Transgender Advocate Jamison Green Speaks About Policy Work and Education

As part of our support for the media coverage around Chaz Bono’s casting on “Dancing with the Stars” and an increasing amount of transgender-specific coverage in general, GLAAD is continuing to profile prominent transgender advocates and members of the community on a weekly basis. You read last week’s profile of Laverne Cox here. This week, we talked to Jamison Green, Ph.D., about his experience as an educator, policy advisor, and advocate for transgender health and non-discrimination.

After beginning a medically-supervised transition program in the late 1980s, Jamison knew he wanted to live openly and acknowledge his transgender status in order to improve the welfare of the transgender community. “When I began my transition and realized that the intersection of law and medicine had control over trans peoples’ lives that was exercised indiscriminately and with ignorance and bias borne of uneducated belief, I realized that I could use my management skills and my language skills to help change that, but to do that I would have to stop being ashamed of being trans, of being different,” he tells GLAAD.  It has absolutely been worth the effort to see the incredible empowerment being honest and open has created for others in this world.” He has since become an advocate for transgender issues, particularly around non-discrimination policies in the workplace.

Since 1989, Jamison has been giving presentations in a variety of work environments about the fair treatment of transgender employees. His educational approach is geared toward helping employers and employees accept diversity and adjust to change. “Historically, people have believed anyone who felt differently than they do must have something wrong with them; they believed they’d never meet people ‘like that’ – like trans people.” But Jamison has seen that as non-transgender people get to know their transgender peers and realize that their lives are not as different as they once thought, such misconceptions are replaced with understanding and appreciation.

In addition to education, Jamison has been an advisor to policymakers about gender identity and expression non-discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. He is also a leading academic theorist regarding the effects such policies have on transgender individuals, not only in the workplace, but also in the areas of law, medicine, social services, and government. His other accomplishments include a doctorate in Law from Manchester Metropolitan University in England and a Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists for his contributions to LGBT mental health (he is the first transgender man to receive the award).

Jamison has spoken out for transgender issues in several television, radio, and film appearances over the years and is well aware of the important role that media representation plays. “It doesn’t make sense, if one is trying to educate and to change a social paradigm so that people can achieve respect and equality, to pretend that media representation of transgender people doesn’t have an impact,” he says. “As a trans man dedicated to improving the quality of trans lives, I have a big stake in how trans people are represented, and misrepresented.” While cognizant of the hardships faced by the transgender community as a whole, Jamison recognizes the different forms of discrimination and misrepresentation experienced by masculine and feminine identified transgender people respectively. “There has been so little information for and about trans men that people assume our experience can be reduced to simply a mirror image of the experience of trans women.  I have no desire to minimize the experience or the social, legal, and medical needs of trans women, but I didn’t want to see trans men being left out of the equation. “

In his most recent advocacy role, Jamison is the President-Elect of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), an organization with medical, psychological, legal and policy expertise concerning transgender people. Speaking about transgender-specific health care, Jamison says, “We have a long way to go, and WPATH, more than most organizations, actually has the expertise to make a significant contribution to improving trans lives, which is why I chose to become an active member of the association. My goals as president will be to increase the availability of better education about trans people for the general public, improve the climate for depathologization of gender diversity, increase access to culturally competent health care for trans people (both basic health care and trans-specific health care), and to grow the association to the benefit of its professional members. “

GLAAD thanks Jamison for taking the time to talk to us and congratulates him for his extraordinary accomplishments as an advocate for non-discrimination and improved healthcare for transgender people.