Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Marisa Richmond, a transgender politician, activist, a member of Boards of Directors of The National Center for Transgender Equality, the Trans Advocacy Network, and a lobbyist for the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition. She is also an active leader in the Democratic Party in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. Hello Marisa!
Delaware also added trans people to the Hate Crimes law, while Oregon and the District of Columbia liberalized their gender change and name change laws. There were also numerous local laws, including two in my home state of Tennessee. We also saw more private employers adopt new policies ending discrimination against trans people and, in a few cases, expanding health care for trans employees.
Monika: What are the pending issues on the transgender advocacy agenda?
Monika: In 2012 you were a member of "Trans United for Obama", a national group of transgender people, their supporters, allies, families and friends that acted successfully to re-elect President Obama. How did you organise that project?
Some of us were already leaders within the Democratic Party, while others were just committed activists. We are expanding it in 2014 to become “Trans United for Progress.” We want to elect more openly trans candidates, but we will also support cisgender candidates who have done exceptional work for the trans community.
|Marisa with President Obama in the White House, June 2011.|
Monika: You were following quite closely the US last presidential campaign. Was there any difference in the way the Republicans and Democrats addressed the needs and rights of transgender community?
In 2013, I served as President of the Davidson County Democratic Women in Nashville. To my knowledge, I am the first openly trans person to head a mainstream Democratic group. Both DCDW and the Davidson County Democratic Party Executive Committee, of which I have been a member since 2008, expanded their non discrimination statements to include trans people, and I am proud of getting that done in both groups.
Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBT communities? Being the last letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBT group?
Many others, including Jane Fee in Minnesota, and Phyllis Frye in Texas, have also been pioneers in the political and legal fields. Today, the Executive Director of NCTE, Mara Keisling, is certainly the most prominent trans activist, but she will tell you that she is hardly alone. We literally have people working in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, who are advancing the cause.
|In her capacity as President of the Davidson County Democratic Women, she|
got their Membership statement expanded to include trans people. When she
proposed it at a Board meeting, the only response from her fellow
Board members was "Amen!"
Monika: Could transgenderism be the new frontier for human rights?
Monika: Did you have any transgender role models that you could follow?
Today, a young person can see someone like themselves in nearly every field and can now imagine themselves doing the same things. That not only benefits the trans person, but also the rest of society. It means that we can now benefit from the talents and abilities of everyone, not just a select few.