As We See It

Transgender advocate recognized by a group with which she’s taken issue

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Jane Heenan—and the sign she’d like to change.
Photo: Justin M. Bowen

Jane Heenan isn’t used to receiving awards. She’s better at stirring up what others see as trouble by fighting for what she views as basic human rights. The transgender activist helped fight the Nevada DMV on the process of switching one’s gender on a driver license. She continues to fight for equal rights in the workplace—an issue that often comes down to bathrooms. She’s lost friends because of her views on the gender binary code, the insistence that a person is male or female and nothing else. Why do people always ask if a pregnant woman’s baby is a boy or a girl before asking if it’s healthy? Heenan doesn’t think they should, and she isn’t afraid to provoke thought on the matter.

Calendar

Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada Honorarium
November 5, 6:30 p.m., $150-250.
Caesars Palace, thecenterlv.com

Her fight isn’t easy. Along the way the activist/educator/counselor has bumped heads with other local activists and taken issue with politicians, including Nevada’s only openly gay representative, state Sen. David Parks, for leaving transgender issues behind in the wake of larger queer issues like same-sex marriage and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She’s taken issue with one of the most notable local resources for non-conformers in sexuality—the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada—for not including “Transgender” in its name.

And so, she seems shocked that the center is giving her an Equality Award at its upcoming honorarium and annual fundraiser. “What do I do with this? I honestly don’t know,” she says, adding that she’s happy to accept the award as a thank you to her few allies over the years. She terms her cause unavoidable. “I am an activist by nature of existing,” she explains.

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