The loss of extraordinary transgender health activist Andrew Cray last week at age 28 has been hard for a lot of us to get our minds around. The August 30 memorial service at St. Thomas Church in Dupont Circle helped, as gatherings of love and respect do. Working through his illness, Andrew played a crucial role in getting the details right for Mayor Gray's historic executive action earlier this year to guarantee transgender people non-discriminatory access to health care. The service was led beautifully by Bishop Gene Robinson, who had worked with Andrew at the Center for American Progress and had officiated at Andrew's wedding to Sarah McBride six days before. The mutual grieving and celebration of Andrew among the CAP staff and local and national LGBT activists at the service was especially poignant in that he had helped so many people in such a short life.
Here is the eulogy given by Sterling Washington, Director of the D.C. Office of GLBT Affairs:
Before Amy reads the condolence letter from Mayor Gray, I wanted to say a few words about Andrew Cray. I admit to struggling with what those words would be, which is a bit unusual for me. This all seemed to happen so fast and I haven't had time to wrap my head around it. And I know that if it is difficult for me, it is unbearably arduous for his family. After all, it was just six days ago that Andy and Sarah were married and now we are eulogizing him.
To say he was an indefatigable activist is an understatement. Andrew Cray did more in his 28 years than so many accomplish in a lifetime. And he did so in service to others. For example, he worked closely with the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs last September to educate the LGBT community about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the local DC Health Benefits Exchange. But, Andrew's most enduring work with the Office involved his legal research and advice when the District moved to bar discrimination against the transgender community in health insurance. This was no easy task and was a year in the making. As we approached the end of the process, there were several surreptitious calls late at night between my Office and a handful of advocates – Andy Bowen, Kellan Baker, and Andrew. Sometimes, it involved Kellan carrying messages to Andrew, whose health had really begun to deteriorate by that point. You see, Andrew was among a handful of legal experts in the country who understood the verbiage needed to ensure our policy was as inclusive as it could be. To be clear, many activists had begun laying the groundwork for this years ago; however, when it came to shaping and actually writing the policy clarification, Andrew was invaluable. Because of his work and that of a handful of advocates, the District has the most comprehensive policy barring discrimination in health insurance (including Medicaid) on the basis of gender identity of any jurisdiction in the country. We are mourning Andrew today, but the fruits of his labor will live on and help so many get the life-saving procedures they so desperately need. And not just here in DC. On Thursday – the day that Andrew died – the city of Cincinnati decided that it would cover gender reassignment surgeries.
Aside from his work, Andrew's passing leaves a hole in the heart of so many of us here. And that is harder to speak to. His love, energy, and friendship still endures albeit in a different state now. And we will carry with us every day the memory of those and we are indeed changed – in a positive way - because our lives were touched by his.
Mayor Gray's condolence letter was read by GLBT Affairs Deputy Director Amy Loudermilk.
News reports at the Blade
and Think Progress
. Cray wrote an op-ed at Advocate.com
in March of this year. May this beautiful young man rest in peace. He has certainly left the world better than he found it.