Until their nominations were announced, the lack of a transgender representative on the commission has been an issue that has been raised in several different transgender-related forums.
Several councilmembers and candidates for public office have also expressed support for a transgender representative, including Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who chairs the Committee on Aging and Community Affairs, which oversees the commission. While seeking the endorsement of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club on Feb. 23, Barry pointed to his role as committee chair as a reason to endorse him, telling the organization’s members that he could facilitate a transgender nominee’s placement on the Commission on Human Rights.
Beninda says she feels ”honored and privileged” to be nominated with somebody like Budd, with whom she feels she could work well. She also emphasizes the importance of having a transgender representative on the commission, someone personally involved in the issues unique to the transgender community.
”I was already thinking what benefits we trans women have to offer is not only are we tuned in to the effects of discrimination in the transgender community, but how it applies to other groups,” she says. ”We’re attuned to the impact of being treated as a member of a group rather than as an individual.”
The next step for the nominations is the Committee on Aging and Community Affairs, where Beninda and Budd may face questioning, says David Simmons, chief administrative law judge for the Commission on Human Rights. The committee will then make a recommendation to the full council.
Beninda says she’s not yet been advised of when she’ll be meeting with the committee, but is hopeful the process will move quickly and that both she and Budd will join the commission. Metro Weekly was unable to reach Budd for comment.