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.
A quick Trans Day of Visibility message from MTPC executive director Mason Dunn. For all those who can be visible – thank you. For those who can’t be visible – we love you and support you. For those who have no choice but visibility – we stand with you. #EveryoneWelcome#TransRightsNOW!
The secret is in the crust. I found a recipe that uses shortening to make it flakey and vodka (Russians!) to make it smooth. As much as I love to cook, baking is not a task that comes easily to me. But I do especially love eating pies, and Thanksgiving just doesn’t feel right until I tuck into a slice of pumpkin pie with a healthy dollop of whip cream.
I recently learned that when Franklin McCain sat down at that Woolworth counter in February 1960, he asked for a slice of apple pie. Four black students seeking integration in public accommodations chose eating as an act of protest, and by doing so they shifted the narrative of civil rights. This is such a rich image in my mind; apple pie is often touted as the symbol of Americana. And in that moment, four black men having a slice of pie in a public place became a statement about who does or doesn’t belong in that image of Americana.
Only a few years later, in 1965, the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia held a sit in at Dewey’s Lunch Counter. This action, sparked by the owner’s new policy to deny service to those in “gender non-conformist clothing,” brought out approximately 150 trans and gender nonconforming people, led predominately by people of color. Together, they sat and ordered pie, risking discrimination, hostility, and abuse for their right to share a meal. And this, (followed later by Compton’s Cafeteria riot), occurred years before the well known Stonewall Riot.
Fast forward to July 2016, to the day the Transgender Public Accommodations bill was being debated in the Mass State House. Representative John Fernandes in his speech supporting the bill made the connection again to the civil rights movement. “You can’t tell people it’s OK to work at the diner, but it’s not to sit at the lunch counter. We learned that a long time ago.” He was the first of many legislators who would go on to vote in favor of the bill becoming law.
But then I left the chamber, and walked into the public foyer. There I watched as dozens of citizens verbally sparred about human decency, often grossly assuming that transgender people were the herald of sexual violence; I myself engaged in one such debate. And even though I was horrified by what our opponents were saying (and indeed shouting), I realize only now, that I was doing the same thing to them that they were doing to me. I was making assumptions about who they were, their upbringing, their ideologies and their morals. I cast them as the villain in my own hero story.
But just like a good piece of pie, the truth is so much more layered and rich. On paper, I have many ingredients that define me and make me into the queer trans man of color who I am. And rather than make assumptions about the wrapper, I always ask that people speak to me so that they can learn more about who I am and what I hope for. But I also need to be willing to swing that door in the other direction as well. The person who I engaged from the opposition was Asian, and because of her age and our shared race, she reminded me of my own mother.
In the past several weeks we at MTPC have seen some very scary harbingers of what’s to come. The law that we all worked so very hard to pass is already vulnerable to a ballot recall, and in 2018, everyday citizens will be given the choice to repeal it. In light of this, I am asking for your help to shift the narrative of civil rights. If I had the chance to sit with that woman and engaged with her as a unique human being, in short treated her the way I treat my mother, would she still have the heart to reject our pleas? If we could sit down and share a slice of pie together, would she still be a stranger to me? Because as I’ve said in the past, only a stranger would deny us our rights.
So bake a pie and share it with your next door neighbor. Listen to them when they talk about their hopes and dreams. Chat about what makes us all human in this crazy and illogical world. Find out the secret to their pie crust. And enjoy a slice of pie for me. Happy Pie Day.
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
You probably wouldn’t see the you in me now. The wisdom from years of doing more than just living. I don’t think that you believed in your own voice enough to see the power in your whisper. And when you decided that the rainbow really wasn’t enough, you didn’t realize that you are the pot of gold on the other side. And here I am to say…
I know you. I know how it feels to be “not right.” The things you were taught about yourself. Born into pinks, yellows and quiet purples. From booty socks to stockings, dresses, bangs and braids. Afraid to say no, stop, this is not me. This is not who I am. You struggled with more than seeing the wrong in you but learning this is life.
The layers of self hate permeated to the soul and something always screaming on the inside wanting people to see me from the inside out not the outside in. Those colors would mean more than socialized identities and forced role play. They would look more like dark blue, Black and deep purple. For more than 15 years now my colors have been blood red, black people and green land. Colors evolve just like your many lives.
As a child we were all shades of black and brown. You are black, they use to say “tar black.” Pretty far from light….white. I wrestled with the ugly, the ugly I believed myself to be. The awkward child that was never claimed. That poor tar black child living in back Maryland Atlantic City NJ. Not quite alone but alone on a journey finding my true self.
What you never believed you would, I did! I traveled to places all over this continent. I have gone to college twice. I haven’t finished but guaranteed I will. I was published in a book that was used in colleges across the nation. I was placed in jail for the right fight. I was honored and shamed. I loved over and over again before I knew I had to love myself. I have lived many lives….
Today I am closer to you now being me. I still have fear but a fear that can be erased with love. Real love! I wish I could have seen the power in that whisper. So what I would whisper to you is Love….. Self, please love you…me!”
Over the past thirteen days we have witnessed the chilling reality of the new White House administration – from statements, tweets, and executive orders, all targeting members of our many communities. The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition remains firm in our commitment to equality and justice for all. We will continue to work together with our allies in the immigration rights, reproductive rights, faith, and LGBTQ communities to fight for social justice and equality. Because, as Audre Lorde said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
The new administration has already demonstrated its unconstitutional discrimination against Muslims, targeting people for their religious beliefs, through an executive order. This order is constructed around the false association between Muslims and violence — a gross stereotyping, similar to the misguided perception that trans and gender nonconforming individuals are sexual predators. These stereotypes, misconceptions, and lies hurt us all and will not be ignored. If, as rumors indicate, there will be a rolling back of federal LGBTQ rights through executive orders, MTPC will continue to work to defend the rights we have gained, and fight for the many rights we have yet to attain. We will also continue to educate, advocate, and empower our community through action and advocacy.
In these difficult times our allies and our allyship with other communities, are essential to our mission: our liberation is tied to the liberation of all (to paraphrase activist Lilla Watson). MTPC stands in solidarity with dozens of organizations and groups in Massachusetts and across the country organizing for liberation and equality — we hope that you will do the same.
As we move forward, please know that you do not stand alone, you do not march alone, and you do not fight alone. MTPC, our leadership, volunteers, and staff all stand with you to advocate for trans rights, human rights, and equal rights. We take great hope knowing that many of you stand with us as well. Be strong, be vocal, and be united for all.