- July 19, 2014
Post submitted by Andrea Zekis
In order to learn about transgender advocacy taking place in the South, Mara Keisling, Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., will be making a summer tour of three mid-southern states, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma as part of NCTE’s Highway 40 Tour. The tour starts in Memphis on July 20 and travels to Tulsa, Oklahoma on July 23 before making two stops in Arkansas, which are Fayetteville on July 25 and Little Rock on July 26.
As a transgender woman living in Little Rock, I am excited for the people here in the Natural State to have the opportunity to speak with one of the most prominent and important leaders in transgender rights and equality. As far as I know these are the first NCTE events ever in Arkansas, but for months Mara has expressed with me an interest in coming to Arkansas and spending some time to learn about the people and places here. Through Ms. Keisling’s leadership, NCTE has advocated for and advanced substantial and meaningful changes to policy and transgender inclusion at the national level which positively impact for transgender and gender non-conforming people here and throughout the country.
As a consultant to the Human Rights Campaign’s Project One America, I have had conversations with transgender and gender non-conforming people in both Fayetteville and Little Rock and learned about some of the hardships faced, whether it comes to health care, public safety and getting legal documents changed, but also some of the hopes for the future. This upcoming tour is an excellent opportunity for people in Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma to let an important figure in transgender equality and justice know about what’s going here in the South and learn about the ever growing collaborative effort on transgender rights nationally which NCTE and HRC are leaders in.
I met Mara for the first time last year in Washington, D.C., and found the meeting very inspirational, enough so that I wanted to build a statewide transgender organization here in Arkansas, the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition. With Ms. Keisling coming here in Arkansas, I hope others can find opportunities for inspiration in their own lives as well as take part in their own way to advance equality for transgender people.
Andrea Zekis is an HRC consultant for Project One America. Project One America is the largest effort of its kind in the history of the South, focusing on advancing LGBT rights and policies in Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.