updated 02-28-2015

Meeting with Your Elected Officials

FIRST: Find your state legislators and then see if they are already cosponsors of the Equal Access Bill.

This will open a separate window to the official Massachusetts government website that you can keep open to find and then refer to your State Representative’s and Senator’s contact information.

THEN: Call to make an appointment to meet in person.

  • Ask for your Representative or Senator by name. Usually you end up speaking with a legislative aide.
  • Introduce yourself as a constituent. Give your name and town.
  • Tell them that you would like to visit the office to discuss An Act Relative to Equal Access (House Bill 1589/Senate Bill 643). Give them days and times convenient for you and ask when your Representative or Senator is available to meet with you.

SCRIPT (optional)

Receptionist: Hello, [name of committee OR name of Senator’s office].

You: Hello, can I please speak to Representative/Senator ______’s scheduler please?

Receptionist: One moment please. (they will transfer your call to a legislative aide)

Legislative aide: Hello, Representative/Senator _____’s office.

You: Hello, my name is ______, and I am a constituent of Representative/Senator ______. I am calling because I will be in Boston on ______ between ______ and ______, and I would like to schedule an appointment with Representative/Senator _____ to discuss their support of “An Act Relative to Equal Access.”

(The Legislative aide will tell you if your Representative/Senator will be available to meet, or they may offer you an appointment with one of his/her staffers.)

Legislative aide: Yes, Representative/Senator ____ would be available to meet with you at _____.

You: That’s great! I really appreciate Representative/Senator _____ taking the time out of his/her busy schedule to meet with me.

Please let MTPC know if you have any trouble scheduling a meeting with your legislators and/or their staffers.

NEXT: Meet with your Senator or Representative.

Ask your state Representative and Senator to support An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public (House Bill 1589/Senate Bill 643). You can use the script below.

What to expect in your legislative visit:

  • Visits are typically 15-30 mins if you have made an appointment, 5-10 mins if you are just dropping by.
  • You may meet with your legislator or the legislator’s staffer.
  • Legislative staffers have the ear of their bosses and, because legislators are so busy, the legislative staff plays an important role of filtering information to their bosses.
  • REMEMBER: always be polite! This is a marathon, not a sprint; it takes time to cultivate allies. Even if they say no now, they may still come around eventually!
  • If a legislator or their staff asks you a question and you are not sure of the answer that is ok. Write down their question and let them know that someone from MTPC or the lead sponsor’s office will get back to them.

Your introduction should include:

  • Thank the legislator or staffer for meeting with you.
  • Give your name and where you live (If you are with a group make sure everyone introduces themselves.)
  • Tell them the name of the bill you are in support of: An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public (House Bill 1589/Senate Bill 643)
  • Give them brief information about the bill: The Equal Access Bill was filed in the House by lead sponsors Representatives Carl Sciortino and Byron Rushing and in the Senate by lead sponsors Senators Sonia Chang-Diaz and Ben Downing. The final version of the 2011 An Act Relative to Gender Identity (originally filed as Transgender Equal Rights Bill) that was passed by the legislature did not include protections within the public accommodations section of the nondiscrimination laws. Protection when accessing public accommodations is a necessity for our transgender communities in Massachusetts.
  • Use your time with the legislator or their staff to tell your personal story about why this legislation is important to you. No more than 5 minutes.
  • Why does this issue matter to you? (Do you care about equal rights in general or do you know transgender people who have been discriminated against or harassed in public places of accommodation?)
  • Have you experienced discrimination when trying to access any establishment, public or private, which is open to the general public? If so, use your most compelling story to exemplify why this legislation’s passage is crucial.
  • Which people in your life does this legislation directly affect? (Self, parent, son or daughter, sibling, other relative, partner, friend, coworker, teacher, etc.)
  • Ask them if they will support the bill.
  • Thank them again for meeting with you.

SCRIPT (OPTIONAL)

Receptionist: Hello. Can I help you?

You: Hi my name is _____________I am a constituent of Representative/Senator______. I have an appointment with __________. OR if you are dropping by: Is the Representative/ Senator in today? If no, ask if there is someone you can talk with.

IF THE LEGISLATOR HAS NOT SIGNED ON AS A COSPONSOR:

You: I stopped by because I would like you/him/her to support An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public (House Bill 1589/Senate Bill 643) which has been filed in the House by lead sponsors Representative Carl Sciortino and Representative Byron Rushing and in the Senate by lead sponsors Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Senator Ben Downing. The final version of the 2011 An Act Relative to Gender Identity (originally filed as Transgender Equal Rights Bill) that was passed by the legislature did not include protections within the public accommodations section of the nondiscrimination laws. Protection when accessing public accommodations is a necessity for our transgender communities in Massachusetts.

You: Let me tell you a little about why the Equal Access Bill is important to me. Give a short story or example (see list above for ideas).

You: I would like to know if you/your boss would support the Equal Access Bill (House Bill 1589/Senate Bill 643).

IF THE LEGISLATOR OR AIDE SAYS YES THEY/THEIR BOSS WILL SUPPORT THE BILL:

You: Thank you! That’s great! I really appreciate you/the Representative/Senator ______’s supporting the Equal Access Bill. I will let the lead sponsors know.

IF THE AIDE SAYS THAT THEY ARE UNSURE OF THEIR/THEIR BOSS’S POSITION ON THE BILL:

You: I have a fact sheet that I would like leave with you/send you via email information about the bill. Ask them to write down the email address. Also, Raffi Freedman Gurspan, 617-722-2013, in Representative Carl Sciortino’s office (if talking with your Rep) and/or Katherine Adam, 617-722-1673, in Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz’s office (if talking your Senator) can also provide your boss with more information.

You: Thank you for your attention to this matter.

IF THEY/THEIR AIDE SAYS NO THEY/THEIR BOSS WON’T SUPPORT THE BILL:

You: Thank you for your time. I would like to leave this fact sheet with you today/send you via email information about the bill. Ask them to write down the email address. in the hopes that you will reconsider once you know more about the details of the bill. If you met with an aide instead of directly with the Senator or Representative:  I would like to meet with my legislator in the district office to talk about the bill or at least have a phone call directly with my legislator about the bill. How can I set up that meeting or phone call?

IF YOUR LEGISLATOR IS A COSPONSOR:

You: Thank you/Please thank Representative/Senator __________ for supporting the Equal Access Bill. Public accommodations protections are so important to the transgender community and their families. Will you please ask the Senate President/Speaker of the House to make this a bill priority this calendar year?

END THE CONVERSATION POLITELY:

You: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me.

LAST: Follow-up with your legislators and let MTPC know how it went.

Pat yourself on the back for participating in the democratic process. Want to do more? Encourage others to contact their Senator and Representative. Want to do even more? Become a Community Advocate or a Legislator Educator.

Equal Access Bill resources