The National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund has announced the “first-ever presidential election forum focused on the rights, experiences and voices of the transgender community.” Called Transform the White House, the project is a digital forum that will include filmed interviews with the presidential candidates, “providing a platform for each to discuss how they’ve evolved on the rights of transgender people, the transgender people in their lives and why they think they’re the best candidate to promote and achieve transgender equality from the Oval Office,” according to the announcement.

The forum launched today (Wednesday, Aug. 21) at with interview with U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders. Interviews with other candidates will be added over the coming months, beginning next week.

Mara Keisling, executive Director of the NCTE Action Fund, said, “This election must be a turning point for trans people and for the future of our nation. Transgender people across the country are moving closer to full equality with every person we meet and every mind we change. Yet we have endured attack after attack from an administration intent on leaving us unprotected and erasing us from public life.

“Our health care, our schools, our jobs, and our safety depend on replacing President Trump with a leader dedicated to our full inclusion in society,” Keisling added. “Transgender people have shown the strength of our resilience across the country; now we must show the power of our voice at the ballot box.”

The forum initially includes interviews with Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Senator Bernie Sanders. The full interviews can be viewed at Additional interviews will be added over the coming months starting next week. Follow the Action Fund on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest.

Noting that he has a transgender relative, Booker said in his interview, “I think that this is a moral moment in America and that the next president has to be someone that understands that there’s a restoration of the best of our values. It has to be done from that office by elevating how we are rendering populations in this country invisible. Marginalizing them is just not acceptable to me. So, I hope that one day very soon — let’s call it maybe less than two years — that Avery, my nephew, and other great trans leaders in the youth community have a seat at the White House to talk about issues.”

Gillibrand spoke in the interview of the bravery of trans people. She said, “I think, for someone who’s transgender, it takes enormous courage to be the person that you are. I think it takes so much bravery to identify in the way you want to be identified. And I think every time a transgender person self-identifies and introduces himself or herself or theirselves to their community, it is an act of courage. It’s an act of bravery.”

And Sanders spoke on the importance of combating hate. “I think what a Sanders administration is about is pretty simple. It’s to fight discrimination in all of its forms,” he said. “And I know that the trans community has been, in sometimes very violent and deadly ways, been a victim of that hatred. So, we will provide all of the legal protection that we possibly can to protect the trans community and to protect anybody else who was being subjected to hate crimes and bullying.”

Follow the Action Fund on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest.

—  Tammye Nash