About 25 people attended a panel discussion on issues of inclusion, self-definition, and politics within the transgender community at the National Organization for Women (NOW) annual conference at the Hilton Chicago hotel July 6.
Speakers included Jackie McKethen, executive producer, director and host of "The Jackie Oooo Show"; Danielle Roberts, lawyer and volunteer with the National Center for Transgender Equality; and Nora Scully, McKethen's ex-wife.
McKethen defined what it means to be transgender and talked about the issues facing the transgender community. "Transgender equality is about 15 years behind the gay/lesbian community," said McKethen. Transgender people fall on a continuum and between 3 to 5 per cent of the population of the U.S. population identifies as transgender, noted McKethen.
More than 30 states still allow legal discrimination against transgender people in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations, McKethen explained. McKethen noted that legal identification is still an obstacle for transgender people who want to change their birth certificate, social security card and/or drivers license/state ID's. Also, McKethen shared that enforcement of existing laws that protect the transgender community is still an issue as well as inheritance rights and a wide variety of medical treatment access.
Transgender people should see a therapist, especially as they begin their transition, McKethen said, adding that research is the key to finding a therapist who caters to the transgender community.
The transgender community is as varied as all other communities, however, the wider world only sees a small part of the community due to how the media portrays us, said Roberts.
Finding the right doctor is also an issue for transgender people and Roberts noted that she has encountered medical professionals, including therapists, who don't understand transgender people/issues. Roberts also spoke about the high cost of the medicine and surgery that transgender people take for years so their body changes.
There is a momentum toward equality for the transgender community especially among the younger generation, said Roberts. Roberts noted that she recently joined NOW because of their support for the transgender community.
Scully, who is a retired junior high math teacher, shared that she first thought McKethen was having an affair because she found panties (that weren't hers) in the bathroom, however, when Scully confronted McKethen, McKethen told Scully that the panties were hers. Their journey has been rocky, but now they are great friends, said Scully.
See www.fenmark.net/jackieoooo_arc.html, www.ustream.tv/channel/jackie-oooo1 and www.facebook.com/TheJackeOoooShow for more information.
Political roundtable held at NOW conference 2013-07-06 here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Political-roundtable-held-at-NOW-conference/43609.html .
NOW holds discussion on diversity issues 2013-07-06 here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/NOW-holds-discussion-on-diversity-issues/43610.html .
NOW focus includes marriage equality 2013-07-06 here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/NOW-focus-includes-marriage-equality/43608.html .