Shattering Glass Ceilings This Women’s History Month

by HRC Staff

March is Women's History Month and HRC honors LGBTQ women and allies leading the fight for equality and shattering glass ceilings every day.

Post submitted by former Editorial Producer, Print and Digital Media Rokia Hassanein

March is Women’s History Month, and HRC honors LGBTQ women and allies leading the fight for equality and shattering glass ceilings every day. Women’s leadership is more important than ever in our fight to move equality forward -- not only for women, but for communities of color, minorities and those at the intersection of those identities.  

In November, Equality Voters helped elect a record number of pro-equality women, including equality champion Donna Shalala, a former secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Sharice Davids, the first openly LGBTQ Native woman elected to Congress; Lauren Underwood, the youngest Black woman to serve in Congress; Stephanie Murphy, a Vietnam War refugee who became the first Vietnamese-American congresswoman; Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress; Kyrsten Sinema, the U.S. Senate’s first openly bisexual senator; and others.

These women join trailblazers including openly gay U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), U.S. Sen. Jackie Rosen (D-NV), and others. They will continue their important work, advocating for equality in the halls of Congress.

We celebrate women, allies and those at the intersection of identities who continue using their platforms to support LGBTQ equality and bring visibility to the LGBTQ community, including Amandla Stenberg and Janelle Monáe.

Stenberg received the HRC Visibility Award at the 2019 HRC Greater New York Gala, where she spoke about the importance of having representation of LGBTQ Black women in pop culture. “Had I had more representation of Black gay women growing up, I probably would’ve come to conclusions around my sexuality much earlier,” she said.

When Monáe came out as a “queer Black woman in America,” she jump-started an international conversation about bisexual and pansexual identities.

We also celebrate openly queer singer, songwriter and dancer Kehlani, and Josie Totah, who’s living her truth as an openly transgender woman and was recently honored at HRC Foundation’s Time to THRIVE conference, and others.

This month, we also pause to remember and honor our history and those who made today’s victories possible. This year marks 50 years since LGBTQ patrons of Stonewall, led by Black trans women Marsha P. Johnson and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, decided to take a stand and fight back against the brutal intimidation they regularly faced at the hands of police. We also honor Latinx transgender pioneer and civil rights activist Sylvia Rivera, who was a leading participant in the Stonewall Riots and a founding member of early LGBTQ organizations and STAR, one of the first trans-specific rights organizations. 

While we celebrate the progress we have made in these 50 years, sexism is still far too pervasive in our institutions of daily life. The power and prevalence of the #MeToo movement, which sheds light on sexual harassment and assault, is just one example of how much work we have yet to do to achieve full gender equality -- better still, achieving gender equality that does not tie identity solely to the male-female binary.  

We also pause to remember the victims of fatal anti-transgender violence, the majority of whom are Black transgender women. The epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender women of color must cease.

That is why it is more important than ever to recognize the distance we still have to go to achieve full equality.  From turning out to elect pro-equality champions to helping train and support women leaders of the future, HRC staff, volunteers, members and supporters are on the ground working to drive this country forward at the intersections of LGBTQ and gender equality.

This Women’s History Month, we celebrate women’s leadership and the barriers we’ve broken while recognizing the distance we have to go to achieve full equality for women and all marginalized communities. We deepen our commitment to make the world a better and more equal place for women and girls everywhere.