White House to host first-ever meeting with trans activists

Tomorrow, the Office of Public Engagement at the White House is hosting a meeting with a number of transgender activists and leaders working on federal policy around trans issues — for the first time in American history. Via the Washington Blade:

[White House spokesperson] Inouye said the meeting will be the first ever for the Office of Public Engagement where transgender issues are the sole focus of discussion.

“While transgender issues have been covered in previous OPE meetings, and transgender leaders have been included in other OPE meetings, this would be the first time OPE has held a meeting solely focused on transgender issues,” Inouye said.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she plans to attend the meeting.

“This is the first president who has allowed trans people — really allowed LGBT people — to bring forward problems and then advocate for them,” Keisling said. “In the Bush administration, we couldn’t even do that. They wouldn’t even listen to us. They didn’t care what our problems were. In fact, they were making most of our problems.”

While the meeting is closed to the press and the attendees don’t seem to be specifying initiatives they’re going to address, the National Center covers a range of issues in their organization, including employment, access to health care and immigration detention standards. “I’m not going to prioritize them that way just so you can have a good story,” said Keisling. “We’re going to say, ‘Here’s our agenda.’”

I’m really curious to see how this meeting plays out; hopefully, it won’t just be one — but one of many meetings reaching toward real policy goals around trans rights. In the meantime, I think this is a fantastic first step.

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