Boston, MA October 31, 2019
MTPC announced today that Athena Vaughn will be joining the team as the Operations Coordinator.
Athena Vaughn (she/her/hers), also known as Athena West is a Legend in the Ballroom community and has been doing LGBTQ work for over 15 years. During the last 7-8 years, she has been working with transgender communities at Fenway Health, as a Consultant for the Life Skills program. Life Skills is designed to help transgender women ages 13 – 29 manage everyday challenges like hormones, health risks, health insurance and housing. Athena is also the Senior Transgender Health Navigator for Fenway Health/AIDS Action Committee, and has overseen the Transcend Program.
It is essential that transgender and gender non conforming people have easy access to the services. “I don’t mind doing the leg work to ensure the safety and well being of my clients, finding them shelter that are inclusive and do not discriminate as well as health care, health insurance and a host of other resources that they may need”, says Athena. “I love working with my community because they need someone to show them unconditional love and support, to not make promises, but to do what you say you are going to do; someone to walk with them and fight with them.”
Athena begins her journey at MTPC on Monday, November 4th. “We are thrilled to have Athena come on board” says Executive Director, Tre’Andre Valentine. “She brings such a wealth of knowledge and experience; her passion for working with community beyond is inspiring. I’m truly looking forward to working together.”
MTPC Signs on to Open Letter to Human Rights Campaign: Trans people don’t need HRC to save us – we need HRC to back usPosted by: Kelsey Grunstra | Posted on: October 3, 2019
“After reading the article in Out Magazine, a few trans leaders, including representatives from the Transgender Law Center, Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project, Transgender Legal Defense, and Education Fund and The TransLatin@ Coalition, gathered to discuss our concerns. We made the difficult decision to draft this open letter because trans people have worked hard to build an infrastructure to support our movement, and we saw that work being dangerously invisibilized in the way HRC composed its plan and rolled out the announcement. For the biggest LGBT organization in the world to ignore hard-won existing trans movement infrastructure and leadership – and claim to speak for us – threatens our ability to maintain a strong trans-led movement for liberation. Under Alphonso David’s leadership, we see a new willingness from HRC to prioritize trans people of color. Our letter is an invitation for HRC to do so in partnership with us – rather than for us.”
MTPC is proud to join with our fellow trans-focused and trans-led organizations in sending HRC this message.
Joint Statement of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and Massachusetts Trans Political Coalition (MTPC) on the Treatment of Individuals Arrested for Protesting ‘Straight Pride’ Parade in BostonPosted by: Kelsey Grunstra | Posted on: September 9, 2019
We are profoundly disturbed by the events surrounding the ‘Straight Pride’ parade in Boston on August 31, including the cascading missteps surrounding the counter-protest and its aftermath, at the hands of the police and the justice system. They are reminders of how far we have to go before our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially transgender communities can trust that our voices will be heard, and our identities respected, in the public square, without fear of mistreatment or discrimination.
The individuals who gathered to protest the ‘Straight Pride’ parade did so to voice disagreement with the event’s extremist messages, including the message that LGBTQ people are not “normal.” Such dehumanizing statements, made by parade organizers who have ties to White Supremacist and other alt right ideologies, threaten not only the dignity but also the safety of LGB and especially transgender lives.
Our aspirations for equal justice in our nation require protection of avenues of dissent. And yet, the heavy-handed police tactics at the rally, resulting in the arrests of protesters, threatens to squelch the voices of marginalized people, particularly the transgender community who already experience harassment and discrimination at the hands of the police.
What happened subsequently in the courtroom did little to restore our community’s trust in the justice system. While prosecutors, under the leadership of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins, tried to do the right thing by declining to prosecute the minor charges levied against the protesters, Suffolk Municipal Court Judge Sinnott refused to defer to prosecutorial discretion and instead insisted that many of these charges go forward. Judicial resources are not well spent on prosecuting people who showed up at a rally to engage civic values of discourse.
To make matters worse, Judge Sinnott later mistreated one defendant, Kai De Jesus, a transgender woman of color, with humiliating and dehumanizing statements about her gender and name, including equating her name with a criminal alias. Whether intentional or not, comments like those made by Judge Sinnott send the message to transgender people that they may not receive a fair hearing in court – the opposite of the expectation we should be ensuring all residents of the Commonwealth can confidently hold with regards to our justice system.
But we have the power to change that. In 2018 the trial court created a mandated training, required of every trial court employee, including judges, setting out expectations for fair, respectful and inclusive treatment of transgender people in our courts. Last week demonstrated how critical such trainings are to continue on an ongoing basis for all court staff, including the judges who are entrusted with delivering unbiased justice.
Last year the Massachusetts community voted overwhelmingly to uphold protections for transgender individuals in public spaces, including on the streets and in the courts. It is up to all of us to live up to our collective aspirations of upholding fairness, dignity, and respect for LGB and transgender people, and for all people in the Commonwealth.
Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. GLAD participated in the development of the 2018 trial court training on inclusive and respectful treatment of transgender people in the court system.
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is dedicated to ending oppression and discrimination on the basis on gender identity and gender expression. Rooted in social justice, we educate the public; advocate with state, local and federal government; engage in activism; and encourage the empowerment of community members through collective action. MTPC offers regular trainings throughout the state on trans and non-binary identities and on developing accessibility and inclusion for trans and non-binary communities.
A bill pending in the State Legislature (H.3664/S.2203) would allow residents to choose a non-binary ‘X’ gender marker on driver’s licenses, birth certificates or other state-issued ID. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday Sept. 10th at 10:30am in Gardner Auditorium at the Statehouse.
Many thanks to all the volunteers and advocates who pressed for this hearing! There is a short turn around for the hearing, so Here’s what you can do now:
- Submit testimony: Write a short statement about why you support Massachusetts residents having the option to designate ‘X’ on their IDs rather than ‘Male’ or ‘Female’. Send that to Tre’Andre Valentine at TreAndreValentine@masstpc.
org or by snail mail to: MTPC, PO Box 960784, Boston, MA 02196. MTPC will submit a packet of testimonials to the joint committee at the hearing. Please make sure your testimony is in by Monday Sept. 9th by 9pm.
- Attend the hearing simply to be counted among those who care about this issue. We need people to show up.
- Present oral testimony: Sign up to testify for up to 3 minutes by contacting Rep. Domb’s office at: Mindy.Domb@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2400 or simply show up to the hearing, sign-in and register the day of
- Contact members of the Joint Committee for State Administration and Regulatory Oversight encouraging them to report the bill favorably out of committee. Joint committees have both senators and representatives, but the priority now is to contact the Representatives on the committee.