Posted on 03/15/2016

Los Angeles is nation’s largest city with a formal body to advise City leaders on issues facing the trans community.

LOS ANGELES — The City of Los Angeles today became the nation’s largest city to establish a permanent council of transgender community leaders to advise the City on how to best serve the needs of transgender Angelenos. Mayor Eric Garcetti joined Councilmembers Mitch O'Farrell and Mike Bonin, Controller Ron Galperin, and members of the Human Relations Commission at City Hall today to announce the creation of the the new Council.

Working under the Human Relations Commission, the Transgender Advisory Council will advise the Office of the Mayor, the Los Angeles City Council, City departments and other elected officials on projects and policies that address critical issues facing the trans community — such as economic development, public safety, accessibility, and public awareness.

“Today, the City of Los Angeles sends a clear message to transgender Angelenos: your voices matter and your experiences count,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The nine members of our Transgender Advisory Council will bring a new and important perspective to City Hall that will help empower trans Angelenos to lead stigma-free, productive, and meaningful lives.”

"I welcome the establishment of the Transgender Advisory Council," said Controller Galperin. I look forward to working with its members to transcend stereotypes and transform our City into a more welcoming place to live, to grow up, to work, and to thrive."

“I am proud of the work we are doing to improve race and gender relations, and this new advisory council will help direct discussion at every level of city government” said Mitch O’Farrell. Those in the transgender community are among the most misunderstood and marginalized in all of society, and as their brother in the effort to elevate issues of fairness and equality for everyone, it is important that no community is left behind in the city of Angels.”

"Los Angeles can lead the way to greater inclusion of the transgender community in issues like economic development, public safety, accessibility and public awareness," said Councilmember Mike Bonin. "The Transgender Advisory Council will help ensure the Mayor’s office, the City Council and the Human Relations Commission are hearing from people who live every day with the stigma and disrespect we are seeking to overcome. The progress we have made toward equality in the last few years has been historic, but we are far from done."

"The Transgender Advisory Council is being created to provide a greatly improved quality of life for all transgender individuals visiting, living and working in the City of Los Angeles" said Karina Samala, an inaugural member of the Transgender Advisory Council and longtime LGBT activist.

Just yesterday, President Obama appointed the the first out transgender person, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, to serve as the White House LGBT liaison.

National data on the U.S. transgender population underscores the urgent need for city governments to support and protect the transgender community. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a study released in 2012 by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, the unemployment rate for trans people is twice that of the general population, and nearly four times as high for transgender people of color. When unemployed, transgender people are twice as likely to become homeless or turn to street-based economies (e.g. sex work, selling drugs), 85% more likely to become incarcerated, and twice as likely to become infected with HIV. The survey also found that 90 percent of employed trans people reported that they have experienced harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination.

Members of the Transgender Advisory Council were selected from a blind application process that was based on criteria determined by the Human Relations Commission. Council members include: Karina Samala, Diana Feliz Oliva, Jaden Fields, James Wen, Jazzmun Crayton, Justine Gonzalez, Talia Bettcher, Terri Jay, and Zoey Luna.