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JCRC Advocates for Trans Inclusion

Aaron Agulnek, Director of the Government Affairs Jewish Community Relations Council, seeks to impact the public perception on transgender inclusion through JCRC’s direct advocacy and highlighting others’ work to end officially sanctioned and permitted bigotry and discrimination

AaronAgulnek-Featured-1Embedded in our communal and organizational DNA is the belief that all people come before the government with an equal right to justice, liberty and the freedom to live lives of dignity. The struggle for civil rights and equality under the law are not merely aspirational, but a daily motivation that guides our work in helping to shape public policy and create a just community.

Over the past several years, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) has worked with our partners in the Jewish community and beyond to promote a safe, accepting, and nurturing civil society for LGBTQ individuals and families. To succeed at changing public opinion, and more directly, at giving public policy makers the cover to move faster than their constituents often requires a call to a higher motive – namely to humanize the abstract.

When we first started our advocacy efforts to extend anti-discrimination protections to transgender people, the understanding of gender identity had not yet penetrated the public consciousness. This initial barrier was not unlike other civil rights struggles in history, where the status quo stands as a solid block to the other. But in this case, many legislators had not talked to a transgender person and knew nothing more than the outlines of something that felt different and hard to comprehend. To break through, we and our partners knew that the public needed to get to know people who are trans, learn their stories, hear their struggles and their basic yet essential goal to simply live, work, and love without fear of persecution, retaliation, or humiliation.

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