NCTE’s Mara Keisling Named an Out 100 Honoree

November 13, 2014
Photo: Out

Photo: Out

This week, National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) Executive Director Mara Keisling was named in Out magazine’s annual listing of 100 influential lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender cultural and political icons. Keisling was honored for her decade of advocacy for transgender people with NCTE.

Out says Keisling “has been instrumental in making outdated government policies more inclusive. The organization’s efforts have improved the process of updating gender on government records, increased access to trans-related health care, and strengthened non-discrimination stances in businesses, housing, and schools.”

Pictured with Keisling is Laura Erickson-Schroth, editor of the groundbreaking collection of essays of the experiences of transgender people, “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves“.

Other honorees this year include Scout and Liz Margolies, Samira Wiley, Calpernia Addams, Zachary Quinto, Sam Smith, and Angel Haze. NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin was an Out100 honoree in 2013.

See the full list of the Out100 2014 honorees here.

Barneys Launches Spring Campaign Featuring Transgender Models, and their Families

February 6, 2014

Thank Barneys New York for Supporting Transgender People:

Barneys New York became the first major retailer to launch a campaign exclusively featuring the lives and stories of diverse transgender models and their family members.

The campaign, called “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters,” was shot by renowned American fashion photographer and filmmaker Bruce Weber whose photographs have also appeared in GQ, Vogue, and Rolling Stone covering brands like Calvin Klein, Versace, and Ralph Lauren. Each model was interviewed by longtime arts journalist, and Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair, Patricia Bosworth.

The Spring 2014 campaign created a safe space for models from diverse walks of life–from African American Ball culture in NYC to life in Tulsa, Oklahoma–to share their empowering struggles and inspiring victories. These stories highlight the enduring connections and support of family, friends, and community members that showcase the deep roots of transgender people in American culture and society.

Dolce & Gabbana - Trevon, Max, and Ryley Armani - Valentijn and Ryley

As part of NCTE’s ongoing work to educate workplaces about their obligations to address anti-transgender discrimination, the National Center for Transgender Equality provided cultural competency training to Barneys New York corporate staff in headquarters and with floor associates in retail locations across the country. NCTE, along with the LGBT Center of New York, will receive half of 10% of all sales from Barneys’ 11 flagship stores nationwide and on February 11th.

The campaign represents an important step by a major cultural institution to humanize the lives of transgender people. Join us in thanking Barneys New York for their inclusion of transgender people.

Read NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling’s forward in the campaign look book.

Many Americans view transgender people as different or even exotic. Outdated stereotypes of our community make it hard for us to show the full picture of our lives, families, and our contributions. And assumptions about how we should look have too often dictated how we should live. But what is lost in the stereotypes and assumptions are the human connections between our lives and our families, friends, and communities.

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Journalists: Commit to Fair and Accurate Coverage of Transgender People, including Pvt. Chelsea Manning

September 4, 2013

The media has a long and poor track record of reporting on transgender people, and the coverage surrounding Private Chelsea Manning has brought that lack of fair and accurate coverage into sharp focus. The coverage that we have seen thus far has relied on stereotypical images, contrived confusion over names and pronouns, and an obsession with surgery. Examples include:

  • USA Today displaying a graphic that outlines several of the surgeries transgender women may elect to undergo, overemphasizing and sensationalizing the role of surgeries in the life of a transgender person.  A transgender identity is not determined by medical procedures.
  • The New York TimesWashington PostCNNNPRNBCFox NewsReuters, and a host of other outlets wrote articles that outlined the “struggles” that media outlets faced in referring to Private Manning as Chelsea or choosing a pronoun. The Washington Post, Fox News, and CNN still refuse to honor Private Manning’s preferred name and pronouns.
  • CNN’s Jake Tapper conducted an interview with a close friend of Manning, continually referring to Manning as Bradley, and also referring to his guest as a “gay man” when she is a transgender woman.

The media disrespected and insulted all transgender people by using phrases like “choose to be a girl,” and CNN panelist Richard Herman saying that Manning will “get good practice” as a woman in prison. Fox News offensively teased a broadcast segment on Private Manning by playing Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like A Lady).”


Transgender people face tremendous levels of discrimination and violence. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs(NCAVP), 53% of anti-LGBT homicide victims in 2012 were transgender women – most were transgender women of color. According to the report“Injustice at Every Turn”:

  • Transgender people experience unemployment at twice the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate.
  • 90% of transgender people report experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.
  • 22% of respondents who have interacted with police reported harassment by police, with much higher rates reported by people of color.
  • Almost half of the respondents (46%) reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance.
  • 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population.

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NCTE Joins Laverne Cox, Dr. Kortney Ziegler to Discuss “Orange is the New Black” on HuffPost Live

July 26, 2013

Today, National Center for Transgender Equality Program Manager Andy Bowen joined actor Laverne Cox on HuffPost Live to talk about the new hit show “Orange is the New Black.” The show features, for the first time, a transgender character played by a transgender actor.

Watch the interview here.

The show centers around Piper Chapman who is incarcerated for a drug offense committed 10 years earlier. The show is novel for a number of reasons, well outlined by the Washington Post, but for those keeping tabs on popular media’s portrayal of transgender women, it is particularly significant.

Few mainstream TV shows or movies have portrayed transgender people at all. And when transgender people are depicted in media, they are often type-casted as powerless victims. Cox’s character, Sophia Burset, instead, is a self-assured and strong character who, as Dr. Ziegler notes, bucks perceptions of transgender women of color.

In addition to touching on other problems in the prison system like sexual assault, solitary confinement and mental health issues, Orange is the New Black highlights injustices facing transgender people. A key part of Sophia’s plot line is when prison authorities take away Sophia’s hormones, an unfortunately common experience for transgender people in incarceration. As found in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, transgender people in incarceration are often denied routine health care (12%) or hormones (17%). These numbers reflect two sadly common attitudes: 1) hormones aren’t recognized as essential medical care, and 2) people in prison are not valued enough to be provided with proper medical treatment.

Despite the barriers to medical care Sophia faces and the harsh conditions facing all the women of Litchfield Correctional Facility, Sophia is far safer than the vast majority of transgender women in our nation’s prisons and jails, because she is housed with other women. While this is becoming more common, many systems still automatically house trans women in men’s prisons – and then, realizing just how vulnerable to abuse they are there, put them in long-term solitary confinement that amounts to torture. New standards under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) are meant to end these cruel practices, and NCTE continues to work alongside many other advocates to see that trans people are housed with safety and dignity.

Only released a few weeks ago, the show continues to inspire conversations around race and transgender issues and garner accolades from mainstream viewers. And fortunately, as Orange is the New Black enters its second season, viewers across the country will have the chance to learn more about transgender people through Sophia.

NCTE Staff Top Inaugural “Trans 100” List

April 9, 2013

Trans 100 logo

Released today, the Trans 100 list celebrates transgender activists, artists,  and legal advocates  in the U.S. NCTE is honored that the inaugural Trans 100 list recognizes the contributions of current staff and board members Mara Keisling, Harper Jean Tobin, Marisa Richmond, and Avory Faucette, as well as former staff and board members Diego Sanchez, Masen Davis and Jaan Williams. The Trans 100 list will be released annually.

Trans 100 is an effort to change the media conversation around transgender people to highlight the positive changes transgender people are making in the U.S. Nominations were collected in an open nominations period and the effort to curate the list was co-directed by Toni D’Orsay, Executive Director of This Is How, and Jen Richards of We Happy Trans, and sponsored by GLAAD.

“The only sustainable self-interest is that which extends the sense of self to include the whole,” said Jen Richards at the Trans 100 launch event. “Look around: women, men, people of color, genderqueer people, crossdressers, showgirls, sex workers, academics, activists, artists, and allies. We are all one community.”

NCTE Board Chair Marcus Waterbury said, “NCTE is proud to have our staff and board be among those recognized in the Trans 100 and especially proud to be honored alongside many of our close friends and allies. As NCTE Board Chair, I have the pleasure of working with this profoundly effective team and these  accolades only pushes our team to do more and to do it better.”

View the full list here.

NCTE’s Mara Keisling Talks LGBT Protections in VAWA on Democracy Now!

March 8, 2013
This week, NCTE celebrated the hard-fought bi-partisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which, for the first time, contains explicit protections for LGBT people. This morning, NCTE’s Executive Director, Mara Keisling, addressed LGBT involvement in the reauthorization process on Democracy Now!  More than a year ago, VAWA’s authorization was shamefully allowed to expire.  Throughout the past year, NCTE has supported the work of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, and many others in pressing for a comprehensive and LGBT-inclusive VAWA reauthorization.
An LGBT-inclusive VAWA is important because nearly one-fifth of transgender people have faced domestic violence from their families because they are transgender or gender non-conforming.  Generally, transgender people are already at greater risk of experiencing acts of domestic and bias-based violence.  Yet, despite this increased risk of violence and increased need for services, many trans people have experienced discrimination when trying to access these services.  The reauthorization of VAWA with LGBT-inclusive protections not only provides the necessary funding to implement the law, but importantly provides trans people with access to services that protect them from abuse. 
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WATCH: NCTE’s Mara Keisling on Obama’s LGBT Agenda

January 22, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 2.17.04 PM

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling and Advocate Magazine Editor-in-Chief Matt Breen joined the Melissa Harris-Perry show this past Sunday to discuss what’s next on the LGBT agenda in President Obama’s second term.

Notably, Keisling discussed the critical need for an inclusive approach to comprehensive immigration reform. She said, “there are zillions of DREAMer youth who are LGBT, and we want to make sure there is a pathway to citizenship for all immigrants including LGBT immigrants.”

Keisling also noted the continuing need for the Obama Administration to engage with LGBT advocacy groups around expanding access to Medicare particularly for transgender people.

Watch the full segment here.

NCTE Panels and Presentations at Creating Change 2013

January 16, 2013

The National Center for Transgender Equality is excited to present a number of panels and workshops at the upcoming 25th national Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. Learn about some of our presentations below and we hope you will be able to connect with us in Atlanta, GA.

Learn more about Creating Change here.

Thursday, January 24, 2012

3:40 PM – 4:40 PM
GLAAD New Media Training Institute
Organizations Making an Impact with New Media
NCTE Director of Communications Vincent Paolo Villano, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Resident Filmmaker Jesse Begenyi, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice Director of Communications and Digital Strategy Jenn Sturm

Friday, January 25, 2012

10:45 AM – 12:15 PM
Cruel Exclusions: The Fight to End Health Care Discrimination Against Transgender People
NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Social Media, Ethics, and the LGBT Community
NCTE Director of Communications Vincent Paolo Villano, Freedom to Marry Director of Online Programs Michael Crawford, Blue State Digital Business Development Manager Leone Kraus

3:00 PM – 6:15 PM
Transforming Your LGBT Organization to be Fully Trans-Inclusive
NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling and Transgender Civil Rights Project Director Lisa Mottet, Esq.

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