The US Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation organisation, GLAAD, has altered its mission statement to include a transgender focus.

The organisation has formally dropped the words ‘Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’ from its name and will now be known as simply GLAAD, the LGBT media advocacy organisation.

“It is a natural progression that reflects the work GLAAD’s staff is already leading,” said GLAAD’s Wilson Cruz. “We respect and honour the full name that the organisation was founded with, but GLAAD’s work has expanded beyond fighting defamation to changing the culture. Our commitment to marriage equality, employment non-discrimination, and other LGBT issues is stronger than ever, and now our name reflects our work on transgender issues as well as our work with allies.”

The advocacy organisation announced on Sunday on US TV show Melissa Harris-Perry that it is altering its name and broadening its mission to focus more on advocating transgender equality. Suggestions had previously been made for the inclusion of transgender people, including a petition to add transphobia to its media reference guide.

“This is a reflection of the work we’re doing today, and a reflection of the work the gay and lesbian community needs to be doing,” GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro told MSNBC.com. “Our name was hindering that in many instances.”

Ferraro added that changing societal attitudes presented them with an opportunity to do more. “There have been huge increases in support for gay and lesbians, and for marriage equality. We’ve noticed that trend and wondered how we could use the tactics that the gay and lesbian community had used to get to today’s tipping point [for the trans community].”

Transgender advocate and actress Laverne Cox said: “I was happy to hear GLAAD has committed to prioritise trans issues. They really need to be.”

The 24th Annual GLAAD awards took place earlier this month, where Madonna dressed as a boy scout in protest over the anti-gay ban.