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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 Boston
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.
Tre’Andre Valentine to Lead the
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
Boston, MA July 17, 2019
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) announced today that Tre’Andre Valentine will take the helm as its new Executive Director.
Tre’Andre, who uses he/they pronouns, brings nearly a decade of non-profit experience and grassroots organizing energy to MTPC. In their previous role at The Network La Red, Tre’Andre was responsible for managing community engagement, outreach programs, educational programming, as well as grassroots fundraising. Tre’Andre also served on MTPC’s steering committee from 2006-2016. In addition to their extensive experience in the non-profit sector, they also bring their own lived experience as an indigenous transgender person of color.
“After an extensive, two month long search process, we are so thrilled to have Tre’Andre on board,” said Michelle Tat, Co-chair of MTPC’s Steering Committee. Co-chair Kaden Mohamed added, “In Tre’Andre we found a leader with drive, excitement, and passion whose values, skills, expertise, and lived experiences will guide MTPC into its future.”
“I am humbled and honored to have the privilege of leading MTPC as we continue to forge forward,” said Tre’Andre. “Massachusetts has a strong foundation for transgender rights thanks to the leadership of my predecessors Gunner Scott, Mason Dunn, as well as the steering committee and all of MTPC’s supporters and allies. “I look forward to being a part of the effort of making a difference in the daily lived experiences of transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals of Massachusetts.”
MTPC is coming off its historic 2018 victory in the Yes on 3 Campaign, defending transgender rights at the ballot box in Massachusetts. “We now have the opportunity to help our state become a place not only with legal protections, but where trans and non-binary people experience lived equality in their daily lives,” said Tre’Andre.
Founded in 2001, MTPC is a trans led and trans focused organization that has been working for almost two decades to improve the lives of Massachusetts transgender youth, adults, and their families. The Steering Committee and Tre’Andre are excited to step into this next phase of the organization’s work and to continue building and engaging community along the way.
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is dedicated to ending oppression and discrimination on the basis of 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 empowerment of community members through collective action.
Boston, MA – On Friday, December 15, 2017, the Trump Administration took yet another step in their efforts to suppress the rights of transgender people and minority communities. In a report from the Washington Post, we learned that the White House has issued orders to the Centers for Disease Control, stating the CDC can no longer use the word transgender, along with six other words and phrases such as “diversity” and “evidence-based,” in budget documents. This is nothing more than a prejudiced attempt to erase lives and facts, through an attack on health policy at the national level.
“Our lives and identities will not be censored,” said Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Executive Director Mason Dunn. “We will not be erased from the conversation. We stand together in the fight to ensure that fact and science prevails, even when those in power would deny them.”
“The federal government is improperly politicizing our public health agencies. This effort compromises the life-saving work of the CDC. It makes it even more challenging to reduce health disparities and will exacerbate negative health outcomes, particularly in vulnerable populations and marginalized communities,” said Lawyers’ Committee’s Executive Director Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal.
The banned words are:
- Entitlement; and
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, stand firm in our resolve to fight these unprecedented attacks on our communities.
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is dedicated to ending oppression and discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice fosters equal opportunity and fights discrimination on behalf of people of color and immigrants. We engage in creative and courageous legal action, education, and advocacy in collaboration with law firms and community partners.
Press Release: July 17, 2014
Contact: Mason J. Dunn, Executive Director 617-755-7852 MasonDunn@masstpc.org
BOSTON, MA – The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) today announced the election of Maxwell Ng as the new Steering Committee Chair.
Maxwell Ng is a graduate of Boston University, and has lived in the area for almost 20 years. Besides his work with MTPC, he also serves on the Steering Committee for QAPA (Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance), and is a founding member of the Trailblazers, the Boston based softball team for trans and gender variant people. He is passionate about visibility for Queer Asians, and strives to bring the complex issues that impact our enriched and intersecting communities to the forefront.
Nancy Nangeroni, MTPC’s out-going Steering Committee Chair, remains on the steering committee, serving as Chair Emeritus. “I’m pleased and honored to remain a part of this important and effective organization,” said Nangeroni, “and I’m excited to see Maxwell take on this new role which truly reflects the energy he is already bringing to MTPC.”
“I’m humbled to serve as Chair of the MTPC Steering Committee,” said Ng. “The work that this organization does has been empowering and challenging, and I am excited to further serve in this capacity.”
Prior to this position, Ng served as the Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee. He has been involved in the Fundraising, and Events sub committees as well as previously the Kaleidoscope group.
Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) 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.
[MassEquality Press Release]
BOSTON ─ June 20 ─ Today, Governor Patrick announced several new changes providing non-discrimination protections for those seeking gender therapy services.
MassHealth, the state-subsidized health insurance provider, will soon cover gender affirmation surgery and other treatment for gender dysphoria. Additionally, the MA Department of Insurance (DOI) issued regulatory guidance advising health insurers that they may not discriminate on the basis of gender identity in denial of services. The administration also shared that they would be encouraging the Group Insurance Commission to take similar steps in ensuring equal access to gender therapy services.
“This is a monumental step forward for the LGBT community in the Commonwealth. We applaud Governor Patrick’s leadership in ensuring that transgender people receive the medically-necessary services they need to lead healthy, productive lives. We look forward to working with the administration on the implementation of these changes,” said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Coredini.
“Governor Patrick has once again illustrated his forward-looking and compassionate leadership in implementing these policies. As transgender rights become more visible across this country, Massachusetts will continue its tradition of being the beacon of light that so many other states can look to for guidance on equality,” said Mason Dunn, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.
Following on the heels of the Boston City Council’s recent unanimous decision on June 11 to not contract with any health insurer that does not provide gender therapy services, the Commonwealth’s decision will have an even broader impact, allowing transgender people across the state to access mental health care, hormone therapy, and other transition-related care.
Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care For All, states, “This is an immensely important step forward in ensuring that health coverage meets an individual’s full range of health care needs. We commend the Administration for again putting Massachusetts in the vanguard among states as a leader in health equity for everyone, and providing a model other states can use to improve access to care for all residents.”
Massachusetts will be the sixth state to enact non-discrimination policies regarding gender transition-related care. Washington, Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont and California have amended their state policies regarding health insurance provision for gender therapy services.
“As a national organization that advocates for LGBT health equity across the country, we are proud our home state of Massachusetts is leading the way in ensuring everyone has access to the health care services they need. This victory would not have been possible without strong advocacy at the state level and the committed partners working to secure these new benefits for transgender people,” said Susan Sherry, deputy director of Community Catalyst.
Contact: Michael Givens
Communications Manager, MassEquality
Boston City Council Votes Unanimously in Support of Gender Therapy Access Ordinance for Transgender Municipal Workers
BOSTON ─ June 11 ─ Today, the Boston City Council, by a unanimous vote, passed an ordinance ensuring that the City does not contract with any health insurance provider that does not provide comprehensive coverage for gender therapy services, including mental health care, hormone therapy, and other transition-related care for transgender City employees.
“This is a modest proposal that will have a profound impact on the lives of transgender municipal workers,” said Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality. “We applaud Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu for introducing the ordinance and the Council members who co-sponsored it and voted to pass it. Their action today is an important next step in Boston’s continuing leadership on transgender equality, and we hope that the state will soon follow Boston’s lead as it has so many times on issues of LGBTQ equality.”
Introduced by City Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu in mid-April, the ordinance received the support of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and the city’s Public Employees Committee, which recently voted to ensure that the city’s insurance plans to accommodate increased access to gender therapy services for Boston employees. Though the ordinance passed unanimously, this is a very small step in ensuring that all transgender people in the state are provided comprehensive insurance coverage. Currently, there are 17,000 Boston municipal workers whose insurance coverage will be impacted by this change.
“I am thrilled that the City of Boston is setting the standard for an inclusive workplace with policies to attract the most talented and committed employees,” said Wu. “Inclusive health care coverage is the right thing to do for our employees and their families, and the best economic policy. I am proud that my colleagues on the Council and our Mayor support this important ordinance so strongly, and so grateful to MassEquality and the many partner organizations who testified in support. I am honored to be a part of this step towards ensuring Boston remains the best place to live, work and play.”
The language of the ordinance prevents the City from contracting with health insurers who refuse to provide coverage for transition-related care. One insurer, Neighborhood Health Plan, did not have a rider in its coverage for transition-related care, but will add one to its coverage that allows for gender therapy services. The other plans already covered these services for municipal employees.
“I thank MassEquality for being a leader and a partner in the ongoing fight for justice for our trans neighbors,” Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley said. “Access to quality health care is a civil rights issue. This ordinance will dramatically improve the lives of our City’s trans employees and their families; restoring their dignity and alleviating the cost of medically necessary care.”
According to research done by the Center for American Progress, the cost of providing healthcare coverage for transgender municipal workers is expected to be negligible. Studies have shown that the more than 200 private companies across the country that provide coverage for gender therapy services reported insignificant changes in healthcare costs.
“We are so proud to be part of a city that’s taking significant steps to remove the barriers to health care for all people,” said Susan Sherry, Deputy Director of Community Catalyst, a Boston-based national consumer health advocacy organization. “The Council’s overwhelming support for this policy change that benefits transgender employees sends a strong message to Boston and all Massachusetts residents, and promotes our city as a national leader on health equity issues.”
Washington, Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont and California have also amended their state policies to ensure that health insurers do not discriminate against transgender individuals.
Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care For All, states, “This is an important step forward in ensuring that health coverage meets an individual’s full range of health care needs. We commend the City Council for providing a model state policymakers can use to improve access to care for all residents.”