The following is from HRC’s Colorado Steering Committee political co-chair, Aydrian Richardson:

During the August recess, three volunteers with HRC Colorado had the great opportunity to meet with Senator Michael Bennet’s state director, Rosemary Rodriguez. She has been a true ally to the LGBT community, not just under Senator Bennet, but in years past. We thanked Rosemary for her support and that of Senator Bennet.

We expressed to Rosemary the urgency in getting a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” passed through Congress as soon as possible. She promised to push Senator Bennet on working with the coalitions that he has built to move forward on repeal, and to have personal talks with his colleagues sitting on the fence. We also discussed ENDA and thanked Rosemary for the senator’s unyielding support to pass an inclusive ENDA. We expressed that we only support an inclusive bill including protections for transgender employees.

Having Sandy Hickerson present was a great asset. In recent years she has transitioned from male to female. For the first time we engaged Senator Bennet’s office on issues facing the transgender community. Sandy spoke in depth about standards of care and WPATH guidelines that were adopted by the medical community decades ago. She discussed how there are not accepted guidelines for post-change care. Sandy asked for Senator Bennet to become educated on these issues and to become and advocate for post-change care.

Sandy also discussed the legal issues that a transgender person will deal with following transitioning. Sandy told heart-wrenching stories about being married to her wife, Barbara, as a man, and losing that legal marriage status once she transitioned. This caused their medical insurance to drop Sandy after transitioning. She also has dealt with delayed payouts from her retirement pension while they figure out how to make payments to a female on an account that had been paid into by a male.  This happened while having worked at one of the most pro-LGBT corporations in Colorado.

These discussions were extremely eye opening for everyone in the room. Rosemary promised to hold a follow up conference call with Senator Bennet’s health care advisor, Rohini Ravindran. Sandy committed to bringing to the call an expert on WPATH. We look forward to learning more about what we can do to help Sandy and the transgender community, both here in Colorado and nationally. We certainly look forward to the upcoming call in the next few weeks.

To get involved with HRC Colorado, please contact me. We have many upcoming events, including more meetings with US Senator’s and Representatives.

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