg for transgender inclusion and equality.

There were 28 transgender people elected or appointed as Delegates, Alternates or Committee members. This was twice the record number of 14 from 2012. The percentage of representation actually more than doubled since the total number of delegates was reduced by over 10% from the 2012 total. What is truly startling, in comparison is the fact that at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland there were only 18 African-American Delegates. Bearing that “astounding” fact I asked former RNC Chair Michael Steel for a comment when I ran into him on the Convention Floor in the final evening. He did a brief verbal dance evading the question and was happy to move on.

But wait, there’s more — history made!

Dr. Marisa Richmond who in 2008 and also 2012 became the first ever LGBT Delegate from the state of Tennessee, as well as the first ever African American Trans Delegate became the first ever Transgender person to be a Convention Official as she was appointed the Timekeeper of the Convention.

The DNC LGBT Caucus was the largest ever as well as the most transgender inclusive.

In 2004 the word, “transgender” was less than “seldom” heard and our little group of delegates was neither recognized nor allowed to come to the Caucus podium to honor our ally Scott Safier who fought on our behalf in the Platform Committee with the Jane Fee Award. Jane Fee was the very first transgender delegate in 2000 representing Minnesota. We wanted to enshrine her name and honor those allies within the Democratic Party infrastructure who went above and beyond in helping empower transgender people. We instead, with little fanfare, presented his award in the convention hall hallway.

By 2008 we not only heard the “T” word, but all our delegates came up and I had the honor to present Chair Rick Stafford with the Jane Fee Award who as DNC Caucus chair fought for adding the “T” in the  delegate affirmative action rules for the 2008 Convention. The original rules were drafted as just “gay and lesbian.”

By 2012 Our Trans delegates all came on the stage to great applause for the Jane Fee Award and   honored Brian Bond for his work as Director of LGBT outreach at the Democratic National committee as well as his extraordinary work as Deputy Director of Constituency Outreach at the White House and setting standards for LGBT outreach people who worked for him and followed. It should be noted that now in 2016, a transgender woman, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, is the White House’s Primary LGBT Liaison. Also in 2012 then Mayor Cory Booker of Newark had asked me to introduce him to the standing-room-only LGBT Caucus audience of well over 500 people.

Trans delegate gathered.

Trans delegate gathered.

So, what happened at the LGBT Caucus in 2016? Where’s the rest of the iceberg?

First of all we had a transgender woman on the dais for the entire caucus. Marisa Richmond was the convention timekeeper. 

Laura Calvo who in January 2013 was elected from the State of Oregon as a DNC member, was unanimously elected DNC LGBT Caucus Vice-Chair by our DNC LGBT membership in August 2013. Constant Visibility!

On each of the Caucus Days, Tuesday July 26 and Thursday July 28 we had a Jane Fee Honoree, with all the trans delegates on stage recognizing Congressman Mike Honda who as DNC Vice Chair was supportive trans inclusion in the DNC as far back as 2006 years before he knew that he had a transgender granddaughter. As Chair of the Transgender Equality Task Force in Congress and Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, his award was obvious.

On Thursday we once again came up on stage and honored DNC vice Chair Raymond Buckley, as President of the Association of Democratic State Chairs, he is the highest ranking out LGBT person on the Democratic National Committee and has been a strong and clear advocate for transgender inclusion at the State and National level for many years. I was honored to present each of these awards to our Champions. 

Congress Mike Honda with trans delegates.

Congress Mike Honda with trans delegates.

The LGBT Caucus featured a panel of National Transgender Advocates who spoke on trans issues and featured former 2 time delegates, Diego Sanchez of Mass. and Marisa Richmond of Tennessee as well as Platform Committee member Mara Keisling. 

New York Delegate Melissa Sklarz was called up to introduce her Governor Andrew Cuomo. Misty Snow the first out nominated transgender U.S. Senatorial candidate from Utah was recognized (Remember that name) as well as Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Surgeon General.

Thursday morning prior to the noon time LGBT Caucus meeting most of the transgender Delegates, official participants and special guests met at a Transgender Caucus meeting. History.

Dr. Rachel Levine

Dr. Rachel Levine

Jane Fee Award to

Jane Fee Award to Raymond Buckley

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Category: Transgender Politics


About the Author ()

“Babs” is a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee, Deputy Vice Chair of the NJ Democratic State Committee and Political Director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of NJ. For the current campaign she serves on the Executive Committee of Trans United 4 Obama. She has served as Vice Chair of the DNC Eastern Caucus, President of NJ Stonewall Democrats, Co-Chair of National Stonewall Democrats Federal PAC Board, Vice-Chair of Garden State Equality, Executive Board member of National Stonewall Democrats as Chair of the DNC Relations Committee and a member of the NJ Civil Unions Review Commission.

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  1. Excellent report. TY so much.

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