First published in the Jamaica Plain Gazette, August 24, 2018

Nika Elugardo is a justice warrior, a leader who builds bridges and connects unlikely advocates. What makes her unique is the intersection of faith, policy, politics, and system change that she brings to everything she does.

As a person of color, Nika is no stranger to discrimination and strongly believes that everyone has the right to live in a world that protects them against it. An important part of Nika’s journey has been assessing the ways in which institutions, perpetuate homophobia and transphobia and challenging them to evaluate their biases. Where there is violence, injustice, or even microaggression against one of us, there is the same against all of us.

Nika understands from her own personal experience the journey from ally to champion. As an ally, she has loved and supported us, and our relatives, as gay and queer. As an ally, she has helped faith leaders embrace one another across historic barriers of race and sexual orientation. Nika works intentionally to reject the blindness of her privilege and to promote an end to any form of discrimination. As our representative, Nika will stand up as a champion.

One example where champions, not just allies, are needed is the Public Accommodations Law. This law protects the safety, privacy, and sovereignty of transgender persons over their own bodies and establishes their rights as equal to those of cisgender people. There are those who, out of fear, hate, and ignorance, are trying to repeal this law. Anti-LGBTQ+ violence disproportionately harms trans people, especially trans people of color. Even the presence of phobic ballot initiatives negatively impacts the mental and physical health of LGBTQ+ youth and adults. It’s critical to champion this important law and vote Yes on 3 this November, and it will take champions like Nika to help transform our culture so this kind of harmful legislative attack is no more.

We must also hold our legislators to not only publicly praising but to championing and passing the LGBTQ+ public education–related legislation, such as the Healthy Youth Act for medically accurate sex education or the Gender Marker Bill to have an X as gender in your state ID. Nika will fight hard not only to legislate LGBTQ+ justice but also to educate our residents across the Commonwealth until the experience and beauty of the LGBTQ+ community is embraced and valued equally.

As members and relatives of the LGBTQ+ community, we are coming together to show our unwavering support for Nika Elugardo for state representative. We need Nika to bring her bold leadership and her inclusive and progressive agenda to the House of Representatives if we want to see real justice for all reflected in our state’s policies.

Wilnelia Rivera

Mike Leyba

Andy Lesser-González

Reggie Mobley

Jen Parks

Haidee Janak

Elizabeth Zoob

Robert Tumposky

Heshan Berents-Weeramuni

Lindsey Weeramuni

Joel Schwartz

Janet Selcer