NCTE, TLDEF announce merger into new organization for Trans Equality

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NCTE TLDEF announce merger for Trans Equality

Merger of NCTE and TLDEF into Advocates for Trans Equality

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) have announced their merger into a single organization named Advocates for Trans Equality.

Different Focuses, Shared Goal

This merger, which was made public on January 17, comes at a critical time when transgender and non-binary individuals face significant challenges in American politics. Both organizations, founded in 2003, have different focuses but share the common goal of advancing transgender rights.

TLDEF’s Legal Lens and Initiatives

TLDEF has primarily focused on advancing transgender and LGBTQ rights through a legal lens, including impact litigation and education. They are known for initiatives such as the Trans Health Project, which advocates for improvements in transgender-related healthcare, and the Name Change Project, which offers free legal name change services to low-income transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary individuals.

NCTE’s Policy Advocacy and Projects

On the other hand, NCTE has played a significant role in national efforts to improve transgender rights through policy changes, research, and advocacy in the political arena. They have led various projects, including Families for Trans Equality, a Racial and Economic Justice Initiative, and a Trans Legal Services Network.

Response to Escalating Attacks on Transgender Rights

The decision to merge both organizations was influenced by the escalating attacks on transgender rights, notably in 2022 when the State of Texas began investigating families of transgender youth receiving gender-affirming care. The heads of both organizations, Andy Marra of TLDEF and Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen of NCTE, initiated discussions about merging as a response to these challenges.

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Leadership and Vision for the New Organization

The new organization, Advocates for Trans Equality, will maintain offices in both Washington, DC (where NCTE is based) and New York City (where TLDEF is headquartered), although many employees are expected to continue working remotely. Andy Marra will become the CEO of the new organization, while Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen will retain his position as executive director.

Strengthening the Transgender Rights Movement

The merger is seen as an opportunity to combine TLDEF’s legal expertise with NCTE’s policy background to strengthen the transgender rights movement. The goal is to achieve greater coordination, efficiency, and the ability to leverage additional resources for the transgender community. The long-term stability of the organization is particularly important as the transgender rights movement has historically been underfunded.

Continued Support for Labor Unions

Both NCTE and TLDEF have experienced labor movements in recent years that resulted in union representation for their workers. The FAQ page on TLDEF’s website assures employees that they will maintain their union status after the merger, and the new organization will continue to support labor unions.

Securing a Brighter Future for Transgender People

The merger is expected to be finalized by the summer, pending regulatory approval. Advocates for Trans Equality aims to secure a brighter and lasting future for transgender people in the United States, especially given the challenges faced in the upcoming elections and ongoing attacks on the transgender community.

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