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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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

2nd annual Fat Activism Conference (2015) #FatActCon

The Con's website and Facebook header image.

The second annual Fat Activism Conference (#FatActCon) was this past weekend (Friday October 9th through Sunday October 11th, 2015) -- and I was on the keynote panel Fat And Faith! 

The conference was again virtual – you could listen live or later, on your phone or computer.  And one of the great – and alas, all too rare – things about it was that presenters were paid, through profit-sharing, as well as having the option to earn money through an ‘affiliate’ program, where we received a percentage of the registrations of those who used our personal link. 

My fellow panelists were Rev. Gina Pond and Rabbi Minna Bromberg.  And we pretty much did what it said on our tin:  "This panel will look at the places where body size and various faiths collide, including ways that faith is used as a tool of fat oppression, as well as ways in which faith can provide a platform for size diversity activism for those who are interested.”  Or at least made a good start at it.  We were introduced and facilitated by Con organizer and tech guru Jeanette DePatie and moderated by Gina.  We pre-recorded the panel, and then added a live intro and Q&A (where Jeanette read us a few of the questions that had been submitted by attendees) after it was played during the Con; this was all done by conference call. 
It definitely wasn’t my best work, but I certainly learned a lot, and made some important connections in all senses. 

The collage the Con made for their website out of our panel's submitted photos (top to bottom it's Minna, myself, Gina).

My bio for the Con:  “Mycroft Masada is a faith leader who moved to the Washington DC area from hir lifelong home of Boston MA a year and a half ago.  Zie is a Community Engagement Adviser at TransFaith, a member of TransEpiscopal, and maintains the online presence of the Interfaith Coalition for Trans Equality.  Mycroft is called to fat justice, and is a writer and artist; hir piece “Good News: A Sermon On Fat Justice” appears in the current issue of Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society (the Special Issue on Religion and Fat).  Zie is partnered with JuliaMcCrossin, the Fat Studies scholar, and their dogter Ursula is named after the flabulous Little Mermaid character.  More at http://MasadArts.blogspot.com/.”

Gina’s:  “Rev. Gina was initiated into an Alexandrian-type coven in 1999, and received her Third Degree on Beltane of 2010 as co-founder, along with her wife Sarah Thompson, of the Circle of Cerridwen (http://st4r.org).  In November 2013, she was approved for ordination in the Progressive Christian Alliance, and had her ordination ceremony on March 15, 2014. She graduated from Pacific School of Religion with a Masters of Divinity in May 2014. Rev. Gina also served on the Minister’s Board at City of Refuge, UCC, which is a radically inclusive Christian congregation, until the summer of 2015.  Rev. Gina is the host of the This Week In Heresy podcast (http://www.thisweekinheresy.com). This Week In Heresy is a weekly interview podcast where Rev. Gina interviews those who are exploring the boundaries of progressive thought, religion, and social justice. She is also a writer, yarn spinner, soaper, tech geek, and volunteer for her local Democratic party.”

Minna’s:  “As a singer, songwriter, rabbi, and voice teacher I use the tools of singing and songwriting to help people bring more of their inherent wholeness into the world. My fat activism began in 1989 when, as a 16 year old, I decided to give up dieting. Once I began connecting with the larger world of fat activism and fat feminism I brought what I was learning into my singing and songwriting (as exemplified in The Bathing Suit Song). My approach to voice teaching is deeply body positive and infused with knowing singing as an inherently integrative practice that brings together body, heart, mind, and soul. My fat Torah draws on the understanding that every human being is created in the image of the Divine and that every unique body is thus deserving of kavod (respect and honor) just as it is. I live in Jerusalem with my husband, Alan (who is also a rabbi as well as a supervisor of Clinical Pastoral Education — he teaches people to be better spiritual caregivers). I am inspired in my work by this verse from the Song of Songs: “Let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet!” Indeed, the world is listening for your voice, your unique contribution to the weave of creation. You can learn more about my work at minnabromberg.com.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

TODAY -- MA LEGISLATURE HEARING -- HEIGHT/WEIGHT + GENDER IDENTITY/EXPRESSION ANTI-DISCRIMINATION BILLS!

The Massachusetts legislature’s hearing on the height/weight and gender identity/expression anti-discrimination bills is TODAY!  At 1:00 p.m. EST at the MA Statehouse -- and your testimony is needed, online and off.

Weight-based discrimination is legal in all but one state and three cities; for more, contact David VanderWoude in the office of Majority Whip Byron Rushing -- who is also a sponsor of the trans bill.  MA passed the Trans Equal Rights Law in 2011, but it didn’t include public accommodations – hence this Trans Equal Access Bill; for more, see Freedom Massachusetts.  #MApoli  #fatjustice  #TransMA  #FreedomMA

I actually didn’t get David’s e-mail yet, but those who did quote it as follows:
“I am writing with an update. The Joint Committee on the Judiciary will be holding a hearing on the height and weight discrimination bill, H. 1764, next Tuesday, October 6, at 1:00 p.m. in Gardner Auditorium. This will be a very long and busy hearing due to the number of bills on the agenda and the topics being discussed, so I can’t predict when this bill will come up during the hearing. Additionally, Judiciary Committee hearings regularly run late into the night.
As such, I’d highly recommend submitting written testimony to the Committee. Testimony should be address to the House Chair, Representative John Fernandes, and the Senate Chair, Senator William Brownsberger. Written testimony can be submitted to the Committee via email to Gretchen.Bennett@MAhouse.gov.”

Here is my testimony:

October 6, 2015

Representative John Fernandes
Senate Chair, Joint Committee on the Judiciary
State House, Room 136
Boston, MA 02133

Senator William Brownsberger
House Chair, Joint Committee on the Judiciary
State House, Room 504
Boston, MA 02133

Via email:  Gretchen.Bennett@MAhouse.gov

Dear Senator Brownsberger and Representative Fernandes --

My name is Mycroft Masada Holmes, and I lived in greater Boston for more than 37 years, from my birth until last January, when I moved to Maryland to begin living with my partner.  I love and miss Boston and the rest of Massachusetts; our great city and state have always truly been my home and I hope they always will be.

I write to you today primarily as a faith leader – my roles include being a Community Engagement Adviser at TransFaith and a member of TransEpiscopal.  Before my move, I was the Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality, and a board member of Congregation Am Tikva.  I’ve been one of the leaders of the faith campaign for Massachusetts’ Trans Equal Rights Law, passed in November 2011, and the Trans Equal Access Bill (SB 735 / HB 1577), which is also part of today’s hearing, and which I also support.

Today, I testify in support of House Bill 1764 -- An Act Making Discrimination on the Basis of Height and Weight Unlawful, as I have done in person and/or in writing for the last few legislative sessions.  At one hearing, I also read the written testimony of attorney Sondra Solovay.

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.  HB 1764 would amend these statutes to include height and weight to the list of unlawful forms of discrimination, providing a legal remedy to those who have experienced discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on their weight or height.  As you know, this bill was approved by the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development last session but did not come up for a vote before the House of Representatives and had to be re-filed for the current session.

In my personal and professional life, I have experienced and witnessed and a great deal of discrimination – especially in employment.  Much of it has been based on physical appearance and information, including height and especially weight.  This discrimination is wrong, profoundly damaging, and pervasive -- in our state and the rest of our society.  It must be ended as soon as possible, and HB 1764 will help to end it.  The bill is also an critical educational tool – its implementation process will help dispel the widespread and ever-increasing ignorance, misinformation and phobia about height and weight.  You will be given expert testimony about these issues today and during the rest of this session – ample evidence of the significant and urgent need for this legislation.

My faiths teach that like Adam, the first human being, all people are made b’tzelem 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, in body and spirit.  And all of us should be equally recognized and protected by the law.

And as much as I speak to you as a person of faith, I also speak as a life partner.  My wonderful partner of six years, Julia McCrossin, and I are the same height, and she weighs well over twice what I do; I’ve always been thin, she has always been fat.  Julia is a native and lifelong resident of Maryland and Washington DC, and visited me in Massachusetts several times.  After her father passed away, I moved to Maryland to begin living with her, largely so that we could help care for her disabled mother and the family dog.

We are privileged to live in Maryland and near DC; both have trans-inclusive civil rights, and DC’s Human Rights Laws includes height and weight in “physical appearance”.  We are unusually privileged in other ways as well – as much as we and those like us struggle, daily life is far more challenging for those who have other intersecting oppressions, such as racism, classism and ableism.  At the same time, we worry about moving to and through places where we are legally unprotected, which we often need and want to do.  We and so many others need An Act Making Discrimination On The Basis Of Height And Weight Unlawful to pass into law as soon as possible.

We want to visit Massachusetts, have our wedding there, make our home there someday.  And we have much to offer my great state.  I want my partner to have full civil rights 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 our communities than she already 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 further this vital and long overdue legislation so that it can be passed into law this legislative session.

Thank you,

Mycroft Holmes
{my home and e-mail addresses}

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