The 2017 elections brought in some wins for the trans community and, ultimately, big wins for the nation last fall. Danica Roem, Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham were some of the first transgender candidates elected to public office and state legislature. Though these are household names by now, fewer people know about the political action committee (PAC) that helped get them on the ballot: The Trans United Fund (TUF).
TUF wants to see more trans people on the ballot for any given election for public office, and by continuing to raise money, garner support and provide resources, they are accomplishing just that. Although campaigns for trans candidates often face million-dollar hate campaigns, TUF sticks by candidates and helps strategize for battling that hatred. Such was the case for the campaign for Cunningham, which put the PAC in debt after a donor pulled out and TUF continued to support the candidate during a major smear campaign against him.
That commitment to keeping trans people on the ballot and into office is what differentiates TUF from other organizations that choose to market themselves under the name of the trans community, but fail to deliver. TransLatina Coalition founder and TUF board member, Bamby Salcedo, told The Advocate just that by stating that some seemingly progressive organizations “are only using the name of our community as a marketing campaign to raise funds that don’t end up ever coming back to our communities. And… [then], they’ll leave us behind.”
The leaders of TUF are trans people who serve in high ranks in the community, such as the PAC’s executive director, Hayden Mora, who was the first transgender member of the senior executive team at the Human Rights Campaign as deputy chief of staff.
The PAC focuses on not only trans folk but trans people of color, which is crucial in representation and visibility in public office with candidates like Jenkins and Cunningham as well as TUF’s own board members.
TUF takes the year of trans people in office as a sign for the future of the United State’s political climate and bringing resolve to intolerance and highlighting the success in getting voters to show up for trans candidates.