President Obama today signed the FY2010 Defense Authorization Bill, which includes the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This historic legislation is the first federal law to recognize the existence of, and provide civil rights protections for, transgender people. It provides for the tracking of hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability, providing assistance to local authorities and gathering information about these crimes.
“This is a great thing for our transgender community, and we’re grateful to our elected representatives for their good work on this,” said MTPC executive director Gunner Scott. “But it doesn’t change the need for statewide legislation. We’re still waiting for action on our civil rights from the state legislature.” HB1728, “An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes,” has 105 co-sponsors, enough to guarantee passage in both the House and Senate, but it is still pending a report out from the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
“This comes at a time of special significance for the transgender community,” said Scott. “Each November 20th the transgender community worldwide observes the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to honor transgender victims of hate motivated murder. To this day, transgender people suffer widespread discrimination, harassment and violence simply for being who they are. The passage of this federal level hate crimes law is the first step towards changing this shameful situation.”
The week of Nov 15-20th, leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance, has been declared by MTPC as Transgender Awareness Week, a time for outreach and education about transgender issues. More information about events this week is available at http://www.masstpc.org.
“The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a moving and vital event for our community,” says Nancy Nangeroni, ad hoc chair of Boston Transgender Day of Remembrance Organizing Committee. “Too many of our sisters and brothers are suffering because of the systemic marginalization of all gender non-conforming people, and this event draws our attention to the most heinous effects of what more and more people are recognizing as unjust oppression.”
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is dedicated to ending discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. We envision a world where persons of all genders are treated with respect and fully participate in all areas of society, free from fear of prohibition, harassment or violence based on their gender identity and/or expression.