(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the D.C. Office of Human Rights (OHR) today launched an ambitious and groundbreaking campaign promoting respect for the District’s transgender and gender-non-conforming communities. The campaign advertisements feature community members with positive messages and are intended to increase understanding of transgender and gender non-conforming people, reduce incidents of discrimination and increase reporting of such incidents to OHR.
According to advocates, the citywide campaign is the first government-funded campaign in the nation to focus exclusively on these communities.
“This District is committed to ensuring that all people are protected from discrimination, and that includes discrimination against the transgender and gender-non-conforming communities,” said Mayor Gray. “This landmark campaign from the Office of Human Rights is an important piece of a larger effort by my administration to ensure all residents have equal access to employment, housing and public services and accommodations regardless of gender identity or expression.”
Five ads – each featuring a different member of the transgender or gender-non-conforming communities – will appear throughout the District this fall. The ads highlight messages of respect and include quotes from participants about their favorite District activities, emphasizing that all D.C. residents are part of one community regardless of gender identity. They explain that discrimination based on gender identity or expression is illegal in the District, and that those who experience discrimination should report it to OHR. All five advertisements are available on OHR’s website.
“While working together on this groundbreaking campaign, I have been continuously impressed by the courage and determination of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities here in the District,” said OHR Director Gustavo Velasquez. “The Office of Human Rights is proud to partner with these communities in eradicating the injustices they too often face, and we know this partnership will extend far beyond the life of this campaign.”
The campaign unveiling at Mova Lounge was attended by transgender advocates, community members, District officials, and ad participants. The campaign messages were created over a four-month period with extensive involvement from transgender and gender-non-conforming advocates, and with insights gained from three focus groups. OHR developed the campaign message with assistance from Alston Marketing; Casa Ruby; D.C. Trans Coalition; Transgender Health Empowerment, Inc.; National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project; Movement Advancement Project; National Center for Transgender Equality; Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); and other advocates and community members.
“I chose to participate in this campaign and advocate on behalf of the transgender community in memory of LaShay McLean, my intern who was killed last year because she was a transgender woman,” said Iden Campbell McCollum, a mental health advocate and transgender man who is featured in one of the ads. “Our community still faces high levels of discrimination and violence, but things are improving, and the government’s willingness to launch a campaign for our community speaks to that improvement.”
The participants featured in the ads are available to speak to media upon request.
D.C. residents and visitors who see an ad are encouraged to photograph it and post to social media using OHR’s #TransRespect hashtag, in hopes the campaign’s important messages can reverberate beyond the District. “Behind-the-scenes” photos from the campaign are available on OHR’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dcohr.