The D.C. City Council unanimously confirmed the nominations of two transgender women to the 15-member D.C. Commission on Human Rights during a June 5 legislative meeting, making the women the first two transgender commissioners.
Alexandra Beninda and Earline Budd, long active in the local LGBT community, saw their nominations approved by the full council just a week after they were unanimously approved by the members of the Committee on Aging and Community Affairs, which oversees the Human Rights Commission and its parent agency, the Office of Human Rights.
The 15-member commission is tasked with adjudicating private-sector discrimination complaints brought under the D.C. Human Rights Act. Most of those seats have been empty for months.
Jason Terry of the DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) says Beninda and Budd are ''terrific additions'' to the commission, citing Budd's work with transgender communities, particulalry those who are incarcerated; and Beninda's former position at treasurer of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, where she ''demonstrated real leadership … making sure that trans issues stay on the agenda for D.C.'s politicians.''
Terry noted that the local LGBT community had been advocating for transgender representation on the commission in recent years.
''During the previous administration, we saw the dangers of not having a full Commission on Human Rights, and the very real need for trans representation on that body, when the commission proposed regulations to exempt D.C.'s custodial agencies from the Human Rights Act,'' Terry said. ''We successfully defeated that that horrific proposal, and that effort led to the adoption of the housing policy now in place in the D.C. Department of Corrections.''
Terry's comments echoed those made by his colleague from DCTC, Nico Quintana, during testimony on behalf of the two women before the council. Quintana called Budd and Beninda leaders in the trans communities who have ''devoted countless hours advocating for the human rights and equality of D.C. trans residents.''