ftmichael: - at Old Sturbridge Village, 03 July 2008.  Copyright 2008-2009. (Default)
[personal profile] ftmichael posting in [community profile] queer_as_dreamwidth
http://www.baywindows.com/index.php?ch=opinion&sc=editorial&sc2=news&sc3&id=126853

The story of how the Transgender Equal Rights Bill came to pass is an old and familiar one. It has drama. It has suspense. And it has betrayal.
But not by whom you might think.
by Sue O’Connell
Wednesday Nov 16, 2011

As soon as word got out on Monday, Nov. 13 that lawmakers were poised to vote on the bill and that the bill did not have public accommodations, the finger-pointing started. Blame was directed at lesbian and gay groups for striking a compromise deal and advancing a flawed bill without input from the transgender community. A couple of crazy national bloggers even compared what was happening in Massachusetts with Maryland -- you know, the state where advocates tried to advance a civil rights bill without public accommodations from the very start, and where there was a very ugly and public split between the leading gay organization, Equality Maryland, and the leading trans organization, Trans Maryland.

None of these allegations are true. Massachusetts is not Maryland. Not even close. And what happened here politically bears no resemblance to what happened there.

As for the accusations that a nefarious deal had been struck without input from the state’s trans community? Nonsense. Not only has the Bay State’s trans community had a seat at the decision-making table throughout the lengthy advocacy of this bill, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Executive Director Gunner Scott has been chairing the meetings at said decision-making table.

So if you’re angry about the fact that the Transgender Equal Rights Bill does not include public accommodations, direct your anger where it belongs: the state legislature.

The truth is, and Bay Windows knows this because we have been talking with advocates and legislative champions for months, lawmakers did not want to take a vote on this bill and they did everything that they could not to take a vote.

In the end, the bill moved thanks to pressure from Gov. Deval Patrick and the unrelenting advocacy by state Reps. Carl Sciortino and Byron Rushing and state Sens. Ben Downing and Sonia Chang-Díaz. It also didn’t hurt that the coalition that formed to push this bill through somehow held it together and did not, as so many coalitions do, implode when the going got tough. After tough, emotional meetings (during which tears were shed and tempers flared), the Transgender Equal Rights Coalition decided to call every bluff offered by lawmakers (as long-time trans activist Nancy Nangeroni has detailed in online comments to the crazy blog posts referenced above). Language changes? Yeah, we’ll take your language changes. Now when do we get the vote? More language changes? Yeah, we’ll take these changes. Now when do we get the vote? No public accommodations? Um, yeah, we’ll take the bill. Now when do we get the vote?

So it’s no surprise (or shouldn’t be) that the bill that passed is far from perfect. How on earth can you set up a system by which it is illegal to fire your transgender barista, but okay to refuse to serve your transgender customer? It’s hard to see how that will actually work in the real world. Hopefully, all it will take to sort this out is a lawsuit or two as opposed to another lengthy process to get another bill.


The bottom line is that it will soon be illegal to fire someone from their job because they are transgender. It will soon be illegal to evict someone from their apartment because they are transgender. It will soon be illegal to deny someone credit because they are transgender.

You get the idea.

These are basic protections. They are long overdue. And they will change the lives of transgender residents for the better.

Good work, folks.

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