Action Alert! #TransBillMA

We are almost there!  Two weeks ago, the Senate passed Senate Bill 735, An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination, with a sound 33-4 vote.  Next Wednesday, June 1st, the House of Representatives will vote on House Bill 4253 to protect transgender people in public spaces.

 

Trans folks need equal rights now!  With the waves of anti-transgender legislation across the country, it’s crucial that we take a stand here in Massachusetts.  We have the chance to show that everyone is welcome in the Bay State, especially transgender folks.  Let’s make sure our legislators keep hearing from supporters of trans rights over the next week!

 

Tonight, tomorrow night, and next Tuesday night from 6-9 pm EST, we will be hosting remote phone banks, which you can participate in from the comfort of your own home, to call voters in key areas around the state ask them to leave a message of support for their representative.  This is one of the most effective things we can do to ensure that the voices of our supporters are heard in the State House before the vote next Wednesday.  All you need is a phone and a computer or tablet connected to the internet! To get all the details, sign up here

 

Can’t commit to a phone bank? Make sure YOUR voice is heard.  

Call your representative and ask them to vote in favor of HB 4253, email your representative, or write them a letter.  Make sure they know that passing HB 4253 will make Massachusetts a safer place for you and the ones you love.

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More on the Boston Spirit Action

This post was written by two MTPC interns who attended last week’s Boston Spirit event and wanted to share their experiences.

On Wednesday, March 13th, Boston Spirit Magazine held its ninth annual LBGT executive networking night. Organizer David Zimmerman, in charge of the event, invited Governor Charlie Baker to be honored for his “support of the LGBT community” as well as to serve as keynote speaker for the event. Although Baker may have supported same-sex marriage, his tacit opposition to the transgender public accommodations bill has alienated many local LGBT people. Activists in the trans community, supported by MTPC, attended the event to protest Spirit’s choice and to hear Baker address their concerns about the bill.

Before Baker began speaking, the general attitude of the crowd was cautiously hopeful – the governor has disappointed us before, but surely while being honored at an LGBT event and with the backlash from North Carolina and Mississippi looming, he would at least give us something. Instead, we got nothing more than the same refusal to commit that Baker has offered us for months.

Baker spent most of his speech, which ran to around eighteen minutes before abruptly cutting off, congratulating himself on his achievements in MBTA reform and opioid abuse legislation. Even though he was addressing a crowd of mostly LGBT people at a networking event specifically focused on LGBT-friendly businesses, Baker largely avoided mentioning any LGBT issues until halfway through his speech. Once finally reaching the topic of same-sex marriage, he promptly mispronounced the acronym “LGBT” several times.

For those of us participating in the action, the two authors of this post included, this lack of substance was incredibly frustrating. A little over halfway through Baker’s speech, a member of the audience called out to the governor, imploring him to “look around” and address “the issue” – that issue being the many audience members silently holding signs which bore slogans like “public spaces = our spaces” and “Trans Rights Now” in support of HB 1577. Baker’s response was a condescending, “We’ll get to that.” He then continued his self-congratulatory lecture on recent governmental achievements.

Finally deigning to talk about the public accommodations bill, Baker announced that he would “talk to all the parties involved” if the bill crossed his desk, continuing to equivocate on the importance of transgender rights. By refusing to give us a direct answer about whether or not he would sign a bill protecting trans people from discrimination, Baker showed us that he values some parts of the LGBT community far more than others.

The next few minutes of the speech emphasized his lack of commitment, so trans activists and community members in the crowd called out to the governor, asking him to “sign the bill” and pointing out that he has ignored attempts by trans community members to communicate their pressing concerns to him in the past. In the face of the community’s understandable frustrations, Baker abruptly ended his speech and walked offstage, declining to speak with audience members afterward as he had originally agreed to do.

David Zimmerman took the stage following the governor’s sudden departure amid protesters’ chants. After several failed attempts to calm the crowd, Zimmerman became visibly angry and said that he hoped the trans activists present would “respect the rest” of the LGBT community for whom the night had been organized.

Most of the news coverage of the event and our protest in the following days was positive. Some, like Shirley Leung’s editorial in the Boston Globe, however, implied that trans activists were taking up too much space at the event and that our expressions of justified anger were unreasonably disruptive and disrespectful. Our presence and interactions with the governor were described as “heckling” and even trans-friendly news outlets inaccurately stated that Baker was “booed off the stage” after easily-offended protesters “lost it.” This kind of language perpetuates the harmful narrative that trans folks are just looking for a fight when we ask that people respect our desire to live without discrimination.

When our elected officials refuse to listen to the people they ostensibly represent, community organizing becomes even more important. Even as Baker refuses to lead, we congratulate the trans community members who planned last Wednesday’s protest action and made their voices heard.

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Response to Boston Spirit Action

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is dismayed by Governor Charlie Baker’s failure to substantively address the transgender nondiscrimination legislation in his statements at the Boston Spirit Executive Networking event last night.

In his statements, Baker reiterated his well-trod position, saying, “if and when the bill gets to my desk I will make sure to talk to all parties involved before we make any decisions.” He once again avoided addressing whether he would sign the bill.

Spirit in Action

Community members taking part in the action at Boston Spirits Executive Networking Night

MTPC Executive Director, Mason Dunn, had this to say in response: 

“Governor Baker’s statements neglected to express any sincere support for transgender rights in Massachusetts. Baker fails to comprehend the human rights issues that are in question. Transgender people deserve fair and equal access under law to public spaces such as hotels, restaurants, public transportation, hospitals, and so much more. Gov. Baker’s continued avoidance of support for this legislation is an avoidance of support for the rights and dignity of his transgender constituents in the Commonwealth.”

Michelle Tat, an MTPC Steering Committee member, had this to say:

“I remain disappointed that Governor Baker continues to dodge and avoid questions regarding his support of the bill. At this point, his behavior does not simply reflect ignorance. Rather, his attitude and public statements around the public access bill reflects his sheer indifference to the lives of those in the transgender community.”

During Baker’s statements, transgender community members and allies spoke out when it became apparent that he would not address his position on the legislation. The frustration, disappointment, and anger voiced last night is a direct result of the delay in passing legislation that will impact the lives of thousands of transgender people in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition stands in solidarity with the community members who led the cry for action.

Tonight, MTPC is excited to host their event, Professionals for Transgender Rights, to celebrate businesses and professionals working for transgender equality. The event begins at 6pm at Monroe in Cambridge. For more information visit: MassTPC.org/PTR

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Boston Spirit Action: Statement of Solidarity

MTPCLogoCroppedThe Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) stands in solidarity with community members working towards visibility at the Boston Spirit LGBT Executive Networking Night to be held tomorrow night in Boston. This event will feature remarks from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and we encourage community members to join MTPC in attending to hear the Governor’s comments on the transgender nondiscrimination bill, which is currently stalled in the state legislature.

This legislation (House Bill #1577, Senate Bill #735) would add gender identity to existing Massachusetts civil rights law for public accommodations, which currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religion and marital status. Public accommodations are any place we are when not at home, work, or school. This includes, but is not limited to retail stores, public parks, hotels, public transportation, restaurants, medical offices, theaters, and more.

MTPC has been a leader in advocating for transgender rights in Massachusetts since 2001. The organization is dedicated to not only political advocacy, but supporting community empowerment through collective actions like these. In the past year, MTPC has worked to secure passage for the nondiscrimination bill, hosting community events, lobbying in the State House, and educating the public about the need for this legislation. Despite our efforts, the legislation remains in the hands of the Judiciary Committee.

MTPC urges the transgender community and our allies to attend the event, and we support their efforts to be visible and make their voices heard. MTPC will be staffing a table at the event in order to provide information about the legislation and our work on behalf of the transgender community, as well as to offer support and resources to those who may need them.

Please join us tomorrow night, and if you have any questions or need more information, contact Mason Dunn, MTPC Executive Director at 617-778-0519 x6 or MasonDunn@MassTPC.org. Or visit www.MassTPC.org for more information.

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TSA Reinforces Discriminatory Body Scanner Policies

The Transportation Security Administration has doubled down on anti-trans discrimination this week, finalizing a rule that codifies their existing policies on body scanners, making it more difficult for trans people to get through security.

Despite years of criticism and challenges from civil rights groups, TSA has decided not to change any aspect of their current system, in which TSA agents select scanners’ anomaly detection parameters with a pink or blue button based on a passenger’s perceived gender. This system puts transgender folks at a higher likelihood of dealing with invasive, humiliating patdowns and searches, since the scanners tend to flag trans people’s anatomy, as well as prosthetics like packers or breast forms. The policy also risks publicly outing transgender passengers by asking them questions about their bodies, which exposes them to further harassment and discrimination.

Adoption of the new rule means that TSA is likely to apply their outdated, discriminatory security measures more rigorously and be even less considerate of the civil rights of transgender passengers. The National Center for Transgender Equality has more information on how to protect yourself:

http://www.transequality.org/know-your-rights/airport-security

If you’ve been harassed or had your rights violated, or have any questions about your legal options, contact GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders at 1-800-455-GLAD for help and information, or email MTPC at info@massptc.org about your situation. You can also file discrimination complaints with TSA and the DHS on their respective websites.

 

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