Bil Browning

NCTE's Mara Keisling sits down for a Q&A

Filed By Bil Browning | February 16, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: LGBT community, Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality, NCTE, transgender

One of the things you quickly see after hanging out with the LGBT Inc. crowd a few times is the personality behind the corporate title or the public persona. One of the most dynamic forces working on behalf of our community is National Center for Transgender Equality's Executive Director Mara Keisling. Mara is hysterically funny and tells some of the best stories. I sat down with Mara a few weeks ago and we chatted about ENDA, priorities for federal LGBT legislation and expanding our civil rights protections beyond employment law.

Second half of the interview after the jump - including how you can help Mara get put on the White House schedule to talk trans issues with Obama.


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Everyday Transperson | February 16, 2009 11:13 AM

No thanks................

We have enough professional "Spokespeople" already for the trans community these days who are either the token celebrity in corporate America, knew the right people at HRC, greased palms with the right politicians or most importantly were "Hand- Selected" by the GLBT media crony club to go to Washington...........

If you want this to be a true trans effort for Obama, then you all need to think of a plan that is collaboratively INCLUSIVE of many trans people's opinions rather than the "business as usual" approach of sending the corporate trans sacrificial lamb to have a meeting with leaders on how to exploit trans folks by governmental agencies and corporations which solely benefit THEM (aka "Best Practices").

The people who you really need to be meeting with now are those corrupt HRC leaders who are selling everyone else down the river so that they can ensure that their elitist paychecks and those of their straight corporate "allies" remains secure. Of course no one wants to talk about that !!!

So Ms. Kiesling, please remember when talking to Obama that when you "represent" the trans community, in reality you are expressing YOUR opinion and experience, which does not necessarily reflect the opinions of ALL trans folks.........

Do we need an inclusive ENDA ??? Sure. Do we need extended healthcare to include trans people ?? Absolutely !! Do we need to hold corporations accountable for not doing what they say.............well, I suppose that depends of which side of the trans corporate / political/HRC table you sit doesn't it ???

The fact is, regardless of past tradition and business etiquette, Obama and congress just might be more inclined to believe the needs of trans folks or even GLBT people altogether if he and others in Washington meet with real, tangible examples of disenfranchised and oppressed trans folks rather than the usual elitist "GLBT Inc." club who have no problem worrying about where their next meal is coming from or certainly if they can buy a designer business suit so they can visit Washington and get their picture on the front cover of The Advocate or Echelon..........

So, in closing I say don't screw this up from the start like some previous trans "activists" have done, which in my opinion helped lay the groundwork for the mess we are currently in. Apparently over-inflated egos, opportunism and pride was more important at that time than actually bringing about some sort of tangible change...

Collaborative community effort, or just more of the same ???

Once again, we hear you spout off your lack of expertice expertice. I suppose during the Super Bowl you were screaming at the Cardinals quarterback on how to make the plays, from the comfort of your armchair. And now, you get upset at several people who have done a lot for this community, while you sit around and do nothing.

Put your money where your mouth is and get off your ass to actually acomplish something, rather than trolling from behind the computer screen. Prove to us you're right, otherwise, you're just wasting bandwidth.

Everyday Transperson | February 16, 2009 8:37 PM

It is quite clear from your comment that you just don't get it. And by your defensive tone, probably never will........ So, I do not see a need to "prove" anything to you or anyone else in this world to justify my opinions.

By the way, expertise is spelled wrong............ A terrific start in getting politicians to believe that we have our act together......

Thank you for your time.

Everyday Transperson:

Who are you, and do you ever come to the Northeastern US?

That said, I for one, am glad to see you post. I suspect the posters here react so strongly to what you write because you speak a truth that threatens their groupthink.
Any group of any size places a premium on homogeneity of thought. This obviously includes the LGBT types here and elsewhere. The bad news is that this insistence on sameness restricts the kinds of truths that they can examine, let alone accept. And this will eventually hurt transfolk, by replicating a caste system of "acceptable" trans people, and "acceptable" positions which is unlikely to be optimal.
It is also somewhat hypocritical. Their unwillingness to listen civilly to radically differing trans opinions proves that they only represent their own opinions by proxy, and not a spectrum of transpeople.

Of course, their attitude towards you is quite revealing, now, isn't it?

That said, whoever you are, I have enjoyed your posts here.

You are welcome to eat at my table anytime. I can be reached at: lyssak@cox.net

Be well

Everyday Transperson | February 18, 2009 9:37 AM

Lyssa,

Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtful insight. Your comment was very much appreciated after such a trying "discourse"............Will be in touch.

"The fact is, regardless of past tradition and business etiquette, Obama and congress just might be more inclined to believe the needs of trans folks or even GLBT people altogether if he and others in Washington meet with real, tangible examples of disenfranchised and oppressed trans folks rather than the usual elitist "GLBT Inc." "

========================================

You just make me feel tired all over, car girl.

I've gone to lobby many times - always on my own dime - when I was un & underemployed - as were most off those people you're complaining about. People who showed up, rolled up their sleeves and did some work. And the really odd thing (at least it seems to appears odd to you) is that everyone was welcome, everyone was invited, and everyone was encouraged - hell pushed - to come. And if they couldn't come - they were encouraged to lobby at home.

Sadly very few actually got off their asses and did so. So - maybe you can actually show up this time and join the rest of us everyday people trying to do an extraordinary thing. It sure doesn't seem as if what you've been doing has been working out well for you.

And most people don't give much weight to the opinions of those who don't even try.

Everyday Transperson | February 16, 2009 10:39 PM

"People who showed up, rolled up their sleeves and did some work."

Well, obviously you didn't roll up your sleeves far enough, because the last time I checked, we are no further along as a GLBT community than we were a few years ago........

And how about that senate hearing last year where those trans PhDs and people who had a half-million in 401k savings were the ONLY ones "invited" to testify.....I certainly didn't see any underemployed folks on that panel.

Concerning past lobbyist "invitees", just who was invited ???? I certainly didn't know about such an event, nor did anyone I know from the community........Perhaps that was just another "by invitation only" event. And since I don't favor lobbying anyway, I wouldn't find it useful for change.

Lastly you assert very clearly:

"And most people don't give much weight to the opinions of those who don't even try."

Well gee, I guess not if they are already going to form a biased opinion about them based on the badmouthing they may have heard from the influential activist clique.

After all, you all seem to have already made up your minds based on a limited amount of facts, so why bother trying at this point ???

Mara Keisling | February 16, 2009 11:23 PM

I suppose I didn't make my primary point sufficiently clearly: I think it is important that as many different transgender people and allies as possible step up and educate the public and policymakers about transgender people and our lives and policy needs. What NCTE (and in fact the entire organized LGBT apparatus) does is ony a small part of the work that needs to be done. We need real everyday trans people and others to speak up and join in. I tried to be clear about that in the interview.

Everyday Transperson | February 17, 2009 2:11 AM

Ms. Kiesling,

You assert a few very profound statements:

"I think it is important that as many different transgender people and allies as possible step up and educate the public and policymakers about transgender people and our lives and policy needs"..........."We need real everyday trans people and others to speak up and join in".

But how can everyday transpeople join in if there continues to be this little exclusive faction of HRC "consultants"/"activists" who constantly run the show behind the scenes and blatantly keep out others who either know about corruption there (as seen in the CEI index issue) or who just happen to work for companies who sponsor large sums of money to these organizations ????

To quote a few statements from an HRC trans big wig in the article:

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/02/hrc_throws_trans_health_equity_under_the.php

"..........Additionally there will be training materials, best practices examples and other types of informational resources designed to help change a companies policy and practice of the policy."

"Some transgender community leaders are in the know on the changes.........."


Well, what about everyday trans employees who work within those companies ??? Are they going to continue to be dictated to as to how to transition in their workplaces by HRC "consultants" who influence HR departments as to "best practices" in exchange for corporate perks ??? And why are only "SOME" transgender community "leaders" in the know ??? What about everybody else ??? Not very "inclusive" is it ???


Trust me, your philosophy didn't ring true with those folks after your lecture at the Resource Center 2 years ago. In fact, they did the exact OPPOSITE and excluded anyone who disagreed with the then Scottsdale agenda.............

So, to bring about the type of inclusion you proclaim, one must first attempt to solve this little HRC trans business clique problem, which I feel is the root of all the inclusion problems.

Thank you for your time.

Meghan Stabler | February 17, 2009 10:09 AM

Everyday,

If you are referring to me?

1 - My company gives NO money to HRC.
2 - My company had NO policies in place when I transitioned, I created those policies with HR and Legal allies, using HRC, NCTE and information on the internet, I needed to educate them on all issues.
3 - I am no "big wig", just someone prepared to stand up and even take the heat from my own community about working with HRC. I do work on my time, and my dime.
4 - The HRC Workplace project is a small team, and a good team, ask Donna or Jamison who will echo that.
5 - the words "blatantly" and "conspiracy" have no basis of fact, there are several "trans" people that have reviewed the new CEI criteria. Anyone who knows me, or wishes to know me, will know where my heart is for all our community. People can always get in contact with me to discuss items and issues. All that I ask is that one doesn't judge without knowing a person and a persons intentions.
6 - Lets remember that there is a continuous "trans" community call to "boycott" HRC. If you or any one wishes to work with HRC, please, go ahead. Indeed as you look around the country and Steering Committees you will find trans members on them.

"I will never be included in the tangible fight for trans rights, mostly because I know too much" - sorry that you don't want to help move forward with our rights to parity, with all the knowledge you have, one would think that you would be willing to share how others are doing things incorrectly, and work on a proactive and positive plan to do things right and get parity faster. If you don't want to do it with one organization (HRC), then help Mara, or if not, help another. As you know there are many all looking to get the same thing: equality.

Lastly, I comment on here with my name, I don't know yours.

"Well, obviously you didn't roll up your sleeves far enough, because the last time I checked, we are no further along as a GLBT community than we were a few years ago........"

You haven't shown you've rolled up your sleeves at all kiddo. Yet.

But - feel free to correct me. Share your experience, contributions & wisdom. Please.

And if you haven't yet - will you?

Everyday Transperson | February 17, 2009 1:40 AM

OK Kathy, you want to know my story and my struggle to become involved in the effort without success ??? Here it is, no holes barred.......

Have a look at the following posts and pay particular attention to the comments I posted and also from a commentor named "Guinea Pig" which was used purposefully for a reason in that post:


http://www.bilerico.com/2008/10/a_learning_experience_in_workplace_diver.php


http://www.bilerico.com/2008/10/harvard_business_review_weighs_in_on_tra.php


http://www.bilerico.com/2008/09/outside_the_comfort_zone_corporate_suppo.php

Now take a look at a recent post by Dr. Winters and its comments and see the behind the scenes HRC people who again re-surface:

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/02/hrc_throws_trans_health_equity_under_the.php


So, do you understand now why I take such a hard view concerning inclusion for everyone and also why, despite my diligent attempts to work with my then employer and in the community concerning trans issues was so difficult ???

As long as a few trans activists / consultants (whose names I won't mention here) continue to run the entire show behind the scenes and completely disregard everyone else, then I will never be included in the tangible fight for trans rights, mostly because I know too much and the corruption involved.

Solve the underlying problem, include me in presentations and discussions and I'd be more than happy to participate........

Thank you for your time.

Kathy,
I seems that some people are more concern with spelling errors then actually helping themselves have a better life. Then we hear, "So, I do not see a need to "prove" anything to you or anyone else in this world to justify my opinions." That's a standard cop-out, easily found in the Webster's Unabridged Cop-Out Collection, Volume 6, 17th Edition.

Winter time in the desert was the best time to watch the hot air balloon races because the sky was clear and the temperature difference makes the balloons go higher and stay in the air longer. I never thought I would see hot air balloon races on Bilerico, with just one balloon.

"Icarus, don't fly too close to the sun!"

So instead of putting down everything everyone else says and does why don't you spend your energy organizing alternative efforts? I mean really, is your negativity all you have to add to the conversation?

Come up with a better plan. Take to the people. Organize it and follow through...walk the walk.