Transgender Spotlight: We’wha

by Aaron, MTPC intern

Today’s transgender spotlight is about We’wha (pronounced WAY-wah), a Zuni Native American whose life was one of advocacy for her tribe and artistry in her craft. Some would refer to her as two spirit, a term that generally describes Native Americans who occupy non-normative or multiple gender roles. This is actually a very recent term, established by the Indigenous Lesbian and Gay International Gathering in 1990 in an effort to reclaim gender diversity and replace the derogatory term berdache, which was used by foreign intruders to shame gender variance. Not every tribe recognizes two spirit people, nor do communities all have the same traditions, terms, or roles for two spirit people. We’wha was a lhamana (LHA-mana), the term used by Zunis to refer to male-bodied people who are “like a woman.”

We'wha, a Zuni Lhamana (Two-Spirit), circa 1886

We’wha, a Zuni Lhamana (Two-Spirit), circa 1886. From:

Born in 1849 into New Mexico’s Zuni tribe, where lhamanas were highly respected, We’wha was trained in the traditionally female crafts of weaving and pottery. Her talent in the arts was well known and valued in her community and beyond, as was her gift for spiritual leadership. Learning English at an early age allowed We’wha to make connections with visitors to the region and educate them about Zuni traditions, and she eventually became a Zuni ambassador. As a representative of her tribe, We’wha was the first Zuni to travel to Washington, DC, in the 1880s, where she met with diplomats, congressmen, and … drum roll, please … President Grover Cleveland.

It is clear from newspaper articles at the time and stories of We’wha’s travels that folks in DC were instantly smitten with her but apparently unaware of her lhamana identity. During the several months she spent in the city, We’wha gave a weaving presentation at the Smithsonian, participated in a show at the National Theater, and befriended Speaker of the House John G. Carlisle. While she seemed to enjoy and take advantage of her new celebrity status, her intention was to educate leaders about her tribe and debunk myths about Zunis and other Native Americans in a culture that encouraged (and continues to encourage) cultural assimilation.

Her art was celebrated from New Mexico to DC and played a central role in helping Native American art gain recognition in the fine arts world. Despite an unjust arrest and month-long imprisonment for defending the Pueblo’s governor against authorities during a conflict in 1892, We’wha continued to educate anthropologists and represent her tribe with pride. Matilda Stevenson, an anthropologist who was befriended by We’wha, described her as intelligent and kind with an “indomitable will and an insatiable thirst for knowledge.”*

We’wha died in 1896, but the legacy of her extraordinary life remains one of community advocacy, cultural exchange, and artistry.


Marathon Monday

Today we run as one.

By Matt R. Tucker,

Hello, hello! My name is Bryn, and I am the Communications and Public Relations Intern here at MTPC. Sadly, my internship will be finishing up in just a few weeks, but before I go I want to share some thoughts about something that I have loved since I was a little kid: Marathon Monday.

Marathon Monday is awesome! Runners and tourists from around the world converge in Boston for the event. Almost the entire city of Boston gets out of work or school, or just takes a break from life in general, to celebrate those of us amazingly capable of completing 26.2 straight miles on a sunny New England day. It’s a wonderful induction into warmer months, whether you are sweating at mile 16 or just watching happily from the sidelines.

The marathon has always been an emblem of perseverance and building community among people from all walks of life. After last year’s race turned into a tragic event when two bombs went off, running or attending the marathon this year especially showed perseverance despite fear and obstacles.

As I stood on the sidelines cheering on the marathoners this year, the sense of community overwhelmed me. I was not only there watching an amazing athletic competition but also standing in solidarity with runners from all walks of life and from all around the world to support them as they moved toward their goals.

In celebrating inclusion and diversity, MTPC would also like to introduce you to the self-proclaimed first transgender woman to run the Boston Marathon, Jennifer McCreath!

Jennifer McCreath

From: Photo by Mark Bennett.

Jennifer McCreath became a dedicated marathon maniac after she ran her first marathon in Mississauga, Ontario, in 2007. Since then she has run 30 marathons, including the Boston Marathon twice.

Out of the many marathons McCreath has run, the Boston Marathon holds special significance because it is the first marathon she ran registered as a woman: “I called Boston again, I explained myself: ‘I’d really like to run as a female. I’m not going to win your race, and it would mean a lot to me from a dignity and respect standpoint to run as a female.’ And they said okay! So I was happy. At that point I had decided never to run as a male except for this Boston race, and in the end I didn’t even have to do that. So off I went. I ran Charlottesville, Virginia, and two days later I ran Boston, and then five days later I was in Ontario. Three marathons in nine days.”*

McCreath’s achievements speak to the effects of inclusion and acceptance in athletics. The Boston Marathon became something special for McCreath: “I had gotten the competitive bug. I didn’t want to run marathons just for fun any more, I wanted to see how well I could do. And you say the words ‘Boston Marathon’ and it means something to people who run. Even outside of the running community.”

McCreath further comments on the significance of the Boston Marathon on her Marathon Maniac profile: “This was my first marathon in the female category and it was my first Boston Marathon. I savored the experience all the way and crossed the finish line with an extreme sense of pride and accomplishment.”*

We’re glad to know that the Boston Marathon, the pinnacle of marathon running, is trans-inclusive. We hope that other events and sports will follow our example and end the exclusion of trans people in athletics.


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.)


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.


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

Congratulations to all those named to the Trans 100!


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 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, 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, 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


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



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



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.”*