Many people in this community know I have much disdain for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) to the point I didn’t post about them on TransGriot or ignored their press releases.
But because I’ve been getting a lot of questions in my recent interactions with trans peeps and allies as to my thoughts about NCTE and why I feel the way I do about them and their executive director.
Hmm, where do I start in discussing NCTE, its ED and the mess they are in right now?
My disdain of NCTE is centered in large part not only because of their racist and mediocre ED, but because of its questionably murky founding in 2003.
One of the rumors about it was the seed money that started NCTE came from folks that didn’t like the feisty National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) and wanted a trans org more subservient to Gay Inc.
NTAC was founded in large part after GenderPAC suddenly decided to take itself out of national trans lobbying in 1999, and the NTAC founders discovered during the 1999 GenderPac DC Lobby Days that GenderPac’s ED Riki Wilchins had been colluding with HRC lobbyists Nancy Buermeyer and Winnie Stacheberg to sabotage their own lobby days in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
That group of diverse NTAC founders included yours truly, and after compiling a forensic report to document how bad the backlobbying was and how long it had been going on, we created the org to fill the void left by GenderPac’s WTF level decision to immediately abandon national trans advocacy.
NTAC as a nascent multicultural trans org quickly earned the respect of Capitol Hill legislators with its professionalism and political acumen. But that wasn’t good enough for some white trans peeps big mad the people at the head of the new national trans org and on the board included people that didn’t look like them.
Many of you trans Beckies trashed NTAC at every opportunity, and wanted to bow to HRC’s demand to have trans leadership deferential to it instead of relentlessly holding them accountable.
We as the NTAC founders were well aware of the fact we needed to quickly grow to critical mass to ensure the organization’s long term survival
Several of us in NTAC warned y’all about Keisling, her lack of activist credibility, and how incompetent she was, and y’all called it ‘sour grapes’ It wasn’t just NTAC calling her incompetent. Peeps on Capitol Hill and congressional staffers were also saying it to us.
That was a request we NTAC leaders said ‘hell no’ to, knowing that we would need an unbought and unbossed trans org that didn’t have uncomfortable ties to an HRC that at the time was still hostile to trans inclusion, and whose ED, Elizabeth Birch, had already demonstrated we couldn’t trust her, and at that late 90s-early 2000s time period was the woman most hated by the trans community next to Janice Raymond.
NTAC was also determined that we weren’t going to stop our primary mission of advocating for trans persons of color, whose voices and issues were nonexistent in the trans policy conversation prior to NTAC’s founding.
That Keisling leadership incompetence was on full display in 2007, when NTAC lobbyists that included yours truly warned the trans community in July 2007 after our May DC lobby days that we were about to get cut out of ENDA and immediate action was needed to stop that from happening .
Keisling called us in NTAC ‘;delusional’ during the Gender Odyssey conference in Seattle that August and claimed to the people in attendance that trans inclusion in ENDA was a ‘slam dunk’
It was a slam dunk alright. A slam dunk that clanked off the front of the civil rights basketball rim in October 2007 when Barney Frank yanked us out of ENDA as we in NTAC predicted.
NCTE was part of the Houston Unites coalition of out of town orgs that in 2015 fubared our defenseof the now repealed Houston Equal Rights Ordinance to mine and Black LGBTQ Houston’s exasperation.
And when I say that Keisling is racist, I say so with personal experience of it. I am one of the two Black IFGE winning trans leaders (Dawn Wilson is the other one) that was called an ‘uppity n-word’ by her at the 2002 Southern Comfort Conference after she gleefully torpedoed an NTAC initiative that would have resulted in NTAC doing a Trans 101 presentation to the Congressional Black Caucus during the CBC’s Annual Legislative Conference weekend in Washington DC with the provision it stay secret.
I was not shocked when it was revealed that NCTE had an in house racism problem, and NCTE has zero respect in the trans communities of color.
That lack of respect and disdain for NCTE and its executive director was so pronounced in Black Trans World, I had to write a TransGriot blog post urging Black trans folks to participate in the 2015 US Trans Survey. Because I and the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition (BTAC) did so, we got just enough Black trans participation to allow us to get good statistical numbers on the national Black trans population, and in several states including Texas.
We were also paying attention in Black Trans World when we noted that NCTE’s staff looked like a Republican Party convention, and considered it seriously problematic that you could count the number of Black trans women hired by this org throughout its history on one hand.
The average shelf life for a Black NCTE employee was also because of the toxic racist culture in the organization, six months to a year. And naw, we aren’t going to forget how one of our highly respected and few Black Mama Bears was disrespected while employed there.
So nope, not surprised to hear that NCTE may be imploding. Neither am I popping champagne corks because NCTE may be in its death spiral. The one thing I am shocked about is that it didn’t happen sooner.