When Barack Obama spoke of “Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall” in an emphatic call for equality at his second inaugural address Monday, gay rights activists rejoiced. The Stonewall reference, a nod to the infamous gay rights demonstrations in 1969 at New York’s Stonewall Inn, along with Obama’s calls for “our gay brothers and sisters” to be treated equally under the law, made history.
But Sadie, an 11-year-old transgender girl, felt that the president had left a few people out. That’s why she wrote an essay, “Sadie’s Dream for the World,” published on the blog TransGriot, where she explained the struggles that transgender people like her face.
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“Transgender people are not allowed the freedom to do things everyone else does, like go to the doctor, go to school, get a job, and even make friends,” she wrote on lined notebook paper in her fifth-grader scrawl.
For transgender people, it’s important to make their fight for equality recognized, and ultimately, achieved. Mark Snyder, communications manager for the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center, told TIME that it would have only helped the transgender cause if Obama had mentioned the community by name.
“Transgender people and gender nonconforming people continue to face extraordinary barriers to accessing healthcare, employment, and basic safety,” Snyder says.
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Although transgender people weren’t included in the inaugural address, the Obama administration has made a slew of advances for their rights, American Civil Liberties Union legislative representative Ian Thompson told TIME. Last year, the White House endorsed the Student Nondiscrimination Act, an anti-bullying bill that would prohibitdiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in public elementary and secondary schools. And after a landmark ruling, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission now protects transgender employees from discrimination.
Thompson says that the transgender community should celebrate Obama’s address as a step in the right direction in their fight for equality.
“It’s important to look at the speech in historical context,” he says. “It would not have even been imaginable four years ago.”