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Below are MTPC’s public remarks on the passing of the Equal Access Bill in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by a wide (veto-proof!) margin on June 1, 2016. The bill has already passed in the Senate.
My name is Mason Dunn. I am a transgender man, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, and co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts.
Today’s victory is a long-awaited and important affirmation from our lawmakers that transgender people are valued and welcome in our Commonwealth. Not only that, but today’s vote is an inspirational way to start June, National LGBTQ Pride Month. Happy Pride!
The protections that have passed today have been pending on Beacon Hill for nearly ten years. During that time, hundreds of transgender people have bravely come forward to tell their stories and personal experiences with discrimination. I am humbled by the time and effort the transgender community and our allies have put in to get us here today. You have shown up, time and time again, to tell your stories and to be an integral part of this process. Lawmakers heard us, and they see transgender people for who we truly are — human beings, worthy of respect and deserving of basic human rights.
We are so grateful to our tireless advocates in the House: Speaker DeLeo; Chairman Fernandes; and Representative Rushing and Representative Provost, the bill’s lead sponsors. They have shown persistent and determined leadership, without which we would not be here today. We are thankful to them for their unwavering commitment to moving this bill forward and working diligently over the past months to be sure legislators did the right thing.
Today is a triumph for Massachusetts’s reputation as a leader on equality and as a beacon of freedom for everyone. We look forward to seeing this bill arrive at Governor Baker’s desk, and we eagerly await his signature. It’s time for equality for everyone in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is dismayed by Governor Charlie Baker’s failure to substantively address the transgender nondiscrimination legislation in his statements at the Boston Spirit Executive Networking event last night.
In his statements, Baker reiterated his well-trod position, saying, “if and when the bill gets to my desk I will make sure to talk to all parties involved before we make any decisions.” He once again avoided addressing whether he would sign the bill.
MTPC Executive Director, Mason Dunn, had this to say in response:
“Governor Baker’s statements neglected to express any sincere support for transgender rights in Massachusetts. Baker fails to comprehend the human rights issues that are in question. Transgender people deserve fair and equal access under law to public spaces such as hotels, restaurants, public transportation, hospitals, and so much more. Gov. Baker’s continued avoidance of support for this legislation is an avoidance of support for the rights and dignity of his transgender constituents in the Commonwealth.”
Michelle Tat, an MTPC Steering Committee member, had this to say:
“I remain disappointed that Governor Baker continues to dodge and avoid questions regarding his support of the bill. At this point, his behavior does not simply reflect ignorance. Rather, his attitude and public statements around the public access bill reflects his sheer indifference to the lives of those in the transgender community.”
During Baker’s statements, transgender community members and allies spoke out when it became apparent that he would not address his position on the legislation. The frustration, disappointment, and anger voiced last night is a direct result of the delay in passing legislation that will impact the lives of thousands of transgender people in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition stands in solidarity with the community members who led the cry for action.
Tonight, MTPC is excited to host their event, Professionals for Transgender Rights, to celebrate businesses and professionals working for transgender equality. The event begins at 6pm at Monroe in Cambridge. For more information visit: MassTPC.org/PTR
Last night we witnessed Boston’s response to the grand jury ruling against indicting the police officer responsible for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. There were over a thousand people who took to the streets to push back against the dehumanizing tragedy that took place in Ferguson.
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition stands in solidarity with the family of Michael Brown, the people of Ferguson, Missouri, and all those using their voice to push back on the violence, bias, and systemic oppression which has been so clearly portrayed in the recent events. This cannot, and should not, be ignored.
As an organization whose leadership is predominantly white, we recognize the great importance of using our racial privilege to push back on systems of oppression. We stand as an allied organization with all those organizing in Boston, Ferguson, and across the country. #BlackLivesMatter
We are committed to engaging with communities of color in active listening and support during this troubling time.
Black communities deserve justice, without the fear of violence or discrimination. Black communities deserve to be heard. Black communities deserve peace. Until these things can be guaranteed, we will continue to use our voice to push back against this discriminatory system.
To all communities striving for justice around the country, stay safe, and stay strong.
November is Transgender Awareness Month (#TransMonth). It’s also National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo), when people challenge themselves to write a novel during the month of November. It can be about anything and doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. The idea is that so many of us have stories we want to write but never have the time. So this challenge provides support and networking and motivates people to stop putting it off or worrying about it being perfect and just write–without self-censoring or editing–as much as they possibly can in 30 days.
Stories are powerful things, but especially so for young people. Young people are surrounded by stories, whether it’s bedtime stories, cartoons, movies, books, school lessons, or the news. And one of the most wonderful, exciting, and powerful things for readers of any age, but especially youth, is to see a story about someone like them. Having a character that looks like you, talks like you, thinks like you, or identifies like you can make a huge difference in the lives of young readers. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of diversity in mainstream stories, especially not books for children and young adults. This is especially true if you’re looking for queer or trans characters. It is so vitally important that we make room for this diversity in stories for youth, both in media like NaNoWriMo stories and in mainstream media. So if you’ve got a story, tell it! There are people out there who would love to hear it!
To celebrate the intersection of Writing and Trans Awareness, here is a sample of some young adult and children’s books that already exist and have awesome trans and queer characters! Check them out!
- Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff
A love story that takes place over the course of a summer between two marginally housed Brooklyn teens, Scout and Kid. Their genders are never revealed.
- Being Emily by Rachel Gold
When Emily, who was assigned male at birth, tells her parents about her desire to live as a woman, they send her into therapy, convinced she is ill. She is able to rely on her girlfriend and a few others in her life to help her through her family issues.
Gabe, who was assigned female at birth, hosts a popular weekly radio show called “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.” He is not out at school, where he is still using his given name, Elizabeth. When someone discovers his secret, Gabe must figure out how to live an honest life and still stay safe.
Todd knows he can never tell his family the truth: that he wants to be a mermaid, that he loves to play dress up, and that he doesn’t want to follow in his dad’s footsteps as an athlete. But when he goes to a summer science camp, he meets a girl who might help him learn to love who he truly is.
London is one of Boston’s toughest boys, who was actually assigned female at birth. London must deal with his abusive stepfather, as well as a whole host of other issues that come with living in the inner city.
For more great youth books with trans and queer characters, check out the list at the link below!
We have seen some amazing progress over the summer for MTPC and trans rights in Massachusetts, and we’re preparing for a busy fall. In case you missed the news of the summer, here is a recap of what we’ve been up to and the progress we’ve made for trans rights across the state:
State Bill and Local Ordinances
While the Equal Access Bill to add public accommodations protections to the state nondiscrimination law was not passed this year, we haven’t been quiet on policy matters. MTPC and our coalition partners have been working statewide to pass local nondiscrimination ordinances that are inclusive of public accommodations. So far we have doubled the number of trans-inclusive local nondiscrimination ordinances, with more to come.
Salem, Brookline, Somerville, Worcester, and Newton all passed nondiscrimination ordinances this past summer. They join Boston, Cambridge, Northampton, and Amherst in leading fairness in our state. More cities and towns are expected to follow in the coming months, so stay tuned to hear more. If you live in a city or town that does not have a local ordinance, or if you’re not sure and want to learn more, please contact Mason to learn how you can help the movement in your city or town.
MTPC and our coalition partners are also making plans to continue the fight for public accommodations protections on the state level during the next legislative session. We plan to host a statewide Lobby Day in 2015, along with other events and opportunities for you to get involved. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on our events and activities.
This June, MTPC unveiled a new campaign to showcase our greatest asset: YOU! Hundreds of you took photos with us, showing how MTPC is all about the many faces, experiences, and perspectives embodied by our community.
Want to show your MTPC Pride beyond social media? Check out our new button packs. For $3 you get two buttons: one for you, and one for a friend or family member! To get your buttons and find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to the input from all those who participated in the Project VOICE survey. MTPC, in partnership with Fenway Health, was able to collect vital information about the health and wellness of the Massachusetts trans community. The survey results show an alarming relationship between discrimination and overall health of community members. To read the report and learn more about Project VOICE, click here.
CAT MAGIC Returns
MTPC hosted our second CAT MAGIC event in July. The celebration was an amazing opportunity to bring community members together for feline-themed fun and fancy. This time, thanks to the talented Shannon Iggy,we were able to capture some of the fun on film. Check out the photos here, and be sure to tag yourself and friends!
CAT MAGIC started as a community night, focused on celebration of the trans community and our allies … and, naturally, cats. It continues to grow as an opportunity to feature trans artists and performers, celebrate being trans, and come together as a community. Plans are in the works for the next CAT MAGIC event, so stay tuned!
Health Insurance Progress
This year has seen unprecedented progress for trans people’s access to appropriate health care. On June 20, Governor Deval Patrick announced reforms to health coverage policies to ensure that transgender Massachusetts residents have full access to treatments they need. On the same day, the state Division of Insurance issued a bulletin that bars private health insurers from excluding medically necessary care for gender dysphoria from private health insurance plans.
There remain several questions about how this will be enacted, and when. MTPC, along with our coalition partners, are working with the Division of Insurance and private insurers to ensure that these new policies are enacted. We’ve also released this FAQ about the insurance bulletins.
We’re seeing progress on many big issues that affect trans MA residents. But much remains to be done. Be sure to follow MTPC on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date. If you have questions, or want to get involved, email us at email@example.com or call 617-778-0519.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Today the Mass Trans Political Coalition, along with millions of people worldwide, mourns the loss of a great man and powerful advocate for equality, Nelson Mandela. President Mandela was a passionate advocate for equality and freedom of all people. His work and words have been an inspiration for many social justice advocates, including those of us here at MTPC. We mourn his passing and know that his passion for freedom, equality, and justice will live on in future generations of advocates.
“The time is always ripe to do right”
Photo credit: South Africa The Good News / www.sagoodnews.co.za