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The Boston Transgender Day of Remembrance will be observed on Sunday, November 22 at 4pm at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Boston. For more information about the event, or to become an event sponsor, please visit www.masstpc.org/tdor.
The annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) memorializes individuals who have died throughout the world in the previous year because of anti-transgender hatred. Each November, the worldwide transgender community turns its attention to family, friends and loved ones lost to violence and prejudice. A tradition inspired by the Allston, MA vigil for slain transsexual Rita Hester in 1998, this day has become the worldwide rallying point for a community long under siege.
If you can, please sponsor this important community event.
Nearly two-thirds of transgender Massachusetts residents have experienced discrimination in a public accommodation setting in the past 12 months and those experiencing this discrimination were nearly twice as likely to report adverse physical and mental health outcomes, according to a study released today by The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health.
The Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act, passed in 2011 and implemented in 2012, does not cover public accommodations. Public accommodations include “any place that is open to the public and provides good or services” such as hotels, restaurants, public parks, buses, trains, theatres, hospitals and health care centers.
In 2013, MTPC and Fenway’s LifeSkills Team launched a community-based statewide stress and health needs assessment called Project VOICE (Voicing Our Individual and Community Experiences). The team surveyed 452 Massachusetts residents to evaluate the needs of the community in all areas of public accommodations and health. The questions assessed multiple aspects of transgender-related discrimination in public accommodation settings including actions such as unfair treatment, denial of service based on gender identity or appearance, aggressive language, and physical threats.
“The initial findings of Project VOICE may be startling to those unaware of the persistent and ongoing discrimination faced by transgender and gender nonconforming people. Unfortunately, those of us who work with gender minority communities know that mistreatment is all too common. In addition to being a matter of social justice, protecting gender minority communities from mistreatment is a matter of public health. Discrimination is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of our community,” said Dr. Sari Reisner, ScD, transgender health researcher and LifeSkills Investigator at Fenway.
Some of the key findings:
- Overall, 65% of respondents reported discrimination in one or more public accommodations settings in the past 12 months.
- The five most prevalent discrimination settings were transportation (36%), retail (28%), restaurant (26%), public gathering (25%), and health care facility/service (24%).
- Those who reported public accommodation discrimination in the past 12 months had an 84% increased risk of adverse physical symptoms (such as headache, upset stomach, tensing of muscles, or pounding heart) in the past 30 days and 99% increased risk of emotional symptoms (including feeling emotionally upset, sad, or frustrated) in the past 30 days.
- 28% of respondents reported that they had not seen a doctor in the past year.
- 29% reported having to teach their health care provider about transgender health issues in the past year.
Passage of the Equal Access Bill, currently before the Mass. Legislature, would provide improved access to public accommodations, hopefully leading to better health outcomes. Additionally, training health care providers in transgender and gender-affirmative care and working with employers to update non-discriminations policies to include gender identity and provide sensitive, competent training on how to respectfully interact with transgender co-workers and customers would help address some of these issues.
Project VOICE was generously funded by the Frieda L. Miller Foundation and The Fenway Institute.
Download a copy of the report here.
The Fenway Institute is continuing its work with the transgender community through ongoing community-based participatory research with transgender, lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer, and questioning youth of color, which aims to understand risk and resilience factors among these communities to inform a positive youth development intervention created by and for LGBTQ youth of color.
Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) organization that works to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. MTPC educates the public; advocates with state, local and federal government; engages in political activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action.
For more than forty years, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues. Fenway’s Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center cares for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else, including those who are LGBT or just figuring things out; homeless; struggling with substance use; or living with HIV/AIDS. In 2013, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts joined the Fenway Health family, allowing both organizations to improve delivery of care and services across the state and beyond.
Some of the News Coverage:
- WBUR 90.9 – July 17 morning news
- The WBUR Commonhealth blog, July 17 – Survey: Transgender Discrimination In Mass. Public Spots, Health Effects Seen
- The Rainbow Times, July 17 – Fenway & MTPC Release Project VOICE Report on Transgender Discrimination
- Bio-Medicine.org – The Fenway Institute & Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Release Project VOICE Report on Transgender Discrimination in Public Accommodations
- KAIT TV Arkansas – The Fenway Institute & Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Release Project VOICE Report on Transgender Discrimination in Public Accommodations
- PR Web – The Fenway Institute & Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Release Project VOICE Report on Transgender Discrimination in Public Accommodations
- Boston Globe – July 20 2014: Transgender people detail bias they face
On Friday, June 20, as reported by the Boston Globe, the MA State Division of Insurance issued a bulletin stating that “denying medically necessary treatment based on an individual’s gender identity or gender dysphoria is prohibited sex discrimination under Massachusetts law.” This follows a similar declaration by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
This means that any person seeking gender-related, medically necessary care cannot legally be denied such care under MassHealth. Download the full text of the official bulletin.
While this does not yet mean that individuals will get similar coverage under other insurance plans, it does move us all a step closer to the day when all insurance plans can be expected to provide such coverage.
Somerville Becomes Sixth Jurisdiction in Massachusetts to Enact Public Accommodations Protections for Members of the Transgender Community
Amended language also addresses discrimination in housing, employment and other areas
SOMERVILLE ─ May 23, 2014 ─ By a unanimous vote, the Board of Aldermen in Somerville passed amended language to Ordinance 2-237, which will now add the term “gender identity and expression” to the city’s anti-discrimination policy. The amended language addresses the issue of discrimination against members of the transgender community in housing, employment, education, legally-binding agreements and financial transactions as well as public areas such as retail establishments, transit, and restaurants.
“We know that 58% of surveyed transgender people in Massachusetts report suffering harassment or mistreatment in places of public accommodation. With this ordinance, Somerville joins the growing movement to ensure that transgender people have equal access and protections in these places. We applaud the City of Somerville, the aldermen and women, and the residents who came together to make this important ordinance happen,” said Mason Dunn, the executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.
Somerville follows Boston, Northampton, Amherst, Cambridge, and Salem in implementing comprehensive non-discrimination protections for the transgender community.
Rebekah Gewirtz, Ward 6 alderwoman for the City of Somerville and sponsor of the resolution, said that implementing a policy like this is part of a progressive effort in Massachusetts to provide protections for all residents of the Commonwealth:
“I’m thrilled Somerville is joining a growing number of cities and towns that embrace the fundamental rights of the transgender community. Here in Somerville, all people should be treated with dignity and respect. Passage of this resolution provides additional confirmation of this value we all share.”
Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality, the leading grassroots advocacy organization for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community in Massachusetts, praised the City of Somerville for their historic work.
“Right on the heels of celebrating 10 years of marriage equality in the Commonwealth, Massachusetts is again taking steps to be a trailblazer on the issues of LGBTQ equality. As the sixth municipality in the state to enact this vital policy, Somerville is taking part in what will hopefully be a domino effect across the Bay State, one will that will see more cities and towns coalescing around the necessity of acknowledging the rights of everyone.”
For more information on MATERC, visit http://www.masstpc.org/coalition.
The Massachusetts Equal Rights Coalition (MATERC) succeeded on November 16, 2011 in securing passage ofAn Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights thanks to lead sponsors former Representative Carl Sciortino and Representative Byron Rushing, and Senators Ben Downing and Sonia Chang-Diaz. MATERC will continue to work towards passage of non-discrimination protections in public accommodations.
by Nancy Nangeroni
Each November we meet to observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance (#TDOR). This most visible event of the year for our community, observed in cities and college campuses around the world, grew out of a series of Boston-area protests against the murders of transgender persons. The last of these catalyzed a response that extended beyond our community and grows to this day.
Rita Hester, an outgoing black transwoman who had been popular in both the transgender and Allston rock-n-roll communities, was brutally stabbed to death in November of 1998. Media accounts of her death were transphobic and disrespectful, outraging the trans community as well as Rita’s many friends. A speak-out and candlelight vigil in Allston drew an unprecedented crowd of over 250. A struggle over the media’s disrespectful use of pronouns and refusal to acknowledge her gender (even in stories by Boston’s only LGBT newspaper) garnered national attention. Trans activists in San Francisco took note, calling for an annual “Day of Remembrance” that grew into this international event.
Some people ask why our community’s most visible event has to be so sorrowful. Why can’t we do something a little more positive?
The answer is that we can – and must – do both. We need this event and this focus on the continuing persecution of transgender people – especially those of color – in order to raise awareness outside of our community to the brutalities and injustices that we suffer. Everyone in our community matters and deserves to be remembered, and when this long-standing epidemic of anti-trans violence is made visible, it helps illuminate for those outside the community our pressing need for civil and human rights. But we also need to celebrate and focus on our many strengths, potentials, and accomplishments in order to build ourselves a foundation on which we can stand tall and proud of who and what we are.
Six years ago, MTPC responded to this need by calling for a Transgender Awareness Week (#TransWK) to be held during the week leading up to TDOR. Trans Awareness Week is our opportunity to hold as many different kinds of events as we wish. It is our chance to talk about transgender struggles and triumphs with ourselves and with others, to help them understand what needs to change in order to make the world safer and more fair for transgender people, and for all people hurt by the dual gender system.
We live in a time when people are waking up to the injustices and persecutions suffered by people of all kinds of difference. We’re fortunate to witness a growing public commitment to fairness and respect for transgender people. This happens because of efforts like TDOR and TAW, which must continue in order to complete our transition to a society fully respectful of individual difference, gender or otherwise. Key to our success is the creation and sustenance of communities that bring us together in mutual caring, and collaboration among our many communities. We are each unique and have many differences, but our ability to cherish one another’s inner spirit despite those differences is the light that will guide us to even better tomorrows.
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), the go-to transgender advocacy and education organization in Massachusetts, offers an extraordinary opportunity for a new executive leader to partner with its talented Steering Committee, staff and volunteers. By attracting and mobilizing the under-utilized talents and skills of the transgender community, MTPC has increased the visibility of transgender people and built a vibrant and supportive transgender and allied community across the state. MTPC is small, powerful, nimble and ready for its next stage of evolution.
The ED will report to the Steering Committee and is responsible for programming and fundraising, as well as financial and administrative management of the organization. MTPC’s new leader will be expected to play a strong, visible and strategic role in developing and implementing plans to promote growth, impact and long-term sustainability.
MTPC is spreading the word about this opportunity as widely as possible. Please share this information to those in your network who should be aware of this opportunity. For the complete position profile and application guidelines, please visit http://www.tsne.org/jobs/ed_ma_transgndr_poli_coalition/
We thank you so much for your assistance in getting the word out. If you know of someone whom I should contact directly, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Your involvement in outreach can have a big impact on MTPC’s future!