History, Purpose and Structure The National Center for Transgender Equality wasfounded in 2003 by a group of people advocating transgender rights. They feltthe urgency of establishing an organization in the United States of America asthey were committed to the advancement of social justice1. Due to the presence of discriminationwithin legislation, employment, housing and the military, and also due to theprevalence of issues such as homelessness, mental health and HIV amongsttransgender people, they have opened their office in Washington, DC and are oneof the most recognized transgender rights organizations in North America today.They release reports outlining policies, laws and reforms in order to informpeople about the ways in which these documents affect the transgendercommunities in the country.
Further, they give the transgender community avoice in the Congress with the Trans Lobby Day, allowing individuals to talk totheir Congress representatives and hence raise awareness on their situation andthe need for change2.This initiative is effective in creating a contact between the policy-makersand the ones affected by policies, thus educating the members of government andallowing for greater influence within the political agenda of the capital.Also, they have succeeded in adding transgender people to the Hate CrimePrevention Act and the Violence Against Women Act, instead of encompassing thegender binary only. Since the NCTE’s focus is the advancement ofinclusive policies and the withdrawal of discriminatory laws, they arededicated to empowering and educating transgender people so that they canbetter defend themselves in case of injustice by providing numerous resourceson things such as ID cards and healthcare3. The National Center forTransgender Equality is composed of 15 staff, with roles such as Director ofPolicy, Communications Manager and Family Organizer, and also of 9 boardmembers4. The organization is aregistered charity, meaning all the funding is made through donations. Theiroffice has been paid by a donor as well, and they have received 1 076 871$through fundraising, gifts and contributions in 2015.
This non-profit spends32.3% of its budget for the advancement of policies, 19% for education andoutreach, and 33.6% on research. The biggest portion of their investment allowsfor better representations of the gravity of the problem and helps legitimizethe need for new legislations.
5 With ground-breakingsurveys such as the U.S. Transgender Survey of 2015, indicators ofdiscrimination have been made quantifiable and intolerance has been representedon a national level, outlining the presence of inequality for transgenderpeople in the U.S. Nature of Issue In many societies, individuals that are seen as being outside ofthe socially constructed ideas of normality are subject to discrimination andunfair treatment. Contrarily to gender neutral schooling systems such as inSweden, which was the first country to allow individuals to change their sexlegally back in 1972, and is modifying laws to increase the protection fortransgender people6,there are immense deficiencies in legal structures and societal attitudestowards transgender people in the world.
Unfortunately, certain areas currentlydiscredit the status and legality of persons that do not identify with their biologicalsex. The fight for recognition and acceptance is still ongoing in the U.S. andin Canada. Although these two countries have been amending bills and creatingprotective laws, recent research indicates that transgender persons are stillvictims of violence and hatred on a very repetitive basis. In 2015, TheCanadian Human Rights commission conducted a research and established that, inOntario, 78% of transgender people have been rejected by their families, 34%have experienced physical or sexual violence, 28% have lost their jobs due totheir identity, 40% have been refused medical assistance and 56% have attemptedsuicide between 2014 and 20157. For the case of the U.S.
, theNational Center for Transgender Equality was actually the first to publish astudy quantifying over 6 500 interviews back in 2011. Five years later, therewas a second survey that was conducted to better understand the changes,improvements and priorities when it comes to policies regarding transgenderrights. In 2016, the number of respondents who wanted to raise their voices morethan quadrupled, being close to 28 000 individuals8. The latter reportindicated that transgender people who are not supported by their families,representing 18% of the interviewees, are much more likely to be suicidal,homeless or suffer from distress. Also, it was determined that 68% of allrespondents did not succeed in obtaining the proper identification documents, mainlydue to cost-related issues.
Certain transgender people were also discriminatedagainst due to documents which used their preferred identity, because they wereharassed or had services denied to them. Another alarming indicator is the fact that 77%of participants that were seen as transgender or have affirmed their identitybetween Kindergarten and Grade 12 were harassed, assaulted, disciplined in aharsh manner or forbidden to dress how they wanted due to stigma and genderconstructs within American school systems9. All these statisticsindicate the need for intervention, education and proper policies in order toprotect transgender people and to raise awareness within communities aboutsensitivity and acceptance when it comes to gender identity. A very recent example of discriminationagainst non-binary people is Trump’s tweet that was posted in July 2017,ordering the ban of transgender individuals in the armed forces due to the”tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military wouldentail”10. Although certain federaljudges have blocked this law in particular cases, the very possibility of sucha law to pass and the fact that the president has been given the power to denyyears of service to veterans and current soldiers goes to show thatdiscrimination is still present.
For the politicians in Canada, transgenderrights have been stalling and failed to progress up until recently. In the case of the Conservative Party, Harperhad voted against an anti-discrimination Bill in the Senate and thus impeded onany progression for these individuals in the eyes of the law11. Moreover, Trudeau’selection has brought about change as the Prime Minister promised to adopt a lawprotecting non-binary individuals and promoting equality12.
He also stated that hewished to apologize for past systemic discrimination by government bodies andpromised that people who were affected by past treatments would be compensated13. Troughall these different examples, it is evident that discrimination againsttransgender people exists. It is present on the levels of government, such aslaws proposed by Trump or opposed by Harper, and is also present at the levelsof society, through things such as workers in hospitals denying access toservices due to ID’s or psychologists affirming that one’s gender is notcorrect and thus causing further psychological distress and social impedimentupon the individual seeking help. This extensive issue needs to be addressed asit violates human rights and goes against values of equality, unity and respectthat we often attribute to a country such as Canada. Positions andPolicies The National Center for Transgender Equalityrelies on research through surveys and also on the personal experience of themembers to establish the priorities and increase the validity of their demands.Since many of the board of directors and the staff have either worked withtransgender people or are transgender themselves, they can use their awarenessto direct the projects and establish the mandates. The founder of theorganization, Mara Keisling, is well positioned when it comes to makingdecisions, as she herself has experienced discrimination when she transitioned,thus recognizing the need for legal protection and policy changes. Furthermore,the charity uses different tools to determine the issues, improvements andsolutions of the transgender community.
A pioneering source for reference releasedby the organization is the U.S Transgender Survey, completed in 2015. It hasestablished an undeniable need for change, since it illuminated the amount ofinjustice lived by non-binary individuals.
Also, it has immensely helped otherorganizations to legitimize their advocacy and foster better relationships withthe rest of society. Annual reports are published as well so as to betterunderstand the changes over time. Such research is “essentialas more and more companies look to NCTE as a valued resource for LGBT culturalcompetency training and policy consultation”14.
Accumulating testimonies and quantifying data is their source of guidance indecision-making. It is also what influences governments to take action and whatkeeps them from ignoring or diminishing the issue. Strategy ofOrganization Concerning the targetaudience, NCTE is very implicated in raising awareness in Congress, andtherefore relies on advocating directly to politicians or organizations. Theirfederal agenda is very strong as it is backed up by data, hence managing toadvance bills and recommendations. For example, the charity’s work has helpedissue a guide on restroom access in the workplace and a proposal concerning healthservice. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has also “proposed abold new directive to federally supported homeless shelters across the countryto eliminate discrimination against trans people”15.
NCTE has also pressured the Department of Health and Human Services during fiveyears. In order for change to be imminent, they encouraged people to writecomments and submitted these to the federal government. With over 3 000participants, they have managed to convince the department to guarantee affordabilitywithin health care16.An advantage that also helps advocacy is the fact that Raffi Freedman-Gurspan,the Director of External Relations, is the first openly transgender individualto be hired in the White House. Thus, she can use her position to advancemandates and raise awareness. Another target audience isthe trans community. NCTE encourages people to signpetitions, express their opinions and attend information sessions. Theorganization provides information on legal rights and documentationrequirements for each state in the U.
S. The name change laws, driver licenseprocedures and birth certificate laws are found on their website, where one canselect the region and know where to submit petitions. Other things such asveteran records or U.
S. passports are also available online. There is a sectiontitled “Know Your Rights”, which informs the viewer on state laws concerningpublic accommodation, airport security, Medicare and the like. To better equippersons who face injustice or discrimination, NCTE also provides distinctclauses that can be used in court. Protection is much more accessible to thepublic since the laws are very clearly explained and can be used when a lawyeris out of budget. Further, resources are listed as well so that people knowwhat information to use in order for laws to be advanced in their communities.For example, if one desires to become a healthcare advocate, it is recommendedthat one uses RAD Remedy’s guide in organizing community clinics or the NationalLGBT Health Education Center’s guide to providing health care to non-binarypeople17.There are also many ways to educate oneself about the issue due to all thereports accessible.
One can learn about all the discriminatory action taken byTrump or the anti-trans candidates for federal judgeships. Of course, anyperson can visit the website and get involved, so the audience extends to anyinternet user that is interested by the topic and wants to be a part of socialchange. NCTE has good media relations as well. The founder of the organization is Mara Keisling, a trans woman that hasbeen a reference point when it comes to transgender issues. She is an activist thatis often interviewed or cited in the media. She has appeared on the WashingtonJournal to comment on the transgender restroom debate, talked about the needfor proper identification on MSNBC and spoke on TalksOnLaw about differentanti-transgender bills.
The organization has a YouTube account where Keislingreveals certain updates and where Trump’s agenda is discussed. As mentionedbefore, due to surveys that illuminated the country on the magnitude of transissues, NCTE has also been able to provide statistics on suicide incidence,homelessness, and other problems tied with discrimination to the press. Theirfindings were mentioned on websites such as Time, Human Rights Campaign andVox.
For such extensiveresearch to be conducted and for the data to be collected, written andreleased, they had to make coalitions and hire many experts. Things such assurvey development, implementation, distribution, data preparation and analysishas been done by over 30 people in the case of the US. Transgender Survey.Volunteers, interns and law specialists also contributed to the project bydoing outreach or translation. Additionally, the massive response to the surveyhas been made possible due to 300 organizations that have promoted anddistributed it in their offices or online.
The National LGBTQ Task Force isalso acknowledged for having helped in the making of the first survey and thepromotion of the second one, being the USTS18.Through many different reports, blogs, press releases and studies, one can seethat NCTE is very effective in joining forces with other organizations and innationalizing its mandate through all of the US. Studies and PressReleases Unfortunately, harsherrealities are often omitted by governmental departments or policy makers. Theseinclude intersectionality of being non-binary, and/or a person of color, and/orliving in poverty, which makes one’s life even more exposed to harassment andviolence.
The reality has been addressed by the charity through the Racial& Economic Justice initiative, where NCTE supports grassroots organizationsof people of color and encourages sustainable economic development amongstlower-income segments19.This has been made possible due to substantial background studies that revealexperiences of transgender people that are a race or class minority. Inaddition, the organization released documentation on issues that have verylittle mainstream attention, such as the experiences of trans people that aresex workers. To do so they have paired up with the Red Umbrella Project andBest Practices Policy and have established intersectionality within the transcommunity between those who do sex work and those who do not in theirexperiences with police interaction, biased court judges, housing insecurity,drug use, etc. Trans sex workers had higher instances for every case. Accordingto the report, solutions would be to decriminalize sex work, passnon-discrimination laws, monitor police to provide more accountability andinvest in housing programs, education and job training20.In addition, NCTE is very active in terms of press releases since theyregularly post on their blog page and write about updates concerning courtoutcomes, federal nominees, new policies, experiences of veterans, teenagers atschool and many more. They explain the impacts of legislation and tell storiesof transgender people across the US.
, thus providing a platform for inaudibleindividuals like those living in Alabama and Mississippi or those advocatingfor equal rights in Arkansas21.Assessmentand Conclusion The National Center forTransgender Equality has been very effective in delivering its mandate andinfluencing social change. It has done so through crucial research that tookinto account those who are affected by poverty, racism and exclusion. It has also partnered with otherorganizations to deliver representative and factual knowledge and to addressintersectionality. Moreover, it has been working on advancing bills on thefederal level and has offered a voice to persons that did not have a safe orinfluential platform beforehand.
NCTE has brought transgender issues to thegovernment’s agenda, thus allowing for better protection under the law. Finally,another very important aspect is that the process of transitioning or receivingproper identification is greatly facilitated due to all the resources andinformation provided on the website. Allthings considered, this organization has been very helpful for all other grassrootsorganizations due to its ample research and has been a point of reference fortrans people across the country. It has also been dedicated to its cause asseen by the numerous press releases, speeches and videos advocatingequality.
To conclude, this charityhas been beneficial to many trans citizens. It has allowed for minority groupsto be acknowledged and for governments to recognize the gravity of theirmistreatment and the need for inclusive policies and protective measures. Most importantly, the organization hasprovided tools for advocacy in each community and has secured its relationshipswith the Congress and with other policy-makers. The research achieved iscrucial since it is a determining factor for new bills.
Since this segment ofthe population is represented, we can better understand what needs to be doneand what priorities should come first. Discrimination towards trans people isrampant throughout the world, which is why such a charity is ground-breaking inits revelations and is necessary for the achievement of equality. More data hasto be collected for Canada, but we can use NCTE as an example in terms ofpropositions or structure. This can help us fight discrimination and providefair opportunities to the trans community. 1 National Center for TransgenderEquality.
National Center for TransgenderEquality. p.1. Retrieved from https://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/AboutNCTE.
pdf 2 Ibid, p. 3. 3 Ibid, p.
6.4 Staff, Fellows andInterns. Retrieved from https://transequality.org/about/people5 National Center forTransgender Equality. Charity Navigator. Retrievedfrom https://www.
charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary=169166 Townsend, Megan.
(2012, November).Timeline: A Look Back at the History of Transgender Visibility. GLAAD. Retrieved from https://www.
glaad.org/blog/timeline-look-back-history-transgender-visibility7 Saga Cité. (2016,December). “S.O.S. Transphobie”par Aminata Farmo.Retrieved from https://www.
chrc-ccdp.gc.ca/eng/content/transgender-people-still-face-discrimination-and-bigotry8National TransgenderDiscrimination Survey. National Centerfor Transgender Equality. Retrieved fromhttps://transequality.
org/issues/national-transgender-discrimination-survey9 James,S. E., Herman, J. L., et al. (2016).The Report of the 2015 U.
S. Transgender Survey. National Center for Transgender Equality. Retrieved from http://www.transequality.
(2017Nov 1). Trump’s Tweets Take Down His Military Ban on Trans People. The Atlantic. Retrieved fromhttps://www.theatlantic.
com/politics/archive/2017/11/pricking-of-his-thumbs/544547/11 Wingrove, Josh (2014,September). Transgender rights bill opposed by Harper may be sidelined inSenate. The Globe and Mail. Retrievedfrom https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/transgender-bill-may-face-further-delays-in-the-senate/article20822849/12 Wherry,Aaron (2016, May). Justin Trudeau promises ‘full protection’ with transgenderrights bill.
CBC News. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-transgender-rights-1.358448213TheCanadian Press (2017, November).
PM Trudeau apologizes for LGBTQ discriminationby federal agencies. CTV News. Retrievedfromhttp://www.ctvnews.
ca/politics/pm-trudeau-apologizes-for-lgbtq-discrimination-by-federal-agencies-1.369788714 Annual Report 2015.(2015). National Center for TransgenderEquality.
Retrieved fromhttp://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/NCTE%20Annual%20Report%202015%20final.pdf15 Ibid. 16 Ibid.
17 HealthCare Action Center. National Center forTransgender Equality. Retrieved fromhttps://transequality.
org/health-care-action-center18 James,S. E., Herman, J. L., et al. (2016). The Report ofthe 2015 U.
S. Transgender Survey. NationalCenter for Transgender Equality. p. 5-6.
Retrieved fromhttp://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS%20Full%20Report%20-%20FINAL%201.6.17.pdf19 Racialand Economic Justice. National Center forTransgender Equality.
Retrieved from https://transequality.org/issues/racial-economic-justice20 Fitzgerald, Erin etal. (2015, November). Meaningful Work: Transgender Experiences in the SexTrade.
National Center for TransgenderEquality. Retrieved fromhttp://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/Meaningrul%20Work%20Executive%20Summary_REVISED.pdf21 Blog.National Center for Transgender Equality.Retrieved from https://transequality.org/blog