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California’s Transgender Advisory Council: Creating Space for Dialogue and Change

In September of 2021, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis established California’s first statewide Transgender Advisory Council. The Advisory Council convenes Transgender activists and community leaders from across California to create an open space for dialogue and policy ideation with legislative and state leaders. 

The Advisory Council’s goal is to bring attention to the issues facing the transgender community in California by empowering those affected directly to advocate and find policy avenues for solutions, particularly among decision makers and key stakeholders. 

Although California has historically been at the forefront of advancing rights for the LGBTQ+ community, it remains critical that leaders continue to seek perspectives and center the voices and experiences of the transgender community at all levels, including issues around poverty, housing insecurity, lack of affordable, and accessible health care services. 

“We live under a constant threat of violence and having our rights stripped away; That’s our reality. The California Transgender Advisory Council establishes that California (as a state) cares about the well-being of its transgender residents and sees us as an underserved population”  says Ebony Harper, Co-Chair of the Advisory Council and Executive Director of California TRANScends. “We aim to foster relationships between transgender community members and allies to co-create a California where transgender people have equal access to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

“While California is often thought of as a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community, we know that we still don’t have full protections in our state. The Lieutenant Governor has created this vital space where trans+ leaders working on equity issues throughout the state can get together to share our barriers and issues, resources and knowledge, as well as inform and collaborate with decision-makers to advance our issues. says Evan Minton, Co-Chair of the Advisory Council. “This sort of table should be duplicated everywhere”. 

The Advisory Council meets regularly and is comprised of leaders from across the state, including the following people:

  • Ian Anderson, Legal Services Project Manager, Transgender Law Center
  • Zizi Bandera, Program Manager, Equality California
  • Blossom Brown, Activist
  • Co-chair Ebony Harper, Executive Director, California TRANScends
  • Drian Juarez, Vice President of Training and Culture, Folx Health
  • Lisa Middleton, Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem and City Councilmember
  • Co-chair Evan Minton, Activist
  • Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO, TransLatin@ Coalition and California 100 advisor 
  • Rosio Leon Velasco-Stoll, Fresno Spectrum Center


Picture credit: California Governor’s Office