Call to Action
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by Nancy Nangeroni
Each November we meet to observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance (#TDOR). This most visible event of the year for our community, observed in cities and college campuses around the world, grew out of a series of Boston-area protests against the murders of transgender persons. The last of these catalyzed a response that extended beyond our community and grows to this day.
Rita Hester, an outgoing black transwoman who had been popular in both the transgender and Allston rock-n-roll communities, was brutally stabbed to death in November of 1998. Media accounts of her death were transphobic and disrespectful, outraging the trans community as well as Rita’s many friends. A speak-out and candlelight vigil in Allston drew an unprecedented crowd of over 250. A struggle over the media’s disrespectful use of pronouns and refusal to acknowledge her gender (even in stories by Boston’s only LGBT newspaper) garnered national attention. Trans activists in San Francisco took note, calling for an annual “Day of Remembrance” that grew into this international event.
Some people ask why our community’s most visible event has to be so sorrowful. Why can’t we do something a little more positive?
The answer is that we can – and must – do both. We need this event and this focus on the continuing persecution of transgender people – especially those of color – in order to raise awareness outside of our community to the brutalities and injustices that we suffer. Everyone in our community matters and deserves to be remembered, and when this long-standing epidemic of anti-trans violence is made visible, it helps illuminate for those outside the community our pressing need for civil and human rights. But we also need to celebrate and focus on our many strengths, potentials, and accomplishments in order to build ourselves a foundation on which we can stand tall and proud of who and what we are.
Six years ago, MTPC responded to this need by calling for a Transgender Awareness Week (#TransWK) to be held during the week leading up to TDOR. Trans Awareness Week is our opportunity to hold as many different kinds of events as we wish. It is our chance to talk about transgender struggles and triumphs with ourselves and with others, to help them understand what needs to change in order to make the world safer and more fair for transgender people, and for all people hurt by the dual gender system.
We live in a time when people are waking up to the injustices and persecutions suffered by people of all kinds of difference. We’re fortunate to witness a growing public commitment to fairness and respect for transgender people. This happens because of efforts like TDOR and TAW, which must continue in order to complete our transition to a society fully respectful of individual difference, gender or otherwise. Key to our success is the creation and sustenance of communities that bring us together in mutual caring, and collaboration among our many communities. We are each unique and have many differences, but our ability to cherish one another’s inner spirit despite those differences is the light that will guide us to even better tomorrows.
As we wrap up #TransWk, we need your help to renew the push for passing the Massachusetts Equal Access Bill. YOU can help us leverage the power of social media by joining our Twitter campaign for public education and outreach to members of the judiciary committee.
The campaign runs through the 22nd. The only thing you need to do is follow @MassTPC on Twitter and retweet our posts related to the Equal Access Bill and the need to protect access to public accommodations for all people.
By tweeting your thanks to the state senators and representatives mentioned in #MAtransbill tweets, especially TODAY and FRIDAY, you can help generate much-needed buzz about the bill and thank our legislative supporters.
Next week will be a series of tweets about other ways individuals can take action.
We can’t do this without you, so please help us make the #MAtransbill campaign a success.
In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, I wanted give you a policy and advocacy update from MTPC. It’s been an exciting year, and not just here in Massachusetts!
First, I have to mention the Employment Non-Discrimination Act: this legislation is an important step to ensure trans people across the country are safe from discrimination in the workplace. As many of you may have heard, last week ENDA passed the U.S. Senate. After several years of work and advocacy, this important legislation is moving forward for the first time. This is an exciting victory, but ENDA still has a ways to go. You can learn more about ENDA, the next steps, and what you can do to help from our friends at NCTE.
Of course, here in Massachusetts, non-discrimination in the workplace was achieved in 2011 with the passage of the Transgender Equal Rights Law. However, the move toward equal rights for the trans community is still incomplete. MTPC, along with several coalition partners, are working on the Equal Access Bill, which will add public accommodations to the non-discrimination laws already in place. This past July we presented testimony to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary about the importance of equal access to public accommodations. The bill is still in committee, and we are asking legislators on the committee to move the bill forward by reporting it favorably to the state House and Senate.
As we have seen in past legislative efforts, our stories are a powerful tool in moving the hearts and minds of legislators. If you have a story of public accommodations discrimination, please tell us. Learn more about public accommodations and then share your experiences with us. Every story help!
In addition to legislation, our Policy Committee has been hard at work preparing a report on shelter policies. The report will be released soon, so check back to hear more about policies of trans-inclusion in our state’s shelters.
As always, MTPC is available as a resource to you: if you have questions about policies, are interested in getting involved, or simply want to hear about our programs, please contact email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you!
With the legislature back in session, MTPC and ally organizations are renewing the push for passage of the Massachusetts Equal Access Bill. YOU can help us leverage the power of social media by joining our Twitter campaign for public education and outreach to members of the judiciary committee.
The campaign begins TODAY and will run through the end of November. The only thing you need to do is follow @MassTPC on Twitter and retweet our posts related to the Equal Access Bill and the need to protect access to public accommodations for all people.
By retweeting posts tagged #MAtransbill, you can help generate much-needed buzz about the bill and thank our legislative supporters.
This Twitter campaign will have three phases:
- Oct. 7-31 will be educational tweets about public accommodations to members of the judiciary committee and Thank You tweets to legislative sponsors.
- Nov. 1-15 will be tweets of news stories and facts about trans equal access and final Thank You tweets to legislative sponsors.
- Nov. 16-22 will be tweets about how individuals can take action.
We can’t do this without you, so please help us make the #MAtransbill campaign a success.
This year in Massachusetts, House Bill 154 (An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity in Minors) was proposed in order to ban licensed professionals from trying to force young people under the age of 18 to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill would provide much-needed protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LBGTQ) youth and their families.
This bill would ban licensed medical professionals (including mental health or human service professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, allied mental health and human services professionals, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed rehabilitation counselors, licensed mental health counselors, licensed educational psychologists, and any of their respective interns or trainees) from forcing a minor to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This abusive practice is known as conversion therapy.
How to Help
Download the Conversion Therapy Ban fact sheet (PDF). Then tell your legislators to stand against the use of anti-LGBT “conversion therapy” tactics on minors.
For weeks, state senators and representatives have been receiving letters from the opposition to this bill. These letters argue in support of allowing homophobic and transphobic professionals to continue to subject their younger patients to harmful conversion “therapy” practices that have been denounced by the APA.
We need our legislators to know the truth: Conversion therapy has no scientific or clinical basis, efforts to force someone to “change” their identity can be traumatic and harmful, and Massachusetts youth deserve to be protected against these damaging tactics.
Please take a few minutes to email your state legislators to let them know that you stand with the youth of Massachusetts. It’s easy to find your state legislators and use the sample message below.
Dear Representative/Senator ____,
I am writing to ask you to help protect minors by supporting H. 154. This bill would prohibit licensed professionals from practicing dangerous and discredited “conversion therapy” tactics geared toward repressing a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy has no clinical or scientific basis, and the treatment involved is often traumatic. Many survivors who were subjected to these practices as minors deal with the fallout of this trauma for the rest of their lives. Please do not leave children vulnerable to these harmful practices.
Conversion therapy is based on the false claim that being gay, bisexual, or transgender is a mental illness that should be cured. However, in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association determined that homosexuality was not a mental illness but a normal variant of human nature. Unfortunately, youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) may be coerced into and subjected to these harmful practices, which can result in a range of negative outcomes including depression, substance abuse, and suicidality.
There is no evidence that conversion therapy works to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. While LGBTQ minors and their families are often deceived into thinking that conversion therapy is a legitimate therapeutic strategy, the fact is that these practices are not condoned by any major medical organization. The American Psychological Association “advises parents, guardians, young people and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder.” Similarly, the American Psychiatric Association adds that therapy geared toward changing sexual orientation or gender identity can cause self-hatred, depression, anxiety, and “self-destructive behavior.”
H. 154 will prohibit licensed medical, mental health, and human services professionals from engaging in conversion therapy efforts with a person under the age of 18. Testimony supporting the bill was heard on July 16th in the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities.
Children under the age of eighteen cannot meaningfully consent to such dangerous and unsupported practices. We need to put laws into place protecting minors and their families from professionals who push anti-LGBTQ agendas at the expense of children.
Please help to protect the youth of Massachusetts from this damaging and discredited practice.
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and Fenway Health have collaborated on a needs assessment to gather information about the health and well-being of Massachusetts’s transgender and gender-nonconforming adults, a population that has long been underserved. The 20-minute survey, entitled Project VOICE: Voicing Our Individual and Community Experiences, is available online and will be administered in-person at community organizations throughout Massachusetts this fall.
Funded by the Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation, the needs assessment is an effort by MTPC and Fenway Health to assess the experiences of transgender and gender conforming residents of Massachusetts in the wake of the passage of H. 810, an “Act Relative to Gender Identity,” which legally took effect on July 1, 2012. Also known as the Transgender Equal Rights Law, the law protects Massachusetts residents against gender identity discrimination in housing, credit, education and employment. While the passage of the Transgender Equal Rights Law was a huge coup for transgender and gender-nonconforming residents of Massachusetts and MTPC, who spearheaded the historic act, the bill failed to extend protections in public accommodations for gender identity. Now, a year after the legislation took effect, MTPC and Fenway Health have teamed up to examine the social stressors influencing health–including discrimination–among transgender and gender-nonconforming people in Massachusetts.
Offered in both English and Spanish, the 20-minute survey is expected to yield robust data that can be used to inform programs and policies that help to create better opportunities, address stressors such as discrimination, and improve the health and wellbeing of transgender and gender nonconforming people across Massachusetts. Dr. Sari Reisner, Research Scientist at The Fenway Institute, says: “Project Voice is an exciting opportunity to work with and engage trans communities in Massachusetts. It is a chance to understand more about the health, well-being, and past and current experiences of stress that we as trans and gender-nonconforming people face. Information from the project will help ensure public health efforts are grounded in the lived realities and needs of our community.”
To participate and/or learn more about the survey, please visit: thefenwayinstitute.org/research/voice.
For more than forty years, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues. Fenway’s Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center cares for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else, including those who are LGBT or just figuring things out; homeless or living on the streets; struggling with substance use or abuse; sex workers; or living with HIV/AIDS.
Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) that works to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. MTPC educates the public; advocates with state, local, and federal government; engages in activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. MTPC is a member of the Trans Advocacy Network, the Equality Federation, and the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.