Nearly 100 Trans Advocates Pen Open Letter to Human Rights Campaign

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Oct 02, 2019

When Alphonso David took over as the new director of Human Rights Campaign on August 7, he became the first person of color and the first civil rights attorney to lead the organization. One of his first actions was to introduce HRC’s new framework—which seeks to position the organization to better support the transgender community—via Out magazine.

On Tuesday (October 1), Out published “An Open Letter to HRC From Trans Community Leaders,” which was penned by trans rights advocates who are “troubled” by the organization’s shift and includes nearly 100 signees.

“Trans people, and primarily Black trans leaders and trans leaders of color, have been leading the work for trans liberation since long before HRC existed. As new HRC president Alphonso David acknowledged to Out, our work in recent decades has more often been opposed and undermined by HRC rather than supported,” the collective wrote. “But we were surprised to read that David believes HRC’s role is ‘to come up with solutions and stand on the frontline to provide meaningful solutions for the transgender community.’”

The community leaders—which include the folks behind organizations like The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Organización Latina de Trans en Texas and Compton's Transgender Cultural District—made it clear that as the people on the frontlines of the fight for trans advocacy, they are best positioned to serve. “We do not need a cisgender-led $40 million organization to copy our work and brand it as new,” they wrote. “We need more power.”

The collective is hopeful that David can lead HRC in a positive direction, but makes it clear that one person isn’t enough:


Many of us are Black trans leaders and trans leaders of color, and we’re excited by David's appointment as the first Black president of HRC. Racism, anti-Blackness and transphobia together work to undo our movements and threaten our lives and visions for liberation. We remain hopeful for David’s leadership and recognize that he alone cannot resolve the organization’s full legacy of transphobia, racism and its compounding effects in two months on the job.

To read the complete letter, visit