Letter from GLAAD trans caucus

November 27, 1995

Peggy Brady
David Huebner
GLAAD Board Co-chairs
150 West 26th Street, Suite 503
New York, NY 10001

Dear Ms. Brady & Mr. Huebner,

The Transgender Caucus of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was founded to help GLAAD fulfill it's mission of fighting for fair, accurate and inclusive representation, as a means of combating discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. Caucus members represent a cross-section of local and national transgender organizations. During our last meeting, held on November 15, we discussed the future of the caucus with GLAAD program coordinator Claudia Manpromised to convey those concerns to the GLAAD board. However, we have taken the step of writing to you directly. First. because some of our concerns require a commitment at the board level. Second, because we feel that it is important that there be a direct line of communication with the board. Since the last meeting was the first transgender caucus meeting that Charles attended we felt that he should not be placed in the awkward position of having to speak for us all.

During Ellen Carton's administration, GLAAD took some large steps toward transgender inclusion. Former GLAAD Director of Public Affairs Donald Suggs provided technical assistance to the Metropolitan Gender Network as well as to The Greater New York Gender Alliance, which subsequently organized a successful campaigGLAAD Membership Director Cathay Che worked with volunteers to organize the first transgender benefit for GLAAD, to raise money to do further outreach to transgender groups. When Charles Ching was removed from consideration from the first IMAGES campaign, Ellen allowed the staff to directly address the board, who eventually agreed that Charles should not be excluded simply because he is transgender. As you know, Charles eventually joined the national GLAAD board. We would like to continue this tradition of inclusion under William Waybourn, particularly at the leadership level.

We are committed to working with William to achieve this. However, recently some concerns have been raised about GLAAD's commitment to trainclusion. First, the board declined to respond to a letter written by former GLAAD intern Carolyn Riccardi raising questions about GLAAD's position on transgender issues. Second, former GLAAD staffers Donald Suggs and Cathay Che, who have been instrumental in building coalitions with our community, were dismissed or left the organization. Transgender woman and caucus member Melissa Sklarz, then a temporary office worker at GLAAD, was abruptly and inexplicably removed from consideration for a full-time administrative position after being told that she was a front-runner for the job. We were pleased to hear that you will be featuring Melissa in GLAAD materials, but we wonder why she is appropriate for a poster or brochure but not for serious consideration for a position at the organization. Finally, we were disturbed by William's comment in The Village Voice that "GLAAD is a lesbian and gay organization." It was our understanding that GLAAD changed its mission statement to reflect its commitment to our communities.

We feel that these incidents reflect the need for a better understanding of transgender issues among the board and staff . We feel that that understanding is best achieved in two ways. First, there is a need for some immediate sensitivity training for both board and staff. Second, GLAAD should ensure that there are more transgender persons involved in GLAAD in staff and board positions. We welcome the opportunity to work with you on finding transgender candidates. Finally, GLAAD needs to be clear about what role it is willing to play in dealing with transgender issues. We appreciate GLAAD's help in empowering us to respond to our concerns. However, we would also like GLAAD to set an example for all of our cstrong moral leadership by responding in it's own voice as well. In that way, GLAAD sends a clear message that these are issues that are important from the perspective of a fully inclusive organization. We are eager to work with you on resolving these issues, and see no reason why there could not be a strong and effective transgender caucus in every national office and chapter city of GLAAD. In the long term, we look forward to the day when there will no longer be a need for these caucuses because transgender persons and concerns will be fully integrated in all aspects of GLAAD.


Lynn E. Walker
V.P. - Greater New York Gender Alliance
International Congress of Transgender Organizations
Board Member - International Foundation For Gender Education

Ricki Ann Wilchins
Co-Founder - Transexual Menace
Co-Founder - Gender Identity Project

Melissa Sklarz
GLAAD Transgender Caucus

Cliff Boone
GLAAD - Major Donor

Kim Ono
GLAAD Volunteer

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