In Memory of Transgender Healthcare Advocate Andrew Cray
By Patrick Paschall, Senior Policy Counsel, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
On August 28, 2014, Andrew Cray, a leading expert in transgender health policy and former Holley Law Fellow at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, passed away at the age of 28. Andrew was a fierce advocate for transgender health policy, including being one of the leading advocates to secure transgender-inclusive health insurance policies in numerous states across the country and in the District of Columbia. This week the movement lost on of the most smart, kind, and effective people we have, and we at the Task Force mourn his loss and celebrate the contributions Andrew made during his short life.
Andrew began working on LGBT health policy as a Holley Law Fellow at the Task Force in 2009, where he was tasked with writing recommendations for inclusion in the various versions of the health reform law then being debated in Congress. His research in this area only deepened an interest he already held for ensuring that LGBT people, particularly transgender people, have full access to the range of health care they need. Following his time at the Task Force, Andrew worked on veterans health policy at the National Coalition for LGBT health, transgender health policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the full range of LGBT health policy as it relates to implementation of the Affordable Care Act while at the Center for American Progress’s LGBT Research and Communications Project.
Andrew’s work on transgender health policy was truly transformative – he was involved in securing life-saving policies that expand access to health care for transgender people in nearly every state that has recently updated their policies to ban exclusion of transgender people from health insurance policies. Indeed, in most of these states he was the leading legal expert and architect of the policy language ultimately adopted. Thousands of transgender people that never knew Andrew can thank him for ensuring that they have access to health insurance policies that recognize their gender identity. And for that, we all owe Andrew a great deal of gratitude.
Andrew was also a founding member of Trans Legal Advocates of Washington (TransLAW), an organization that serves the legal needs of the transgender community in the Washington DC area by training attorneys on transgender legal issues and operating legal clinics for transgender clients. Indeed, Andrew led the group that conducted outreach to the local transgender community to identify needs and inform low-income transgender people about the services offered by TransLAW. Andrew committed his entire life, both personal and professional, to LGBT equality. In fact, Andrew was so committed to LGBT health access that while fighting the cancer that ultimately took his life, he used his experience with the health care system to encourage others to get covered for affordable health insurance access through the Affordable Care Act by writing an op-ed titled “No One is Invincible.”
For us at the Task Force, losing Andrew really hurts. He was a friend, colleague, and true leader creating the change we want to see in the world – and he was really good at it too. As we celebrate his life, we must also remember to continue working toward achieving his dream of seeing a country in which LGBT people have access to the full range of health care they need. The only way Andrew would have us honor his memory is to keep working tirelessly to achieve that dream and make the world a better place. Rest in peace, friend. Andrew Cray 1986-2014.