Thursday, 29 September 2011

September 29: Mara Keisling, Transgender Activist

"What's important is that transgender people are respected as members of the community—that they are safe from discrimination and violence and disrespect."

b. September 29, 1959

Mara Keisling is a leading transgender activist. She is the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the largest transgender rights organization.

One of seven siblings, Keisling grew up as Mark in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His father was the governor’s chief of staff. Mark was a reticent boy. "During junior high, I was shy to the point where I feared giving a book report in front of the class," Keisling says.

Keisling became more extroverted after joining the school's Model U.N. Club, where he found his calling in the political arena. He graduated from Penn State, and pursued post-graduate work in American Government at Harvard University.
In the 1990's, after Keisling told friends and family he'd felt like a woman since childhood, he began his transition to Mara. Keisling soon turned to activism after seeing the discrimination transgender people face. Keisling co-chaired the Pennsylvania Gender Rights Coalition and served on the steering committee of the Statewide Pennsylvania Rights Coalition.

In 2003, recognizing the need for a cohesive voice in Washington for transgender people, Mara Keisling founded the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), a social justice organization dedicated to advancing equality through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment.

Keisling and NCTE were among the leaders of UnitedENDA, a coalition of more than 400 GLBT organizations lobbying for a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Keisling has over 25 years of professional experience in social marketing and opinion research. In 2005, Harvard University named Keisling Outstanding LGBT Person of the Year.

Bugg, Sean. "Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality: We Won, We Lost. What's Next for 2009?” Metro Weekly. 13 November 2008.
Linthicum, Kate. "Transgender Rights Advocates See a Gradual Series of Victories.” Chicago Tribune. 18 June 2010.
"Mara Keisling." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 18 June 2010.
"Mara Keisling." National Center for Transgender Equality. 18 June 2010.
Article about Mara Keisling
Metro Weekly Interview
Video of Mara Keisling
Mara Keisling on CNN
TransEquality Blog
Faces For Equality: Mara Keisling (NCTE)
Mara Keisling’s Social Network
Mara Keisling’s Twitter Page 

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