NCTE Celebrates CeCe McDonald’s Early Release

January 13, 2014

FreeCeCeToday, CeCe McDonald, an African American transgender woman serving a 41-month sentence in the self-defense death of her assailant, was released early from St. Cloud Minnesota Correctional Facility. McDonald, a student in Minneapolis, and her friends survived a violent transphobic and racist attack on June 5th, 2011. While the perpetrators initiated the confrontation, CeCe McDonald was the only person to be arrested and charged, and in spite of the fact that her actions were defensive.

National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling welcomes CeCe McDonald’s early release, “No transgender person should be punished for surviving a hate crime. NCTE welcomes and celebrates CeCe’s early release from prison. We’re also mindful that CeCe’s release is not freedom; her ability to control her life is now severely limited because a couple of intoxicated strangers believed that CeCe and her friends didn’t belong in the neighborhood. CeCe’s story is a window into understanding how our country treats transgender people of color and young people.

CeCe McDonald’s arrest and imprisonment underscores the need to reform the criminal justice system. Because of a number of contributing factors including police profiling, poverty, and anti-transgender violence, transgender people, and particularly transgender people of color, experience disproportionate rates of imprisonment. According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 16% of transgender adults have been in a prison or a jail for any reason, compared to only 2.7% of all adults who have been in prison.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why I am Fasting for Immigration Reform

December 3, 2013

by Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality

Last evening, I began fasting in solidarity with the brave and resolute activists participating in the Fast4Families effort, who have been fasting for 21 days (since November 12). They are fasting to call for Congressional action on immigration reform. I join them in asking that my country pass a common sense reform law that will allow millions of families to stay together, families who are just as deserving as mine to feel safe and welcome.

My fast comes after several years of thinking about immigration and the people it affects. As a fourth generation American, I can’t help but see what our broken immigration system is doing to families– families who are just like mine, except that they live each day in fear knowing that they can be separated at any time, be sent away from their homes, be abused by criminally immoral employers, be placed in solitary confinement, or be sent back to a country that is unknown and unsafe for them.

My fast grew from meeting transgender immigrants who came to the U.S. because they were transgender and not physically or economically safe where they were. Once here, they are unsafe in our broken immigration system because they are transgender. Our flawed enforcement programs funnel vulnerable transgender immigrants into our inhumane immigration detention system, and because they are transgender, they are routinely assigned to the torture of solitary confinement for an average of 9-12 months.


Read the rest of this entry »

LGBT Coalition for Immigration Reform Stands in Solidarity with Fast For Families on National Day to Act, Fast and Pray

December 3, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The nation’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations applauded the strength and courage of the men and women who have been fasting for more than 20 days to highlight the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

The LGBT community offered their support to the brave Fasters and several LGBT leaders fasted in solidarity, including:

  • Heather Cronk and Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, GetEQUAL
  • Ben de Guzman, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
  • Sharita Gruberg and Laura Durso, Center for American Progress
  • Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality

“I am proud to stand in solidarity with the courageous fasters later this week, as I fast for immigration reform myself,” said Heather Cronk, co-director of GetEQUAL. “The fearlessness of the immigration fasters stands in stark contrast to the political cowardice of House GOP leadership, who continue to stand defiantly in the way of reforming our broken immigration system. We continue to look to Republican leadership in the House to not only end the fast, but also end the pain of millions of families across the country who live in fear each day because of this broken system.”

The LGBT community is committed to passing compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform that will provide a roadmap for citizenship for the 11 million undocumented men, women and children living in our country, including at least 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Orange is the New Black” Actor Laverne Cox Speaks Out for Transgender Workplace Protections

November 1, 2013

Today, breakout actor on the Netflix hit series Orange is the New Black joined the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) in pressing for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In light of the scheduled votes for ENDA, Cox told NCTE:

“Getting to play Sophia Burset in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black is a dream come true for me. As an out transgender woman of color, I don’t take the enormity of me being able to live my dreams lightly. This is not the case for so many of my transgender brothers and sisters. Everyone should have the same chance to get ahead, to support themselves and their families and to live their dreams. They should have the same chance to build a career doing something that they love to do. Having explicit federal laws like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will make that possible for transgender people and I urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly pass this bill.”

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “Laverne and I are examples of what could happen for each member of our community if every transgender person had the same shot at succeeding in their jobs while doing what they love.” Keisling added, “But in a country where 78% of transgender people face disrespect, discrimination or harassment at work, the promise of the American dream becomes disappointingly distant. I join Laverne in strongly urging all Senators to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”

The decades-old bill is slated for a cloture vote on Monday, November 4th, 2013 with a final vote expected later next week. The forthcoming vote marks the first time a transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act receives a vote in U.S. Congress.

Sign the petition to tell your Senators to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Share Laverne’s statement on Facebook. 


Trans Lobby Day Debrief

June 27, 2013

Over 100 people joined the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Trans People of Color Coalition on Monday, June 17th to speak with their Congressional representatives about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and immigration reform. Thirty-two states were represented, from Arkansas to Nevada to Alaska.

Lobby Day participants were everyday trans people and allies who came to let their representatives know trans people and advocates, and understand that trans people are in their states and districts, need these bills, and demand that action be taken to get them. One Alaskan trans woman, for example, told NCTE after her lobbying visits that she felt incredibly empowered by being given the opportunity to come to Washington, DC and speak up for equality.


Read the rest of this entry »

NCTE Joins Over 30 Trans Groups in Calling for Immigration Reform

April 10, 2013

Broad coalition release Statement of Principles on Immigration Reform

As thousands gather in Washington, DC  in support of immigration reform, the National Center for Transgender Equality and over 30 transgender service and advocacy groups released a Statement of Principles on Immigration Reform. The statement outlines fundamental policies critical for reform that affect the estimated 20,000 undocumented transgender adults in the U.S., and thousands of transgender youth who came to the U.S. at an early age and also lack legal status.

NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin said, “For thousands of transgender immigrants and their families, the need for reform is especially urgent. They are frequently locked out of asylum protections when they come here fleeing anti-trans violence, denied recognition for their families, subjected to especially harsh and dangerous detention conditions, and often deported back into harm’s way. This goes to the core of what NCTE stands for.”

Share this image on Facebook.


Statement signatories include local and national transgender advocacy groups from across the U.S. including the Trans People of Color Coalition, Gender Justice Nevada, and The TransLatin@ Coalition urging Congress for a more fair and humane immigration system for transgender and non-transgender people alike.

Share an experience of how immigration laws affect you as an LGBT person.

Read the Immigration Reform Statement of Principles below or download it here.

View this document on Scribd

NCTE Meets with Ecuadorian LGBT Activists

October 25, 2012

NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin with the delegation of Ecuadorian LGBT Activists.

Last Tuesday, I was thrilled, along with colleagues from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, to meet and discuss LGBT activism with a group of incredible LGBT activists from Ecuador. The U.S. State Department regularly facilitates visits by distinguished community leaders and human rights activists from around the world to meet and exchange knowledge with their counterparts and other experts in the US. In recent years, the State Department’s exchange programs have increasingly connected international LGBT activists with U.S.-based activists, and the results have been enriching for all involved. As part of this all-LGBT, all-Ecuadorian visit, our guests were meeting with leaders and activists here in the nation’s capitol and elsewhere.

While we Americans can often be very, very US-centric in our focus, we have a lot to learn from our counterparts around the world. This was first driven home for me years ago when I wrote a scholarly article on gender identity recognition around the world, and discovered that some nations such as the United Kingdom and Spain were, at least by some measures, well ahead of the United States when it comes to the rights of transgender people. In recent years there has been a tremendous amount of LGBT and specifically transgender activism throughout much of Latin America, including major developments in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina to name a few.

Watch: Proyecto Transgenero’s video educating Ecuadorians about trans people and the identification challenges trans people face.

Read the rest of this entry »

LGBT History Month Spotlight: Sylvia Rivera

October 12, 2012

For LGBT History Month, NCTE is highlighting outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the movement for trans equality and justice. Our first spotlight is on Sylvia Rivera, a transgender activist who worked tirelessly for more than three decades on behalf of trans people and all LGBTQ people marginalized by poverty, racism, and a narrowly conceived “gay rights” movement.

Born and raised in New York City, Sylvia had already been living on the street for years when at 17 she became a veteran of the Stonewall riot. She was active in the formation of key post-Stonewall gay rights organizations such as the Gay Activists Alliance, as well as in organizing with the Young Lords, the Black Panthers, homeless youth, and sex workers. She campaigned for an early gay rights law in New York City, famously getting arrested for scaling the walls of City Hall (in heels, no less) to crash a closed-door meeting on the bill.

Read the rest of this entry »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 260 other followers