In a White House first, trans groups have been invited to a closed-door meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to exclusively discuss federal trans-related issues. The meeting will take place Friday, April 29, and will not be open to the public.
It is expected that a federal, trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will be a topic of discussion as well as health policy as it relates to trans people, but a formal agenda has not been announced.
From The Washington Blade:
Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said the meeting, which is set to take place Friday at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, will include transgender leaders who work on federal policy.
“OPE routinely holds meetings with various stakeholders to discuss various policy issues,” Inouye said. “Friday’s meeting, like most OPE meetings, will be closed press and off the record.”
Additionally, Inouye said the meeting will be the first ever for the Office of Public Engagement where transgender issues are the sole focus of discussion.
“While transgender issues have been covered in previous OPE meetings, and transgender leaders have been included in other OPE meetings, this would be the first time OPE has held a meeting solely focused on transgender issues,” Inouye said.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she plans to attend the meeting.
“This is the first president who has allowed trans people — really allowed LGBT people — to bring forward problems and then advocate for them,” Keisling said. “In the Bush administration, we couldn’t even do that. They wouldn’t even listen to us. They didn’t care what our problems were. In fact, they were making most of our problems.”
With the United States House of Representatives dominated by the GOP it would seem doubtful that there will be any significant moves on a federal ENDA.
As such, advocates have pressed for President Obama to issue an LGBT-inclusive executive order on workplace discrimination. This would only impact businesses contracting with the federal government and would not be as lasting as an Act of Congress but would be a good stop-gap measure until conditions are more favorable for ENDA.
Whether this possibility will be discussed during Friday’s meeting is unknown, but you can read more the precedent for an executive order here.
For more on ENDA, please click here.