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Posted by: | Posted on: April 3, 2013

Fourth Annual Lawyers for Transgender Rights Event to Feature Representative Carl Sciortino and Dylan Orr from the U.S. Department of Labor

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is pleased to announce its fourth annual Lawyers for Transgender Rights (LTR) event on Thursday, April 4 at 6 p.m. at The Estate in Boston. Massachusetts Representative Carl Sciortino will be accepting MTPC’s 2013 Transgender Ally Award, and Dylan Orr of the U.S. Department of Labor will be accepting the 2013 Community Advocate Award. The recipient of this year’s Commitment to Service Award will be announced during the event.

This LTR cocktail reception and silent auction brings together lawyers, law students, law firms, legal organizations, bar associations and law schools to network and build support in the legal community for MTPC’s work on behalf of transgender rights.

“Lawyers for Transgender Rights provides an important opportunity to hear about MTPC’s exciting work while raising money for this amazing organization,” said Bri Lacy, co-chair of LTR’s Host Committee.

2013 Transgender Ally Award recipient Carl Sciortino has been a leading progressive voice in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since his election in 2004. In addition to being a lead sponsor of both recent transgender rights bills, he has led battles for preserving marriage equality and establishing a buffer zone around reproductive healthcare facilities. He has also advocated for a range social and economic justice issues, including raising the minimum wage, closing corporate tax loopholes, passing the state’s landmark universal healthcare law, pushing for improvements in education and testing policies and increasing access to public transportation.

“Carl Sciortino is the very definition of a strong ally,” said MTPC Interim Director Jesse Begenyi. “He has been there at every step of the process in securing equal rights for the Commonwealth’s transgender community, and he understands the complex systems of oppression creating the need for legal protections. You can tell that even beyond fighting for legal equality for our community, Carl is very invested in people as individuals and works to make sure everyone has an equal chance to lead a full and rich life.”

2013 Community Advocate Award recipient Dylan Orr serves as Special Advisor to Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez in the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor, contributing to the development of national disability-employment-related regulations and policy. He also represents the Department of Labor on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Among Orr’s volunteer pursuits, he is a founding member of Trans Legal Advocates of Washington and is the first openly transgender person appointed to a U.S. presidential administration. Prior to this appointment, his legal and policy background focused on civil rights and social justice issues.

“MTPC plays an invaluable role in Massachusetts,” Host Committee Co-chair Lacy said. “It led the fight for the transgender equal rights legislation that passed in 2012 and is still working to broaden the legal protections available for gender identity and expression. MTPC also establishes best practices and provides much-needed educational opportunities. I’m thrilled that the legal community has become such a strong supporter of its work.”

2013 Lawyers for Transgender Rights event sponsors include Ropes & Gray, WilmerHale, Foley Hoag LLP, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP, Edwards Wildman, Kauffman Crozier LLP, and many other organizations and individuals (the full listing is available on MTPC’s website).

This year’s event will include live music by Urban Myth and a silent auction featuring items such as Red Sox tickets and a limited edition (only 1 of 39) 20×16 framed photo of the 2004 Patriots signed by 29 players. Tickets will be on sale at the door the night the event: $70 for lawyers, $40 for non-profit and $20 for students. For more information please see masstpc.org/community-events/ltr2013.

LTR Host Committee Co-chair Catherine Deneke said, “We are so proud that the legal community continues to stand on the side of equality and has shown such tremendous support for MTPC and this event.”

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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.

Posted by: | Posted on: February 26, 2013

MTPC Releases “Best Practices for Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students in Schools”

small K-12 Best Practices01The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) has released its best practice recommendations concerning equal and fair treatment, rights and safety of transgender and gender non-conforming youth in K-12 schools. “Best Practices for Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students in Schools,” is being made available free to all school districts in the state on MTPC’s website (masstpc.org/issues/education). This complements the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education “Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools: Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment – Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity.”

These best practices provide additional tools for school administrators, teachers and superintendents in implementing the 2011 Act Relative to Gender Identity for gender identity non-discrimination in K-12 public schools. These recommendations were developed by the MTPC Policy Committee and reflect the best educational practice models used in other school systems with existing gender identity non-discrimination laws, policies and regulations in other states, in addition to policy recommendations developed by LGBT think tanks and LGBT education policy specialists.

MTPC’s Executive Director Gunner Scott said, “The evidence is overwhelming that transgender and gender non-conforming youth need active school support and protection for their physical and mental health and educational well-being. I applaud the Massachusetts legislature and Governor Deval Patrick for the passage and enactment of the 2011 Act Relative to Gender Identity law, which requires non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the areas of education, employment, housing and credit/lending.”

Transgender and gender non-conforming youth experience overwhelming amounts of harassment and discrimination in schools across the Commonwealth and throughout the nation. The 2007 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 87% of transgender students had been verbally harassed in the previous year because of their gender expression, and more than a quarter had been physically assaulted. More than half of those who were victimized did not report the events to school authorities.

“We look forward to collaborating with school administrators, superintendents and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in utilizing these best practice recommendations in all Massachusetts school districts,” said Julian Cyr, chair of the Massachusetts Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth.  “The Commission is committed to continuing to collaborate with educators, policy makers and community partners such as MTPC to provide technical assistance and professional development to ensure that teachers and schools have the tools they need to fully support transgender and gender-nonconforming students.”

Scott said, “These recommendations were prepared by the MTPC Policy Committee and reflect the best educational practice models used in other school systems with existing gender identity non-discrimination laws, policies and regulations in other states, in addition to policy recommendations developed by LGBT think tanks and LGBT education policy specialists.”

These recommendations include examples of: how to address transgender students by their preferred names and pronouns in records and in the classroom; how to provide updated copies of high school diplomas when students’ names are changed; and ways to keep students’ transgender status confidential, unless necessary to ensure the students’ safety.

In addition to the 2011 law, the Massachusetts Superior and Appeals Courts ruled in October 2000 and February 2001, respectively, that Massachusetts public schools may not prohibit transgender students from expressing their gender identities and are afforded the same protections and rights under the law as other students.

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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.

Posted by: | Posted on: February 15, 2013

Educators, Advocates, Youth & Families Applaud New Guidance for Implementing Transgender Non- Discrimination Law in Public Schools

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on Feb. 15 issued comprehensive guidelines that aim to ensure Massachusetts public schools comply with the new transgender non-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination against transgender students in all school programs and activities. The DESE guidelines were praised by an array of advocates, educators, families and youth.

“The guidelines offer practical, expert advice to ensure that transgender students have equal educational opportunities including the chance to learn in a safe, affirming environment,” said Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project. “GLAD applauds DESE for issuing commonsense guidance and for taking leadership in ensuring schools’ compliance with the new law.”

“This very practical guidance answers the questions we hear over and over, giving schools, parents, and students a blueprint for implementing change,” said Deborah Peeples, board president of Greater Boston PFLAG and the parent of a transgender youth. “As primary advocates, parents and families need to know how we can expect schools to handle critical issues like proper name and pronoun usage, privacy, and access to both appropriate facilities and opportunities. It’s much easier to move forward when we’re all on the same page and working together. Kudos to the DESE.”

“Coming out as transgender in school is such a difficult process and being unable to be out and feel safe is detrimental to a person’s education,” said Carter Blake, a 23-year-old graduate of Dorchester High School who is transgender. “I think these guidelines, which will help schools make transgender students feel safe and respected at school, will make a real difference in the lives of transgender kids in school across our state, and that’s a good thing.”

“Research shows that transgender and gender non-conforming students suffer higher rates of verbal harassment, physical harassment, and physical assault in school. We also know that there is a lot of misunderstanding about transgender students and that some schools may not have the internal expertise to address all issues of concern as they arise,” said Gunner Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. “MTPC is grateful to DESE for issuing such practical guidance and identifying the steps that schools can take to create a safer and more welcoming environment for transgender youth in our Commonwealth’s schools.”

Among the areas that the guidelines address are:

  • The proper use of names and pronouns for transgender students
  • Privacy and confidentiality policies for transgender students
  • Appropriate names and gender markers on student records, including diplomas
  • Appropriate access to restrooms and locker rooms
  • Physical education and athletic participation
  • Education and training for teachers about transgender students

“Transgender students, like all students, need a school environment where they are treated fairly and respectfully so that they can focus on getting the education that they need and deserve,” said Grace Sterling Stowell, the executive director of Boston Alliance of GLBT Youth (BAGLY). “The DESE guidance gives our public schools the tools to create just that environment.”

“We commend the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the speedy release of guidance that spells out in no uncertain terms the protections assured to transgender and gender nonconforming students in Massachusetts,” said Julian Cyr, chair of the Mass. Commission for GLBT Youth. “Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, state agencies continue to close gaps in service delivery and education policy that persist for LGBT youth in the Commonwealth. This guidance is an important step toward leveling the playing field for transgender students.”

“This guidance from DESE is going to make an immediate difference in the lives of transgender students, who desperately need protection and leadership from our schools,” said Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality. “We appreciate DESE’s role in making sure that transgender students across our Commonwealth have the same educational opportunities that all students in our public schools enjoy.”

“As a former high school teacher, I know the vast majority of educators are well-intentioned and want to create a climate of respect and safety so that all of their students can reach their full potential,” said Arthur Lipkin, who spent 20 years teaching in Cambridge’s school system. “As a long-serving member of the Mass. Commission for GLBT Youth, I also know that there is a learning curve on the part of many educators on transgender issues. The guidance gives them important tools to provide properly for the safety and educational needs of transgender students, and I commend DESE for its leadership in creating it. Of course, the results will depend on the resources made available to schools for technical assistance and training. We need to be vigilant and constructive.”

The Transgender Equal Rights Law, officially titled “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick in November 2011. It took effect in July 2012. The law prohibits discrimination against transgender people in the areas of employment, housing, credit, and education. It also amended the state’s definition of a hate crime to include crimes motivated by prejudice against a person’s gender identity.

You can read the guidelines here.

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Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.

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. 

 

 

Posted by: | Posted on: February 8, 2013

MTPC Announces Leadership Change

gunnerscott headshotGunner Scott, a founding member of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition since 2008, will be leaving his position as MTPC executive director at the end of February to pursue other opportunities.

“We are enormously grateful to Gunner for the tremendous work he has done on behalf of transgender youth, adults, our families and the community in Massachusetts. We’re all very sorry to see him go, and we’re also looking forward to building further on our collective vision for this organization and our community,” said MTPC steering committee chair Nancy Nangeroni.

“I have been so privileged and honored to have been able to work with amazing people during my time at MTPC,” said Scott. “We have such dedication among our steering committee, staff, volunteers and in the broader community of transgender youth, adults, their families and our allies. Knowing that I’ve been supported in my advocacy for my community has made this work so meaningful for me, and I leave MTPC being proud of the work that we have done.”

“I want to thank all those that have put their trust into sharing their stories with me, whether toward passing legislation or just talking about their experiences. I look forward to seeing the next chapter of MTPC unfold, and I am confident that the organization will continue to grow stronger,” Scott said.

Current MTPC community organizer Jesse Begenyi, who has been working alongside Scott since 2009, will serve as MTPC’s interim director while the steering committee undertakes a careful process to identify and hire a new permanent executive director. MTPC will engage in an assessment process that will help to reflect on the organization’s progress, plan for the leadership transition and set the strategic direction. The search for a new director will begin in the next couple of months with a formal job announcement. Third Sector New England will be providing organizational expertise throughout the transition, through a grant from the Boston Foundation Vision Fund.

Steering Committee Vice Chair Maxwell Ng said, “Gunner Scott and MTPC have made it safer for me to live and work in Massachusetts. I know the steering committee is firmly committed to its mission as well as to the community that MTPC has fostered. The foundation already laid inspires me to look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.”

A public gathering to honor Gunner Scott for his work will be held Friday, February 22 at Club Cafe, 209 Columbus Ave., Boston, from 6:30 to 9 pm. 

For more information, email chair@masstpc.org.

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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 political activism, and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. More information can be found at www.masstpc.org.

Posted by: | Posted on: January 9, 2013

MTPC Hosts Legislative Action Day for Transgender Public Accommodations Protections on Jan. 17, 2013

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is hosting a Legislative Action Day at the State House January 17 from 11 am to 1 pm. Constituents will gather to educate their legislators about the necessity of protecting transgender people’s access to public accommodations through the passage of An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public.

The Equal Access Bill would add “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts civil rights law for public accommodations, which currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex and marital status. Nationwide, 15 states, the District of Columbia and 187 cities and counties (including Boston, Cambridge, Amherst and Northampton) have passed non-discrimination laws or ordinances protecting people on this basis.

Public accommodations include any establishment, public or private, that is open to the general public and provides, or endeavors to provide, some type of goods and/or services to the general public. Examples of accommodations are banks, gas stations, beauty salons, funeral parlors and employment agencies; offices of professionals such as doctors, attorneys, dentists, accountants, travel agents and insurance agents; court rooms, lobbies, polling places and government agencies; hotels, restaurants and bars; shopping centers; theaters, concert halls, sports arenas and convention centers; museums, libraries and galleries; parks, zoos, amusement parks and beaches; public transit and airports; and public streets and sidewalks.

MTPC’s Executive Director, Gunner Scott, said, “Public accommodations protections would make explicit the Commonwealth’s commitment to providing people of all gender identities equal protection under the law, and guarantee transgender youth, adults, and families the opportunity to participate in and contribute to their communities and to the local economy. This bill is about fairness and all residents having the same access to public places.”

According to a recent transgender discrimination survey, 58% of Massachusetts respondents experienced verbal harassment or mistreatment in public accommodations such as hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies because they are transgender; 22% of transgender adults were denied equal treatment by a government agency or official; and 24% of transgender adults who interacted with police experienced harassment by officers.

“I applaud the Massachusetts legislature and Governor Deval Patrick for the 2011 passage of An Act Relative to Gender Identity, which adds gender identity non-discrimination protections in the areas of education, employment, housing and credit/lending. The Equal Access Bill fills in that missing piece of public accommodations, which are all the places between home, work or school. This is necessary for full equality all transgender youth, adults, and families in Massachusetts,” said Nancy Nangeroni, chair of MTPC’s board.

RSVP: http://www.masstpc.org/take-action/current-legislation/legislative-action-day/

Posted by: | Posted on: December 21, 2012

MTPC Ranked #5 in GuideStar’s High-Impact Local LGBT Nonprofits

guide star largeIn December 2012, we were honored to learn that a group of 110 experts identified Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition as 1 of 12 high-impact nonprofits working in the field local LGBT equaity and support. Some of reviews experts had about our impact were:

“This is still a very small organization, but it has had good, consistent leadership. Also, the organization has done some very innovative public education work.

“Their impact can be see in the passage of the Transgender Rights Bill 2011.”

“They are playing a key role in adding gender identity to statewide nondiscrimination law. They are also developing the “I AM” messaging campaign to raise profile of transgender community.”

To read more about experts in the field have to say about Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition click on the Expert Reviews section on our organization profile

Philanthropedia (at GuideStar) is a nonprofit organization working to help donors make smarter donations by connecting them with some of the highest impact nonprofits in a cause. They are different from other online rating sites or donation sites because they use experts to identify high-impact nonprofits.

All the information collected from the research is available on Philanthropedia’s website and will shortly be available on GuideStar Take Action’s website.

In addition, MTPC’s big sister organization and our fiscal sponsor, Boston Alliance for GLBT Youth (BAGLY Inc) was ranked # 1 in the same category. As you can see the apple does not fall far from the tree! MTPC also wished to congratulate trans-sister organizations the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and Transgender Law Center (TLC), and our Trans Equal Rights Coalition partner organizations Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and MassEquality for their recognition in high impact LGBT non-profits rankings as well.