The MA Transgender Equal Rights Bill's hearing is TODAY, at 1:00 p.m. in the Statehouse’s Gardner Auditorium. This is the public hearing before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, which we need to vote the bill onwards to be voted on by the full legislature.
Everyone is welcome to attend, and allowed to sign up to testify. However, please be aware that:
- Attendance is much more needed for Transgender Equal Rights Lobby Day on Thursday June 23rd.
- We ask that you not bring signs, or engage with anyone who antagonizes you.
- Although the hearing should be much shorter and simpler than our previous ones (which were quite complex and several hours), we can't know how long it will be, the order or timing of speakers, etc.; there will be many other bills being heard today, though far fewer than our previous hearing days.
- To make our presentation as short and sweet as possible, we need to focus on our pre-planned themed panels of speakers.
- We will present all written testimony to the Committee (the letters we have been asking supporters for all year).
- Although the opposition will have to follow the rules, their speakers may (as during the last hearing) say upsetting things about transgender people, (non-trans) women, etc. This can be particularly painful for allies, and for those who weren't around back when such things were much more commonly said about GLB people, women, etc.
If you can't attend, here's how you can help (yesterday's MassEquality email): http://eepurl.com/d_mA5
I will be attending, and ICTE will be presenting a faith-themed panel of three clergy. And here is my written testimony:
June 8, 2011
Senator Cynthia S. Creem and Representative Eugene L. O’Flaherty
Joint Committee on the Judiciary
Rooms 405 and 136
Boston, MA 02133
Dear Senator Creem and Representative O’Flaherty,
My name is Mycroft Holmes, and I am a transgender person and leader who lives and works in greater Boston, where I was born and have always lived. I love Boston and the rest of Massachusetts; this has always been my home and I hope it always will be.
I’m an interfaith transgender leader -- Chair of the Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality (ICTE), member of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s (MTPC) Steering Committee, and Emeritus Founding Chair of the Keshet’s Transgender Working Group (TWiG); I’m also a board member of Congregation Am Tikva (Brookline).
Founded in 2007, ICTE is a gathering of clergy, lay leaders and organizations that organizes the Massachusetts faith community in support of transgender social justice. As the interfaith partner of MTPC, ICTE focuses on faith-based work in support of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill (An Act Relative To Transgender Equal Rights, House Bill 502 / Senate Bill 764).
ICTE created and has submitted to you several updates of our Declaration Of Religious And Faith-Based Support for the bill – you received the latest version today, signed by hundreds of Massachusetts faith communities, clergy, lay leaders and other individuals. We organized Transgender Faith Action Week in April – more than 100 faith communities participated. The Week included a clergy press conference at the Statehouse where four faith leaders -- the Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishop, an Episcopal priest, a United Methodist pastor, and a rabbi – spoke in support of the bill. You will hear testimony from some of our other supportive clergy at today’s hearing, and at Transgender Equal Rights Lobby Day on the 23rd. The Massachusetts faith community wants to see this vital legislation passed this session.
Ever since I was a small child, I wanted to work in criminal justice. After public school in Brookline and Newton, I attended Northeastern University as a Criminal Justice major. The university was supportive, but classes, campus life and housing were very challenging. After my sophomore year, I tried to participate in the cooperative education program -- students are placed in jobs in their majors during their next three years, helping them pay tuition and living expenses and find employment in their field after graduation. The co-op department was supportive, but the employers wouldn’t even communicate with me, never mind interview me.
Because I was transgender, I was the only one of the 200 criminal justice students who wasn’t placed in a job. Without the financial support and experience of co-op, I had to leave Northeastern.
It was devastating to learn that I couldn’t pursue my dream because I was transgender, and that I had no legal recourse. The day my co-op advisor called to tell me I couldn’t be placed, and the details of the discrimination, I understood what it meant to be a member of a group of citizens that don’t have civil rights.
And I realized that my calling was to be a transgender leader. I’ve had a wonderful career, and have a bright future. But very little of my career work has been or is funded – I’ve always needed other full-time paid work, and I’ve continued to experience employment discrimination because of my gender identity and expression, leading to underemployment and unemployment.
My life partner is a Maryland native and lifelong resident who graduated from George Washington University (Washington, DC) last month. We want her to move to Boston this year so that we can find our first home and begin the next part of our life together. We have much to offer my great state. But we are both challenged by employment discrimination, and we fear discrimination in credit, housing, public accommodations and public education. We need the Transgender Equal Rights Bill to pass into law.
I urge you to vote the Transgender Equal Rights Bill out and on so that it can be voted on by the full legislature and pass during this legislative session. This bill would finally give transgender people our civil rights. This is so vital, so long overdue, and we are so close.