#TransBillMA passed in the House AND Senate!

Below are MTPC’s public remarks on the passing of the Equal Access Bill in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by a wide (veto-proof!) margin on June 1, 2016. The bill has already passed in the Senate. 

My name is Mason Dunn. I am a transgender man, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, and co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts.

Today’s victory is a long-awaited and important affirmation from our lawmakers that transgender people are valued and welcome in our Commonwealth. Not only that, but today’s vote is an inspirational way to start June, National LGBTQ Pride Month. Happy Pride!

The protections that have passed today have been pending on Beacon Hill for nearly ten years. During that time, hundreds of transgender people have bravely come forward to tell their stories and personal experiences with discrimination. I am humbled by the time and effort the transgender community and our allies have put in to get us here today. You have shown up, time and time again, to tell your stories and to be an integral part of this process. Lawmakers heard us, and they see transgender people for who we truly are — human beings, worthy of respect and deserving of basic human rights.

We are so grateful to our tireless advocates in the House: Speaker DeLeo; Chairman Fernandes; and Representative Rushing and Representative Provost, the bill’s lead sponsors. They have shown persistent and determined leadership, without which we would not be here today. We are thankful to them for their unwavering commitment to moving this bill forward and working diligently over the past months to be sure legislators did the right thing.

Today is a triumph for Massachusetts’s reputation as a leader on equality and as a beacon of freedom for everyone. We look forward to seeing this bill arrive at Governor Baker’s desk, and we eagerly await his signature. It’s time for equality for everyone in Massachusetts.

mdivider

Onward!

It was a weekend of celebration and excitement in the LGBTQ movement as Pride Month came to a close. Marriage equality has been achieved at the national level, and we congratulate the activists, advocates, supporters, and volunteers who made this win a reality.

But now it’s July, and it’s time to continue the work. We are one step closer to lived equality for all LGBTQ people, and we cannot stop now. Join us in the continued journey, and together we can make history for human rights.

As you may have seen, MTPC has joined forces with many LGBTQ and human rights organizations to form Freedom Massachusetts. This campaign is working to secure nondiscrimination protections for gender identity and gender expression in all Massachusetts public spaces. Please take a moment to join the campaign and sign the pledge.

Want to volunteer for the campaign? Email Katie: Katie@FreedomMassachusetts.org. We need your help with phone banks, data input, organizing, and so much more. This is an opportunity to be on the ground floor of a very exciting campaign.

There is so much work left to do, but with this momentum, we are unstoppable. Join the movement, and together we can continue to change the world.

Onward!

FreedomMassLogo

 

 

 

mdivider

We’re so honored! Join us at North Shore Pride.

ns-pride-2015

We hope you’ll join MTPC ED Mason Dunn and Steering Committee Chair Emeritus Nancy Nangeroni at the amazing North Shore Pride event in Salem, MA, on Saturday, June 20 from noon to 5.

Stop by our table to hear about our work, learn how to get involved, or just say hello! And be sure to enter our T-shirt and iPad Mini raffles!

We will have postcards you can sign for Gov. Charlie Baker asking him to support our public access bill. We’ll also have letter writing materials if you want to send something longer and more personal.

If you’re around at 1, you can see MTPC accept this year’s Joan Parker Memorial Award. Joan was a friend of North Shore Pride and she and her husband, Robert, were staunch advocates for LGBT rights.

We hope to see you there!

mdivider

Boston City Council Votes Unanimously in Support of Gender Therapy Access Ordinance for Transgender Municipal Workers

[MassEquality press release]

BOSTON ─ June 11 ─ Today, the Boston City Council, by a unanimous vote, passed an ordinance ensuring that the City does not contract with any health insurance provider that does not provide comprehensive coverage for gender therapy services, including mental health care, hormone therapy, and other transition-related care for transgender City employees.

“This is a modest proposal that will have a profound impact on the lives of transgender municipal workers,” said Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality. “We applaud Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu for introducing the ordinance and the Council members who co-sponsored it and voted to pass it. Their action today is an important next step in Boston’s continuing leadership on transgender equality, and we hope that the state will soon follow Boston’s lead as it has so many times on issues of LGBTQ equality.”

Introduced by City Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu in mid-April, the ordinance received the support of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and the city’s Public Employees Committee, which recently voted to ensure that the city’s insurance plans to accommodate increased access to gender therapy services for Boston employees. Though the ordinance passed unanimously, this is a very small step in ensuring that all transgender people in the state are provided comprehensive insurance coverage. Currently, there are 17,000 Boston municipal workers whose insurance coverage will be impacted by this change.

“I am thrilled that the City of Boston is setting the standard for an inclusive workplace with policies to attract the most talented and committed employees,” said Wu.  “Inclusive health care coverage is the right thing to do for our employees and their families, and the best economic policy. I am proud that my colleagues on the Council and our Mayor support this important ordinance so strongly, and so grateful to MassEquality and the many partner organizations who testified in support. I am honored to be a part of this step towards ensuring Boston remains the best place to live, work and play.”

The language of the ordinance prevents the City from contracting with health insurers who refuse to provide coverage for transition-related care. One insurer, Neighborhood Health Plan, did not have a rider in its coverage for transition-related care, but will add one to its coverage that allows for gender therapy services. The other plans already covered these services for municipal employees.

“I thank MassEquality for being a leader and a partner in the ongoing fight for justice for our trans neighbors,” Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley said. “Access to quality health care is a civil rights issue. This ordinance will dramatically improve the lives of our City’s trans employees and their families; restoring their dignity and alleviating the cost of medically necessary care.”

According to research done by the Center for American Progress, the cost of providing healthcare coverage for transgender municipal workers is expected to be negligible. Studies have shown that the more than 200 private companies across the country that provide coverage for gender therapy services reported insignificant changes in healthcare costs.

“We are so proud to be part of a city that’s taking significant steps to remove the barriers to health care for all people,” said Susan Sherry, Deputy Director of Community Catalyst, a Boston-based national consumer health advocacy organization. “The Council’s overwhelming support for this policy change that benefits transgender employees sends a strong message to Boston and all Massachusetts residents, and promotes our city as a national leader on health equity issues.”

Washington, Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont and California have also amended their state policies to ensure that health insurers do not discriminate against transgender individuals.

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care For All, states, “This is an important step forward in ensuring that health coverage meets an individual’s full range of health care needs. We commend the City Council for providing a model state policymakers can use to improve access to care for all residents.”

***

mdivider

May meets June: The intersection of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and queerness

by Maxwell Ng, MTPC Steering Committee Vice-Chair

In May I celebrate and honor the work that has been done by my Asian and Pacific Islander brothers, sisters and siblings in the fight against racism. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the completion by Chinese laborers on the transcontinental railroad as well as the first immigration of a Japanese person to the United States.

And in June I remember and honor the work that my LGBTQ brothers, sisters and siblings have done in the fight against homo/transphobia. June is the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event that is credited for creating the modern LGBTQ Civil Rights movement.

While most of the time, it feels like this work is distinctive, isolated and separate, for me as a second generation Asian American and an out transman, these worlds have always been linked.

Have you looked at a map recently? Asia is big. Really big. There are 49 countries in Asia, a region that stretches from Saudi Arabia to the Kamchatka Peninsula and includes 60% of the world’s population. “Asia” as a concept was created when westerners were exploring the globe looking for exotic lands and rare spices. In fact, the earliest disputes about the border between Asia and the “western” world were centered on the Caucasus Mountains and so we interpret Asian to mean other.

Today “Asian Pacific-Islander” is a geopolitical term that refers to blobs of color on an atlas that are approximately close to each other. But in the “melting pot” of American race politics, to be API means you have yellow skin and slanty eyes. It possibly also means you’re good at mathhave demanding parents and slur your Rs. To be Asian American is to remove all the subtlety and nuance of a rich cultural heritage and to boil it down to a degrading stereotype that was created during the Wild West, institutionalized at Tule Lake, and given household recognition by Stanley Kubrick.

I remember as a child in the early 80s, my mother would caution me repeatedly, “Make sure you tell people you’re Chinese.” The fear was that if people thought I was Vietnamese, I would be construed as The Enemy because “we all look alike”. In 1982, Vincent Chin was bludgeoned to death by two Detroit autoworkers. Even though he was not an autoworker, or Japanese, they blamed him personally for the rise of Japanese automobile companies. He was brutally murdered for the way he looked and the perceptions of his race. In the months immediately following, Asians all over this country realized that it didn’t matter where we were born or who our parents were, we would still be labeled a Chink, a Jap, a Gook, and hated for simply because we are different. Vincent’s murder inspired a movement of togetherness that has lived to this day. In fact, immediately after the attacks on 9/11, Japanese Americans who survived Tule Lake were the first to come out in solidarity to make sure the same institutionalized racism didn’t happen again to Muslim Americans.

Power politics
I talk about these things incessantly because so many people don’t know the fundamental link between racism and homophobia the way I have experienced. Vincent Chin’s murder changed hate crime legislation in the United States. Something that happened again with the murder of Matthew Shepard. So much of the hatred in this country is based on perception of power. Most recently, a troubled misogynistic young man went on a killing spree in Isla Vista aimed at the women he perceived to reject him. It is difficult to rationalize any of his actions or his beliefs, but it is very obvious that his own internalized racism at his half Asian self was a contributing factor to his self loathing.

Intersection Junction, what’s your function?
The simple truth is that no one’s identity is simple. For me, my world and life are profoundly shaped by the color of my skin. I have long said that the two things people see about me are (1) my race and then (2) my gender. Before I say a single word, they assume that I don’t speak English, and that I will be submissive to them. 2011 statistics show 46.9% of hate crimes were motivated by race and 20.8% by sexual orientation. In my own life I have been subjected to decades of microaggressions that are in accordance with those statistics.
Continue reading

mdivider