MTPC & Fenway Health launch trans* needs assessment

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The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and Fenway Health have collaborated on a needs assessment to gather information about the health and well-being of Massachusetts’s transgender and gender-nonconforming adults, a population that has long been underserved. The 20-minute survey, entitled Project VOICE: Voicing Our Individual and Community Experiences, is available online and will be administered in-person at community organizations throughout Massachusetts this fall.

Funded by the Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation, the needs assessment is an effort by MTPC and Fenway Health to assess the experiences of transgender and gender conforming residents of Massachusetts in the wake of the passage of H. 810, an “Act Relative to Gender Identity,” which legally took effect on July 1, 2012. Also known as the Transgender Equal Rights Law, the law protects Massachusetts residents against gender identity discrimination in housing, credit, education and employment. While the passage of the Transgender Equal Rights Law was a huge coup for transgender and gender-nonconforming residents of Massachusetts and MTPC, who spearheaded the historic act, the bill failed to extend protections in public accommodations for gender identity. Now, a year after the legislation took effect, MTPC and Fenway Health have teamed up to examine the social stressors influencing health–including discrimination–among transgender and gender-nonconforming people in Massachusetts.

Offered in both English and Spanish, the 20-minute survey is expected to yield robust data that can be used to inform programs and policies that help to create better opportunities, address stressors such as discrimination, and improve the health and wellbeing of transgender and gender nonconforming people across Massachusetts. Dr. Sari Reisner, Research Scientist at The Fenway Institute, says: “Project Voice is an exciting opportunity to work with and engage trans communities in Massachusetts. It is a chance to understand more about the health, well-being, and past and current experiences of stress that we as trans and gender-nonconforming people face. Information from the project will help ensure public health efforts are grounded in the lived realities and needs of our community.”

To participate and/or learn more about the survey, please visit: thefenwayinstitute.org/research/voice.

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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 or living on the streets; struggling with substance use or abuse; sex workers; or living with HIV/AIDS.

Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) 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 activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. MTPC is a member of the Trans Advocacy Network, the Equality Federation, and the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.

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Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Announces New Executive Director, Mason Dunn

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Nancy Nangeroni, Chair of the Steering Committee, has announced the appointment of Mason Dunn as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, effective August 8, 2013.

Dunn brings ten years of experience in LGBT coalition, organization and community, much of it as a transgender community organizer and leader. A recent graduate from the University of New Hampshire School of Law, he comes to MTPC from the NH Civil Liberties Union, where he worked on a fellowship and filled a variety of roles, including communications, policy and research. He most recently served on the Steering Committee for Transgender New Hampshire, and as an adjunct faculty member at UNH Manchester in the Communication Arts department, teaching a course on LGBTQ Images and Perspectives. Prior to law school Dunn worked on the Board of Directors of TransMentors International, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring in the transgender community.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mason, who for many years has committed himself to advocacy on behalf of transgender issues and community,” Nangeroni said. “He brings excellent skills along with a demonstrated dedication to the principles embodied in MTPC’s mission and values. He is the right person to lead our organization as we grow further in fulfillment of the increasingly recognized needs of our underserved community.”

MTPC Vice-Chair Maxwell Ng added, “I’m excited to work with Mason because of the energy and vision he brings to our organization. It’s an exciting time to be involved with MTPC.”

“I am honored to have been selected as the next leader for MTPC, and I’m looking forward to working in this amazing community,” Dunn said. “The Massachusetts trans* movement has seen astonishing progress over the past few years thanks to MTPC, yet we have a long way to go in achieving full equality for our community.”

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Founded in 2001, MTPC is dedicated to ending discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. The organization works to educate the public about transgender identities, advocates in state and local governments and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action.

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MTPC Commends Social Security Administration on Dropping Surgery Requirement for Gender Marker Change

Boston, MA [6/20/2013] — The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is pleased to report that effective June 13 the Social Security Administration no longer requires an individual to undergo surgery to have the gender marker changed in SSA records.

The SSA will now accept “medical certification of appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition in the form of an original signed statement from a licensed physician” as proof when submitting the change request form. Prior to this policy change, the medical certification specified completing surgery.

“With this Social Security policy, the federal government is acknowledging that important gender-related medical decisions should be made by individuals and their doctors,” said Jesse Begenyi, interim director of MTPC.

This new SSA policy reflects that the current standard of care for transgender individuals no longer requires surgery as part of gender transition. In fact, at its annual meeting this week, the American Medical Association passed a resolution in support of US jurisdictions changing the gender marker on birth certificates for transgender individuals based upon “verification by a physician that the individual has undergone transition according to applicable medical standards of care.”

“Surgery is not financially feasible, desirable or medically appropriate for some individuals, so that has been a permanent roadblock for many transgender people in getting their records changed,” Begenyi said.

Many government agencies and companies access Social Security data for verification purposes, so the new policy ensures that medical history remains confidential except when disclosure is necessary for the health and safety of the individual.

The National Center for Transgender Equality has released “Transgender People and the Social Security Administration,” a resource to help transgender people across the country to understand and take advantage of the new Social Security policy. This resource, which includes the wording physicians should use for their medical certification letters, is available at http://transequality.org/Resources/SSAResource_June2013.pdf. MTPC’s website is also being updated to reflect the change.

“MTPC is grateful to NCTE, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Lesbian Rights for their dedication over the past seven years to secure this important Social Security policy change,” Begenyi said.

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Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) 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 activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. MTPC is a member of the Trans Advocacy Network, the Equality Federation, and the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.

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New BPD Transgender Guidelines

Contact: Jesse Begenyi
jesseb@masstpc.org
617-778-0519

Boston Police Department Issues Guidelines for Interactions with Transgender Individuals 

 

Boston, MA [6/11/2013] — On June 4, Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis issued SO 13-025, a Special Order outlining department guidelines for police contact with transgender individuals.

The Special Order states: “The policy of the Boston Police Department is to treat all individuals with dignity, respect, and professionalism. Officers shall at all times abide by Boston Police Department Rule 102 §9 (Respectful Treatment), as well as the City of Boston Office of Human Resources’ ‘Guidelines to Prevent Gender Identity Discrimination’ when interacting with transgender individuals.”

The order defines terms including “transgender,” “gender identity” and “gender expression” and states that the police should use the name and pronouns the transgender individual prefers; that search or frisk shall not be performed for the sole purpose of determining an individual’s anatomical sex; and that officers may not fail to respond to a call for service based on the gender identity or expression of the caller.

As part of the new guidelines, a Statement of Search Preference Form allows transgender individuals to request a female or a male police officer to conduct their searches.

Jesse Begenyi, Interim Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, commended the Boston Police Department for taking this important step to help make interactions between the police and members of the transgender community much safer.

“MTPC thanks Commissioner Davis, BPD LGBT liaison Javier Pagan, former MTPC executive director Gunner Scott, and everyone who worked to draft and implement this important policy,” Begenyi said. “We hope police departments statewide will adopt similar policies.”

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Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) 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 activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. MTPC is a member of the Trans Advocacy Network, the Equality Federation, and the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.

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Fourth Annual Lawyers for Transgender Rights Event to Feature Representative Carl Sciortino and Dylan Orr from the U.S. Department of Labor

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is pleased to announce its fourth annual Lawyers for Transgender Rights (LTR) event on Thursday, April 4 at 6 p.m. at The Estate in Boston. Massachusetts Representative Carl Sciortino will be accepting MTPC’s 2013 Transgender Ally Award, and Dylan Orr of the U.S. Department of Labor will be accepting the 2013 Community Advocate Award. The recipient of this year’s Commitment to Service Award will be announced during the event.

This LTR cocktail reception and silent auction brings together lawyers, law students, law firms, legal organizations, bar associations and law schools to network and build support in the legal community for MTPC’s work on behalf of transgender rights.

“Lawyers for Transgender Rights provides an important opportunity to hear about MTPC’s exciting work while raising money for this amazing organization,” said Bri Lacy, co-chair of LTR’s Host Committee.

2013 Transgender Ally Award recipient Carl Sciortino has been a leading progressive voice in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since his election in 2004. In addition to being a lead sponsor of both recent transgender rights bills, he has led battles for preserving marriage equality and establishing a buffer zone around reproductive healthcare facilities. He has also advocated for a range social and economic justice issues, including raising the minimum wage, closing corporate tax loopholes, passing the state’s landmark universal healthcare law, pushing for improvements in education and testing policies and increasing access to public transportation.

“Carl Sciortino is the very definition of a strong ally,” said MTPC Interim Director Jesse Begenyi. “He has been there at every step of the process in securing equal rights for the Commonwealth’s transgender community, and he understands the complex systems of oppression creating the need for legal protections. You can tell that even beyond fighting for legal equality for our community, Carl is very invested in people as individuals and works to make sure everyone has an equal chance to lead a full and rich life.”

2013 Community Advocate Award recipient Dylan Orr serves as Special Advisor to Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez in the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor, contributing to the development of national disability-employment-related regulations and policy. He also represents the Department of Labor on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Among Orr’s volunteer pursuits, he is a founding member of Trans Legal Advocates of Washington and is the first openly transgender person appointed to a U.S. presidential administration. Prior to this appointment, his legal and policy background focused on civil rights and social justice issues.

“MTPC plays an invaluable role in Massachusetts,” Host Committee Co-chair Lacy said. “It led the fight for the transgender equal rights legislation that passed in 2012 and is still working to broaden the legal protections available for gender identity and expression. MTPC also establishes best practices and provides much-needed educational opportunities. I’m thrilled that the legal community has become such a strong supporter of its work.”

2013 Lawyers for Transgender Rights event sponsors include Ropes & Gray, WilmerHale, Foley Hoag LLP, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP, Edwards Wildman, Kauffman Crozier LLP, and many other organizations and individuals (the full listing is available on MTPC’s website).

This year’s event will include live music by Urban Myth and a silent auction featuring items such as Red Sox tickets and a limited edition (only 1 of 39) 20×16 framed photo of the 2004 Patriots signed by 29 players. Tickets will be on sale at the door the night the event: $70 for lawyers, $40 for non-profit and $20 for students. For more information please see masstpc.org/community-events/ltr2013.

LTR Host Committee Co-chair Catherine Deneke said, “We are so proud that the legal community continues to stand on the side of equality and has shown such tremendous support for MTPC and this event.”

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Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) 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 activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. MTPC is a member of the Trans Advocacy Network, the Equality Federation and the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.

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MTPC Releases “Best Practices for Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students in Schools”

small K-12 Best Practices01The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) has released its best practice recommendations concerning equal and fair treatment, rights and safety of transgender and gender non-conforming youth in K-12 schools. “Best Practices for Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students in Schools,” is being made available free to all school districts in the state on MTPC’s website (masstpc.org/issues/education). This complements the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education “Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools: Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment – Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity.”

These best practices provide additional tools for school administrators, teachers and superintendents in implementing the 2011 Act Relative to Gender Identity for gender identity non-discrimination in K-12 public schools. These recommendations were developed by the MTPC Policy Committee and reflect the best educational practice models used in other school systems with existing gender identity non-discrimination laws, policies and regulations in other states, in addition to policy recommendations developed by LGBT think tanks and LGBT education policy specialists.

MTPC’s Executive Director Gunner Scott said, “The evidence is overwhelming that transgender and gender non-conforming youth need active school support and protection for their physical and mental health and educational well-being. I applaud the Massachusetts legislature and Governor Deval Patrick for the passage and enactment of the 2011 Act Relative to Gender Identity law, which requires non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the areas of education, employment, housing and credit/lending.”

Transgender and gender non-conforming youth experience overwhelming amounts of harassment and discrimination in schools across the Commonwealth and throughout the nation. The 2007 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 87% of transgender students had been verbally harassed in the previous year because of their gender expression, and more than a quarter had been physically assaulted. More than half of those who were victimized did not report the events to school authorities.

“We look forward to collaborating with school administrators, superintendents and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in utilizing these best practice recommendations in all Massachusetts school districts,” said Julian Cyr, chair of the Massachusetts Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth.  “The Commission is committed to continuing to collaborate with educators, policy makers and community partners such as MTPC to provide technical assistance and professional development to ensure that teachers and schools have the tools they need to fully support transgender and gender-nonconforming students.”

Scott said, “These recommendations were prepared by the MTPC Policy Committee and reflect the best educational practice models used in other school systems with existing gender identity non-discrimination laws, policies and regulations in other states, in addition to policy recommendations developed by LGBT think tanks and LGBT education policy specialists.”

These recommendations include examples of: how to address transgender students by their preferred names and pronouns in records and in the classroom; how to provide updated copies of high school diplomas when students’ names are changed; and ways to keep students’ transgender status confidential, unless necessary to ensure the students’ safety.

In addition to the 2011 law, the Massachusetts Superior and Appeals Courts ruled in October 2000 and February 2001, respectively, that Massachusetts public schools may not prohibit transgender students from expressing their gender identities and are afforded the same protections and rights under the law as other students.

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Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) 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 activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. MTPC is a member of the Trans Advocacy Network, the Equality Federation, and the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.

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