National Center for Transgender Equality
Headquarters Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Mission: The National Center for Transgender Equality is a national social justice organization devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people.
By empowering transgender people and our allies to educate and influence policymakers and others, NCTE facilitates a strong and clear voice for transgender equality in our nation's capital and around the country.
The award recognizes leaders who embody the core standards and ethics of the profession while advancing the rights of LGBT people, engage others within the profession to extend recognition and respect for LGBT people, and advocate for equality for LGBT people through collaboration with professional and civil rights organizations.
NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling, in remarks delivered by lore m. dickey, Ph.D., said, “All of us at NCTE are deeply honored by this recognition, not merely because we are being honored, but because of you who honor us.” Keisling added, “We are so thankful for the tremendous work that the APA, and especially Division 44, has done in recent years to increase understanding of trans people within the profession and to ensure appropriate understanding of gender identity and treatment of trans people.”
Division 44 Executive Committee Member lore m. dickey, Ph.D. praised NCTE and said, “The work of Mara Keisling and NCTE has been nothing short of phenomenal. Transgender people owe her a debt of gratitude.”
APA’s Division 44, founded as the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian and Gay Issues in 1985 by a group of pioneering LGB psychologists and their allies, is psychology’s focal point for research, practice, and education on the lives and realities of LGBT people. With over 1500 members, Division 44 represents all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and eleven foreign countries on every inhabited continent.
Dr. Lore Dickey accepted the award on behalf of NCTE at the Division’s annual Fundraising Dinner on Saturday, August 4, 2012.
Expert Reviews of National Center for Transgender Equality
Evidence of Impact Summary:National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is a small, dedicated organization making significant progress in policy and visibility for transgender equity. Through solid research and sound policy acumen, the organization has been working to influence federal policies that have a positive impact on the lives of transgender people and families. They are an established and respected leader on the issue, educating and advocating across the country. NCTE have notably increased visibility of transgender matters within the LGBT community and at large.
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Organization Strengths Summary:National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) produces outcomes that far outreach the size of the organization. Experts note that their approach is highly efficient and well strategized. NCTE’s Executive Director Mara Keisling is a passionate, resourceful, and bright leader. Her vision and drive have been an integral part of the organization’s success. They also have a successful internship program that is preparing young advocates for a career in the LGBT community while also preparing them for leadership.
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Areas for Improvement Summary:National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) has a strong and dynamic leader. Experts worry that too much of the organization’s success could rest on her shoulders. Experts would also like to see NCTE gain more capacity. An increase in staff is needed to match their growing demand. They could also improve on their marketing and public outreach. Experts would like to see NCTE take on more state-level collaborations and perhaps be more engaging in their current partnerships.
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Expert Comments: Evidence of Impact
|This organization provides research and data-driven resources on the issues most greatly impacting transgender people and the people who serve them.|
|I've worked closely with the organization and seen their success in achieving many of its policy priorities at the federal level, such as transgender veterans health policy from the VA, passport gender marker update, protection for transgender people in employment policies.|
|NCTE has been able to effectively and radically influence federal policies that have a positive impact on the lives of transgender people and families. NCTE stays on top of changing policies and national trends and has worked to change the image of transgender people and the need for rights and protections.|
|NCTE is the undisputed leader at making positive things happen on the federal level concerning transgender people's rights. NCTE has also issued many very useful fact sheets and other public education pieces that help transgender people and advocates understand and access existing and emerging rights.|
|They offer strong transgender advocacy influencing federal policy resulting in significant federal reforms under the Obama Administration, including the new passport policy, Virginal healthcare policy, and agency-level nondiscrimination statements.|
|NCTE's policy analysis and advocacy have led to a large number of progressive policy changes for transgender people at the federal administrative level. A primary example is the new gender marker rules for US passports adopted by the Department of State. NCTE has a long list of policy accomplishments for a very small shop.|
|NCTE has blossomed during the Obama Administration by focusing on policy changes which significantly impact the trans community.|
|NCTE is the flagship organization for transgender equality. They have had an enormous impact not only in raising the profile of transgender people and issues, but have had some incredible (and quiet) successes working behind the scenes with the Obama Administration to make policy changes that remove barriers for people.|
|Their impact is evident in their successes in implementing the strategies they use to change federal law and policies (e.g., the actual change that has resulted); the ability of the organization to leverage limited resources into national social change that impacts transgender and gender non-conforming people throughout the country; the speed with which they have raised the profile of TGNC issues nationally (e.g., five years ago the conversation was difficult even within the LGBT movement; today it is an integral part of the conversation and in some cases, such as work with the White House administration, work that is moving faster than other LGB issues).|
|NCTE has vastly improved the advocacy and visibility for transgender people living in the US. NTCE has been a chief voice in the work with Congress and the President on nondiscrimination, health disparities, and barriers to legal name change and gender markers on government documents.|
Respected Issue Experts
|NCTE is the premier organization advocating for the transgender community. They have a proven success record of educating members of Congress and their staff on transgender issues. Their advocacy day has grown considerably in the last few years, bringing the face of their community to the halls of Congress. They are respected by other organizations for their willingness to collaborate.|
|This organization, through strong leadership and research, is recognized as the expert on transgender issues in our country. They lead successful education and advocacy campaigns to advance the issues of transgender equality.|
|A relatively small organization, NCTE has become a respected player in the national movement, and significantly shifted the conversation on transgender issues in Congress. When an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is passed, it will be in large part due to their leadership.|
|They have worked effectively in Washington to keep gender identity issues in the eye of administrative agencies, such as advocacy for nondiscrimination in the new health reforms. They have also developed resources for trans people to use when policy is not on their side, most recently related to voting and for students.|
|NCTE is a highly visible national voice on transgender issues, with an incredible spokesperson in Executive Director Mara Keisling. She and her organization are well-respected in Washington, D.C. legislative and administrative circles as experts on transgender matters. She speaks regularly at educational venues across the country, advocating on behalf of the transgender community. Together with NGLTF, NCTE co-authored a groundbreaking national study on the experiences and impact of discrimination on transgender individuals.|
|The increased visibility of the transgender community and the rise in the number of local, inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances is largely due to the hard work of Mara Keisling and her organization.|
|NCTE has almost single-handedly brought transgender issues into the mainstream of LGBT advocacy work. Their extraordinary local training capacity for activists, coupled with their ability to get a seat at seemingly any table, has been remarkable.|
|NCTE has dramatically raised the national profile on transgender issues both within the LGBT community and in the general public.|
Expert Comments: Organization Strengths
|They are a cutting-edge organization with fearless advocacy and leadership.|
|While they have a relatively small staff, the organization is able to work in many areas effectively by focusing on a small list of issues at a time. NCTE also does an effective job of researching and building the case for its policy objectives (as opposed to chasing a problem with a solution).|
|NCTE is run by and for transgender people and has expertise in policy on the federal and state levels. The organization provides relevant research and educates the general public, policy makers, and institutions on the needs of transgender youth, adults, and families.|
|NCTE leadership is extremely focused. While their issue portfolio is broad, they concentrate on making change happen. They play well with others, but also waste no time: they want, and get, results.|
|NCTE has grown over the last 3-4 years through the efforts of Mara Keisling and her diverse staff. They have a successful internship program that is preparing young advocates for a career in the LGBT community while also preparing them for leadership.|
|NCTE is strong at federal policy advocacy and communications.|
|NCTE has provided leadership for other LGBT advocacy organizations by helping clarify a federal agenda for transgender advocacy. Its staff is deeply knowledgeable and more accomplished and more competent than other transgender-focused advocacy groups.|
Strong Collaboration & Outreach
|Their strengths are leadership, outreach, and collaboration.|
|They have strong leadership and operations. This is a small agency which has had a major impact at the national level.|
|Staff leadership and passion are clearly the driving forces behind the success of NCTE. Mara Kiesling’s energy is boundless and her ability to reach out to just about everyone, with her strong sense of humor and her accessible style, has been a boon to the movement. Transgender people still face tremendous barriers to full inclusion, but with Mara leading the charge I am confident that trans people will not be left behind.|
|Mara Kiesling is a recognized expert and strong leader.|
|NCTE, under Mara Keisling's able leadership, effectively leverages relationships with partners to have more impact than you'd expect from a group their size. Mara is effective in being able to push hard for her position while maintaining strong relationships.|
|Their strength lies in the tireless advocacy of Mara Keisling.|
|Their leadership is very active and effective at reaching into internal decision-making processes in D.C. They are also subject matter experts on legal issues for trans people and have invested a lot in creating resources.|
|Their leader, Mara Keisling, is visionary and also a realist. She is smart and dedicated and their greatest asset. The organization does so much with so little, and could do so much more if it was better resourced.|
|The Executive Director is savvy, well-connected, accessible, and knowledgeable. The leadership model encourages staff development and ownership of work in a clear way (one staff member was recently honored at the LGBT Bar Association conference for her leadership); their marketing and messaging is clear, relevant, and often goes "viral."|
|The Executive Director is a strong and very well-recognized expert on the issues that NTCE advocates for. She has brought the organization to be recognized as the go-to resource for their field of expertise.|
|They have strong, respected leadership on transgender issues.|
Expert Comments: Areas for Improvement
Improve Marketing & Development
|NCTE could improve its marketing tactics to sell the organization and conduct public education initiatives targeted at LGB and general populations to increase understanding of transgender issues.|
|The organization would improve with stronger management and fundraising.|
|They are tremendously under-funded. They need a strong development staff to raise funds for their work.|
|An increase in staffing is needed to handle the demand. I would also like to see more communication and strategizing with state and local transgender organizations and LGBT organizations.|
|NCTE needs to grow.|
|They need to improve their finances; this organization needs to grow. Their work benefits more than just the trans community.|
|NCTE has the vision and leadership to expand its impact—they are only constrained by resources and capacity.|
|I worry about the ability of the Executive Director to continue operating at her current pace. Also, I feel sorry for them every time I think of their whole staff operating out of one divider-less room.|
|Like many national LGBT nonprofits, NCTE is led by one extraordinary leader and I do have some fear that, should something happen to Mara, the bench may not be deep enough to keep NCTE at its current high level of achievement. However, over time, Mara has shown the ability to find excellent staff and Board Members to support the organizations. In addition, there is a tendency in the transgender activist community to beat up on each other, and while NCTE refuses to engage in this behavior they sometimes find themselves at the receiving end of unhelpful challenges from the field.|
|When the organization is built on the visibility of one person it can be difficult to appreciate the breadth of the work and the opportunity for a perception of overall strength.|
|I'd love to see them take on more collaborations with state-level organizations. They could also have a stronger marketing strategy, as many people remain unaware of their important work.|
|While very thoughtful about collaboration, there are times when collaborators can seem like an "add on". They may also not be as actively consulted as they could be. Since I find that they are generally so engaged in their collaborations, the times that are lacking may be a function of limited capacity rather than intent.|
Since NCTE was founded in 2003, the organization was part of coalition efforts that have won significant advances in transgender equality such as the passage of the first ever transgender-inclusive federal legislation, modification of the State Department rules for changing gender markers on passports, and the historic first Congressional Hearing on transgender issues.
Mara is a graduate of Penn State University and did her graduate work at Harvard University in American Government. She has served on the board of Directors of Common Roads, an LGBTQ Youth Group, and on the steering committee of the Statewide Pennsylvania Rights Coalition. Mara has almost twenty-five years of professional experience in social marketing and opinion research.