Transgender Ally Super Lawyer Catherine E. Reuben

by Landen, MTPC intern

MTPC is proud to highlight 2014 Commitment to Service Award recipient Catherine E. Reuben as a Transgender Ally Super Lawyer.

Catherine E. Reuben

Catherine E. Reuben

Reuben is a founding member of Hirsch, Roberts & Weinstein, where she provides counseling, training, and litigation defense as a Labor & Employment attorney. She is a tireless advocate and dedicates her time to numerous bar association task forces. Reuben is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Budget and Finance committee, the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, and the Committee on Transgender Inclusion Task Force. She has also served as Co-chair of the Employment Law Curriculum Advisory Committee for the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Association.

Reuben’s commitment to the transgender community is apparent in her work as a member of the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and her membership on the Host Committee for the Lawyers for Transgender Rights event since its inception. She is also the flutist of the band Urban Myth, which has graciously played at LTR for several years.

In addition, Reuben has lent her expertise and voice to the advocacy for transgender clients and employees in her 2013 guideline entitled “Is Your Law Practice Welcoming to Transgender Employees and Clients?” in the GPSolo eReport for the American Bar Association. The guide outlines examples of conduct in employment settings that could be viewed as discrimination and details steps that law practices can take to create more welcoming and comfortable environments for transgender employees and clients. Although this guide is specifically directed at law practices, its concrete and straightforward suggestions are applicable to many other private and non-profit businesses as well.

We appreciate that Reuben’s guide rightfully places the responsibility on the employer and/or employees to correct their behavior, rather than on the transgender person to be more accommodating. She uses her extensive knowledge to push for more inclusive and diverse work environments by stressing the importance of being a legally compliant work environment, and by doing so she calls attention to transgender and gender non-conforming people’s constitutional rights.

We thank Cathy Reuben for her continued service to the transgender community. She is an inspiration and a valuable part of the movement. (And just you know, we think she plays a mean flute.)

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Lawyers for Trans Rights 2014

by Landen, MTPC intern

MTPC celebrated its fifth annual Lawyers for Transgender Rights (LTR) event at NAGA at Moksa Restaurant in Cambridge on April 3. Surrounded by vibrant lights and lively music provided by the ensemble Urban Myth, enthusiastic students and members of the law community gathered to network, partake in cocktails, and bid on silent auction items. Although the event was fun, it served a greater purpose: to support MTPC’s important work on behalf of the trans community.

Executive Director Mason Dunn welcomed the crowd to his first Lawyers for Transgender Rights event with an impassioned speech on the dire need for equal rights and protection under the proposed Equal Access Bill. He reminded the crowd that nearly 60% of transgender people have reported significant discrimination and harassment in public accommodations. And although popular media is hyperfocused on the “bathroom issue,” the grim reality for trans people is that the severe lack of protection against harassment is prevalent in many other public spaces such as hotels, restaurants, public parks, buses, malls, theaters, and hospitals.

The LTR event also celebrated two champions of the trans community. The 2014 Carl Sciortino Transgender Ally Award recipient was Attorney General hopeful Maura Healey, a trailblazer for women’s rights, civil rights, and human rights with a history of legal advocacy and activism for the LGBTQ community. Healey delivered a keynote speech highlighting her commitment to secure justice for the trans community of Massachusetts. She enthusiastically ensured the crowd that she would fight by the trans community’s side for the legal protections they deserve, and she shared her vision of a future in which there would no longer be a need for events like Lawyers for Transgender Rights because equality of all people would be the status quo.

MTPC was also proud to honor Catherine E. Reuben, a founding partner of Hirsch, Roberts & Weinsten, with the 2014 Commitment to Service Award. Reuben is highly revered by her colleagues and the law community for her devotion to the ethical practice of law. She has been named a Massachusetts Super Lawyer (top 5% of lawyers) in Employment & Labor Law by Boston Magazine for the past 8 years, is one of the Top 50 Women Massachusetts Super Lawyers, and was recently inducted as a Fellow into the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, which is a most prestigious honor. Check our blog later next week to learn more about her!

MTPC thanks Maura and Catherine for their contribution to the transgender rights movement and extends our gratitude to the gracious and welcoming host committee and to all those who came out to support the organization. Thanks for another great year.

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MTPC’s Nancy Nangeroni Makes the Trans 100 List

Nancy Nangeroni named to Trans 100

We are proud to announce that Nancy Nangeroni, MTPC’s own steering committee chair, was named one of this year’s Trans 100. The Trans 100 is an annual listing of 100 trans individuals who are currently active in the work of making the lives of trans people better.

“I’m humbled to be included in such great company,” Nancy says. ”Congratulations to all my coconspirators for making this movement and this community so awesome! For every one of us honored tonight, there are many more out there doing great work to advance the integrity and self-respect of persons of diverse gender expression and identity, and they all deserve recognition. I salute each and every gender activist all around the world for growing this movement so beautifully.”

As many may know, Nancy has long been an activist in the trans community. She is the cofounder of GenderTalk and GenderVision, former executive director of the International Foundation for Gender Education, and was instrumental in the founding of the Boston Transgender Day of Remembrance. Additionally, as chair of MTPC, Nancy is active in all of our efforts, including the Equal Access Bill. This honor is well earned!

In addition to Nancy, MTPC’s good friend Logan Ferraro with BAGLY was also named to the impressive list of trans leaders. You can watch the event at http://gigity.tv/event/26151/.

Congratulations to all those named to the Trans 100!

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Women’s History Month: 5 Trans Women Making History

by Bryn and Aaron, MTPC Interns

Women’s History Month is an important time to promote and commemorate women’s contributions throughout history. For us here at MTPC, it is also a time to reflect on the current work that trans women are doing across the country. Below are just a few of the efforts we will celebrate in future looks at women’s history.

1. Cece McDonald

cece-whm

From http://supportcece.wordpress.com/

Cece McDonald has taken on the unjust criminalization of black trans women from the moment she fought back when taunted and assaulted for her identity to her continuing commitment to fighting for the rights of other trans women of color. In a recent interview with SocialistWorker.org, Cece was quoted as saying, “I wanted to be the person who fought this system–to let them know that I wasn’t scared and that I’m going to do whatever I need to make sure my voice is heard.” Cece’s fearlessness is making history by bringing together different communities to fight injustice: “The revolution is now. We’re a generation that’s making change, and what we do will affect the kind of world that our children and grandchildren will inherit.”*

2. Cecilia Chung

Cecilia-chung-whm

From http://www.transjusticefundingproject.org

Cecilia Chung, a senior advisor for the Transgender Law Center, was just named Woman of the Year by the California Legislature for her work in breaking down barriers to achieve equality. Chung takes on injustice with the mindset that “our separate struggles are really one,”* focusing on the intersection of identities and the compassion that can be shared across these identities. Her values have shaped the mission and programs of the Transgender Law Center, where she continues to advocate for cultural competency, inclusion, and safety for all.

3. Pamela Raintree

From http://bossierarts.blogspot.com

Transgender representation in American politics is sparse, leaving many transgender people feeling voiceless. Pamela Raintree, a citizen of Shreveport, Louisiana, did not let political opposition stop her from fighting for her rights. In response to a City Council member’s efforts to repeal a local LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance in Shreveport, Pamela called out the council member for saying that the Bible says LGBT people are abominations. Holding a stone firmly in her hand, Pamela challenged this discrimination: “Leviticus 20:13 states, ‘If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they shall surely put him to death. I brought the first stone, Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn’t just a smokescreen for personal prejudices.”* Pamela’s powerful words caused the council member to withdraw the repeal moments later!

4. Bamby Salcedo

From http://www.glaad.org/

From http://www.glaad.org/

As a fierce advocate for the transgender Latina community, Bamby Salcedo heads up the Trans Latin@ Coalition and runs Angels of Change, which raises money for the medical expenses of trans youth. She works tirelessly with members of the community and policymakers, using her strength to speak out and push society forward. Her work specifically with HIV-positive trans youth has touched hundreds. Today, she continues to be a pioneer for transgender rights by refusing to be made invisible and demanding the respect her community deserves.

5. Robina Asti

From http://www.advocate.com/

From http://www.advocate.com/

Robina Asti, a 92-year-old badass (sorry–we mean WWII veteran), refused to let the US Social Security Administration deny her rights simply because she’s transgender. After the death of her husband, the SSA did not give her spousal benefits, incorrectly claiming that at the time of the marriage she was not a woman and so was not legally entitled to the money. Robina’s fight for equality and the validation of her loving marriage is both inspiring and affirming that these injustices are finally starting to become unacceptable. Robina received her first Social Security check on Valentine’s Day, saying, “I felt like it was my husband Norwood’s Valentine’s Day gift to me. I’m glad that Social Security finally came to its senses. I hope this means that other people won’t have to experience this.”*

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World Poetry Day: 5 Poems for Trans Folks, by Trans Folks

by Aaron, MTPC Intern

Happy World Poetry Day! Officially declared a holiday in 1999, the intent of this yearly celebration is to promote poetry and bring people together through the art. Irina Bokova, the Director-General of United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who founded World Poetry Day, wrote of its importance:

Poetry is a song of freedom, enabling us to affirm our identity through creation. …Through its words and its rhythm, poetry gives shape to our dreams of peace, justice and dignity, and gives us the strength and desire to mobilize to make them real.

It is in this spirit that we bring you some of our favorite transgender spoken-word poets.

 

1. Ethan Smith, “A Letter to the Girl I Used to Be”

Berklee College of Music student Ethan Smith has been studying spoken word at the school since 2012. In early March, he competed in the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) with the Berklee Slam Team. He reached the semi-finals with his team and was recognized as one of the three best poets in the competition. Ethan’s poem “A Letter to the Girl I Used to Be” was featured in the Best of the Rest showcase. You can follow Ethan on Facebook here.

 

2. Kit Yan, “3rd Gender”

Based in Brooklyn, Kit Yan is a queer, transgender, and Asian American poet hailing from Hawaii. His work has been performed across the world, and published in two poetry anthologies, and commissioned by the Census Bureau and national queer visibility campaigns such as OUTmedia and Campus Pride‘s joint “Be Queer Buy Queer” and “Queer It Up” campaigns. To learn more about Kit, visit www.kityanpoet.com.

 

3. Janani Balasubramanian, “trans/national”

Janani Balasubramanian is a South Asian artivist based in Brooklyn. Their work deals broadly with themes of empire, desire, apocalypse, ancestry, microflora, and the future. They’re one-half of the spoken-word duo DarkMatter, primary organizer at the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, and a writer at Black Girl Dangerous. You can read more of Janani’s work at queerdarkenergy.com.

 

4.  Miles Walser, “Lillian”

Miles Walser is an accomplished poet, having won Best Male Poet at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) in 2010 and Best Poem by a Male Poet at the Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam Invitational in 2012. His book of poetry, What the Night Demands, was released in 2013. Learn more about Miles at www.mileswalser.com.

 

5. Christine Howey, “My Passing, 1988”

A poet and award-winning theater critic, Christine Howey recently debuted “Exact Change,” a show she both wrote and starred in. In 2011, she published a book of poetry entitled If You Find Yourself Submerged in a Pond Under Ice and has since competed in the 2013 National Poetry Slam.

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Alan L. Hart: Pioneer and Physician

By Aaron, MTPC Intern

In honor of Pi Day, the proud geeks of MTPC are excited to bring you a man of science for today’s transgender figure in history.

AlanHart

Image from http://www.tgforum.com/

Alan L. Hart was born in Kansas during October 1890. Losing his father to typhoid by the age of two, Hart relocated with his mother to Oregon to be closer to family. Identifying as a boy from a very early age, Hart endured relentless teasing in school and dedicated himself to his schoolwork to escape the torment. Graduating at the top of his class in 1908, he went to Albany College (now Lewis and Clark University) before transferring to Stanford University. Close proximity to San Francisco gave Hart the freedom to more freely explore his gender identity and attraction to women. Once again graduating at the top of his class in 1917, Hart was celebrated as one of the first “women” to receive such honors.

After marrying Inez Stark in 1918 and beginning to practicing medicine, Hart became the first documented recipient of gender reassignment surgery, which at this point in history was a hysterectomy. Proceeding to live full-time as a man, Hart tried to shift his focus back to his medical practice. However, his transgender identity seemed to present a variety of complications in the professional world, where he had to relocate relatively frequently to avoid harassment. He and Inez divorced in 1923, reportedly influenced by this instability.

Remarrying in 1925, Hart and his new wife, Edna Ruddick, traveled to Pennsylvania where he received his master’s degree in radiology. Then they went on to Washington, where Hart was appointed to Director of Radiology at Tacoma General Hospital and ultimately became an expert in tuberculosis. At the time, tuberculosis was widespread and generally considered a death sentence. Hart’s work on the detection of tuberculosis, tubercular radiology, and research on the usefulness of x-rays were of enormous importance to the eventual decline of the disease.

While Hart dedicated his life to medicine, he also followed his passion for writing, publishing four books and many short stories during his lifetime. Themes and narratives in his novels often reflected those of Hart’s own personal experiences.

Considering the historical context in which Alan L. Hart lived, his successes cannot be understated. Reports indicate that his family accepted him as a transgender man and in the mid-1940s, he was one of the early recipients of hormone replacement therapy. Around the same time that he began hormone treatment, he agreed to be Idaho’s Tuberculosis Control Officer and worked to change the stigma around the disease through his years traveling through the state to research and treat the sick. A true academic, Hart also received a master’s in public health from Yale University in 1948 and became the Director of Hospitalization and Rehabilitations at the Connecticut State Tuberculosis Commission. Prior to his death from heart failure in 1962, Hart had revolutionized the medical technology and procedures surrounding the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of tuberculosis.

Referring to the protagonist of his 1963 novel, The Undaunted, who mirrored a great deal of Hart’s own story, he said, “He had been driven from place to place, from job to job, for fifteen years because of something he could not alter any more than he could change the color of his eyes.”

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