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Letters to President-elect Obama: Mara Keisling

Letters to President-elect Obama: Mara Keisling

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Open letters from 26 gay men and lesbians.

Dear President-elect Obama,

As the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality I am, I suppose, writing to you as a transgender person. That is my job, and I am humbled by the responsibility and opportunity that brings.

I know you have some understanding of transgender people from your legislative work. I'd like you to take that understanding beyond what you have already learned though, and see that, like all transgender people, I am more than just transgender. I am also a person who has a job, a family, economic worries, and fears about healthcare access. We have so much in common, you and I, and in understanding that, you might come to understand how odd and wrong it is that one aspect of a transgender person's life can have such unfair repercussions on everything about them. You and I are about the same age. We are both parents. At the exact time you were in law school, I was doing graduate work in political science at the other end of the law school quad. We are even just about the same height. You and I (and other transgender people) simply aren't that different.

Yet this one aspect of my life calls me today to write to you and ask you to stand with me, and millions of other transgender people, as we work together to eliminate discrimination, stereotypes, and barriers.

I am excited by your calls for ending the American culture war. Yet I must ask you to ensure that this does not mean suspending our national dialogue on the policies that transgender and other LGBT people need in order to overcome the discrimination, violence, and disrespect that we currently face and will continue to face if that dialogue does not continue. We will continue to suffer these injustices if you and your administration do not have the courage, kindness, and wisdom to speak out with us and for us.

I am, of course, profoundly supportive of your vision of a country where everyone is honored and treated equally. I simply ask that as we work together toward that vision, you continue to insist that your idea of everyone means everyone--that it includes all of the vulnerable yet strong people who face economic, social, and political injustice every day in this yet amazing country.

If I can presume to have one thing to ask of you it is simply this: Be there with us. Be there with us when we need a president who believes in our worth. Be there with us when some fear that furthering equality for us will be bad politics. Be there with us when policies are considered that help or hurt us. And, most important, be there with us when you have teaching opportunities with the American people.

Your job as president will be a difficult one. Transgender people will be proud to stand with someone who stands with us.

Mara Keisling

Executive DirectorNational Center for Transgender EqualityWashington, D.C.

More Letters to the President-elect:Tammy Baldwin, Democratic member of Congress from Wisconsin

Daniel Tammet, author of Born on a Blue Day

Evan Wolfson, Executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry

Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign

Melissa Etheridge, singer-songwriter

Michelangelo Signorile, radio host and author of Queer in America

Tammy Bruce, radio talk-show host and author of The New American Revolution

Kenji Yoshino, professor at New York University School of Law and the author of Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights

Vestal McIntyre, author of You Are Not the One and the forthcoming Lake Overturn

Jarrett Lucas, codirector of the 2008 Soulface Q Equality Ride

Michael Lowenthal, author of Charity Girl and Avoidance

Suzanne Westenhoefer, comedian and star of the documentary A Bottom on Top

Jim Buzinski, CEO and cofounder of Outsports.com

Perez Hilton, blogger, radio host, and television personality

Carole Midgen, former California state senator

Pam Spaulding, Durham, N.C.-based blogger

Paris Barclay, Executive Producer/Director HBO's In Treatment

Lorri L. Jean, CEO, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center

Jeffrey Prang, Mayor of West Hollywood

Jorge Valencia, Executive director and CEO of Point Foundation

Mark Leno, California assemblyman

The Reverend Doctor Troy D. Perry, founder and moderator emeritus, Metropolitan Community Churches\

Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality

Donna Rose, transgender activist

Peter Tatchell, LGBT human rights campaigner and spokesman for OutRage!

Rachel B. Tiven, Executive Director, Immigration Equality

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