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Illinois advocacy group launches transgender rights initiative

TONY MEREVICK | Chicago Phoenix
Monday, November 5, 2012
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The Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based LGBT rights and policy advocacy group, announced Sunday the launch of a new project that will bring greater focus to advancing the rights of transgender and gender-variant communities in Illinois.

“We at The Civil Rights Agenda believe that we are at a tipping point in terms of transgender rights,” stated Anthony Martinez, executive director of TCRA. “It is our belief that we should push the rights of transgender individuals to the forefront of the LGBTQ policy agenda in Illinois.”

Anthony Martinez
Photo by Tony Merevick, Chicago Phoenix

The Transgender Rights Project will fight and advocate for transgender equality throughout the state by means of policy, legislation, advocacy and educational outreach.

An integral component of the project is its guidance from the local transgender and gender-variant communities with an advisory committee comprising transgender, gender-variant and queer-identifying individuals. The committee will guide the work of the project and author a strategic plan, according to TCRA.

Owen Daniel-McCarter, a founding member of the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois and June LaTrobe, public policy director and vice-chair at Illinois Gender Advocates will head up the advisory committee.

“All too often organizers and organizations work to advocate on behalf of individual groups instead of working through inclusionary frameworks that ensure the community they are advocating for has a voice in the process,” said Owen Daniel-McCarter. “I am excited to be involved with this project because an integral part of it is ensuring that transgender individuals are guiding the work and outcomes.”

Throughout the year, a number of issues of importance to the transgender and gender-variant communities have riled activists to the front lines of the movement. TCRA has been involved in a number of related initiatives such as the passage of a policy for the treatment of transgender detainees by Chicago Police officers and adding “gender identity” as a protected class to Illinois hate crime law — a bill TCRA authored with the support of Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) earlier this year.

Over the last month, the group has been working with the East Aurora School District to ensure the board there re-adopts protections for transgender and gender-variant students it recently passed and later repealed.

“The Civil Rights Agenda has been working to ensure the rights of transgender individuals are expanded in Illinois since the founding of the organization,” said June Latrobe.  “I have personally worked with the staff on a number of occasions and have great confidence in their process which is why I am delighted to be involved. It is my hope that this project will advance the rights of transgender individuals throughout Illinois and I am confident TCRA will ensure that is the outcome.”

TCRA is actively seeking applications for the Transgender Rights Advisory Committee.

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