Harvard group picks transgender woman to be gay person of year

Posted on 11 May 2006 at 8:33pm
By Staff Reports


Mara Keisling


Founder of National Center for Transgender Equality calls her selection an indicator of the transgender movement’s progress over a decade

Mara Keisling, founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, has been named “Outstanding LGBT Person of the Year” by the GLBT and Supporters Alliance at Harvard University.

Keisling was also chosen to deliver the annual Papadopoulos Lecture on LGBT Issues at Harvard on Tuesday.

“It is an honor to be recognized with this award from one of the pre-eminent institutions of higher learning,” Keisling said. “It speaks to just how far the movement for transgender civil rights has come in the past decade. I am proud to be asked to speak to the Harvard community about the victories transgender advocates have made and continue to make against tremendous odds.”

Keisling did her graduate work in American government at Harvard. She is the second alumni to receive the alliance’s annual award. Past recipients include Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer and California State Sen. Sheila Kuehl.
Keisling was also a recently featured speaker at Harvard’s Trans Awareness Rally during which students celebrated the addition of “gender identity” to the schools nondiscrimination policy.

During her speech on Tuesday, Keisling noted that the percentage of United States residents living in jurisdictions where legislatures have enacted protections for people based on gender identity and expression has increased from 5 percent at the beginning of 2002 to 31 percent now.

She credited the movement’s successes to “thousands of amazing people educating their families, their co-workers, their schools and their religious institutions.”

These trans people and allies are winning this surely and with a speed that surprises almost all of us,” Keisling said.

But transgender people still have a long way to go, she continued.

Keisling urged transgender people and their allies to keep up the fight, saying the movement cannot give free reign to “the regressive forces that are currently working to ruin our country.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 12, 2006.

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