Why This Arkansas Trans Activist Supports Bernie Sanders
In the span of a week, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was introduced by two transgender women at separate rallies in the Pacific Northwest.
After Jenny Seibert introduced Sanders at a Spokane rally on March 20, Andrea Zekis took the stage ahead of the presidential hopeful at a Friday rally in Portland, Ore.
Zekis is Policy Director, Basic Rights Oregon, and founder of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition.
"Seven years ago, I took the bold step to live in my truth," Zekis tells the estimated 11,500 people who had gathered at Portland's Moda Center to hear from the self-described democratic socialist. "I accepted myself as a transgender woman. At the time I did not live in Oregon. I lived in a state where I could be fired from my job, denied housing, and health care."
She went on to tell a story about how she was able to keep her job, but noted that a former employer banned her from visiting her former workplace because she is transgender.
"We need a leader who is committed to economic justice for all people, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity," Zekis says before formally introducing "the next president of the United States, Senator Bernie Sanders!"
Sen. Sanders, who has long maintained a perfect score of 100 on HRC's congressional scorecard, recently spoke out against North Carolina’s new transphobic law.
“It’s time to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Sanders wrote on Twitter Thursday. “This law has no place in America.”
A spokesperson with the campaign told the Washington Blade that Sanders similarly opposes a law passed earlier this month in Kansas that allows faith-based student groups at publicly funded universities and colleges to reject LGBT members or others who do not subscribe to the beliefs of that particular faith.
Watch the clip of Zekis introducing Sanders below.