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WSW: Director Of National Transgender Rights Group Says "The Law Is On Our Side"

Manuel Balce Ceneta
The Associated Press

The Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality says the past year and a half has been “rough.” Mara Keisling says transgender people have been targeted by the Trump-Pence administration since January of last year. But she says any legal setbacks are temporary.

Keisling was in Kalamazoo recently. She and OutFront Kalamazoo Director Jay Maddock sat down with WMUK’s Gordon Evans.

Keisling says the President not enforcing the law does hurt people, including transgender service members. But Keisling says the “law is still on our side.”

Maddock says Michigan has lagged behind on rights, particularly for trans people. He says not much has changed legally in Michigan under the Trump administration. But he says there has been a change in tone. Maddock says there has been an increase in reports of bullying and assaults against LGBT people. Keisling says nationally a change in rhetoric has caused people to feel empowered to say hateful things.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission recently ruled that LGBT people can file complaints about discrimination. The commission found that the protection against discrimination by sex in the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Act applies to LGBT people. Maddock says that ruling is important, but he says there still isn’t a statewide law that specifically protects LGBT people from discrimination for employment or housing. Keisling says amending the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity would be good for business. Keisling says business owners like clarity, and most of them want to do the right thing. She says they need to know what that means.

Asked about progress for transgender people, Keisling says the election earlier this year in Virginia of the first transgender state legislator in the country (Danica Roem) is an important milestone. She says Christine Hallquist is a very credible transgender candidate for governor of Vermont. Keisling says more people, including celebrities and politicians coming out as trans will “increase the education, it will increase the comfort with us.”

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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