Friday, November 13, 2009

Who's Blocking Transgender Rights?

Next week is Transgendered Awareness Week. The Massachusetts Trans Political Coalition is hosting a whole bunch of different events, ranging from advocacy to education to fun. I'm hoping many people will attend. Given next week's events, it's a good time to take a look at where we're at in terms of Civil Rights in Massachusetts. We've gone a long way to improving civil rights for most minority groups in this state, but one group that's lagged far behind is the transgender community. Even in this day and age, it's still legal to fire someone or deny them housing for being transgender in many cities and towns across Massachusetts. This is something we must change.

The MTPC is a group of transgender people and their allies who have fought hard for years to change perception across Massachusetts. They've had a lot of political success, helping get anti-discrimination ordinances passed in many cities and towns in the Commonwealth, including Boston. They've been pushing a transgender-rights bill in Massachusetts for a long time now. It failed last year (buried in committee), when it looked for a while like it had a shot, and the group was told to go out and get more co-sponsors. That was after years of getting a great many co-sponsors for their bill in both chambers.

What did they do for this year, the year after they lost in a nail biter? They got a majority of legislators in each chambers to co-sponsor their bill. Well, where is it? Why hasn't the bill been passed yet? I get that legislators have to deal with a lot of uninformed, ignorant constituents (and bigots) who don't and will probably never get this issue. The Kris-Mineau types will always try to reduce the bill to doses of fear, backed up by no facts.

However, legislators should stand by their words. How many bills in Massachusetts ever get a majority of each chamber to co-sponsor them? How many of those bills get left in the dustbin? There is no reasonable excuse not to get this bill through, this year, before the MTPC has to start everything from scratch, yet again. These are volunteers, fighting for their rights -- who just want the most basic protections society can afford anyone. It's not asking for much, just a little courage. Does Beacon Hill have any of it?

Please call your state legislators and ask them to stand up for civil rights by getting leadership to put An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes up for a vote. It's time for this bill to get a full vote, one that will almost certainly result in it being passed.

No comments:

About Ryan's Take