MTPC announces new Communications & Fundraising Manager

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) announced today that Kelsey Grunstra (she/her) will be joining the MTPC team as the new Communications and Fundraising Manager.

Kelsey is a white trans lesbian who is originally from upstate New York and now hails from Providence, RI where she lives with her wife Jess and their two cats. Before moving to Providence in 2019, Kelsey lived in Somerville, MA and from 2018-2019 she worked as MTPC’s Operations Coordinator. More recently she has worked as a freelance LGBTQ Digital Communications + Strategy Consultant and in RISD’s advancement office as a Campaign Project Coordinator. She has extensive experience in development communications, event planning, visual identity and branding, and web management, analytics, and accessibility.

Founded in 2001, MTPC hired its first full-time employee (Executive Director and co-founder of MTPC, Gunner Scott) in 2008. Kelsey will be joining MTPC as its second full-time employee. The Steering Committee and MTPC’s Executive Director, Tre’Andre Valentine are excited to expand the organization, continuing to build and engage the community along the way. “Kelsey brings such a wealth of knowledge and expertise, as well as great enthusiasm for MTPC’s mission and our communities. I’m thrilled to be on this journey together as we work to build trans power” said, Tre’Andre.

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition works to ensure the wellbeing, safety, and lived equity of all trans, nonbinary and gender expansive community members in MA. We educate the public, advocate at state, local and systemic levels; and through collective action, we mobilize community, engage in capacity building, and advance community wellness and prosperity.

Posted on October 4, 2021

by Connor Barusch

Public Defender and first openly transgender/non-binary public defender to be qualified to represent people in Massachusetts on murder cases and former MTPC Steering Committee Member.

On Monday, August 16th the Supreme Judicial Court, the lead Massachusetts court, issued a decision that established the right of trans, queer, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to not be discriminated against in a new area for the first time – jury service.  In Commonwealth v. Antwan Carter, the Court recognized the history of discrimination based on sexual orientation and continued to explain “[s]uch discrimination is not only historical; its cultural and societal effects continue in modern times.”  I knew the author of this decision, Justice Serge Georges when he was a trial court judge in Dorchester where I was a public defender.  While I disagreed with him at times, as every public defender does, it was always evident to me that he was a Black man who cared deeply about the impact of racism on the people whose cases were before him, people who were overwhelmingly disproportionately Black.  He was also a mentor, supporter, and role model to those of us who were different, including lawyers of color and also me, as the only openly trans or non-binary lawyer practicing in that area at that time.  Justice Georges’ decision in Antwan Carter makes clear his fluency and thoughtfulness in describing discrimination and is a testament to why we as trans and non-binary communities benefit from the inclusion of other people who understand and know discrimination into decision-making positions.

Empty Jury Chairs

The decision extends the decision of Bostock, last year’s United States Supreme Court decision that said that Federal protections from employment discrimination based on sex also protect LGBT people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the state level in the jury context.  Even though the case is about sexual orientation, its reliance on Bostock makes it evident that it protects from discrimination based on gender identity as well.

In recent years, the jury questionnaire every person called to jury duty must fill out switched from binary gender checkboxes to a blank that requests “sex/gender identity”, hopefully communicating to people a desire of the courts to see our community on juries but why should we want to be on juries ourselves?  Serving on a jury is an opportunity for people to be a part of government in the most direct way possible and to really impact someone’s life.  Imagine being accused of a crime, arrested by police, taken to court, and being brought back to court for months or even years awaiting trial.  If you plea not guilty and demand a trial, your case will be brought to a small group of people, jurors, who will deny your fate.  As trans and non-binary people, we should not be excluded from being these decision-makers and the Carter decision says that discrimination against jurors based on sexual orientation (and by implication gender identity) is illegal.  Will Snowden, who founded The Juror Project, which discusses the importance of juror service, summarized it well, saying “Our country has recognized the benefits of diversity in our classrooms and our board rooms. For the sake of the fairness of our criminal legal system, we need to recognize and protect, the benefit of diversity in our jury deliberation rooms which must include members of the LGBTQ community. Their presence helps contribute to a fair criminal legal system which we all should want.”

Published Aug 19th, 2021

See MTPC’s official press release here.

Update: A community vigil and memorial service for Jahaira will be held on May 22 at 12:00pm at Franklin Park in Boston, MA. More details are forthcoming.

If you would like to donate to help hold the memorial service and cover her family’s expenses, you can do so here.

MTPC is mourning the loss of beloved community member and dear friend, Jahaira DeAlto. Jahaira was a brilliant person, whose profound impact could be felt far and wide. Known for her kindness and generosity, she had a beautiful smile, a way with words and wit that was unmatched. A nurturing mother to many community members and legend in Boston’s ballroom scene, Jahaira was also a social justice activist, who spoke at the very first Trans Day of Remembrance and worked on the ground in Boston beginning at Boston GLASS. After moving to Pittsfield, she began her journey as a student at Berkshire Community College and as a counselor at the Elizabeth Freeman Center, setting the course towards an eventual LICSW. Her journey brought her back to Boston to continue at Simmons College as a double major in Social Work and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, consultant for MTPC, and cofounding member of Trans Resistance. Jahaira was an outspoken advocate, “galvanizing people to uplift each other through the common experience of feeling outcasted”. She leaves an indelible mark and an unforgettable legacy.

“I am the mother who raised the children whose rainbow sparkled too brightly and blinded their birth moms. I cherished what they discarded. I took on earthly assignments for the moms who’d earned their heavenly reward. For babies who still need raising. I did that.

And I’m still doing that. And I’ll keep doing that. Because I will never know what seeing my DNA reflected in another’s eyes could look like, but I know what gratitude in the eyes of a young person who finally feels seen looks like. And for me, that’s enough.”

Jahaira M. DeAlto @JahairasMission May 10, 2020

She was recently mourning the loss of her longest friend and fellow staple in the Boston community Ta’Aliyah Ayanna “Endego” Jones who died from the coronavirus in January. You can read her beautiful tribute to Ta’Aliyah here.

Jahaira’s death continues to be a devastating reminder of how much violence trans people, particularly trans women of color face every day, as she is the 21st trans person (that we know of) killed in the U.S. We will follow up when more information and details of the investigation are available.

The Mass Trans Political Coalition would like to extend our deepest condolences to Jahaira’s relatives, children, chosen family and friends, the House of Balenciaga and the ballroom community, and all those she touched and loved. Trans Resistance is organizing the 2nd annual Trans Resistance March, Vigil and Pride Fest to be held at Franklin Park on Saturday, June 12th 2021 in honor of Jahaira’s memory.

One of Jaharia’s many accomplishments and passions was her work with domestic violence survivors. If you or someone you know is experiencing partner abuse, please reach out to The Network La Red or the local DV organization in your area.

Updated 5/6/2021

by Jahaira M. DeAlto

Words are the most powerful tools we have. Until there are none. Until they wither at the back of your teeth.

Words failed me this morning. Epically.

I met Ta’Aliyah Ayanna Jones in 1996, and she was dressed head-to-toe in blue. I mean that literally. Her fingerwaves were blue, her Reeboks were blue. Head. To. Toe. Blue. Incidentally, her showgirl name was Endego Blue. I was fascinated with her from the moment I met her. I would’ve followed her to the ends of the earth. As our friendship grew, I at least followed her to the ends of the Orange Line.

Our adventures shaped my youth in so many ways. I ended up watching Tracy Chapman perform in the Pit at Harvard Square because Endego announced that since she’d never really been to Cambridge, we were going to go. We stole catsuits from a secondhand shop on Newbury Street for a performance at Club Café. We ate pad thai because she wanted to try something she’d never had before.

We live in a world now where self-promotion is currency. If it doesn’t find its way onto social media, it might as well never have happened. Endego was the polar opposite of that school of thought. It didn’t matter to her that at 16 years old, she spoke of the trans youth experience to a group of grad students at Harvard University. Or that at 17 years old, she got on a plane (for the first time) to Chicago to facilitate a group at the Ryan White National Youth Conference on HIV/AIDS. Or that when Boston’s burgeoning Ballroom scene was waning, she took it upon herself to find sponsorship and throw a Ball with no previous experience. She saw an injustice somewhere, a need somewhere else, and she filled it. No fanfare required. We’re talking about a woman who decided in her 30’s that a few college courses might be good, and ended up with a Master’s Degree. That’s just who she was.

If life exists beyond this plane of existence, I choose to believe that two people were waiting to greet Ta’Aliyah when she completed her journey. Her cherished and beloved grandmother, Ella Louise, and Boston’s own Rita Hester – Ta’Aliyah’s personal hero and possibility model.

So take your rest, Ta’Aliyah Ayanna “Endego” Jones. The world may not know your legacy, but we do. And because we do, your memory will live forever.

Black trans and nonbinary people contribute so much to society yet, continue to be excluded in the narrative of history. MTPC recognizes and honors our Black history makers and pioneers. Here are just a few of the individuals who have made history and are continuing to change the world and advocate for our rights.

Where do I even begin? I have been writing this for months now, never seeming to get past this point. When I began this journey as Executive Director in July 2019, I didn’t think that I would struggle to say something with all my opinions, beliefs, and experiences; yet, here I am a year and five months in and I am struggling.

I am privileged in so many ways; my job is secure, I have a roof over my head that is safe, stable, and comfortable, I don’t have to worry about when I’m going to have my next meal, my masculine presentation allows me certain degrees of safety, I have health insurance and access to healthcare (it’s not always gender-affirming, but at least I have access). I’ve also survived many things in my life, bullying, homelessness, cancer, domestic violence, and a myriad of sexual assault. But never have I experienced such blatant hatred, fear-mongering, and calls for violence towards communities of color, trans communities, and immigrants from leadership as seen from the Trump administration and his supporters over the last four years. One only has to look at the staggering reports of police and carceral brutality, the terrifying increased anti-trans violence and killings, deaths of immigrants, and the separation of immigrant families to make the connection that leadership influences our culture and our safety.

Additionally, my family, like thousands of others, have not been left unscathed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In August, my cousin, just three years older than me, succumbed to the coronavirus as his wife watched him draw his very last breath. Unable to travel, bury him, and give him the proper goodbye he deserved left me numb. I am still in a state of shock. Anxiety and depression hit hard, digging their claws deep into my being. And…I can only do what I’ve always done, carry on because I made it through fully comprehending that not all of us has.

So, I look to 2021 with measured hope. Trust me, I am not ignorant of the long road ahead. Ushering in a new administration is not going to save us or magically make things better. But without hope and a vision for a better world, what is there? I have to have hope and belief in a world where kindness reigns. I believe in the power of transformation, OUR powerTRANS power! It is within each and every one of us, that we have to power to change, grow, and manifest. Let’s invest in each other because WE are the ONES we’ve been waiting for! (taken from Hopi Elders’ Prophecy)

With hope for our future,

Tre’Andre Valentine (Dec. 30, 2020)

This is the United States of America. It is not nor has it ever been the United People of America. Yes, Trump should be impeached and IMMEDIATELY removed! His removal, however, will not change his supporters’ hearts or minds. White supremacy runs amuck and is abundant as shown by the hypocrisy of how the police dealt with the violent mob that stormed and raided the Capitol, and who were incited by Trump and encouraged by many in powerful leadership positions. Those people should also be removed from office.

The police were prepared for Black Lives Matter protests in the summer, yet “unprepared” for this mob when it was blatantly obvious that they were trying to organize a coup. From many news sources, it appears that they were informed of the possible chaos ahead but seemed unbothered by it. If this were a group of BIPOC people, LGBTQ people, or immigrants, I’m certain we would be hearing a much different story.

A reminder of what the Capitol police looked like during the Black Lives Matter protest on June 2, 2020

Trump’s attempts to disempower and disenfranchise immigrants, BIPOC, LGBTQ, and disabled people comes as no surprise. The next 13 days, well let’s be real; the next 358 days are going to be some of the longest, most chaotic days ahead. While Jan 20th is not that far away, it is not the light at the end of the tunnel. The Biden-Harris Administration is not suddenly going to make this country un-racist, un-anti-Black, un-anti-Indigenous, un-xenophobic, un-anti-immigrant, un-anti-LGBT, or un-anti-trans. It’s just going to be the beginning of a racist, abusive, misogynistic, xenophobic criminal no longer being in office. And that day cannot come soon enough.

Hold on to community and hold on to each other, because we need us now more than ever.

-Tre’Andre Valentine (Jan. 7, 2021)

The close of 2020 feels a bit like hopping out of the dentist’s chair, yet here we are. If one ever needed proof that this year has been difficult to sum up, just try putting it in a blog post. Alternate titles for this entry included things like “Panic at the Pandemic” and “Fear: It’s What’s for Dinner.” I imagine a similar feeling exists amongst combat veterans, in the sense that one can watch all the movies and read all about it, but if you weren’t actually in the battle, there are limitations to how deeply you can relate.

For many of us at MTPC, the loss of in-person community hit particularly hard. We take great pride in knowing that we not only love the people we serve, we are the people we serve. Seeing the bright, creative, sparkling expressions of our siblings in 3-D is part of what makes this work so rewarding, and relegating those experiences to a screen in Zoom conferences grew disheartening after a while. Nonetheless, ours is a population that possesses an intimate relationship to survival in the face of uncertain times. It is astounding to see the ways in which our people have navigated this past year, still finding ways to resist and rejoice despite multiple efforts at every level of power trying to keep us rooted in fear.

So as we prepare to usher in 2021, what does all of this mean for MTPC? As a community who has often had to divide the scraps that society has thrown at us, we declare that the theme for the coming year is more. We demand more inclusivity, more equity, more allies who support us, more accomplices in the trenches with us. We demand louder voices, raised in resistance and in laughter. And we demand all of these things of ourselves as well as the incredible people that we serve. We will not be slowed by this pandemic. We will not be silenced by those who govern. Our commitment to uplift the names and experiences of our TGNC siblings remains as strong as ever. That is our promise to you.

Here’s to a greater year ahead, from all of us at MTPC.

~Jahaira M. DeAlto

Last year a transgender man and a gay man died by suicide while under mental health watch at the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC). The conditions of the DOC in Massachusetts is an abhorrent disgrace against humanity and needs to be addressed immediately!

Read our statement to MDOC

Read the DOJ Report

“Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.” ~Angela Davis

MTPC, Equality Arizona, and Equality Federation have partnered to create a national trans voter protection hotline. Strict voter ID laws, coupled with legal and financial barriers to documents that accurately reflect an individual’s gender identity, mean that trans voters across the country can face discrimination at the polls.

Save and share the number (239) 946-2718, and if you are kept from voting, give us a call or send us a text message. The hotline will be open from 6 a.m. EST November 3 to 12 a.m. EST on November 4, and can also be reached by webchat at