By KARLIN HOFFMAN
Mara Keisling, the founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality visited the University of Mary Washington to discuss transgender issues as a part of the Gender and Sexual Minorities and Allies Celebration on Oct. 21.
Keisling is a transgender-identified woman and parent. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn State and then went on to pursue her masters in American government at Harvard University.
In her keynote presentation she discussed the issues transgender people face, such as gender identity and how to be a good activist. She also discussed her role at the NCTE.
“Most of what my job is at the National Center for Transgender Equality is education. Whether it’s lobbying or when we talk to the newspaper,” Keisling said. “We are mostly trying to educate people, and we’re trying to get people to overcome their biases, their prejudices, and their assumptions, which all of us have.”
Attendees received the chance to learn more about the transgender community, their struggle and about NCTE.
“I think educating people is key to any kind of reform. With the NCTE, they are helping to educate people about a topic that is usually taboo,” freshman Amber Seagrave said. “Mara did a wonderful job, not only telling us about the NCTE and what they do, but also what we can do to become good activists and how we can help any cause we choose, not just this one.”
Keisling focused on many topics during the hour-long keynote, but she urged the audience to take away one message in particular.
“I want you to be full people. I want you to be caring and thinking people who aren’t just angry, who aren’t just victims, but who are willing to take their victimhood or your anger or the lessons you get from them and to say ‘I’m going to do something totally amazing. I’m going to go serve a cause that I believe in,’” Keisling said.
The Gender and Sexual Minorities and Allies Celebration is a yearly event sponsored by The University of Mary Washington James Farmer Multicultural Center.