2015 Day of Visibility

Last Sunday the annual Trans 100 was announced. This list celebrates excellence within the trans community by highlighting exceptional work done by and for trans people, promoting those who may not otherwise receive recognition, and increasing positive visibility for the trans community as a whole.

DOV 2015 2 (smaller logo)This year, four Massachusetts advocates were named to the list: Grace Sterling Stowell of BAGLY, Sari Reisner from Fenway Health, Ben Power Alwin founder of the Sexual Minorities Education Foundation, and MTPC’s very own chair, Maxwell Ng. We want to congratulate each of these amazing advocates on this high honor. The hard work each of you has done for the trans community of Massachusetts, and beyond, is deeply appreciated by those of us here at MTPC.

Additionally, March 31st marks the International Day of Transgender Visibility. This day aims to bring attention to the accomplishments of trans people around the globe by spreading knowledge about and for the trans community. This day is not about mourning: rather, this is a day to empower our community and celebrate our accomplishments.

Visibility is a vital key in advocacy and social change. It reminds the world around us that transgender people are each integral members of our communities. Visibility for the trans community gives us the opportunity to have conversations about discrimination, bias, and violence that our community faces. But, as the Trans 100 highlights, visibility must also be about the achievements, beauty, and strengths within our community. We must raise each other up, and celebrate all we have to offer.

So, for this day of visibility, I hope each of you has the opportunity to celebrate.

Massachusetts Trans 100 Honorees 2013-2015

Ben Power Alwin
Dr. Van Bailey
Logan Ferraro
Mitch Kellaway
Louis Mitchell
Nancy Nangeroni
Maxwell Ng
Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge
Sari Risner
Grace Sterling Stowell
Vivian Taylor
Nick Teich

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4 Black Trans Men Whose Stories We Should Know

by Kelly, Community and Policy Intern with MTPC

The stories we know about the trans community affect how we think about and perceive the community. Too often these stories exclude Black trans people. Last year for Black History Month, MTPC featured 5 Black Trans Women Who Paved the Way. This year we have 4 Black Trans Men Whose Stories We Should Know. These are just a few among many stories of trans men of color that we as a community are not telling. Let’s make sure we are including these stories and the stories of other Black trans men in how we imagine our community.

Willmer “Little Ax” Broadnax

Photo: http://ubleproject.tumblr.com/post/29515613795/a-tenor-passes-wilmer-broadnax

Photo: http://ubleproject.tumblr.com/post/29515613795/a-tenor-passes-wilmer-broadnax

 

Born in Houston in 1916, Willmer “Little Ax” Broadnax was a gospel singer who performed with groups such as the Southern Gospel Singers, the Golden Echoes, the Spirit of Memphis, the Fairfield Four, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, and Little Axe and the Golden Voices from 1939 through the 1980s. He was known as a powerful tenor and a “heroic screamer, holding his own with some of the strongest leads.”

He and his brother William “Big Ax” Broadnax started their careers singing with Houston’s St. Paul Gospel Singers before moving to Los Angeles and joining the South Gospel Singers. Willmer left the South Gospel Singers and formed the Golden Echoes in order to tour. Willmer continued performing and touring with various groups, including his own quartet, “Little Axe and the Golden Voices” into the 1960s. He continued to record with the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi through the 1980s. You can hear the voice of “Little Axe” here and here.

On May 23, 1992, Willmer was stabbed by his girlfriend after a heated argument and passed away on June 1, 1992. It was discovered upon his death that Willmer was assigned female at birth.

Photo: http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2012/09/black-trans-history-jim-mcharris.html

Jim McHarris

Born in Meridian, Mississippi, in 1924, Jim McHarris disliked all things feminine in himself as a child but appreciated feminine girls as his dating partners. Beginning in 1939, he lived as a man moving frequently across the country. In 1953, he moved to Kosciusko, Mississippi, and began building a life. Over the next three months he became engaged to a woman, worked at a gas station, and was involved in the True Tabernacle Church. At the True Tabernacle Church, he was scheduled to be elevated to a deacon position even with Bishop Smiley Jones’s knowledge of Jim’s assigned sex.

In 1954, he was pulled over and arrested. As the officers pat him down, his assigned sex was revealed. Although it is not clear what motivated this action, Jim stripped off all his clothes and revealed his breasts and genitalia in front of the judge and arresting officers to “prove” he was “born female.” Jim was sentenced to 30 day in jail at the prison farm. Jim dressed in men’s clothes but was housed with a female prisoner. After he was released from jail, he was shunned by the community and left Kosciusko. In the 1954 EBONY article that featured his story, Jim said “I ain’t done nothing wrong and I ain’t breaking no laws.” After this ordeal Jim continued to live as a man.

Marcelle Cook-Daniels 

Photo: http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2013/04/rest-in-peace-marcelle-cook-daniels.html

Marcelle Cook-Daniels was a national transmasculine African-American leader as well as a dedicated father, son, and partner. He worked as a computer programmer and analyst as his day job while also contributing to many national and local conferences and organizations including the 1999 Creating Change conference, the 1998 Butch-FTM: Building Coalitions Through Dialogue event, several True Spirit Conferences, and The American Boyz. He was a supporter of COLAGE and the Transgender Aging Network because of his commitment to family, openness, and public service.

He did not shy away from addressing the intersections of race and gender. In an article he wrote with his life partner Loree, “My Life As an Erroneous Sonogram,” Marcelle said “in the back of my mind I always knew that gender realignment would make me a black male in society where black males are tolerated at best and hated and feared at worst… If anything being black has stood in my way of accepting my maleness” (194).

Marcelle lost his lifelong battle with depression on April 21, 2000. He is remembered by the community a major pioneering leader for his commitment to intersectional understandings of identity and community.

Photo: http://sagatucson.org/goodrum/alexander.html

Alexander Goodrum

Alexander “Bear” Goodrum was a Chicago native who was an active social justice organizer from the 1980s until his death in 2002. As an African-American, transgender, queer, disabled activist, his work stretched across all these communities. After moving to Tucson in 1996, Alexander quickly became a leader serving on City of Tucson GLBT Commission and an Activist/Panelist for the Funding Exchange’s OutFund for Gay and Lesbian Liberation as well as being an active member of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance, Wingspan (Tucson’s GLBT Community Center), and Desert Voices (Arizona’s GLBT mixed chorus).

In 2000 he founded TGNet based on his groundbreaking document, “Gender Identity 101: A Transgender Primer.” One of TGNet’s most significant projects was the Arizona Transgender Workplace (ATWORK) Project, which serves to create and foster open, inclusive, and safe working environments for transgender applicants and employees by promoting an understanding of gender identity and expression among managers and supervisory personnel.

In the Fall of 2002, Alexander sought mental health assistance. He died by suicide on September 28 while under observation at La Frontera Psychiatric Hospital in Tucson. The Southern Arizona Gender Alliance created the Goodrum Project to help support and empower transgender people in seeking mental health services while educating mental health service providers in honor of Alexander.

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Massachusetts Legislators File Nondiscrimination Bill!

Last Friday Representatives Denise Provost and Byron Rushing, and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz filed legislation to fill the gap of the current statewide nondiscrimination laws pertaining to gender identity and expression in public accommodations in Massachusetts. This is a very exciting time for MTPC, and we’re thrilled to bring you up to date on this important action.

As you may know, last month Governor Charlie Baker spoke out against this legislation – but we won’t let that get us down. We’re working hard to bring in support in the statehouse and from the community.

Just a few days ago, the Boston Globe published a wonderful editorial about the importance of public accommodations protections for the transgender community. The editorial urges legislators and the Governor to fill the gap and pass nondiscrimination legislation.

But there is so much more work to be done. Already we are planning phone banks, lobby days, and looking for interns and volunteers to help with this work. Will you join us? Here’s how:

  • Click here to sign up for updates about upcoming phone banks, lobby days, or volunteer opportunities.
  • Are you going to First Event this week? Join us Thursday at noon for exclusive updates and training to get even more involved. We’ll work with you to craft stories to impact change, speak about the details of the legislation, and take your questions about the work ahead.
  • Click here to learn more about the legislation, public accommodations, and the state law.

If you have questions, or want to get involved in other ways, please email us at info@masstpc.org.

And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on what’s happening.

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Giving Tuesday

Every year at this time we hear about “Black Friday,” “Small Business Saturday,” and “Cyber Monday,” days where people flock to stores and websites for amazing deals. This year, I hope you’ll consider a different kind of event: Giving Tuesday.

GT_Lockup_alt1

Today is a day to support the organizations and non-profits that are doing work that you think is important. Organizations like MTPC need your help today to kick off the giving season. You can help us meet our year-end fundraising goals and help us continue this important work.

In honor of Giving Tuesday, I hope you will invest in the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. Our dedicated team of almost entirely volunteer workers is doing critical work to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in Massachusetts and to support trans and gender non-conforming folks in our community.

Your donation will allow MTPC to host community events, lobby for trans-inclusive laws and policies, and provide vital resources for trans people across the state. In order to do all this, and more, MTPC needs you to be a part of the movement.

Will you join us by investing in the continued fight for trans rights in Massachusetts?

 

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MTPC stands in solidarity with the family of Michael Brown

Last night we witnessed Boston’s response to the grand jury ruling against indicting the police officer responsible for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. There were over a thousand people who took to the streets to push back against the dehumanizing tragedy that took place in Ferguson.

 

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition stands in solidarity with the family of Michael Brown, the people of Ferguson, Missouri, and all those using their voice to push back on the violence, bias, and systemic oppression which has been so clearly portrayed in the recent events. This cannot, and should not, be ignored.

 

As an organization whose leadership is predominantly white, we recognize the great importance of using our racial privilege to push back on systems of oppression. We stand as an allied organization with all those organizing in Boston, Ferguson, and across the country. #BlackLivesMatter

 

We are committed to engaging with communities of color in active listening and support during this troubling time.

 

Black communities deserve justice, without the fear of violence or discrimination. Black communities deserve to be heard. Black communities deserve peace. Until these things can be guaranteed, we will continue to use our voice to push back against this discriminatory system.

 

To all communities striving for justice around the country, stay safe, and stay strong.

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Trans Awareness Month Meets NanoWriMo

November is Transgender Awareness Month (#TransMonth). It’s also National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo), when people challenge themselves to write a novel during the month of November. It can be about anything and doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. The idea is that so many of us have stories we want to write but never have the time. So this challenge provides support and networking and motivates people to stop putting it off or worrying about it being perfect and just write–without self-censoring or editing–as much as they possibly can in 30 days.

Stories are powerful things, but especially so for young people. Young people are surrounded by stories, whether it’s bedtime stories, cartoons, movies, books, school lessons, or the news. And one of the most wonderful, exciting, and powerful things for readers of any age, but especially youth, is to see a story about someone like them. Having a character that looks like you, talks like you, thinks like you, or identifies like you can make a huge difference in the lives of young readers. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of diversity in mainstream stories, especially not books for children and young adults. This is especially true if you’re looking for queer or trans characters. It is so vitally important that we make room for this diversity in stories for youth, both in media like NaNoWriMo stories and in mainstream media. So if you’ve got a story, tell it! There are people out there who would love to hear it!

To celebrate the intersection of Writing and Trans Awareness, here is a sample of some young adult and children’s books that already exist and have awesome trans and queer characters! Check them out!Brooklyn

  1. Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff

A love story that takes place over the course of a summer between two marginally housed Brooklyn teens, Scout and Kid. Their genders are never revealed.

  1. EmilyBeing Emily by Rachel Gold

When Emily, who was assigned male at birth, tells her parents about her desire to live as a woman, they send her into therapy, convinced she is ill. She is able to rely on her girlfriend and a few others in her life to help her through her family issues.

  1. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills Music

Gabe, who was assigned female at birth, hosts a popular weekly radio show called “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.” He is not out at school, where he is still using his given name, Elizabeth. When someone discovers his secret, Gabe must figure out how to live an honest life and still stay safe.

  1. if-you-believeIf You Believe in Mermaids, Don’t Tell by A.A. Phillips

Todd knows he can never tell his family the truth: that he wants to be a mermaid, that he loves to play dress up, and that he doesn’t want to follow in his dad’s footsteps as an athlete. But when he goes to a summer science camp, he meets a girl who might help him learn to love who he truly is.

  1. London Reign by A.C. Britt london

London is one of Boston’s toughest boys, who was actually assigned female at birth. London must deal with his abusive stepfather, as well as a whole host of other issues that come with living in the inner city.

For more great youth books with trans and queer characters, check out the list at the link below!

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/yals/trans-titles-for-young-adults-summer-2013/

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