The Deep & Personal Work of HRC’s Alabama State Director How Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey is Pushing LGBTQ+ Equality in the South

Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey was ready to take on the daunting challenges ahead of her when she started almost three years ago as Alabama State Director under the Project One America initiative — the Human Rights Campaign’s unprecedented work to expand LGBTQ+ equality in the South. As a Black transgender woman who grew up in Texas and worked throughout the South in public health and advocacy work, Anderson-Harvey was familiar with the terrain as well as the complexities of life in that part of the country. She knew that to truly galvanize an entire region where LGBTQ+ people face a significant lack of legal protections while enduring myriad legislative attacks, Anderson-Harvey was going to need to not only open people’s minds, but their hearts.


“Being HRC’s Alabama state director is truly a mission of not leaving anyone behind,” said Anderson-Harvey. “That’s from a racial standpoint, from a classism standpoint, protected classes, rural areas, you name it. That really speaks to me. I am passionate about Southern regions and making sure there are resources and advocates that can bring change to Southern states. It was also a passion of mine to join HRC to implement my vision, my boldness and my leadership as a Black woman of trans experience in order to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people not only in Alabama, but all Southern states. By taking the reins as Alabama state director and utilizing HRC’s mission and resources, we’ve been able to push LGBTQ+ equality forward in the state and in the South in amazing ways.”

SOUTHERN PRIORITIES

In 2014, HRC launched its Project One America initiative to dramatically expand LGBTQ+ equality in the South through permanent campaigns in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas. “In the South, we’re prioritizing voting and voting rights, teaching people that their voices do matter. The implementation of our work under Project One America shows constituents in the South that HRC is truly invested in their communities.”

Through her work with Project One America, Anderson-Harvey connects with community members in Alabama and across the South with a hybrid approach, implementing programmatic resources from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation into her work in coalition and constituent building. This approach, she said, is crucial to improving comprehension among LGBTQ+ folks in the South of the impact of public policy on our community and dismantling discriminatory legislation.

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Anderson-Harvey has been working relentlessly to both advance LGBTQ+ equality in the South while building HRC’s presence in hard-to-reach parts of the region. “By presence, many people in the South recognized HRC, but not many thoroughly understood HRC’s mission and how the LGBTQ+ community in Alabama, particularly the rural areas, the Black and Brown communities and the trans-identified communities, could be impacted and could benefit from HRC’s work,” Anderson-Harvey said.

“The work of the HRC Foundation directly speaks to the needs of many of these communities,” Anderson-Harvey said. “The Foundation’s programs help to build relationships with these communities through an educational standpoint, allowing us to build relationships with these communities by working with them on issues that impact their daily lives: religion, work, education, housing, health. In Alabama, we’ve been able to build relationships with folks through trust because of the Foundation’s work, which imprints HRC in their daily lives. Once we’ve established trust, we can establish autonomy and folks can start advocating for themselves. Empowering people allows them to join us as a larger community in coalition to combat dogmatic principles and language which are truly preventing us to reach full LGBTQ+ equality not only in the South, but everywhere. This hybrid approach of working through the Foundation’s programmatic work to then empowering folks to engage politically builds accountability for HRC.”

A POWERFUL NETWORK

As Alabama state director, Anderson-Harvey has built a network of coalitions that not only expand HRC’s presence in the state and in the South, but provides constituents and supporters in the state and the South a reliable source of accurate information and resources. At a time when discriminatory state legislation is rampant across the country — Alabama itself enshrined an anti-trans sports bill into law in 2021 and recently signed into law a discriminatory anti- trans bathroom ban and an infamous “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill — it is essential that LGBTQ+ people and their allies in the state remain informed about these legislative attacks and how to combat them.

“I work closely with coalition partners to ensure that we are all responding to the advancements of these discriminatory and hateful state bills in a unified and uniform fashion, as to not confuse or stress our supporters and constituents in the state and region,” Anderson-Harvey said. “I constantly meet with our coalition partners to make sure we’re on the same page and answer any and all questions our supporters may have. They know that HRC is front and center in the fight against these awful attempts at undermining LGBTQ+ lives. They know I am a phone call or a text message away.”

Anderson-Harvey’s commitment to her network in Alabama is so extensive that she schedules routine communal gatherings. Whether for a happy hour or a virtual meeting, Anderson-Harvey ensures that LGBTQ+ people in Alabama are able to connect with her about any pressing issues and thoughts they may have regarding their livelihood and well-being as queer people in the South.

Anderson-Harvey shared that she had just finished talking to one of her constituents in Alabama who was incredibly concerned about their future as a trans individual living in the southern state.

“This is how deep and personal the work can get,” Anderson-Harvey said. “Here in the South, people entrust you with their lives and the lives of their loved ones. What’s happening in Alabama regarding LGBTQ+ issues can be incredibly disheartening, but my work is also to instill hope and confidence in those that are directly affected. That’s just how we do it here in the South. The work is rooted in humanity.”

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Learn more about HRC’s work in Alabama