It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a close. For me, it was a true roller coaster of emotion with incalculable highs, and immeasurable lows.
This is the year we passed the Transgender Public Accommodations Non-Discrimination legislation, representing a body of work that was over 10 years in the making. When MTPC passed the Trans Equal Rights Bill in 2011, we knew that victory was only part of a larger whole, and the work to gain vital protections in Public Accommodations would be the anchor that solidified Trans Equal Rights in Massachusetts. I admit that when 2016 began, I was nervous that it wouldn’t come together. Beacon Hill seemed stalled, terrifying statewide laws were popping up all over the country specifically targeting transgender folx, and even with the incredible momentum that we had built through our intrepid grassroots organizing, it seemed a task insurmountable. Despite these odds, or perhaps because of them, hundreds of you called your legislators, lobbied in the state house, and sent in personal letters. Thanks to your efforts, we made this happen, and in July, we came together in celebration with all our new wonderful allies after Governor Baker quietly signed the Transgender Public Accommodations Non-Discrimination legislation into law.
But of course, there is no resting on our laurels. In November we learned that the opposition was successful in gathering signatures to put our hard won new law up for a repeal vote on the 2018 ballot. This means that civil rights will be up for public debate, and our very humanity will be subject to tedious and inflammatory attack over the course of the next 685 days. It is a process that exhausts me just thinking about it.
Now, as I look ahead to 2017, I won’t lie – the landscape from where I stand looks daunting. As nervous as I was staring down Governor Baker’s reticence, that is a pittance compared to what the entire community is feeling in apprehension of the new federal administration. In the 37 days since the election in November, MTPC has recorded over 100 phone calls and emails asking with uncertainty “What should I do to protect myself.” We have buttressed our ID Project by partnering with a support line and a local law firm to make sure that people could get those legal questions answered in a timely fashion. And we have increased our efforts tenfold to make sure people understand how to change their names and gender markers on all their paperwork. At a recent community support group, I watched as Mason fielded a nonstop barrage of questions from a room of people in pain, and in clear need of emergency support.
We don’t know what the new administration will mean for our work or our rights at the local and national level. Many seem ready to dismiss 2016, but for us in Massachusetts, we must also remember that 2016 was the year we finally passed the Public Accommodations law, defying the national trend. Personally, 2016 was also the year that I married my partner Missy. We celebrated 2016 with a weekend wedding in a wonderfully queer and trans, interracial ceremony with paper mache dragons, origami lotuses and an out loud commitment to each other and to radical social justice.
Amidst all the uncertainty, there is one thing of which I am resolute: MTPC will be here for me, and my community. We will continue to advocate for the needs of our community and defy those who would dare to hold us back. We will continue to empower trans people and educate those who would oppose us. We will continue to draw strength from our diversity and courage from our struggle. We will continue. I hope you’ll join me in making a donation to MTPC for the New Year so we can make sure 2017 will be a year of success for trans rights. With your support we will defend trans rights in Massachusetts. Your donation is tax deductible, and will go directly to supporting our efforts and advocacy.
Lastly, I want to thank you for being a part of the rich tapestry of this community. It is because of you that we are here and that our future is sheltered. I hope you will join me in 2017 with the reassurance that this movement that we all hold so dear, will be here for generations to come.
Peace and Love on the Planet Earth,