Out trans former Bronx City Council candidate Elisa Crespo has been tapped as the executive director of the statewide LGBTQ advocacy group the New Pride Agenda.
Last year Crespo launched a historic campaign to become the first out trans lawmaker in the city — and although she did not win her bid to represent Bronx’s 15th City Council District, her platform brought attention to critical issues facing the LGBTQ community. She will now look to shine a spotlight on queer issues in her new role with New Pride Agenda, which begins on July 1.
Doug Wirth, the board chair of the New Pride Agenda and CEO of Amida Care, a non-profit health and coordinated care plan serving New York City Medicaid members with chronic conditions, said Crespo’s background in LGBTQ politics made her an appropriate pick for the job.
“New Pride Agenda is in a growth phase, expanding our reach and impact,” Wirth said in a written statement. “We are excited to bring Elisa on board because her experience, energy, and commitment to the LGBTQ community and transgender causes — which are wide-reaching and deep — are exactly what we need to move our organization and advocacy efforts and impacts forward.”
Crespo told Gay City News that she is honored to step up in this role — and she feels that her personal experiences have prepared her to fight on behalf of vulnerable populations.
“I’m thrilled to be coming on as the first executive director of the New Pride Agenda,” Crespo told Gay City News. “I’ve lived on the margins of society. I know what it’s like to feel unseen, to feel unheard.”
Crsepo also stressed the importance of diverse leadership in the community.
“It’s really important in terms of representation that we have trans-led organizations,” she said. “Unfortunately, that’s still something that’s not very common in society, and in this work, it’s important for young trans people of color to see that they can be leaders in this movement, whether that be on the ground as a frontline activist or whether that be in politics or whether that be in policy work as an executive director of a statewide organization.”
While in this post, Crespo will be tasked with advocating for sex worker rights, the allocation of resources toward LGBTQ youth, and the expansion of access to PrEP to help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Furthermore, she is prioritizing public health, housing, and jobs, while denouncing police violence. In acknowledging the broad scope of queer issues, she is also hoping to bring attention to LGBTQ advocacy in upstate New York. She said the group is seeking to hire organizers and board members outside of New York City.
“Sometimes we forget about our siblings who live upstate or in Long Island, in conservative communities, and how impactful policy-making is for them,” she said. “We feel it’s really important to build a statewide coalition and work with our allies to continue applying pressure so we can create a New York where marginalized queer people aren’t overlooked or ignored, but in fact are respected and valued for who we are and what we bring to the table.”
Crespo said she will push for inclusive and age-appropriate sex education and the improvement of the conditions of incarcerated trans people, including demands to house folks in accordance with their gender identity. She will also advocate for the Dignity for All Students Act, a measure that would address anti-LGBTQ bullying in schools, and the Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act, a comprehensive bill to decriminalize sex work.
“The Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act is very important to me personally,” she said. “Protecting sex workers is something that New Pride Agenda is very much focused on.”
She added, “I’m looking forward to making sure that we advance these pieces of legislation that are going to be life-changing — particularly [for] trans people.”
Crespo has worked to advocate for students with disabilities in the office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and also interned in the City Council and for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Last year, Crespo told Gay City News she went to Albany to advocate for the now-repealed ban on “Walking While Trans,” a loitering law used to unfairly target trans women of color. Crespo met with Heastie to garner his support for the legislation. During her City Council campaign, she advocated for the decriminalization of sex work, the HALT Act to ban solitary confinement, and other issues.
The New Pride Agenda launched in 2019 to build support for LGBTQ issues and policies in the state legislature. During the pandemic, the New Pride Agenda held several virtual programs focused on COVID-19, substance use, individuals living with HIV, and seniors. In April, New Pride Agenda hosted a Zoom town hall meeting led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to push for the passage of the Equality Act, a bill that would build on the Bostock Supreme Court ruling last summer and establish comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans.
“Most importantly, our focus is fighting for those who are most vulnerable, and that is transgender, non-binary people who identify as Black and Brown,” Crespo said. “We hope to work with others who are doing the work to build a diverse and a strong coalition so that we can continue to advance the work for our people because the fight is never over.”
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