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Transgender numbers on the rise at Democratic convention

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Amy, Jamie, Janice, Meghan and Melissa have come from across the United States to support President Barack Obama as Democratic delegates: they are all women who were born men.

“Six in 2004, eight in 2008, and we are 13 today,” petite Melissa Sklarz told AFP, her voice deep and masculine as she highlighted the steady increase over the past three Democratic conventions in the number of transgender delegates.

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Obama, the first African American president, has been seen as a progressive on transgender rights, making Amanda Simpson in 2009 the first transgender woman political appointee in any administration.

Mara Keisling, 52, is not a delegate but as executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality she came to the convention to trumpet Obama’s achievements for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights.

“I am so excited to be here,” she told AFP as almost 6,000 Democratic delegates prepared to nominate Obama for re-election in November. “The president has made so much progress for LGBT people. The job is not finished yet.”

Kylar Broadus, a transgender delegate from Columbia, Missouri, who was born a woman but now regards himself as a man, explained that the economic problems facing all Americans were felt more acutely by his impoverished minority group.

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“Employment is the number one issue for the transgender community,” the 49-year-old told AFP. “There is extreme poverty within the transgender community. Most of us are not employable, don’t have jobs,” he said.

[Image via Kenji-Baptiste OIKAWA, Creative Commons licensed]

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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