The gay rights organization, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has shortened its name to simply GLAAD in a bid to be more inclusive and to reflect changing priorities. The advocacy organization, which announced the switch Sunday on Melissa Harris-Perry, said the change was important as it plans to focus more on advocating for equality for transgender people.
“This is a reflection of the work we’re doing today, and a reflection of the work the gay and lesbian community needs to be doing,” GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro told msnbc.com in an earlier interview. “Our name was hindering that in many instances.”
Ferraro also pointed out that shifting societal attitudes created an opportunity to do more. “There have been huge increases in support for gay and lesbians, and for marriage equality. We’ve noticed that trend and wondered how we could use the tactics that the gay and lesbian community had used to get to today’s tipping point [for the trans community].”
“I was happy to hear GLAAD has committed to prioritize trans issues,” said Laverne Cox, an actress and transgender advocate. “They really need to be.”
People who identify as transgender were nearly 30% more likely to be a victim of physical violence than people who adhere to gender norms, according to a 2011 study by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, and discrimination based upon gender expression is widespread.
GLAAD has spent years working to counter negative media portrayals of gay and lesbian people, something it plans to do for trans people as well. More positive media narratives mean more support for children.
“I’d like to see other kids able to be themselves because they know there’s a community that supports them,” said Jazz, a 12-year-old whose fight to be allowed to play soccer on a girls’ soccer team in a local youth-recreation league led the United States Soccer Federation adopting a trans inclusive policy in 2012.
Melissa Harris-Perry recently received a Media Award from GLAAD for Outstanding TV Journalism in a Newsmagazine for its April 2012 segment “Transgender in America.”