Mara Keisling, executive director and co-founder of the National Center for Transgender Equality ( NCTE ) , met with the community Mon., Feb. 11, at the Center on Halsted. Keisling, who was visiting Chicago for another event, covered a variety of important issues concerning not only the transgender community, but the overall LGBT community as well.
Keisling, a Pennsylvania native, co-chaired the Pennsylvania Gender Rights Coalition before moving to Washington to help form NCTE. Since the inception of the organization in 2003, Keisling has clarified the position of the trans community on several issues, including the recent Employment Non-Discrimination Act ( ENDA ) , which dropped the trans community out of the picture without any opposition from the country's largest voice for LGBT legislation, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) .
'We believe that they have done a lot of great work,' said Keisling of HRC. 'However, what they did was immoral, how they did it was immoral, and they are still doing it immorally.'
Keisling stressed the importance for unity in what she describes as a moral struggle for both the gay and transgender communities, noting that HRC's actions do not show a full support for the LGBT community as a single unit. 'Either HRC believes we are a part of their core fabric, or they do not,' she added.
While over 350 major LGBT organizations denounced the revised ENDA last October, the Human Rights Campaign stated that they would neither support nor oppose the revised bill, contrary to statements made by HRC President Joe Solomnese the previous month during the nation's largest transgender conference in Atlanta, where he stated that HRC would oppose a non-inclusive ENDA.
'They could not possibly have supported that bill,' said a flustered Keisling, speaking of HRC's promise to oppose a non-inclusive ENDA. 'They failed at morals.'
After the ENDA-related developments, HRC lost its only transgender board member, Donna Rose, as well as the support of NCTE, which refuses to do anything to build credit for HRC as spokespeople for the trans community.
'We are not just a transgender organization,' Keisling said, 'We believe we have an obligation to make society better for everybody.' NCTE focuses on issues concerning federal policy; grassroots organization; documentation and privacy concerns; and medical access issues.
Keisling concluded her talk on an emphatic note: 'Here's the deal—we're winning.'