A new congressional task force dedicated to transgender equality was launched Tuesday. The group, announced by the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, was created in response to an "epidemic of violence against the transgender community," the caucus says.
The news comes during Trans Awareness Week, leading up to the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Friday.
Nine members of the House of Representatives make up the task force. Two of them have transgender family members, according to the Human Rights Commission: The chairman, Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., has a transgender granddaughter, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., has a transgender son.
Ros-Lehtinen is the only Republican in the task force. Though she was not initially a member, the Washington Blade reports she announced she would be joining shortly after the group's press conference, saying it was an honor. She called her son Rigo "an incredible inspiration for so many in both living an authentic life and advocating for a more accepting society," according to the HRC.
After announcing the new task force, the LGBT Equality Caucus held Congress' first forum on issues of violence against the transgender community, particularly violence against trans people of color.
Issues raised at the forum included the importance of education, the need for legislation to protect trans people, including transgender children, and the importance of starting a national database to track incidents of violence against trans people, PBS Newshour reports.