History, Equality was founded in 2003 by a group

History, Purpose and Structure

        The National Center for Transgender Equality was
founded in 2003 by a group of people advocating transgender rights. They felt
the urgency of establishing an organization in the United States of America as
they were committed to the advancement of social justice1. Due to the presence of discrimination
within legislation, employment, housing and the military, and also due to the
prevalence of issues such as homelessness, mental health and HIV amongst
transgender people, they have opened their office in Washington, DC and are one
of the most recognized transgender rights organizations in North America today.
They release reports outlining policies, laws and reforms in order to inform
people about the ways in which these documents affect the transgender
communities in the country. Further, they give the transgender community a
voice in the Congress with the Trans Lobby Day, allowing individuals to talk to
their Congress representatives and hence raise awareness on their situation and
the need for change2.
This initiative is effective in creating a contact between the policy-makers
and the ones affected by policies, thus educating the members of government and
allowing for greater influence within the political agenda of the capital.
Also, they have succeeded in adding transgender people to the Hate Crime
Prevention Act and the Violence Against Women Act, instead of encompassing the
gender binary only.

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        Since the NCTE’s focus is the advancement of
inclusive policies and the withdrawal of discriminatory laws, they are
dedicated to empowering and educating transgender people so that they can
better defend themselves in case of injustice by providing numerous resources
on things such as ID cards and healthcare3. The National Center for
Transgender Equality is composed of 15 staff, with roles such as Director of
Policy, Communications Manager and Family Organizer, and also of 9 board
members4. The organization is a
registered charity, meaning all the funding is made through donations. Their
office 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 spends
32.3% of its budget for the advancement of policies, 19% for education and
outreach, and 33.6% on research. The biggest portion of their investment allows
for better representations of the gravity of the problem and helps legitimize
the need for new legislations.5 With ground-breaking
surveys such as the U.S. Transgender Survey of 2015, indicators of
discrimination have been made quantifiable and intolerance has been represented
on a national level, outlining the presence of inequality for transgender
people in the U.S.

Nature of Issue

  In many societies, individuals that are seen as being outside of
the socially constructed ideas of normality are subject to discrimination and
unfair treatment. Contrarily to gender neutral schooling systems such as in
Sweden, which was the first country to allow individuals to change their sex
legally back in 1972, and is modifying laws to increase the protection for
transgender people6,
there are immense deficiencies in legal structures and societal attitudes
towards transgender people in the world. Unfortunately, certain areas currently
discredit the status and legality of persons that do not identify with their biological
sex. The fight for recognition and acceptance is still ongoing in the U.S. and
in Canada. Although these two countries have been amending bills and creating
protective laws, recent research indicates that transgender persons are still
victims of violence and hatred on a very repetitive basis. In 2015, The
Canadian Human Rights commission conducted a research and established that, in
Ontario, 78% of transgender people have been rejected by their families, 34%
have experienced physical or sexual violence, 28% have lost their jobs due to
their identity, 40% have been refused medical assistance and 56% have attempted
suicide between 2014 and 20157.

          For the case of the U.S., the
National Center for Transgender Equality was actually the first to publish a
study quantifying over 6 500 interviews back in 2011. Five years later, there
was a second survey that was conducted to better understand the changes,
improvements and priorities when it comes to policies regarding transgender
rights. In 2016, the number of respondents who wanted to raise their voices more
than quadrupled, being close to 28 000 individuals8. The latter report
indicated 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 all
respondents did not succeed in obtaining the proper identification documents, mainly
due to cost-related issues. Certain transgender people were also discriminated
against due to documents which used their preferred identity, because they were
harassed 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 identity
between Kindergarten and Grade 12 were harassed, assaulted, disciplined in a
harsh manner or forbidden to dress how they wanted due to stigma and gender
constructs within American school systems9. All these statistics
indicate the need for intervention, education and proper policies in order to
protect transgender people and to raise awareness within communities about
sensitivity and acceptance when it comes to gender identity.

          A very recent example of discrimination
against 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 would
entail”10. Although certain federal
judges have blocked this law in particular cases, the very possibility of such
a law to pass and the fact that the president has been given the power to deny
years of service to veterans and current soldiers goes to show that
discrimination is still present. For the politicians in Canada, transgender
rights have been stalling and failed to progress up until recently.  In the case of the Conservative Party, Harper
had voted against an anti-discrimination Bill in the Senate and thus impeded on
any progression for these individuals in the eyes of the law11. Moreover, Trudeau’s
election has brought about change as the Prime Minister promised to adopt a law
protecting non-binary individuals and promoting equality12. He also stated that he
wished to apologize for past systemic discrimination by government bodies and
promised that people who were affected by past treatments would be compensated13.

all these different examples, it is evident that discrimination against
transgender people exists. It is present on the levels of government, such as
laws proposed by Trump or opposed by Harper, and is also present at the levels
of society, through things such as workers in hospitals denying access to
services due to ID’s or psychologists affirming that one’s gender is not
correct and thus causing further psychological distress and social impediment
upon the individual seeking help. This extensive issue needs to be addressed as
it violates human rights and goes against values of equality, unity and respect
that we often attribute to a country such as Canada.

Positions and

          The National Center for Transgender Equality
relies on research through surveys and also on the personal experience of the
members to establish the priorities and increase the validity of their demands.
Since many of the board of directors and the staff have either worked with
transgender people or are transgender themselves, they can use their awareness
to direct the projects and establish the mandates. The founder of the
organization, Mara Keisling, is well positioned when it comes to making
decisions, 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 and
solutions of the transgender community. A pioneering source for reference released
by the organization is the U.S Transgender Survey, completed in 2015. It has
established an undeniable need for change, since it illuminated the amount of
injustice lived by non-binary individuals. Also, it has immensely helped other
organizations to legitimize their advocacy and foster better relationships with
the rest of society. Annual reports are published as well so as to better
understand the changes over time. Such research is “essential
as more and more companies look to NCTE as a valued resource for LGBT cultural
competency training and policy consultation”14.
Accumulating testimonies and quantifying data is their source of guidance in
decision-making. It is also what influences governments to take action and what
keeps them from ignoring or diminishing the issue.

Strategy of

          Concerning the target
audience, NCTE is very implicated in raising awareness in Congress, and
therefore relies on advocating directly to politicians or organizations. Their
federal agenda is very strong as it is backed up by data, hence managing to
advance bills and recommendations. For example, the charity’s work has helped
issue a guide on restroom access in the workplace and a proposal concerning health
service. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has also “proposed a
bold new directive to federally supported homeless shelters across the country
to eliminate discrimination against trans people”15.
NCTE has also pressured the Department of Health and Human Services during five
years. In order for change to be imminent, they encouraged people to write
comments and submitted these to the federal government. With over 3 000
participants, they have managed to convince the department to guarantee affordability
within 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 individual
to be hired in the White House. Thus, she can use her position to advance
mandates and raise awareness.

         Another target audience is
the trans community. NCTE encourages people to sign
petitions, express their opinions and attend information sessions. The
organization provides information on legal rights and documentation
requirements for each state in the U.S. The name change laws, driver license
procedures and birth certificate laws are found on their website, where one can
select the region and know where to submit petitions. Other things such as
veteran records or U.S. passports are also available online. There is a section
titled “Know Your Rights”, which informs the viewer on state laws concerning
public accommodation, airport security, Medicare and the like. To better equip
persons who face injustice or discrimination, NCTE also provides distinct
clauses that can be used in court. Protection is much more accessible to the
public since the laws are very clearly explained and can be used when a lawyer
is out of budget. Further, resources are listed as well so that people know
what 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 recommended
that one uses RAD Remedy’s guide in organizing community clinics or the National
LGBT Health Education Center’s guide to providing health care to non-binary
There are also many ways to educate oneself about the issue due to all the
reports accessible. One can learn about all the discriminatory action taken by
Trump or the anti-trans candidates for federal judgeships. Of course, any
person can visit the website and get involved, so the audience extends to any
internet user that is interested by the topic and wants to be a part of social

NCTE has good media relations as well.  The founder of the organization is Mara Keisling, a trans woman that has
been a reference point when it comes to transgender issues. She is an activist that
is often interviewed or cited in the media. She has appeared on the Washington
Journal to comment on the transgender restroom debate, talked about the need
for proper identification on MSNBC and spoke on TalksOnLaw about different
anti-transgender bills. The organization has a YouTube account where Keisling
reveals certain updates and where Trump’s agenda is discussed. As mentioned
before, due to surveys that illuminated the country on the magnitude of trans
issues, NCTE has also been able to provide statistics on suicide incidence,
homelessness, and other problems tied with discrimination to the press. Their
findings were mentioned on websites such as Time, Human Rights Campaign and

         For such extensive
research to be conducted and for the data to be collected, written and
released, they had to make coalitions and hire many experts. Things such as
survey development, implementation, distribution, data preparation and analysis
has been done by over 30 people in the case of the US. Transgender Survey.
Volunteers, interns and law specialists also contributed to the project by
doing outreach or translation. Additionally, the massive response to the survey
has been made possible due to 300 organizations that have promoted and
distributed it in their offices or online. The National LGBTQ Task Force is
also acknowledged for having helped in the making of the first survey and the
promotion of the second one, being the USTS18.
Through many different reports, blogs, press releases and studies, one can see
that NCTE is very effective in joining forces with other organizations and in
nationalizing its mandate through all of the US.

Studies and Press

           Unfortunately, harsher
realities are often omitted by governmental departments or policy makers. These
include intersectionality of being non-binary, and/or a person of color, and/or
living in poverty, which makes one’s life even more exposed to harassment and
violence. The reality has been addressed by the charity through the Racial
& Economic Justice initiative, where NCTE supports grassroots organizations
of people of color and encourages sustainable economic development amongst
lower-income segments19.
This has been made possible due to substantial background studies that reveal
experiences of transgender people that are a race or class minority. In
addition, the organization released documentation on issues that have very
little mainstream attention, such as the experiences of trans people that are
sex workers. To do so they have paired up with the Red Umbrella Project and
Best Practices Policy and have established intersectionality within the trans
community between those who do sex work and those who do not in their
experiences with police interaction, biased court judges, housing insecurity,
drug use, etc. Trans sex workers had higher instances for every case. According
to the report, solutions would be to decriminalize sex work, pass
non-discrimination laws, monitor police to provide more accountability and
invest in housing programs, education and job training20.
In addition, NCTE is very active in terms of press releases since they
regularly post on their blog page and write about updates concerning court
outcomes, federal nominees, new policies, experiences of veterans, teenagers at
school and many more. They explain the impacts of legislation and tell stories
of transgender people across the US. , thus providing a platform for inaudible
individuals like those living in Alabama and Mississippi or those advocating
for equal rights in Arkansas21.

and Conclusion

         The National Center for
Transgender Equality has been very effective in delivering its mandate and
influencing social change. It has done so through crucial research that took
into account those who are affected by poverty, racism and exclusion.  It has also partnered with other
organizations to deliver representative and factual knowledge and to address
intersectionality. Moreover, it has been working on advancing bills on the
federal level and has offered a voice to persons that did not have a safe or
influential platform beforehand. NCTE has brought transgender issues to the
government’s agenda, thus allowing for better protection under the law. Finally,
another very important aspect is that the process of transitioning or receiving
proper identification is greatly facilitated due to all the resources and
information provided on the website.  All
things considered, this organization has been very helpful for all other grassroots
organizations due to its ample research and has been a point of reference for
trans people across the country. It has also been dedicated to its cause as
seen by the numerous press releases, speeches and videos advocating

        To conclude, this charity
has been beneficial to many trans citizens. It has allowed for minority groups
to be acknowledged and for governments to recognize the gravity of their
mistreatment and the need for inclusive policies and protective measures.  Most importantly, the organization has
provided tools for advocacy in each community and has secured its relationships
with the Congress and with other policy-makers. The research achieved is
crucial since it is a determining factor for new bills. Since this segment of
the population is represented, we can better understand what needs to be done
and what priorities should come first. Discrimination towards trans people is
rampant throughout the world, which is why such a charity is ground-breaking in
its revelations and is necessary for the achievement of equality. More data has
to be collected for Canada, but we can use NCTE as an example in terms of
propositions or structure. This can help us fight discrimination and provide
fair opportunities to the trans community.

1 National Center for Transgender
Equality. National Center for Transgender
Equality. p.1. Retrieved from https://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/AboutNCTE.pdf

2 Ibid, p. 3.

3 Ibid, p. 6.

4 Staff, Fellows and
Interns. Retrieved from https://transequality.org/about/people

5 National Center for
Transgender Equality. Charity Navigator. Retrieved
from https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary=16916

6 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-visibility

7 Saga Cité. (2016,
December). “S.O.S. Transphobie”
par Aminata Farmo.Retrieved from


8National Transgender
Discrimination Survey. National Center
for Transgender Equality. Retrieved from

9 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.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS%20Full%20Report%20-%20FINAL%201.6.17.pdf

10Epps, Garrett. (2017
Nov 1). Trump’s Tweets Take Down His Military Ban on Trans People. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

11 Wingrove, Josh (2014,
September). Transgender rights bill opposed by Harper may be sidelined in
Senate. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved
from 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 transgender
rights bill. CBC News. Retrieved from

Canadian Press (2017, November). PM Trudeau apologizes for LGBTQ discrimination
by federal agencies. CTV News. Retrieved

14 Annual Report 2015.
(2015). National Center for Transgender
Equality. Retrieved from

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.

17 Health
Care Action Center. National Center for
Transgender Equality. Retrieved from

18 James,
S. E., Herman, J. L., et al.  (2016). The Report of
the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. National
Center for Transgender Equality. p. 5-6. Retrieved from

19 Racial
and Economic Justice. National Center for
Transgender Equality. Retrieved from https://transequality.org/issues/racial-economic-justice

20 Fitzgerald, Erin et
al. (2015, November). Meaningful Work: Transgender Experiences in the Sex
Trade. National Center for Transgender
Equality. Retrieved from

21 Blog.
National Center for Transgender Equality.
Retrieved from https://transequality.org/blog