Welcoming First Trans Man To U.S. House of Reps
Originally printed 8/15/2014 (Issue 2233 - Between The Lines News)
WASHINGTON D.C. - The Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute announced on Aug. 14th the appointment of Ben Panico as a Victory Congressional Fellow for the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. This appointment makes Panico the only openly transgender person working for the House of Representatives.
"Ben Panico brings a wealth of experiences to this position, and as Capitol Hill's only openly transgender staff member, he brings a much needed voice to the table," Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute said. "I am confident Ben will be able to gain immense experience and assist in advancing an equality agenda in Congress."
Panico is a native of Connecticut and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor's degree in English and Literature as well as a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. While at JHU, he served as Director of Operations for the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance, lobbied university administrators for an LGBT resource center and spearheaded the development of Safe Zone training programs.
He is a winner of the Victory Congressional Internship, a competitive internship program that brings outstanding LGBT students to D.C. to work with congress and is a former intern with Equality Maryland where he did outreach for marriage equality legislation and a transgender rights bill.
"I first started my work at Victory as a Congressional Intern and have now risen through Victory's programing to a Congressional Fellow. This is an opportunity for me gain professional experience and build a network of connections," Panico said. "Visibility has been so integral to the LGBT community's progress over the years and I believe it's essential to continue that tradition to increase awareness about transgender issues on Capitol Hill."
Panico is known for writing a report to the Maryland Department of Corrections on the best practices for transgender inmates, translating Equality Maryland documents into Spanish and organizing listening sessions for members of the Latina transgender community in Prince George's County.
On top of all his academic and professional achievements Panico is a skilled wall climber, outdoors education instructor and a volunteer soup kitchen member.
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In a Sept. 27 op-ed in the Detroit News, conservative Republican columnist Nolan Finley raised serious concerns about three Republican candidates running for the state house Nov. 4. Todd Courser of Lapeer, Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell and Gary Glenn of Midland -- all correctly identified by Finley as a "trio (who) seeks tea party tyranny." Nolan describes Glenn and Courser as "extremely anti-gay (who) would turn the Republican Party into a fundamentalist denomination of the Christian Church if given the chance." Finley warned that the trio's narrow views on the Legislature could cripple the government and its ability to work across the aisle to move the state forward. Their agenda also includes killing any expansion of the Elliot-Larsen act to include LGBT protections.View More Pride Source Votes
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