The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus announced the creation of the Transgender Equality Task Force, which will be chaired by Rep. Mike Honda, D-Silicon Valley, today (Tuesday, Nov. 17), just three days before the 2015 Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The new task force will focus on developing legislation and other initiatives to ensure that trans people have equal access and equal treatment under the law, according to a statement from The National LGBTQ Task Force. Members include Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton from the District of Columbia, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey.
Task Force Chair Mike Honda said, “This week, as we seek to raise awareness of the issues facing the trans community, it is important to renew our commitment to help trans individuals be free of the fear of violence or bullying just for being who they are. It is my hope that by launching this workforce and holding a first-ever forum, we will reach some of my colleagues and encourage them to stand with the trans community.
“It is only through social change that we can truly elevate the conversation in this country and reach a place of true understanding and embrace all people for who they are,” Honda said.
Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan, National LGBTQ Task Force’s newly-appointed director of the Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project, said, “To this day, transgender people face formidable barriers in employment, housing, health, education and other areas. And to end the ongoing violence and discrimination that transgender people experience, we need everyone’s help and support.”
She added, “We’re elated to see the formation [of the congressional task force]. We thank the LGBTQ Equality conference for their ongoing efforts to advance legislation that extends critical protections to LGBTQ people.”
Rodriguez-Roldan, who’s appointment was announced Monday, Nov. 16, is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who started her advocacy work as a staffer for the Commonweath’s Senate campaign. While she was a student at the University of Puerto Rico, she became the first openly transgender member of student government there and pushed the school’s administration for transgender accessible student ID policies.
Rodriguez-Roldan was named a Truman Scholar in 2011 in recognition of her passion for public service, and in 2013, she was named a Holley Law Fellow by the National LGBTQ Task Force. She led a successful campaign lobbying for trans-inclusive driver’s licenses and state ID documents in Puerto Rico. Most recently she worked as an equal opportunity specialist for the U.S. Labor Department’s Civil Rights Center.
Rodriguez-Roldan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with honors from the University of Puerto Rico, and a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law.