Kaiya Kramer host of The Queer Life.org interviews Kelli Busey editor of Planet Transgender.
A lot of things have changed since Planet Transgender was launched in 2007 by founder Kelli Busey as a response to Barney Frank and the HRC segregated ENDA bill. The headline of the first post was clear and it set the path for the media outlet’s vision: HRC-Betrayal/Where’s the OUTRAGE? the debut article goes on to call out the HRC by saying, “the largest and most effective LGBT lobby on capitol hill, HRC published a position that they would not “assent” to a transgender exclusive ENDA but would not oppose it.”
The first blog post ends with “HRC’s future depends on its willingness to admit to its complicity in this underhanded hateful action and it’s willingness to make amends.”
Fast forward to 2015 where the HRC has been willing to make amends and Planet Transgender has grown from a tiny blogspot to an international outlet for trans journalists across the globe. “I had this vision of being able to attract talented authors and let them go,” Kelli commented in an interview, “a majority of my journalists have their own amazing social networks and I encourage people to write in their own language so that the authors are writing to the people that are listening to them and their community.”
Reporting from the US, The United Arab Emirates, Mexico City, Malaysia, India, and Britain, Kelli said, “We have a ground-breaking media platform that is intended for everyone. I encourage our journalists who live outside of the Christian-Judeo sphere to write about their views honestly and without worry. We need to know what the trans world is really thinking and feeling.”
As Planet Transgender grows, a recent conversation with friends focused on how to expand the media presence for people who are transgender. Those same friends suggested that Planet Transgender branches out to radio, however, Kelli didn’t feel like she had the talent or time to launch a program, but mentioned that she had been actively looking for a radio outlet for some time.
That’s where The Queer Life radio show on 89.1 FM KBBF hosted by Kaiya Kramer comes into the picture. Launched in August of 2014 and in the planning stages for a year prior, The Queer Life broadcast has a five million listener reach and reports to a community that may not be looking for this type of news.
Kaiya explains, “We are getting lots of support from organizations such as Bridge HIV, SHINE study, Food for Thought, KBBF, and my syndicated radio station KWTF. All of which say that The Queer Life has become a good resource to disseminate LGBTQQIA info.”
“I believe trans-media supporting trans-media is a win-win,” said Planet Transgender’s Kelli Busey, “Planet Transgender does have an amazing social sphere and we can use that to The Queer Life’s benefit. Kayia does the same for us, she has our name on her home screen and always mentions us in the show. I’d love to see her show get syndicated.”
This may just happen as The Queer Life is now available on iTunes as a free podcast expanding its reach exponentially. Falling under The Queer Life family is also the Trans Atheist Podcast produced by Maddy Love out of Minneapolis Minnesota. “Kaiya reached out to me after hearing a few episodes, and asked me to join her family,” Maddy stated in an interview with Planet Transgender, “She hosts the show page for the podcast, and does a lot of promotion for my show on hers.”
Kaiya stated during Episode 34, “hopefully what we are putting out there is helpful and informative for people and it allows us to bridge the gap of understanding between the straight cis community and the queer community.” Something both Kelli and Maddy agree with.
“First and foremost, I consider myself a reformist,” Kaiya states, “I work within the confines of the status quo and truly try to make incremental change piping the most level headed person in the room. If I can be a voice of reason, I can show cisgender people that we are all the same. Basically the Benjamin Franklin approach.”
“Cis people may not want to admit it but they look at media like Planet Transgender and The Queer Life for leads,” Kelli added “Leads as to how to communicate what is new and how to present it.”
“The cooperation [between trans print and radio] is groundbreaking and it’s something that people are really starting to notice,” Kelli Busey said, “I think the more we support each other through the radio and print media platform, the more it gets people’s attention. we don’t have the loud voices and there is not that many of us but…people want to know how we are feeling and what we are talking about.”
“I think it’s wonderful that we get to see a networking of sorts where we can get news and entertainment from people we trust, and from perspectives we can relate to.” Maddy said, “Kaiya using Planet Transgender as a source has certainly brought them to my attention and caused me to become a consumer of Planet Transgender.”
During the KBBF interview with Kelli Busey, it was mentioned that “If we become more visible in the public eye and more recognizable then when people see trans folk in the general public, you don’t see disdain as you use to.” However, as recent as the KBBF interview was, Indiana recently passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA] allowing business establishments to discriminate against the LGBT community base on “religious freedoms.” So do Kelli, Kaiya and Maddy still feel this way after the Indiana decision?
“Yes and more so. Indiana politicians never saw what hit them,” Kelli exclaimed, “They did not have a clue just how accepted and valued we are in society. I call this a victory although most don’t. They say a victory would be a human rights law protecting us as a class. True enough. However, the victory is in the tidal wave of outrage and support we received from corporations, it was a revolt…A revolution. We’ve had a tipping point, now the push back , now a revolution.”
Kaiya continued, “It’s just a reaction to a reaction, and that will always be there, that’s part of the balance of the universe. I’m not so much surprised by Indiana’s reaction, as well as Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, etc., but the reaction of the rest of the business world. Big technology companies such as Salesforce, Yelp, and Apple are behind the LGBT 100% out of moral ideals and financial. It’s now financially intelligent to support the LGBT. That’s big.”
Maddy had a different take saying, “there is still a large amount of disdain, but I do feel the tide is turning and that we are reaching a tipping point where more and more people will be allowed to live in this country with all the human rights as their cisgender siblings.”
So have the times changed? well, the HRC is no longer on Planet Transgender’s hit list, “I don’t see them ignoring us,” Kelli explains, “They are primarily a gay white man’s club but they have contributed substantially to our agenda recently. I’d say a few dozen of us protesting outside of HRC Gala’s changed history. Just a couple dozen trans peeps changed this country forever.”
As readership for Planet Transgender continues to grow monthly, it is also one of the main steeples of queer and trans news on the web that is not being funded by advertising dollars. “Nope, not a dollar,” Kelli proudly admits because as she often says to her writers, “the success of the Planet [Transgender] depends on each of us. It’s true.”