Stella Maxwell
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HRC Head Apologizes to Presidential Forum's Trans Protesters

Alphonso David and trans protesters

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David is addressing the criticism that the HRC/CNN town hall on LGBTQ issues last Thursday gave insufficient visibility to Black transgender women.

Several trans protesters interrupted the Los Angeles event — which featured nine Democratic presidential candidates, at various points — noting that questioners from the audience had not yet included Black trans women, who have borne the brunt of the deadly violence against trans Americans. At least one Black trans woman, singer-songwriter Shea Diamond, did ask a question later in the evening.

David issued a statement on Twitter today, saying, “Black and Latinx trans women should not have to protest to have voice in spaces created for the LGBTQ community.” Many people “were disturbed and traumatized by reactions and responses to the protests and we are deeply sorry,” he continued, adding that HRC is “deeply committed to making sure all members of our community have a seat at the tables we set.”

HRC has been criticized on several occasions for failing to give a voice to trans people, but it has become far more inclusive in recent years, with initiatives on equal rights for trans people and the hiring of high-profile trans staffers, such as its national press secretary, Sarah McBride. In September it announced an expansion of its work around trans rights, encompassing education campaigns, economic empowerment, capacity-building programs, and targeted task forces in communities hit hardest by anti-trans violence. Black trans women account for all but one of the trans homicide victims reported in the U.S. so far this year.

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