Mycroft Masada is a faith leader who moved to the Washington DC area from hir lifelong home of Boston MA in January 2014; a founding member of TransFaith’s National Council, steering committee member of TransEpiscopal, and former board member of Congregation Am Tikva. Mycroft is called to work for social justice at the intersections of faith, LGBTQI+ and fat communities, and is a writer and artist. Zie is partnered with Julia McCrossin, the mas(s)culine fatshion blogger, and they co-parent a dogter.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

THE FAIRNESS FOR ALL MARYLANDERS ACT PASSED TODAY!

THE FAIRNESS FOR ALL MARYLANDERS ACT PASSED TODAY!

I’ve always lived in Massachusetts, and have been one of the leaders of the faith campaign for MA’s trans rights bills.  I moved to MD at the end of January to begin living with my partner Julia McCrossin, a lifelong MD (and DC) resident. 



Mycroft-

We did it! After years of hard work, today the Maryland House of Delegates passed SB 212: Fairness for All Marylanders Act by a 82-57 vote, finally adding much-needed protections for transgender Marylanders to our state's anti-discrimination law.

Victory today would not have happened without the work of countless people - transgender people sharing their stories and organizing, community leaders, partner organizations and allies - and YOU. We knew this year could be different, starting with momentum on our side. Our work over the past few months and the groundwork laid by so many over the years made the difference. This is truly a community win. 

Equality Maryland has proudly worked with the Maryland Coalition for Transgender Equality to advance equal rights for our transgender community. See the full statement from the coalition below and click here to see how your legislators voted, and to thank supporters and hold opponents accountable.

We'll keep you updated on our next steps. For now, let's celebrate.

Fairness has won the day.


 Support our work

March 27, 2014

ANNAPOLIS- In a big win for transgender equality in Maryland, today the Maryland House of Delegates passed SB 212: Fairness for All Marylanders Act with a vote of 82-57. The bill, passed by the Senate earlier this session in an overwhelming 32-15 vote, updates Maryland’s anti-discrimination law to include transgender people. This ensures that everyone is free to work for a living, secure housing, and get served lunch at a restaurant regardless of gender identity.

The Maryland Coalition for Transgender Equality, a coalition of more than 50 organizations and individuals working to advance equality for transgender Marylanders, hailed the victory as the culmination of many years of work by the transgender community and allies. The Coalition praised the bill's lead sponsors Senator Rich Madaleno and Delegate Luke Clippinger for their hard work and thanked them for their leadership.

“I am proud of my 81 colleagues who voted in support of fairness for transgender Marylanders today. Allowing people to earn a living and live without fear of discrimination is the right thing to do,” said House sponsor Delegate Luke Clippinger.

Carrie Evans, Executive Director of Equality Maryland, the state’s civil rights organization for LGBT Marylanders comments on Senate Bill 212’s passage, “This is the culmination of a very long and sustained effort by Equality Maryland to ensure transgender Marylanders are included in our state’s anti-discrimination laws.  Today’s win is the result of so many people and organizations – transgender individuals and their families showing up and telling their stories year after year, elected officials like Senator Rich Madaleno and Delegates Luke Clippinger, Bonnie Cullison and Joseline Peña-Melynk , many years of dedicated and committed Equality Maryland Board and staff, amazing coalition partners like the Human Rights Campaign and so many more people and organizations that we will highlight in the coming months.”

SB 212 now heads to Governor O’Malley's desk, who stated at MCTE's Lobby Day last month, "I am waiting to sign it."

"After more than 15 years of advocacy for trans Marylanders, the tremendous work by all of our legislative champions, and the solid support of the leadership in Annapolis, history was made today. The House of Delegates sent the same loud and clear message the Maryland Senate did: Every Marylander deserves equal rights under the law. We welcome the Governor’s promised signature and the full and successful implementation of this bill," said Jenna Fischetti of TransMaryland, an MCTE coalition member.

“Today the Maryland legislature lived up to its reputation as a fair and just body and rightly recognized that everyone should be treated equally, including transgender Marylanders,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.  “Being free from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression is what makes America work.”

The passage of SB 212 will give transgender Marylanders recourse for discrimination experienced in employment, credit, housing and public places like restaurants and movie theaters.

“Today is a historic day for the great state of Maryland.  While the discrimination against people based on their gender identity has certainly not seen its last day, we now have the tool we need in Maryland, to fight back against discrimination when it occurs,” said Aaron Merki, Executive Director of FreeState Legal Project.

"It is clear that community and legislators are aligned in providing protections for all Marylanders including those who are transgender. Passing SB 212 will help ensure that transgender people have the same opportunities in employment, housing, and safe public spaces,” said Vann Michael of Black Transmen, Inc. "Passing SB 212 is naturally the next step for Maryland's legislators to demonstrate their commitment to all residents of the state and be a national leader for legislative bodies on how to equally support the full transgender community."
 
A recent Goucher poll found that 71% of Marylanders supported updating Maryland’s anti-discrimination laws to include transgender people. A broad array of organizations and individuals have shown support for transgender rights in Maryland, from faith communities to feminist organizations and civil rights groups.

“The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland has joined with the other members of Maryland Coalition for Transgender Equality to work for passage of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act in support of our transgender members, friends and family throughout the state,” said Reverend Diane Teichert, GLBT Issues Coordinator of UULM-MD and Minister of Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi.

When SB 212 is signed into law, Maryland will join 17 states and the District of Columbia in enacting anti-discrimination protections for transgender people. 5 jurisdictions in Maryland already include transgender people in anti local anti-discrimination laws: Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery Counties, Baltimore City and Hyattsville.
### 


Equality Maryland
(phone) 410-685-6567 (fax) 410-685-5229 info@equalitymaryland.org
1201 S. Sharp Street, Suite 109, Baltimore, MD 21230
empowered by Salsa

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lenten Morning of Meditation



My Julia is the big beautiful one walking the labyrinth on the far left; the photo is by our priest, Rev. Randy.

This morning we attended the Lenten Morning of Meditation at our church, Episcopal Church of the Ascension.

It was organized and led by our priest, Rev. Randy, who required a minimum of ten participants to RSVP (yes, a minyan, and we were the last two) but also welcomed drop-ins, and we were joined by a few people after we began.  We began at nine with some social time and refreshments, then sat and more formally introduced ourselves.  Randy explained the plan for the day and gave us two brochures about labyrinths, Ascension’s and the Hallowood Retreat & Conference Center's (Comus MD) – the text of the former appears here and draws on Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress’ Walking A Sacred Path : Rediscovering The Labyrinth As A Spiritual Tool.  Our labyrinth was custom-made for us by The Labyrinth Company of Baltimore; it's canvas and can also be used outdoors, and is based on Chartres Cathedral's floor one (France).

We remained in our chairs to meditate in whatever sense we wished until we were ready to enter the labyrinth, though we needn’t enter it at all.  We were welcome to walk in the way(s) best for us – in relationship with our fellow walkers – and however many times we were willing and able in the allotted time.

We also had the option of a lap-size labyrinth, about a foot and a half in diameter and an inch thick in something like resin made to seem like wood, which one usually "walks" with one's finger(s); we both walked this too.

Now, although I appreciate labyrinths and our church's ability to possess our own, today reminded me of how they are problematic, especially in their physical accessibility issues -- that is, they can be difficult or impossible for those with disabled, fat, and other non-normative bodies and mobilities.  Particularly when they are the small size and narrow design of ours.  It would be good if this was acknowledged before and at programming that includes labyrinth use -- indeed, this could be a valuable part of the program.  The lap labyrinth does help with this problem, though it also needs help to be most helpful.

At the same time, we had good experiences of the labyrinth and the rest of the day -- and I don't think I'll surprise anyone by saying I was primarily using the labyrinth and the rest as a tool in my discernment process around my new life here in MD (I've always lived in Boston MA, and moved here at the end of January to begin living with Julia, who's always lived here).  We haven't taken much advantage of our past labyrinth access, and now we are inspired for the future.  I want to add more about the specifics of my experience of today's walks and the rest, but there is also something about that being private.  

On a related note, today also reminded me that we don't have any labyrinths of our own and would like to.  I'll probably begin by making myself some jewelry (always a good way to start, don't you think? ; > ), and begin that with labyrinth charms from TierraCast (page 21; they come in silver, copper and gold in two sizes) -- they're wholesale only, but here's an Etsy search I've been doing that includes them (as well as a lot of things inspired by the movie, which I couldn't get all the way through when I tried to watch it for the first time a few years ago, sorry).  I can also include labyrinths in my more out-going artwork, which is primarily stationery.  Perhaps something to include if I participate in Ascension's holiday bazaar.


When we were each ready, we walked from the chapel building to the sanctuary of the main building and gathered in the pews to process the first half of the day with Randy.

We then counted ourselves off by ones and twos, and the two groups went to two rooms on two floors for the same activity.  My group of Twos was led by Randy; we used the African / Lambeth Bible study method (given by the African delegation at the Lambeth Conference in 2008) to experience the Common English Bible version of John 4:5-42, the story of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.

"He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, which was near the land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from his journey, so he sat down at the well. It was about noon.  A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give me some water to drink.'"

This study was especially helpful to me as I reflected on my and Julia's workday at the Maryland statehouse this past Thursday -- while lobbying for the Fairness For All Marylanders Act, MD's trans equal rights bill, we had some very challenging conversations with legislators.  I'd heard about this Bible study method but hadn't participated in it; Ascension has been using it for vestry meetings and otherwise to great effect.  The instruction side of the handout read:

"This Bible study method was introduced at the Lambeth Conference, a gathering of bishops of the Anglican Communion.

Opening Prayer:  O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
  1. One person reads passage slowly.
  2. Each person identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention (1 minute).
  3. Each shares the word or phrase around the group (3-5 minutes, NO DISCUSSION).
  4. Another person reads the passage slowly (from a different translation if possible).
  5. Each person identifies where this passage touches their life today (1 minute).
  6. Each shares (3-5 minutes, NO DISCUSSION).
  7. Passage is read a third time (another reader and translation if possible).
  8. Each person names or writes ”From what I’ve heard and shared, what do I believe God wants me to  do or be? Is God inviting me to change in any way?” (5 minutes)
  9. Each person shares their answer (5-10 minutes, NO DISCUSSION).
  10. Each prays for the person on their right, naming what was shared in the other steps (5 minutes).
Close with the Lord’s Prayer and SILENCE."

As planned, we ended at noon, and regrouped in the chapel for some optional final socializing and refreshmenting as we collected our things and left.

The most interesting thing about the breakout room my group was in – which I hadn’t seen before and is one of those used for our Sunday school – was a poster of Bohdan Piasecki's "Last Supper" painting.  Commissioned in 1998 by Brothers And Sisters In Christ (BASIC), which merged with We Are Church Ireland in 2012, it restores the Jewishness, women and children, and other significant aspects to the scene.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fairness For All Marylanders Act - today & this Weekend Of Action



I spent the workday at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, where my partner Julia McCrossin and I delivered supportive materials about MD's trans rights bill, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act (#FAMA14), to all 147 House delegates. As part of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality campaign, we worked with Equality Maryland staff and volunteers to deliver a cover letter highlighting the 71% support for the bill, a myth and fact sheet, a letter about the online petition signatures, and the constituent postcards.

And this weekend is a Weekend Of Action for the bill, especially in Baltimore and Takoma Park, so check that out too. The opposition has been making a lot of legislator contact, and the session ends at the end of the month, so they really need to hear from supporters!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Adipositivity's first print sale!


Adipositivity is finally having its first print sale (Facebook, website; NSFW)! But only through the end of the month! Adiposers and their social media fans (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr) get a 20% discount through this Sunday the 23rd! 

And my partner Julia McCrossin's and my Adipose is included (#327/346) -- click here to see it in the sale (NSFW).  We Posed in New York in May of 2010 and were published on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 -- usually Posers are individual fat women, but every February 1st though 14th there's a Valentines celebration of couples of many kinds where at least one partner is fat.  

So fatten up your wall(s), and/or whatever else you want!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fairness For All Marylanders Ash Wednesday


My faith flair and stickers from today's hearing – all of which I wore to church as well.  The rainbow magen David pin was a gift from my cousin Andy in California many years ago, the silver charm I bought in Mexico City in 2003; the brass Jerusalem Cross / “Pilgrim” medallion was a gift to  participants at the Washington National Cathedral’s Epiphany retreat I went to in 2011 (while Julia was working there; the other side says "Thou art the journey and the journey's end / Washington National Cathedral"), the Episcopal Church shield pin I bought at the Cathedral’s gift shop with J.

“For all false judgments, 
For uncharitable thoughts towards our neighbors, 
And for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.”

-- Episcopal Church’s Litany of Penance (Book of Common Prayer)

What an extraordinary day.  “Intense and wondrous”, as a colleague commented on my Facebook post about it.

My partner Julia McCrossin and I testified at the Fairness for All Marylanders Act’s House hearing and attended our first Ash Wednesday service.

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act (FAMA, Senate Bill 212 / House Bill 1265; #FAMA14) would update the state’s anti-discrimination laws to  include gender identity and therefore transgender and gender non-conforming people.  This has been the bill's best legislative session yet, and this really seems like the year it could pass!  

I’ve always lived in Massachusetts, and have been one of the leaders of the faith campaign for MA’s trans rights bills.  I moved to Maryland in January to begin living with Julia, a lifelong MD (and DC) resident.

FAMA was passed by the Senate yesterday!  The next step towards passage into law was its House hearing today, before the Health and Government Operations Committee.  We had submitted written testimony in the form of letters through Equality Maryland -- lead member of the MD Coalition for Trans Equality -- and they asked us to testify orally as part of the several themed panels of supporters they were planning.  Click here for more about MD’s bill and our experience thereof – including our written testimonies.

We actually tried to receive our ashes before the hearing, but alas, the scheduling didn’t seem to quite work – the Episcopal Church was doing “ashes-to-go” at a few of our local Metro stations, they and other local churches were offering a few services each, and there was the EC right near the Statehouse (St. Anne's), but they all seemed too early or late for us.  At least if we were going to attend the whole service – that is, if it wasn’t ashes-to-go, we didn’t want to…ash and dash?  Is that the equivalent of “chew and screw”?  Too, what about the ashes washing off when we showered etc.?  If we ashed before we physically readied for the hearing.

We drove to Annapolis only to find all three parking lots full and little hope of street parking – but there was plenty of space left at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium lot, and the parking attendant was quite friendly because she appreciated that we had actually read and followed the directions on her sign.  We’d just missed the tourist trolley, but another one came in a few minutes.  And maybe this was at least a little bashert, because there was a Blue Angels plane on display, and I had time to photograph it for my father Bill Wasserman, who flew with them as a photographer when he was in the Navy from 1960 – 2.  (We also found a gold tie clip with the image of a gramophone, which I haven't found through Google.)

We arrived at the Statehouse with time to spare because the full House session had run over.  We checked in with some of the MCTE leadership and our fellow panelists, pulled ourselves together, and found seats together in the hearing room.  We the bill’s supporters had two panels of legislators and other politicians, then one of trans people, myself included; the testimony table had four chairs and three microphones, so four trans women went first, then Equality Maryland’s Director of Advocacy and Programs Keith Thirion and I took our turn.  Then there was a panel of trans people’s family members, which Julia was a part of, in addition to identifying herself as someone with a gender non-conforming expression.  The supportive panels continued for several more, and were all quite impressive, including their responses to the Committee’s questions.  

A particular highlight – and reason the parts of the day felt such a whole – was that the one person I knew from before my move was my trans faith colleague Donna Cartwright, co-chair of TransEpiscopal, of which I’m a member; she testified on the Labor-themed panel, representing Pride At Work.  And Julia had met her at a TransFaith event in Maryland in January.  

Then the opposition presented a few panels…oy gevalt.  Let’s just say, for now, that I’m glad the person sitting on my other side gave Julia and I a trigger warning before they began.  It wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before (especially at the MA bills’ hearings) or expected to hear, or couldn’t handle, but even so.  It wasn’t anything anyone should have to hear – or feel they have to say.  But that’s the thing – if nothing else, the opposition panelists made it clear to even some of the opposition legislators that they were saying things that shouldn’t be said.  

We were the first bill of eight, and our bill’s part was all of a piece with no breaks and took a little over three hours.  And for the most part it was all quite well done.  And thus I must say, that although I know that Maryland’s process has its problems -- including some of which I’m not yet aware -- compared to Massachusetts’ meshugaas it’s a beautiful thing!  If this was MA, we’d almost certainly have missed the rest of Ash Wednesday, and been lucky to get home in time for bed – no matter where we lived in relation to the Statehouse.    

We checked out with a similar group of people – including getting a sense of the bill’s next steps and the opportunities to volunteer therein, pulled ourselves together again, and went out to wait for the trolley.  While at the Statehouse complex stop with several strangers, we were approached by someone presenting as an older, conservative, petite white woman dressed for business – she identified herself as a Statehouse employee who had been in the hearing room or listening to / watching the broadcast, thanked us a few times for our work and bravery, apologized for the opposition testimony, assured us they didn’t represent everyone, and wished us good luck with the bill.

Click here for audio and/or video of the hearing (House Video --> House and Government Operations --> Wednesday, March 5, 2014 Session #1 --> play button).

Even with some rush hour traffic, we were home in time for dinner and a little more work and rest.  And then it was off to the Episcopal Church of the Ascension’s Holy Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes (7:30 p.m. edition);  Julia has been attending since July, and I’ve attended with her a few times during my visits.  Somehow neither of us had been to an Ash Wednesday service or other observance before – we very much liked this one, and I was very pleasantly surprised by how much it was like Yom Kippur and the rest of the Jewish high holiydays.  Indeed, the priest used “mensch” in his sermon (and tends to make other good Jewish references).    

And in another bashert moment, I realized that I was sitting at the window that looked out onto the church’s columbarium* wall and its attending angel – my mother and her parents, from the Episcopalian side of the family, were all cremated (*Julia actually taught me that word when I mentioned this).

And as I mentioned, we wore the day's outfits and stickers to church.  Click here for the PDF of the Service Bulletin.  

The cantor, choir, Rev. Randy Lord-Wilkinson, and a few of our fellow congregants (out of the few dozen that were there) just after processing in and taking their places at the start of the service.

    

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fairness for All Marylanders Act – MD trans rights bill

My sticker from FAMA’s Lobby Day on Monday February 17th.  

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act (FAMA, Senate Bill 212 / House Bill 1265; #FAMA14) would update the state’s anti-discrimination laws to  include gender identity and therefore transgender and gender non-conforming people; click here for FAMA’s legislative fact sheet.  The campaign is being organized by the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality (MCTE).  This has been the bill's best legislative session yet, and this really seems like the year it could pass!    

I’ve always lived in Massachusetts, and have been one of the leaders of the faith campaign for MA’s Trans Equal Rights Law, passed in November 2011, and its Trans Equal Access Bill (An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public, HB 1589 / SB 643), currently in progress.  I moved to Maryland in January to begin living with my partner, Julia McCrossin, a lifelong MD resident.  It’s been very interesting to contrast and compare the MA and MD legislative processes!    

Julia and I have been following and supporting MD’s bill for a while.  Our first in-person event was its Lobby Day on February 17th (Facebook event, photos) – we joined a pretty diverse group of at least a couple of hundred other supporters in Annapolis for an hour-long sunset rally on the Lawyer’s Mall, with speeches from MD Coalition for Trans Equality leadership including Equality Maryland, legislators and other politicians – including the governor!, and others -- including the mother of a trans woman of color who recovered from an almost fatal transphobic assault.  And there was a faith community presence, especially from the Unitarian Universalists.  Then a member of the trans community guided us and the other residents of Montgomery County’s District 17 (including several University of Maryland (College Park) students) to and through meetings with all four of our legislators, all of whom support FAMA.  It was almost too cold, especially after dark, because it was unseasonable (just above freezing) – but it was beautiful in all senses.  J and I gave a round-trip ride to another couple who needed one, and had dinner out with them after the event – we didn’t know them, but they turned out to be the perfect double date for us.

FAMA had a Senate hearing on February 4th,  was voted out and on with a favorable report by the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 20th, was read and debated by Senate last Thursday and Friday, February 27th and 28th – and has a final Senate vote TOMORROW Tuesday March 4th (Shrove Tuesday) -- click here to contact your senators (even if they're supportive)!  

FAMA’s next House step is its hearing before the House’s Health and Government Operations Committee THIS WEDNESDAY March 5th (Ash Wednesday)!

Please spread the word (#FAMA14), contact your legislators even if they're supportive, submit your testimony, attend, etc.!  Here are my and my partner's testimonies:

March 5, 2014

Dear Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee,

My name is Mycroft Masada Holmes, and in January I moved to Gaithersburg from Boston, Massachusetts, where I was born and have always lived.

I write to you today primarily as a faith leader – Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality, a Community Engagement Adviser at TransFaith, and a member of Congregation Am Tikva and TransEpiscopal.  I’ve been one of the leaders of the faith campaign for Massachusetts’ Trans Equal Rights Law, passed in November 2011, and its Trans Equal Access Bill (HB 1589 / SB 643), currently in progress.

Today I am testifying in support of Maryland’s Fairness for All Marylanders Act (FAMA), Senate Bill 212 / House Bill 1265, which would update the state’s anti-discrimination laws to  include gender identity and therefore transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Ever since I was a small child, I wanted to work in criminal justice. After public school in the Boston suburbs of Brookline and Newton, I attended the city’s Northeastern University as a Criminal Justice major.  The university was supportive, but classes, campus life and housing were very challenging as the university’s first out transgender student.  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 of school, 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 or hire me.  Because I was trans, 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 trans, 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 finally 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 trans justice leader.  I’ve had a wonderful career, love my work, and have a bright future.  But very little of my career work has been or is paid, and I don’t know when that will change – I continue to need other paid work, and it remains very hard to find due to employment discrimination based on my gender identity and expression, leading to frequent underemployment and unemployment.  And I am otherwise unusually privileged – life is far more challenging for trans and GNC people with more intersecting oppressions, including racism, classism and ableism.

I left my lifelong home of Massachusetts and moved to Maryland to begin living with my beloved life partner of 4 ½ years, Julia McCrossin, largely so we could be close enough to help care for her disabled mother and our dog.  Julia is a native and lifelong resident of Maryland and Washington DC – the latter has had trans rights successfully for years – and is also gender non-conforming and challenged by discrimination.  We are privileged to live in Montgomery County, where we have trans-inclusive civil rights – but we worry about going to and through places where we are unprotected, which we often need and want to do, and which is more than half the state.  We and so many others need FAMA to pass into law, and as soon as possible.

I want my family, and all families, to have full civil rights whenever we’re here, and wherever we are.  I want us to be able to continue to live, work and play better than we have done, contributing even more to our state than we have.  I want this for all residents of and visitors to Maryland.  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 further this vital and long overdue legislation so that it can be passed into law this legislative session.

Thank you,

Mycroft Holmes
{home and e-mail addresses}

Cc: Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality (MCTE)
Senator Jennie M. Forehand (jennie.forehand@senate.state.md.us)
Delegate Kumar P. Barve (Majority Leader; kumar.barve@house.state.md.us)
Delegate Jim Gilchrist (jim.gilchrist@house.state.md.us)
Delegate Luiz R. S. Simmons (luiz.simmons@house.state.md.us)

~~~~~~~

March 3, 2014

Dear Maryland House Health and Government Operations Committee:

I write to you as an almost lifetime resident of the great state of Maryland, having spent about 39 of my 43 years living in Montgomery or Baltimore Counties.  My few years apart from Maryland landed me in an apartment in Washington, DC, less than 1 mile from the state border at downtown Silver Spring.  To say that I am deeply a part of the fabric of Maryland life is an understatement, as I am able to trace my ancestry on my father’s side back to the 18th century in Montgomery County.  There is even a street in Montgomery County named for one of my ancestors, who migrated to the farmland of Maryland from Ireland at a time where the Irish ‘need not apply,’ and yet he found a refuge in Maryland.  In addition, I’ve been blessed to have received most of my education from Maryland public schools, having attended Montgomery County Public Schools from Head Start through High School graduation, and attending Montgomery College and The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where I graduated cum laude in 2004.  This exemplary education allowed me to earn 2 graduate degrees from The George Washington University, as well.

I mention this at length to show that in spite of my educational background provided to me by a public educational system consistently ranked as the best in the United States, I still struggle to find employment that provides a living wage, let alone a wage that is commensurate with my educational attainments.  This happens not because of my credentials or my skills, but because of how I look.  I have no problem finding employment in the low paying service sector, where my intelligence, empathy, and dedication have served pet owners and book lovers well in my many years of retail/pet care employment, and my appearance means little in these industries that struggle to locate and retain good employees.  However, I have had little luck in cracking the white collar world, despite one undergraduate and two graduate degrees.

As a gender nonconforming individual, my appearance is the only thing that sets me apart from my better employed and compensated peers from high school and college.  My partner, who is transgender and comes from a similar background of educational excellence in Massachusetts, is in the same predicament, and has been so for years.  I was sure that returning to school to earn college degrees, as has been suggested as the best way to adapt to the current lengthy economic downturn, would be able to lift me out of my working class existence and allow me to earn a living wage.  This has not been the case.  In fact, now I am almost $50,000 in debt, unemployed, and living off the generosity of my retired, disabled mother.  I fear that because of the discrimination that transgender and gender nonconforming people experience in Maryland and most other places, that I’ll never be able to afford the kind of middle class life that my parents were able to build in Montgomery County as public sector workers without college degrees.

I am proud to have been raised in Maryland, and as a scholar of American literature and culture, I am proud of the tradition of outsider, nonconformist, and social justice figures in Maryland history.  Writers and abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, creative geniuses like John Waters and John Barth, women unafraid to break down barriers like Billie Holiday and Mama Cass Elliott, and many other figures in Maryland history have helped shape its image as a place of refuge and support for the outsider and the minority.  Our legacy as a colony supporting religious liberty in the Maryland Toleration Act of 1649, and our recent passage of the Civil Marriage Protection Act allowing for marriage equality for all loving and committed couples, demonstrates our enduring legacy as a place that genuinely strives to give all Marylanders the equality that allows them to perform at their best, and contribute to a better society.

I hope today you will vote for the passage of the Fairness for all Marylanders Act of 2014.  Let’s continue to place Maryland at the top of the list of places that promotes a just and egalitarian society for all, and a place that emphatically shuts the door on ignorance and discrimination against anyone different from ourselves.  Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and for making me exuberantly proud to call myself a Marylander, because Maryland is a place that embodies the best principles of United States democracy.

Yours Truly,

Julia McCrossin
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Cc: Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality (MCTE)
Senator Jennie M. Forehand (jennie.forehand@senate.state.md.us)
Delegate Kumar P. Barve (Majority Leader; kumar.barve@house.state.md.us)
Delegate Jim Gilchrist (jim.gilchrist@house.state.md.us)
Delegate Luiz R. S. Simmons (luiz.simmons@house.state.md.us)