Outgoing Reflections of a Law Fellow

By Victoria M. Rodríguez Roldán, Task Force Holley Law Fellow

Throughout this summer, I have had the opportunity to work in the Task Force’s DC Office as a Holley Law Fellow, with the five best fellows I could have possibly had as coworkers and companions throughout these two months of braving the Washington summer. We did a lot of legal and advocacy work, a lot of meetings, memo writing and state and federal projects all over the country. But this isn’t about the nitty gritty of the work that was done this summer. This is about a greater movement.

I have been active in many capacities in the LGBT movement throughout all of my adult life, and a lot has been done from what seemed like the dark days of the past, to the current age where it all appears to be sunny and beautiful—even though a lot of work needs to be done to achieve full equality. Above all, I have had the opportunity to see the movement progress and to help it to move forward.

Right now the movement stands at a crossroads—LGBT equality has gone from a national wedge issue used by conservative leaders to win votes into one that has acquired a large acceptance amongst the general population. Marriage equality is the law of many states, and a significant part of the country lives in states that protect LGBT people from discrimination. And I myself am a living testament to that – I know for a fact that just 20 years ago when I was born, a transgender woman like myself would not be where I am today.

But it is precisely for those reasons that we need to work harder than ever—as that dream and opportunity is not yet available to many LGBT people. I’m talking of the runaway youth, the homeless, the sex worker, the one who cannot get treatment for lack of insurance and money, the person who cannot find employment due to their gender identity, the undocumented, and so many others, to whom the legal rights we talk about are often mere abstractions beyond their reach. These people are the ones that need these the most, and to whom justice has been so far delayed, and too often are ignored.

As I thank all those who mentored me this summer and throughout my life and growth within the movement, I above all wish to express my thanks for the constant reminder to focus on those who need empowerment the most. Thus, as I clean my desk and bid my au revoir, my greatest single piece of advice to all activists dedicated to LGBT rights, is to do exactly that; and to never forget those who have no voice and no opportunities, and to be their agent of change and empowerment.