Mycroft Masada is a trans and queer faith leader who moved to the Washington DC area from their lifelong home of Boston MA in 2014. A TransFaith National Council member, TransEpiscopal Steering Committee member and former Congregation Am Tikva board member, Mycroft is also a MoCo Pride Center Visionary. Mycroft is particularly called to pursue justice at the intersections of LGBTQI+ and fat communities, and is an advocate, organizer, consultant, educator, trainer, writer and artist. They are partnered with Julia McCrossin, the massculine fatshion blogger, and with her co-parents a dogter. Their central online home is MasadArts.blogspot.com.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

MA height & weight anti-discrimination bill is back!

The Massachusetts height and weight anti-discrimination bill is back!  And it has a hearing on Tuesday June 25th.  Please read, submit testimony, attend, contact your legislators, spread the word, etc.!  MA voters are most needed but everything helps.  

An Act Making Discrimination on the Basis of Height and Weight Unlawful (House Bill 1758) has been re-filed.  It would amend MA state laws prohibiting discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations by adding “height” and “weight” to the list of legally protected ‘classes’.  The lead sponsor is Representative Byron Rushing, a longtime and amazing social justice leader, including for transgender rights and in the Episcopal Church (the Trans Equal Rights Law passed in November 2011, the Trans Equal Access Bill was filed this January).

This legislation is very badly needed and long overdue, and has already had a long process – and it may well be a longer one.  Many people here, as everywhere, are ignorant about weight and weight discrimination, and many assume weight is already included in MA law (as they should be). And there’s been very little visible local support in recent years; the primary local anti-weight-discrimination leader passed away several years ago and it seems like she hasn't been succeeded.  There’s a lot of potential support, including in my queer and faith communities, but it will take a great deal of (re-)education to make it actual.

Click here for my previous posts about the bill.  Thanks again to flabulous fat community leader Marilyn Wann for looping me into this a few years ago!

E-update of Tuesday May 28th (email Dave to put yourself on the list for updates):

Hi All,

Thank you for your past support and advocacy for legislation in Massachusetts to make it unlawful to discriminate based on height and weight. As you may know, Representative Rushing has again filed H. 1758, An Act Making Discrimination on the Basis of Height and Weight Unlawful during the current legislative session. 

I am writing to let you know that a hearing has been scheduled for this bill on Tuesday, June 25 before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.  The hearing begins at  10:00 am in Hearing Room B-1 in the  Massachusetts State House.  Representative Rushing would like to invite you to provide oral or written testimony in support of this bill.  Written testimony can be addressed to:

State House, Room 511B
Boston, MA 02133

State House, Room 39
Boston, MA 02133

Please reply to this email message  if you are interested in providing testimony in support of the bill.  If you know of others who might be interested in providing testimony in support of this legislation, please feel free to forward this email along.

I’ve attached a copy of the bill for your reference. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.  

Best,
Dave

Dave VanderWoude
Office of Majority Whip Byron Rushing
State House, Room 235
Boston, MA 02133

E-update of Thursday June 13th (email Dave to put yourself on the list for updates):

Hi All,

I am writing to remind you of the public hearing on Tuesday, June 25, regarding H. 1758,An Act Making Discrimination on the Basis of Height and Weight Unlawful.  Representative Rushing would greatly appreciate if you would be willing to provide oral and/or written testimony.   Please let me know if you plan to provide testimony if you haven’t done so already. 

The hearing begins at 10:00 am in Hearing Room B-1 in the Massachusetts State House and is scheduled to run until 3:00 pm.  The Committee is finalizing the order in which the bills will be heard, so I will send out this list as soon as I receive it to give you a more specific estimate of when the bill will be heard.  If you are unable to provide testimony in-person, you can submit written testimony by emailing the Committee Co-Chairs directly atThomas.Conroy@mahouse.gov and Daniel.Wolf@masenate.gov. Please copy me (David.VanderWoude@mahouse.gov) on the testimony you submit.

For your reference, I’ve attached a copy of the bill and included a brief summary below.
               
What would this bill do?
Section 4 of Chapter 151B and Sections 92A and 98 of Chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws currently state that persons cannot be discriminated against in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, or ancestry. 

This bill would amend these statutes to include height and weight to the list of unlawful forms of discrimination.  It would provide a legal remedy to those who have experienced discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on their weight or height.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Best,
Dave

Dave VanderWoude
Office of Majority Whip Byron Rushing
State House, Room 235
Boston, MA 02133


E-update of Thursday June 20th (email Dave to put yourself on the list for updates):

Hi All,

I am writing to remind you of next week’s hearing regarding legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of height and weight.  We would greatly appreciate it if you provide testimony, oral or written, in favor of this bill.  The text of the bill can be foundhere.

For those of you attending the hearing, I’ve listed the order in which the bills will be heard by the Labor and Workforce Development Committee.  The hearing begins at 10:00 am in Hearing Room B-1 in the Massachusetts State House and is scheduled to run until3:00 pm.

Please be in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

Best,
Dave


 Bill #
Lead Sponsor
Bill Title
H. 2460/S. 877
Rep. M. Walsh / Sen. Pacheco
An Act extending safety precautions to employees of the executive branch of the Commonwealth
H. 1733
Rep. Jones
An Act to provide a safe workplace for employees of the commonwealth and its political subdivisions
H. 1726
Rep. Gobi
An Act providing for the protection of emergency responders from dismissal
H. 1773
Rep. M. Walsh
An Act clarifying patient safety precautions
H. 1775
Rep. M. Walsh
An Act to provide occupational safeguards for employees resulting from the introduction and utilization of video display terminals
S. 859
Sen. Eldridge
An Act clarifying the meal break law to allow for private enforcement
S. 881
Sen. Petruccelli
An Act relative to climate conditions in public schools
H.1702 / H. 1767
Rep. Calter / Rep. Story / Sen. Jehlen
An Act further defining comparable work
H. 1758
Rep. Rushing
An Act making discrimination on the basis of height and weight unlawful
H. 1766
Rep. Story / Sen. Clark
An Act addressing workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment, without regard to protected class status
H. 1780
Rep. Walz
An Act relative to non-discrimination training in the workplace
H. 3231
Rep. Coakley-Rivera
An Act relative to discrimination in the workplace
S. 867
Sen. Joyce
An Act preventing discrimination based on veteran’s status
H. 1740
Rep. Koczera
An Act providing unpaid family and medical leave
H. 1746
Rep. Mark
An Act regulating Chapter 136
H. 1764 / S. 853
Rep. Stanley / Sen. Creem
An Act to establish employment leave and safety remedies to victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault
H. 1774 / S. 865
Rep. M. Walsh / Sen. Jehlen
An Act relative to parental leave
H. 1718 / S. 887
Sen. Dorcena Forry / Sen. Rodrigues
An Act relative to the fair distribution of gratuities / An Act relative to the pooling of tips
H. 1749 / S. 862
Rep. Michlewitz / Sen. Hart
An Act to further protect an employee’s right to tips

My testimony, submitted Sunday June 23rd by email:

June 25, 2013

Senator Daniel A. Wolf
Senate Chair, Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
State House, Room 511B
Boston, MA  02133

Representative Thomas P. Conroy
House Chair, Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
State House, Room 39
Boston, MA  02133

Via email:  Daniel.Wolf@masenate.gov | Thomas.Conroy@mahouse.gov 

Dear Senator Wolf and Representative Conroy --

My name is Mycroft Masada Holmes, and I live and work in greater Boston, where I was born 37 years ago this month and where I have always lived.  I love Boston and the rest of Massachusetts; this great city and state have always truly been my home and I hope they always will be.  

I’m an interfaith leader – Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s (MTPC) Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality (ICTE), a Community Engagement Adviser at TransFaith, and a board member of Congregation Am Tikva.  Much of my work has been in support of the Transgender Equal Rights Law and the Transgender Equal Access Bill (House Bill 1589 / Senate Bill 643). 

Today, I testify in support of House Bill 1758 -- An Act Making Discrimination on the Basis of Height and Weight Unlawful.  I testified in person and in writing in support of this bill (then House Bill 1850) at its hearing on January 27th of 2010; I also read the testimony of attorney Sondra Solovay, who could not attend as she was in California where she lives and usually works.  I testified in writing for the bill’s hearing on July 14th of 2011 (then House Bill 539); I was unable to attend, largely due to the very short notice.  I plan to attend and testify at today’s hearing.     

Section 4 of Chapter 151B and Sections 92A and 98 of Chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws currently state that persons cannot be discriminated against in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, or ancestry. 

This bill would amend these statutes to include height and weight to the list of unlawful forms of discrimination.  It would provide a legal remedy to those who have experienced discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on their weight or height.

In all but one state and three cities in this country, weight is not included in anti-discrimination or hate crimes laws.  How can this be?  How can Massachusetts remain one of those forty-nine states?  How can we not right this as soon as possible – indeed, during this legislative session?  

My faiths teach that like Adam, the first human being, all people are made btzelem Elohim – in the image of God -- people of all sizes, shapes, weights and heights.  Our infinite diversity of bodies and their changes over our lifetimes are gifts and blessings -- meant to be lived and shared with happiness and pride.  God creates and loves all of us, equally.  And all of us should be equally protected by the law.  

In my personal and professional life, I have experienced, witnessed and researched a great deal of discrimination – especially in employment.  Much of it has been based on physical appearance and information, particularly height and weight.  This discrimination is wrong, terribly damaging to everyone involved, and occurs many times every day in every part of our state.  It must be ended as soon as possible, and HB 1758 will help to end it.  The bill is also an important educational tool – its implementation process will help dispel the overwhelming and rapidly growing ignorance, misinformation and phobia about height and weight.  I won’t go into detail, as you will be given expert testimony about these issues from my colleagues – ample evidence of the very significant and deeply urgent need for this legislation.  

My wonderful life partner Julia McCrossin and I are the same height, 5’7”, and she weighs more than twice what I do – I am in the 130s, she in the 300s; I have always been thin, she has always been fat.  Despite a lifetime of discrimination and other mistreatment, much of it based on her weight, Julia has been largely happy and healthy,  and a good and productive citizen.  She is a published and active English and Fat Studies academic, a volunteer at her local animal shelter and a loving dog owner, and a devoted daughter to her disabled mother.  She has been and is a tremendous gift and blessing to her family, friends, colleagues, teachers, students, and all those who have been fortunate enough to know her, or indeed know of her.  

Julia is a native and lifelong resident of Maryland and Washington DC – where the Human Rights Laws include height and weight in “physical appearance”.  She has visited me here in Massachusetts several times over the four years we’ve been partnered.  We are considering making our home here, and in any case will visit, and have much to offer my great state.  But we are both challenged by discrimination, especially in employment.  We need An Act Making Discrimination On The Basis Of Height And Weight Unlawful to pass into law, and soon.  

I want my partner to have full civil rights whenever she’s here, and wherever she is.  I want her to be able to continue to live, work and play better than she has done, contributing even more to her society than she has.  I want this for all residents of and visitors to Massachusetts.  I don’t want anyone to experience discrimination – and yet I know that some will, and I want them to be able to take appropriate action.   I urge you to do everything you can to pass this vital and long overdue legislation during this session.  

Thank you,

Mycroft Holmes
{home and e-mail addresses}  

Cc: Dave VanderWoude
Office of Majority Whip Byron Rushing
State House, Room 235
Boston, MA  02133
Via email: david.vanderwoude@mahouse.gov