Mycroft Masada is a queer trans faith leader who moved to the Washington DC area of Maryland’s Montgomery County from their lifelong home of Boston in 2014. Mycroft co-chairs the MoCo Pride Center, is a TransFaith National Council member, a TransEpiscopal Steering Committee member and former Congregation Am Tikva board member. 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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THE MOCO PRIDE CENTER'S LAUNCH PARTY IS OCTOBER 25TH! Facebook Event | EventBrite Site


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
{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)