Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis announced today, Sept. 13, 2021, that she has established a council of transgender leaders to create a dialogue between state leaders and the transgender community in California. Believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, the council includes transgender activists, advocates, and elected officials from across the state. Its goal is to bring attention to the issues faced by the transgender community by inviting stakeholders in advocacy, government, and different industry sectors to hear directly from the council.
“Here in California, I’m proud we have enacted many protections for LGBTQ+ people, but we still have work to do, and that is especially true for issues facing our transgender and nonbinary family, friends, and neighbors,” said Lt. Governor Kounalakis. “Establishing this council gives transgender leaders the space to have an open dialogue with key stakeholders who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to hear directly from them. I hope bridging this gap will help to amplify important issues and bring more understanding of the community. I look forward to the opportunity to listen, to learn, and to help elevate the voices of the members.”
“This California Transgender Advisory Council is historic,” said council member and California TRANScends Executive Director Ebony Harper. “I’m extremely honored to serve in this capacity and grateful for our Lieutenant Governor for seeing the need.”
“I congratulate Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis for her leadership in organizing the Lt. Governor’s Transgender Advisory Council,” said council member and Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton. “At a time when so many political leaders see transgender Americans as a political opportunity to exploit and target, Lt. Governor Kounalakis is reaching out to help, integrate and provide opportunity. I look forward to working with my colleagues within California’s transgender community and the Lt. Governor to advance employment, housing and healthcare opportunity and equity for all Californians.”
“This is historic for the state of California,” said the TransLatin@ Coalition President and CEO Bamby Salcedo. “Having an official body composed of trans people under the Lieutenant Governor’s office sets a precedent for other states to follow. I am so grateful to live in such an inclusive state!”
“I am beyond thrilled to work in partnership with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office to create what will hopefully be the first of many Transgender Advisory Councils,” said council member and Equality California Program Manager Zizi Bandera. “To have a high-ranking state official show their solidarity with our community in this way means a lot. I am honored to continue the work of so many transgender advocates whose relentless passion for justice and liberation have made this possible.”
The advisory council will meet regularly and is comprised of transgender leaders from across the state, including the following people:
- Ian Anderson, Legal Services Project Manager, Transgender Law Center
- Zizi Bandera, Program Manager, Equality CaliforniaBlossom Brown, Activist
- Ebony Harper, Executive Director, California TRANScends
- Drian Juarez, Vice President of Training and Culture, Folx Health
- Lisa Middleton, Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem and City Councilmember
- Evan Minton, California Legislative Advocate, Voices for Progress
- Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO, TransLatin@ Coalition
- Rosio Leon Velasco-Stoll, Fresno Spectrum Center
In addition to establishing the Transgender Advisory Council, Lt. Governor Kounalakis co-sponsored several important measures in the California Legislature this year, including AB 378 (Bauer-Kahan), which was signed by Governor Newsom and eliminates gendered language referencing constitutional officers in California law, and AB 245 (Chiu), which is currently on the Governor’s desk and would ensure that California public colleges and universities allow transgender and nonbinary students to have their name and gender accurately reflected on academic records.