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After Surge of Violence Against Trans Women, Kennedy to Chair House Transgender Equality Task Force

Thursday Mar 2, 2017

Congressman Joe Kennedy III today took over as Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus's bipartisan Transgender Equality Task Force. The Task Force officially relaunched today with a focus on restoring critical education protections, ensuring parity in health care access, and addressing the surge of violence against transgender Americans, particularly trans women of color.

"From education to health care to public safety: transgender Americans are told near daily that their rights count as less," said Kennedy. "In a country built on the promise of equal protection, this is unacceptable. Facing new threats from a new Administration and discriminatory policies rearing their heads across the country, this Task Force is united in its unwavering support for the transgender community, grateful for the partnership of our allies and friends, and energized for the fight ahead."

In the 115th Congress, the TETF will focus on a wide range of priorities impacting the transgender community. First, fighting to restore the Obama-era guidance from the Departments of Education and Justice that instructed schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom of the gender with which they identify.

Specifically, the TETF will stand with Gavin Grimm in his Supreme Court case to guarantee transgender rights. Second, in light of the ongoing debate over the future of health care reform, the TETF will advocate for parity in access to essential care and treatment for all transgender Americans.

Finally, the TETF will work tirelessly to respond to the surge of violence targeting the transgender community - particularly transgender women of color. Seven lives have been lost so far this year alone.

"Although 2016 was the trans tipping point, there's a long way to go -- seven transgender women of color have already been murdered in 2017," said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18). "I want to thank Rep. Kennedy for taking the wheel to ensure that we always prioritize the needs of transgender Americans and continue the fight for full equality while also protecting the achievements our movement has made."

"Our children and our teachers understand the importance of respect and fair treatment for everyone," said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02). "Unfortunately, the President and extremists' voices on the right still don't understand this simple idea. The Transgender Task Force will be a critical voice in standing up against discrimination and fighting for transgender and nonconforming people. I look forward to working with the new Chair of Task Force, Rep. Joe Kennedy, and together we will not allow progress to be stopped."

Congressman Kennedy has been an outspoken advocate of transgender rights and LGBTQ equality since he was elected to office. He was a vocal supporter of Massachusetts' transgender non-discrimination bill, appearing in-person at the State House to testify in support of its passage.

Last year he introduced the Do No Harm Act, which would amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to preserve civil rights. He has been a proud co-sponsor of major equality legislation, from the Equality Act to the Global Respect Act to the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

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