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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.”
Ok. Here it is! This is the last push on the Twitter #MAtransbill campaign this month. Let’s put aside our #TransWk and #TDOR exhaustion for one more day and help make sure that the members of the Joint Judiciary Committee know that we want them to pass the Equal Access Bill out of committee to go for a vote in the full Senate and House.
We can tweet them directly and also ask Senators and Representatives who are not on the committee to encourage their colleagues to take the right step. They need to hear from YOU and your friends and family that equality matters and that in order to be fully equal in the eyes of the law, trans and gender non-conforming folks must be protected from discrimination in all public places.
If you find this information after November 22, that’s ok! The push for the equal rights is ongoing, and it’s never a bad time to let our legislators know that we’re counting on them to protect their people of Massachusetts. You can take to Twitter anytime and let them know that this issue is important to you. Be sure to use the #MAtransbill hashtag so that people can find and retweet you.
Below are tweets for you to copy and paste into Twitter. Be sure to ask current bill supporters to CONTINUE to fight for the bill.
Everyone should tweet these two messages:
Please keep fighting for #MATransBill to protect your constituents! @WBrownsberger @patjehlen @SenJohnFKeenan @RepHenriquez
Care abt ALL your constituents? Support the #MATransBill! @SenKClark @BruceJAyers @jeffroy @danwinslow @RepHarrington http://tinyurl.com/kftg2e4
Here are additional messages you can send. You can use whichever message(s) you prefer and then swap in the Committee members’ handles from the list below:
.@SenKClark Right to vote is 1 of most important freedoms. Support equal access to voting booths. http://tinyurl.com/kftg2e4 #MAtransbill
.@RepColleenGarry Why’s it legal to be kicked off public transit if they don’t like “people like you”? http://tinyurl.com/kftg2e4 #MAtransbill
.@BruceJAyers Everyone should be free to use public streets without harassment or discrimination. http://tinyurl.com/kftg2e4 #MAtransbill
.@ElectClaire All ppl should have equal access to hospital care, govt buildings & voting booths. http://tinyurl.com/kftg2e4 #MAtransbill
.@jeffroy All ppl should have equal access to doctor offices, law offices & hospitals. http://tinyurl.com/kftg2e4 #MAtransbill
.@danwinslow All ppl should have equal access to nursing homes, restaurants & hotels. http://tinyurl.com/kftg2e4 #MAtransbill
.@RepHarrington All ppl should have equal access to hospitals, libraries & public transit. http://tinyurl.com/kftg2e4 #MAtransbill
Twitter handles for members of the Joint Judiciary Committee:
Representative Bruce Ayers: @BruceJAyers
Senator Will Brownsberger: @WBrownsberger (already a supporter!)
Senator Katherine M. Clark: @SenKClark
Representative Claire Cronin: @ElectClaire
Representative Colleen Garry: @RepColleenGarry
Representative Sheila Harrington: @RepHarrington
Representative Carlos Henriquez: @RepHenriquez (already a supporter!)
Senator Patricia Jehlen: @patjehlen (already a supporter!)
Senator John Keenan: @SenJohnFKeenan (already a supporter!)
Representative Jeffrey Roy: @jeffroy
Representative Dan Winslow: @danwinslow
If you want to go the extra mile, you can also contact the Committee members offline (especially ones who don’t have Twitter accounts):
Katherine Clark, Senate Chair; Gale D. Candaras, Senate Vice Chair (no Twitter); William N. Brownsberger (already a supporter!); Patricia D. Jehlen (already a supporter!); John F. Keenan (already a supporter!); Richard J. Ross (no Twitter). In the House: Eugene L. O’Flaherty (no Twitter), House Chair; Christopher M. Markey (no Twitter), House Vice Chair; Bruce J. Ayers; Claire D. Cronin; Sean Curran (no Twitter); Colleen M. Garry; Sheila C. Harrington; Carlos Henriquez (already a supporter!); Kevin J. Murphy (no Twitter); Jeffrey N. Roy; Daniel B. Winslow.
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 email@example.com.
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.
MTPC is so grateful to all of you who testified or sat in the Gardner Auditorium yesterday wearing I <3 Trans stickers to show your support of the Equal Access Bill (House Bill 1589/Senate Bill 643). The Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary hearing was a long one. Senators, Representatives, and the public were allowed to speak on any of 209 bills being considered that day, so it’s not so surprising that the endeavor took over 11 hours and ran past midnight.
For those of us who stuck it out, it was well worth the wait. Throughout the afternoon, evening, and then night the bill’s sponsors, representatives from transgender-supportive organizations, and trans* community members made the case for full legal equality and told personal stories of discrimination as they urged the committee to stand on the side of justice. A final panel of four Equal Access Bill supporters gave the second-to-last testimony before the committee adjourned the hearing. You can relive the action by reading MTPC’s Twitter feed or checking out everyone who posted with #MAtransbill.
We need to keep the pressure on so that the members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will pass the bill along to the full Senate and House for a vote. Please thank the committee members for hearing the testimony and ask them to support the bill. You can adapt our easy-to-use letter template. Please let everyone how important it is to have equal access to public accommodations. Post the graphic below, share your stories, and show your support on Facebook at Twitter using the hashtags #MAtransbill and #TransMA.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can call or arrange to visit your Senator and Representative in person. Please let us know in advance so we can give you resources to prepare for questions they might ask. And it’s also important for us to keep track of which senators and representatives have been contacted by their constituents and which have not.
The fight has just begun. Are you in?