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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Freedom for All Americans begins $1M transgender public education project
From a press release
2016-04-05

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Washington, DC — Today Freedom for All Americans, the national LGBT nondiscrimination campaign, launched the Transgender Freedom Project, a multi-year initiative aimed at building public support for transgender people and transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. The launch comes on the heels of tremendous movement on nondiscrimination legislation often specifically targeted at transgender people: In recent weeks, anti-transgender bills have passed or advanced in North Carolina, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee, while anti-transgender bills narrowly escaped becoming law in Georgia and Virginia.

The TFP has three main goals: amplifying the stories of transgender Americans in the media and in statehouses, developing winning campaign strategies in partnership with other organizations, and equipping policymakers and advocates with tools and resources that advance transgender protections.

"We know that when Americans meet transgender people and hear their personal stories, they join the side of fairness and support protections that make us safer and more welcome in our communities," said Kasey Suffredini, chief program officer of Freedom for All Americans and director of the project. "The Transgender Freedom Project aims to showcase the humanity of transgender people and the complex reality of our lives, rather than reducing us to the restrooms that we use. Above all, this program is about introducing Americans to the people behind the policies that we are working towards and enacting, and demonstrating why the need for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections is so critical."

Suffredini, the director of the program, is a transgender attorney with nearly 20 years of experience developing policy reforms and leading successful advocacy campaigns on LGBT issues. Over the course of his career, he's participated in efforts to secure over 50 policy reforms in more than 34 states and secured administrative, legislative, and electoral victories on transgender nondiscrimination protections, transgender-inclusive health insurance, LGBTQ-inclusive anti-bullying protections, and more. Suffredini served as executive director of MassEquality from 2010-2015 and has also worked at Family Equality Council and the National LGBTQ Task Force.

Most recently, he has served as co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts, the campaign working to pass a bill that would provide explicit public accommodations protections for transgender people in public places such as restaurants, hotels, parks, movie theaters, and businesses.

"Thanks to the commitment of many organizations over the years, we have seen a marked increase in support for transgender people in the past decade. But there is still much work to be done," said Masen Davis, co-director of Global Action for Trans* Equality, former executive director of the Transgender Law Center, and board member of Freedom for All Americans. "The Transgender Freedom Project offers a much-needed structure to share guidance based on what the movement has learned from past campaigns and the most up-to date-research available. Working in partnership with on-the-ground nondiscrimination efforts, the Project will make resources available to help both short-term campaign needs and long-term public education goals."

Specific components of the project include:

Advertisements and field tests in states across the country that profile transgender people in real-world contexts

A story bank of messengers and stories that profile transgender people and the crucial need for protections

A campaign toolkit that provides templates and sample content to guide digital strategy, communications, messaging, and more

Trainings that prepare transgender advocates to speak to the public, media, and policymakers

Research that identifies the most powerful ways to dispel myths about transgender people

Training transgender people to become leaders on state nondiscrimination campaigns

"We're living in a time of significant fear-mongering by lawmakers seeking to advance discriminatory measures and hurt transgender people," said Andy Marra, communications manager at the Arcus Foundation and board member of Freedom for All Americans. "The Transgender Freedom Project intends to fill a gap in Americans' understanding by promoting education about transgender people and the full lives they lead. We live meaningful and fulfilling lives and make important contributions to society — and when people understand that, they'll come to support equal access for us in all parts of the community."

Davis and Marra are longtime leaders on transgender equality and LGBT issues. As board members of FFAA, they oversee and provide guidance and expertise on the TFP and other initiatives. The launch of the TFP also follows a debrief and analysis of the Houston campaign led by Freedom for All Americans which identified specific challenges and recommendations to advancing transgender nondiscrimination protections.

To learn more, visit www.transgenderfreedomproject.org .


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