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Posted by: | Posted on: June 13, 2014

Boston City Council Votes Unanimously in Support of Gender Therapy Access Ordinance for Transgender Municipal Workers

[MassEquality press release]

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.”

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Posted by: | Posted on: January 31, 2014

MTPC Responds to the Appeal of Transgender Prisoner Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Mason Dunn
Executive Director
617-778-0519

Boston, MA – The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is disappointed to learn that the Massachusetts Department of Corrections will appeal the recent First Circuit Court of Appeals decision concerning Michelle Kosilek’s access to medically necessary gender reassignment surgery while in prison.

“This is a matter of not only transgender rights, but Constitutional rights as well,” said Mason Dunn, Executive Director of MTPC. “No prisoner should be denied access to medically necessary treatment on the basis of their gender identity.”

This will be the state’s second appeal in this matter. A three judge panel with First Circuit Court of Appeals released a decision earlier this month affirming that Michelle has a right to access medically necessary care while in prison. The DOC now appeals to the full First Circuit court.

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The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is dedicated to ending discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.

Posted by: | Posted on: December 17, 2013

“Shelter for all Genders” Report Released

Shelter imageThe Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), is pleased to announce the release of “Shelter for All Genders: Best Practices for Homeless Shelters, Services and Programs in Massachusetts in Serving Transgender Adults and Gender Non-Conforming Guests.” This guide provides recommendations to agencies working with transgender and gender nonconforming persons in emergency and transitional shelters or services throughout the Commonwealth.

“Transgender and gender non-conforming people experience overwhelming levels of harassment and discrimination in shelters,” said Mason Dunn, MTPC’s executive director. “This guide aims to give shelters and programs the tools they need to become inclusive spaces for transgender individuals.”

In 2011 the Massachusetts legislature passed “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, education, credit/lending and housing. The recommendations contained in this new guide offer shelters suggestions for how to conform to the 2011 law, with respect to housing.

“Studies show that nearly 20% of transgender people experience homelessness at some point in their lives due to transgender-related discrimination,” said Nancy Nangeroni, chair of the MTPC Steering Committee. “Shelters and services should take steps to ensure they conform to the housing nondiscrimination laws, and support the integrity of all people.”

Along with this guide, MTPC is launching a story share initiative, to collect information about current shelter conditions experienced by transgender people in Massachusetts.

Click here to read the report and learn more about the story share initiative.

Posted by: | Posted on: August 2, 2013

MTPC & Fenway Health launch trans* needs assessment

ProjectVOICE-1000x550

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.

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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.

Posted by: | Posted on: July 24, 2013

Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Announces New Executive Director, Mason Dunn

Mason-photo

Nancy Nangeroni, Chair of the Steering Committee, has announced the appointment of Mason Dunn as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, effective August 8, 2013.

Dunn brings ten years of experience in LGBT coalition, organization and community, much of it as a transgender community organizer and leader. A recent graduate from the University of New Hampshire School of Law, he comes to MTPC from the NH Civil Liberties Union, where he worked on a fellowship and filled a variety of roles, including communications, policy and research. He most recently served on the Steering Committee for Transgender New Hampshire, and as an adjunct faculty member at UNH Manchester in the Communication Arts department, teaching a course on LGBTQ Images and Perspectives. Prior to law school Dunn worked on the Board of Directors of TransMentors International, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring in the transgender community.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mason, who for many years has committed himself to advocacy on behalf of transgender issues and community,” Nangeroni said. “He brings excellent skills along with a demonstrated dedication to the principles embodied in MTPC’s mission and values. He is the right person to lead our organization as we grow further in fulfillment of the increasingly recognized needs of our underserved community.”

MTPC Vice-Chair Maxwell Ng added, “I’m excited to work with Mason because of the energy and vision he brings to our organization. It’s an exciting time to be involved with MTPC.”

“I am honored to have been selected as the next leader for MTPC, and I’m looking forward to working in this amazing community,” Dunn said. “The Massachusetts trans* movement has seen astonishing progress over the past few years thanks to MTPC, yet we have a long way to go in achieving full equality for our community.”

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Founded in 2001, MTPC is dedicated to ending discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. The organization works to educate the public about transgender identities, advocates in state and local governments and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action.

Posted by: | Posted on: June 20, 2013

MTPC Commends Social Security Administration on Dropping Surgery Requirement for Gender Marker Change

Boston, MA [6/20/2013] — The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is pleased to report that effective June 13 the Social Security Administration no longer requires an individual to undergo surgery to have the gender marker changed in SSA records.

The SSA will now accept “medical certification of appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition in the form of an original signed statement from a licensed physician” as proof when submitting the change request form. Prior to this policy change, the medical certification specified completing surgery.

“With this Social Security policy, the federal government is acknowledging that important gender-related medical decisions should be made by individuals and their doctors,” said Jesse Begenyi, interim director of MTPC.

This new SSA policy reflects that the current standard of care for transgender individuals no longer requires surgery as part of gender transition. In fact, at its annual meeting this week, the American Medical Association passed a resolution in support of US jurisdictions changing the gender marker on birth certificates for transgender individuals based upon “verification by a physician that the individual has undergone transition according to applicable medical standards of care.”

“Surgery is not financially feasible, desirable or medically appropriate for some individuals, so that has been a permanent roadblock for many transgender people in getting their records changed,” Begenyi said.

Many government agencies and companies access Social Security data for verification purposes, so the new policy ensures that medical history remains confidential except when disclosure is necessary for the health and safety of the individual.

The National Center for Transgender Equality has released “Transgender People and the Social Security Administration,” a resource to help transgender people across the country to understand and take advantage of the new Social Security policy. This resource, which includes the wording physicians should use for their medical certification letters, is available at http://transequality.org/Resources/SSAResource_June2013.pdf. MTPC’s website is also being updated to reflect the change.

“MTPC is grateful to NCTE, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Lesbian Rights for their dedication over the past seven years to secure this important Social Security policy change,” Begenyi said.

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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.