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Mara Keisling is the founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality based in Washington DC. Mara Keisling is a graduate of Penn State University and did her graduate work at Harvard University in American Government. The mission of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is a national social justice organization devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people. NCTE has grown to a staff of ten and works at the local, state and federal level to change laws, policies and society.

We discuss the economic and racial discrimination that most minority transgender people face on a day-to-day basis. Most minority transgender people live below the poverty level, and find it difficult to get employment because of transphobia and racial discrimination. We agreed that President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden have been the most trans-friendly administration ever in U.S. history. There has been much progress, but in 2015 there is still much work to be done to gain full equality and rights for transgender people in the United States.

Mara mentions more than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias, and more than three-fourths have experienced some form of workplace discrimination. The refusal to hire, privacy violations, harassment and even physical and sexual violence on the job are common occurrences, and are experienced at even higher rates by transgender people of color. Extreme levels of unemployment and poverty lead one in eight to become involved in underground economies -- such as sex and drug work -- in order to survive and among trans people of color that number is even higher.

The National Transgender Discrimination Survey done in 2011 showed that 26 percent of trans people lost a job due to bias, 50 percent were harassed on the job, 20 percent were evicted or denied housing and 78 percent of trans students were harassed or assaulted. And the transphobia that drives the discrimination is much higher when the trans person is a person of color and also faces racism. Trans people of color face higher rates of discrimination, unemployment and violence. Fighting poverty and racism and uplifting the voices of marginalized transgender people across the U.S. is key to the work of National Center for Transgender Equality.

The National Center for Transgender Equality has two main projects. They are the Racial and Economic Justice Initiative and the Trans Legal Services Network. As stated on the National Center for Transgender Equality website:

NCTE's Racial and Economic Justice Initiative started in 2014 ensures the perspectives and priorities of transgender people of color, and those who live in urban and rural poverty, are part of the national policy and advocacy agenda. This includes federal policy, local and state advocacy, and collaborating with other racial, social, economic and criminal justice movements and initiatives.

Currently, the Initiative's work includes reforming detention conditions for transgender people in correctional facilities and in immigration detention. NCTE helps ensure every transgender person can navigate the complicated name and gender change process and confidently address other legal issues they may face.

NCTE created the Trans Legal Services Network to increase support for organizations across the country who are serving or aiming to serve the legal needs of our communities. Comprised of over 50 organizations, the Network shares advice, provides technical support and legal resources to support their work and expand their services.

To listen to the full conversation between Mara Keisling and I, please go to:

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If you are interested in supporting or learning more about the work of the National Center for Transgender Equality please go here.

We are appreciative of the support of our current President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden, but full equality is the goal, and nothing less will do in 2015.

"The names of our sisters shouldn’t only make headlines when we walk a red carpet or lay in a casket," according to Janet Mock. We couldn't agree more.

BY  Mitch Kellaway

March 31 2015 5:00 AM ET 

Tommy Luckett, HIV/AIDS advocate
Tommy Luckett, HIV/AIDS advocate

The Trans 100 — an annual list of 100 trans Americans accomplished in the fields of advocacy and art — is all about positive visibility. So what better project to highlight today, on the International Transgender Day of Visibility?

 

Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders

Charlie Jane Anders via sfweekly.com

 

A man who can see the future meets a woman who can see many possible futures and the two fall in love, despite knowing exactly when their relationship will end and how.

Date of Publication: 2011
Why You Should Read It: Not only did it win the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novelette (and get nominated for many more awards), but this novella will also soon be adapted to the small screen by NBC.

2. Last Letters From Hav by Jan Morris

Random House via themanbookerprize.com

Jan Morris via patriciaannmcnair.com

This fictional memoir details Morris’ six-month trip to the imaginary country of Hav, which seems to be on the brink of war.

Date of Publication: 1985
Why You Should Read It: The book, which crosses genres between travel literature and science fiction, was nominated for a Man Booker Prize its year of publication.

3...

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2015 Trans 100

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As an African-American transgender woman living in the 21st century, I recognize that the only way to get full transgender equality and rights is through laws passed by the states and the federal government. Our current president, Barack Obama, is the only United States president who has gone on record in support of inclusion for transgender people, even before he took the oath of office in 2008. The passage of laws will enable trans men and trans women to get their rights protected. I am a student of the law and recognize its importance and necessity for transgender equality.

Kylar W. Broadus is a professor, attorney, activist and public speaker from Missouri. He is an associate professor of business law at Lincoln University of Missouri, a historically black college where he previously served as the chair of the business department. He has maintained a general practice of law in Columbia, Missouri, since 1997. In February 2011 he was awarded the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Sue J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement. He was featured on BlackEnterprise.com discussing his personal experience with workplace discrimination. In 2010 he founded Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), the only national civil-rights organization dedicated to the needs of trans people of color. He currently serves on the board of the National Black Justice Coalition and was the board chair from 2007 to 2010.

I met Kylar many years ago at a community meeting and saw his passion and drive for the transgender community. I am saddened by so many suicides and murders of transgender people in 2014. But we must continue to fight for the right of our youth to safely be their authentic selves. 2015 is a new year, and the fight for transgender equality still goes on, and I appreciate legal minds such as that of Kylar, who uses the law to educate and enlighten the world about the transgender journey.

In 2012 Kylar made history by becoming the first openly transgender person to testify before the U.S. Senate. He was speaking in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which, if passed into law, would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. His truthful speech touched me then, and he continues to fight for transgender people now. Here is his testimony before the Senate:

 

I recognize the achievements of all my trans brothers and sisters over the last year, but Kylar Broadus is my selection for Transgender Person of 2014. My message to all my trans brothers and sisters in 2015 is this: Don't give up. If you need help, reach out. Don't be ashamed to ask for help if you need it to keep moving forward. As always I say, rise, stand tall, and be proud of your authentic self.

I remember the day I decided to finally step out and be my authentic self in public, over two decades ago in New York City. It was approaching fall. I was looking for ladies like me, and I found them on 14th Street in the Meatpacking District, trying to survive. I could not believe that they lived like this from day to day, for it was there that I also first encountered extreme hate directed at me simply for being my authentic self. I had been a professional for years, with almost two degrees, and I had never experienced such hostility and violence in my life. I was like a young child who needed protection and guidance on the basics so that I could survive myself, and these ladies on 14th Street embraced me and guided me on how not to get hurt, beaten up and attacked by strangers who sought us out to do us harm. I never understood why people would seek us out to do us bodily harm without any provocation.

I remember so many young ladies being attacked and beaten up during those years, and in 2014 the number of attacks, violence and murders suffered in the transgender community is still the highest of any community. It has been almost 25 years, and my community is still being attacked and murdered in high numbers, with no clear resolution in sight. My heart belongs to the ladies on 14th Street who stood with me night after night, trying to survive and just be their authentic selves. I cry today for those ladies who are no longer here with us in 2014, but my heart remembers them. I still speak to one friend from those days. By the grace of God, she is still here, like me, to stand here and talk about our victory.

Dr. Marc Weiss, a former professor at Columbia University and an advocate for equality, wrote in the foreword to my memoir I Rise:

During my six decades of life, I have been an activist and advocate for economic, social, environmental, cultural, and political justice. Over the past half-century, I have been involved with and supportive of civil rights and equal opportunity movements for African-Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native-Americans, women, senior citizens, young people, working families, low-income households, military veterans, gays and lesbians, people with disabilities, unemployed workers, welfare recipients, public housing residents, agricultural laborers, homeless people, and many other groups, both in the USA and, more recently, throughout the entire world.

The main thing I have learned from these profound lifelong experiences is that people are people. Everyone, everywhere, is basically the same. We all care about one vital concern: our own livelihood and well-being, and the livelihood and well-being of our loved ones. Transgender people, in spite of their relatively atypical appearances and lifestyles, are precisely the same as every other human being throughout the world, in terms of their fundamental humanity and dignity.

I think the transgender story is an interesting story of courage and faith. It is about a hidden society within American culture. Most people do not interact with transgender people daily or regularly in their lives. I want to put a face on a group that is hardly recognized. Statistics say about 0.3 percent of adult Americans are transgender. That's only about 700,000 people. And transgender people of color are an even smaller community, but we have value and worth, just like everybody else. We need love and respect and dignity, just like every other American.

I want everyone to respect transgender people as people. My story is one of just trying to become whole and become who I really am. I am a sane, logical, thinking individual who has had to match the outside of my body with the feelings inside my body. I am not crazy, nor do I have any mental issues that clouded my mind during my transition. Individuals seek love and acceptance for who they are. That is basically what we are looking for too. Respect me, and I shall respect you. I ask you not to judge me without giving me a chance. I respect all religious beliefs, but my God is one of love and acceptance.

We remember all those who lost their lives for being their authentic selves. I'd rather live authentically on this Earth than live in shame and fear. I will never forget all those who lost their lives, and I say to all my living transgender brother and sisters: Rise.

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Whitney Houston has been one of my favorite artists of all time since I met her in the 1980s, during my college years. She was very kind to me when I was at her concert all dressed up and looking a mess. So when I heard that Koko Jones, Houston's former percussionist (as well as The Isley Brothers' former percussionist) who's also a songwriter and lyricist, had embarked on her first album since coming out as a trans woman, I took notice and became very excited to talk to her about her life and music.

Koko has performed and/or recorded as a first-call percussionist for some of the best-known names in pop, R&B, jazz, house and African music. In addition to Whitney Houston and The Isley Brothers, her résumé includes names like Carlos Santana, Angela Winbush, Raul Midon, Marcus Miller, Randy Weston, Jose Feliciano, Buddy Miles, Clarence Burke, Louie Vega, Luisito Quintero, Michelle T. Williams, DJ Kenny Dope, Archie Shepp, and Reggie Workman. Her last two albums (released under the name Kevin Jones), Tenth World (2005) and Tenth World Live! (2008), drew major kudos from critics and audiences alike.

Her latest album, Who's That Lady?, which is her third album but her first since transitioning, showcases all her talents and takes the listener on a journey through time, exploring four decades of her personal evolution and artistic capabilities. It is a timeless musical narrative of her past, present and future.

The Nov. 18 release of Who's That Lady? happens to coincide with the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, and several tracks on the album reflect either her personal struggles as a trans woman or universal issues facing the trans community at large. "Why" honors those trans individuals who have lost their lives to violence or suicide, and "Turn It" pays tribute to the heroes, past and present, who strive for civil rights, justice and equality. "I'm Free" celebrates the joy of reveling in who you really are despite societal norms and constraints. And "Xtravaganzas" pays homage to the House of Xtravaganza, one of the most important cultural institutions in the trans community.

Koko and I discussed her courage to finally become her true self and the hardships she faced in the music industry once she began her transition. I found her spirit warm and inviting as we discussed the many difficulties of transitioning. We both are very grateful to be alive and able to fulfill our goals and dreams, but we remember all those we have lost along the way to violence, discrimination and hatred. Koko's love of self comes through bright and strong.

Listen to the live discussion between me and Koko Jones below:

 

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Being whole, honest and truthful is the key to a happy life. Love of self is the key for you to be able to love others on this Earth. Being who you were meant to be is a beautiful thing. Don't be afraid, and don't be scared to be your authentic self. You are loved and valued and accepted by God, and no man or woman can take that away from you. Stand tall and be proud, and good things will follow you.

Koko Jones' new album, Who's That Lady? (Motéma Music), is scheduled to be released Nov. 18. To learn more about Koko and her music, please go to kokojones.com.

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Fallon Fox, the first openly transgender female to compete in the MMA, discusses transistioning, fighting, her goals and being authentic. Fallon Fox is a professional Mixed Martial Arts Fighter specializing in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, and Muay Thai. She began training in 2008 after serving in the Navy as an Operations Specialist second class and currently has a record of 5-1-0. She is currently training and waiting on her next MMA fight.

Fallon knew as a young child she was different than other boys but it took many years later for her to understand what that meant. While a student at the University of Toledo, Fallon began to research transgender identity in order to better understand herself. Fallon struggled with being comfortable with the body she had at the time. Fallon physically transitioned from male to female in 2006, finally matching up her inner identity with her physical form.

Fallon bagan training jiu jitsu in order to get back in shape and find a way to defend herself physically. She gained a passion for jiu jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts and found empowerment. She later went on to study Muay. Fallon entered the MMA as a fighter in 2011. Fallon's goal is to be the best female fighter in the world and be a role model to others that anything is possible if you work hard and believe in yourself.

Fallon encourages transgender youth not to be afraid of your true self and be proud of who you are. The challenges are difficult but there is great joy in being authentic and real. Transistiioning is a process and can be frightening but there is peace, joy and satsfaction on the other side. Every transistion is different so began when you can do it safely and only when you feel ready.

To listen to the full conversation with MMA fighter Fallon Fox go here:

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Fallon Fox is one of the many transgenders on the move in 2014 and achieving great things. To read more about transgenders on the move in 2014 and living authentic lives please check out the new issue of Proud to Be Out-The Digital Magazine at http://www.proudtobeout.org. You do not have to hide or live in darkness for being authentic and your true self. Fallon's word of encouragement is Stand Tall and Be Proud and I echo that 100%. To learn more about Fallon Fox check out her website at http://www.fallonfox.com.

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Success is what we all strive for in our daily journey. I was told if I pursued my transistion there would be no love and no success for me as an African-American transwoman. I was constantly informed that my life as a transgender woman would amount to nothing and always be a struggle. I have found all those statements to be untrue and have no meaning in my life. I have found joy, happiness, love and fulfillment in my life and I thank God for that every day. I followed my heart and I have arrived on the other side of my transistion a much better and complete person.

My sister, Martine Rothblatt, a successful transwoman CEO followed her heart and passion. In 1994, Martine transistioned to become her authentic self without reservation and shame in a time when no one really knew what transgender meant. I read her first book, "The Apartheid of Sex: A Manifesto on the Freedom of Gender" in 1995 and then knew it was my time to come out of the darkness into the light. I had allowed shame and fear to cripple me most of my life but if Martine could do it so could Toni Newman.

Martine Aliana Rothblatt is an American lawyer, author, and entrepreneur. She graduated from UCLA with a MBA/JD degree in 1981, then began work in Washington, D.C. in the field of communication satellite law, and eventually in life sciences projects like the Human Genome Project. She holds a Ph.D. and is currently the founder and CEO of United Therapeutics Corp. Martine is the highest-paid female executive in the United States.

Martine and I discuss transistioning, being grateful for our lives when so many others are no longer here, and being authentic to yourself and your soul. Martine expresses a gratitude of life when so many transgenders have fallen along the way. She acknowledges her blessings and her acceptance in the business world. Martine is a profound author and has written several books in this order:

1) The Apartheid of Sex: A Manifesto on the Freedom of Gender-1995
2) Unzipped Genes (America In Transition)-1997
3) Two Stars for Peace: The Case for Using U.S. Statehood to Achieve Lasting Peace in the Middle East-2003
4) Your Life or Mine: How Geoethics Can Resolve the Conflict Between Public and Private Interests in Xenotransplantation-2004
5) Apartheid des sexes-2006
6) From Transgender to Transhuman: A Manifesto On the Freedom Of Form-2011
7) Human Destiny is to Eliminate Death ~ Essays & Debates on Immortality-2013
8) Virtually Human: The Promise---and the Peril---of Digital Immortality-2014

To listen to the full discussion between Martine Rothblatt and I go here:

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Our conversation centered around being authentic to self and authentic to your soul. There is no greater pleasure and joy until you follow your heart and soul. The word of encouragement to transgender youth are dont be afraid and dont feel shame. You were made by God and loved by God and you are beautiful.

You should wake up each morning and be your authentic self without any reservations.

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I recently talked with Chef Chris Trapani for the upcoming issue of Proud to Be Out: The Digital Magazine. Chris is the first transgender person to appear on the Food Network as a chef. He appeared on the show Chopped for the Great Food Truck Race, competing for $10,000. Chris made it to the second round before getting eliminated.

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Chef Chris Trapani is based in Austin, Texas, and is known as the "Urban Cowboy Chef," with a food truck and catering business. Chris Trapani is originally from Brooklyn, New York, and lived there for almost 30 years before moving to Austin a few years ago. He attended the Texas Culinary Academy and worked for several top catering companies in New York City and Austin in fine dining, corporate and casual dining. He has designed menus for celebrities, television networks, corporate facilities, film shoots and independent restaurant concepts. Chris is known for his kind and genuine approach to service and a deep love for the South and everything country. He has a diverse and passionate approach to food that is true to Texas and his urban roots.

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We discussed love, transitioning and his passion for food. Chris is now a proud and happy transgender male, standing tall and pursuing his passion with his partner of over 10 years. Chris' message to the young people who are transgender is: Do not let fear and shame control your life. There is indeed happiness on the other side if only you believe in yourself and be your authentic self. Chris believes perseverance and dedication pays off if you are willing to be true to yourself. His love and passion for food has always been constant for him, and now he is on his way to being the very best chef possible. His skills showcases his love for food.

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To hear the live interview and our full discussion about love, transitioning and equality, please check out the next issue of Proud to Be Out: The Digital Magazine. To find out more about Chef Chris Trapani and his food truck, please go to urbancowboyfood.com.

 

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