When the Human Rights Campaign announced Alphonso David as its new president in June, he marked a number of firsts for the 40-year-old organization. He’s the first person of color and the first civil rights attorney to serve in the position. And in one of his first major moves, David is leading HRC in making justice for transgender people a centerpiece of its work.
In its quest to better serve the most marginalized, HRC is contending with a long-standing, troubled relationship with the trans community and communities of color. In the ‘90s, noted trans activist Sylvia Rivera leveled critiques at the organization for ignoring the death of Amanda Milan, a Black transgender woman, and the voices of the trans community at that time. Ten years later, the organization was denounced by community leaders and other nonprofits for its wavering support for trans inclusion in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). And just four years ago, Buzzfeed News broke a story on an internal report drafted by the organization naming steep problems with diversity on staff and tokenism of trans employees.