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This week we’re witnessing new attacks on the health and wellness of trans and gender nonconforming people. Nationally, the Trump administration has created a new division under the HHS civil rights office geared towards allowing and promoting discrimination against LGBTQ people in healthcare. Under the misleading name of “conscience and religious freedom,” this division will open the door for healthcare providers to deny care to anyone they may disapprove of, including denying care to trans and gender nonconforming people. We all value and enjoy religious freedom as established in the Constitution of the United States; this policy, however, is more concerned with denying health care to marginalized communities than the exercise of faith.
Here in Massachusetts, we have recently learned that the Group Insurance Commission – the state agency which provides healthcare coverage for Massachusetts state employees – is making changes to the plans available to employees. Under these changes, former plans, which provided coverage for transition related medical care, have been eliminated. The new plans to be offered by GIC have little to no coverage for transition related healthcare for trans and gender nonconforming state employees. This is a major problem, impacting the health and wellness of many members of our community. MTPC is currently making plans to attend upcoming public hearings on the issue, to ensure our voices are heard by the state.
Trans and gender nonconforming people already face disproportionate levels of discrimination, harassment, and denial in healthcare – and these new developments will likely raise those rates in alarming ways. The Mass Trans Political Coalition is here to send the message to policy makers and healthcare providers: transphobia in healthcare is unhealthy, unsafe, and unacceptable.
For more information, questions, or ways to get involved, contact Mason: MasonDunn@masstpc.org
We at MTPC are mourning the loss of community advocate, activist and friend, Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien. Christa was a wonderful person, who had a profound impact on the trans and gender nonconforming community, particularly in Western Massachusetts. She was the creator and founder of the Miss Trans New England Pageant, and would go on to found Miss Trans America. She was a well known and positive influence for many trans people locally and nationally.
At this time, her death has been ruled a homicide, underscoring the continued prevalence of violence against trans and gender nonconforming people, particularly trans women. Additionally, domestic violence and partner abuse may have been a factor in her murder; factors which disproportionately impact trans people across the country. Christa’s death is a sad reminder how much violence and abuse transgender people face every day.
The Mass Trans Political Coalition would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Christa’s friends and family. We are working to assist in planning a community gathering and memorial in her memory. We will follow up when more information and details are available.
If you, or someone you know is struggling with depression, violence, discrimination, or partner abuse, please reach out to local or community resources. Groups such as The Network La Red (tnlr.org), Samaratins (https://samaritanshope.org/), Safe Passage (http://safepass.org/) and others, are available to provide assistance and resources.
Guest post from Michelle Tat, MTPC’s Clerk:
Content Warning: This is not about data science. This is a long post that’s mostly a stream of consciousness. You have been warned!
Happy New Years everyone. It’s been a long time since I last posted, mostly because I’ve been busy at the new job, also because I’ve taken some time off to re-balance my life a little bit. But I’m back! At least for the time being.
There’s been one thing on my mind lately that I’ve been meaning just to get on paper. And it has everything to do with my identity. In the era where trans identities are at the forefront of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, the stories that are played in the airwaves only scratch the surface of who we are and how any of us made it to “now”. Often times, trans folx, are seen as two discrete snapshots in time. Before and After. Then and Now.
[Written by Declan Nolan, MTPC Summer Intern]
On July 26th, President Trump tweeted out a ban on transgender folks serving in the U.S. Military. First of all, what does this mean? Additionally what does this mean for you as a transgender person or an ally?
At the moment, transgender already-enlisted service members can serve openly, but civilian transgender people are disqualified from serving. It is unclear what this will mean for the openly transgender people currently serving. If this series of tweets becomes a policy, the military may choose to discharge openly transgender service members.
To many people this announcement came as a shock. A common misconception is that transgender people were included in “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” but this isn’t true. The LGBT community is often talked about as a single unit which can cause confusion when differentiating between sexual orientation and gender identity. Transgender people have been able to serve openly since June 30th of last year. This policy only applies to people who are already currently serving; not new recruits.
Currently, there has been no policy memo formally articulated to the Pentagon. This means that there will be no changes made yet to the way transgender people serve in the military. This may change in the near future, but so far all is the same. There are still debates going on about transition related healthcare and if it should be covered by the health insurance provided by the military.
The idea of not allowing transgender people to serve based on their gender identity alone is blatant discrimination. Even transgender individuals who have no indication of ever serving in the military should be concerned because of the precedent this sets. So what does this mean for you as a transgender person or ally?
On order to understand this potential ban’s full effect, we should educate ourselves about the needs and experiences of transgender veterans and service members. A great resource we have found is the Transgender American Veterans Association. They provide “unwavering support for our transgender service members and veterans past, present, and future.” We also found great information from the American Veterans for Equal Rights. Organizations like this are an important reminder to transgender veterans and service members that you are supported and cared for by your transgender community. This support comes regardless of the current or future policies put in place by the current administration.
You might be asking yourself, what can I do to help my community or the trans people in my life? There are plenty of ways to help: check out some great ones from the Advocate. If it is safe to and you are able to, get involved in some activism! If you are from Massachusetts, a wonderful campaign to get involved with is Freedom Massachusetts. They are fighting against an initiative on the statewide ballot in 2018 to repeal our state’s nondiscrimination law ensuring protection in public spaces for transgender people. They are always looking for volunteers to participate in phone banks, data entry, and in person recruitment.
To the allies of the transgender community, we need you. Keep the conversation going; educate those around you on what has happened, especially other cisgender folks in your life. Continue to learn; keep yourself educated on what this means and why it matters. Know that the fight for transgender rights cannot be won without the assistance of family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
The Mass Trans Political Coalition stands in solidarity with our community members who are currently serving or have served in the US military. Statements from the White House this morning highlight the attacks the trans and gender nonconforming community face at every level – from discrimination in the streets, to the workplace, all the way up to attacks from the Federal Administration.
Trans and gender nonconforming people have been a part of the fabric of our world for centuries – this includes those who have served in armed forces around the world and across time. Stating that trans and gender nonconforming people are an “expense” or “disruption” is a low and callous attack on community members who have served and continue to serve in the armed forces.
To trans and gender nonconforming service members and veterans: you are important to the MTPC community. We will continue to fight for your rights to be seen, to pursue your career, to have access to the spaces you want or need, and be validated in your gender identity. If you need support, please reach out. You are not alone.
Join the Mass Trans Political Coalition for a rally to RISE UP! with trans and queer students. We will gather with students, teachers, adults, and allies to support students in light of the attack on trans rights from the federal administration.
What: RISE UP! With Trans and Queer Students
When: Sunday, March 5th, 12pm
Where: Boston Common, in front of the State House
Who: Join the Mass Trans Political Coalition, along with trans and queer youth, teachers, and allies to support trans and gender nonconforming students whose rights are under attack.
ACLU of Massachusetts
Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia
Anti-Defamation League, New England Region
Black and Pink
Boston Alliance of LGBTQ Youth (BAGLY, Inc.)
Boston Food Not Bombs
Cambridge Women’s Center
Church of the Covenant
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
Hispanic Black Gay Coalition
History UnErased, Inc.
National Association of Social Workers – Massachusetts Chapter
Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts
The Lenny Zakim Fund
The Network/la Red
Transcending Identities by Dr. Eunice Aviles
Welcoming Faiths of the Merrimack Valley
To sign up as a co-sponsor, please fill out this form.