Mara Keisling believes the time has come for transgenders to be fully included in the politics of being GLBT
Interview by Sean Bugg
At the age of forty, a time when many people are contemplating the middle of their lives, Mara Keisling was at the beginning of a new one. In January 2000, she began her transition into life as a woman.
"I am extremely lucky," she says. "I am one of the few people I know of whose parents picked her new name."
That support from parents, family and friends is in large part responsible for Keisling's successful embarkation on her new life. She jokes about her coming out: "I didn't even lose the family members I wanted to lose."
Having spent years of her life as a man working on social marketing and health issues, Keisling was prepared in many ways to become politically involved as a transgender activist. Now 44, she's the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), an organization founded in 2003 to focus on transgender issues from a national perspective.
In recent weeks, Keisling and transgender issues have been at the forefront with the Human Rights Campaign's announcement that it will no longer support the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) unless it specifically includes protections for transgenders, a position already taken by some LGBT groups such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Nothing wrong in being gay
In India, the lives of sexual minorities including homosexuals, bisexuals and trans-gender individuals are a nightmare. The rights of sexual minorities are not respected and they lead a life of confusion and isolation, which is often traumatic. Society tries to fit in all sexual impulses under one homogeneous umbrella and does not give any space to acknowledge anything different from a heterosexual relationship.
Everything else is categorised as deviant and looked upon as “unnatural”. Ostracism inevitably follows. Homosexuals are assumed to be “immoral”, even “promiscuous”. But the fact is that apart from sexual orientation, there is little that is different in a homosexual than a ‘regular’ guy. Yet, they are hounded by law and society alike and treated like the aberration they are not. The general attitude is one of denial-people often “invisibalise” the issue, pretend it does not exist and move on.
On balance: Sensationalising alternate sexuality
On August 15, Pushkin Chandra, 37, was found murdered along with his companion Kuldeep alias Vishal in an upmarket south Delhi neighbourhood. Pushkin was single, affluent, gay. Kuldeep was lower middle class, barely educated, unemployed.
It had the makings of a scandal. It was reported exactly as a scandal, loaded with intimate personal details, sleaze, sweeping generalisations. The media went to town: Was Pushkin blackmailing his assailants? What was his relationship with his family? Did he pick up men from the streets? Every article, every headline, screamed sex, gay, homosexual, pornography, multiple partners. A week later, and after going through reams of newsprint, all we know about the dead people is this: that they were gay, gay, gay.
The murders led to serious 'investigative' journalism on the side. Where do gay men meet? What kind of sex do they have? Where do they cruise?
It's been a bit like a horror film that disgusts you but you watch it still — in anticipation of what worse may happen. Only, this is not a film. This is real life — in which generalisations, as one extremely wise homosexual cautioned long ago, are extremely dangerous. The 'unveiling' or 'outing' of Delhi's gay life has ignored the larger implications that surround the reporting of a sensitive issue like homosexuality. In its search for sleaze, the media has overlooked the fact that by uninformed, one-sided and sometimes prejudiced reportage, they may do serious harm to both their readers and gay men across India. The basis for the stories has not been objectivity, but personal opinions and judgements. The media seems to have forgotten the influence they exercise on public attitudes towards sensitive issues. The homosexual community has served as a convenient, multipurpose mythic entity that has been used to paint a sleazy picture in voyeuristic public imagination.
Gay pair protest to G-G
A HARCOURT North gay couple has written to the Governor-General protesting a Bill passed by both major parties banning same-sex marriage.
Ada Milley and her partner, Prue Walduck, are calling on Governor-General Michael Jeffrey to withhold support for the Bill, saying it is a backward step for gay rights and further alienates the gay community.
Labor sided with the coalition to pass the marriage amendment Bill on August 13. The Bill defined marriage as a union between a man and woman only.
"By the things the Liberal party has done and the Labor party has agreed to in this last week gone by, they're actually going backwards in the rights of same-sex attracted people," Ms Milley said.
Mass. man is facing hate crime charges
By SCOTT BROOKS
Union Leader Correspondent
NASHUA — A Massachusetts man is facing hate crime charges for allegedly robbing a gay New Hampshire couple outside of a convenience store last May.
Prosecutors hope to impose a harsher sentence for John Guimond, 23, of Methuen if they can convince a jury the crime was motivated by anti-gay hostility.
A grand jury this week indicted Guimond on four counts of robbery, alleging he assaulted the victims and stole several items from them. Two of the charges qualify that robbery as a hate crime, a factor that could drastically increase Guimond’s jail time if convicted.
Officials plan charges for two in arson case
PUBLIC SAFETY:An unidentified adult and juvenile are expected to be charged soon for setting a Monday fire.
BY NICK KOTZEA
NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Arson charges are expected to be filed against an unidentified adult and juvenile suspected of setting fire late Monday to a two-story rental property at 522 N. 11th Ave. E.
Signs of foul play were evident by crude threats written in purple lettering on the front of the house as well as multiple points of origin believed to have caused the fire, Christensen said.
Numerous media reports and interviews with Magariner, an openly gay teen, included inferences that the arson could have been hate-related. Christensen doubted that, saying, "You have to look at the totality of circumstances... sometimes criminals want to lead you in different directions."
Gay marriage issue may not make ballot
By Jim Siegel
COLUMBUS -- After reviewing petitions from four rural counties, an attorney representing opponents to a proposed gay marriage amendment already predicts the issue will not get on the November ballot.
Donald McTigue said Thursday he plans to file his first legal challenges to those petitions by Monday, beginning what could be a lengthy legal process designed to tie up the issue in court long enough to keep it away from voters.
McTigue said he has reviewed petitions certified in Marion, Morrow, Fulton and Sandusky counties and has found "numerous errors."
These include improperly filling out paperwork that show how much petitioners were paid, and improper changes in the number of signatures witnessed by each petitioner, he said.