YDM Testifies in Support of Transgender Rights

On Wednesday, June 8, 2011, YDM Chair Elaine Almquist testified before the Massachusetts joint Judiciary Committee in favor of equal rights for people who are transgender.

As described by the Boston Globe, under this commonsense legislation "…Massachusetts would join 15 other states, including every other New England state except New Hampshire, in outlawing transgender discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit, and access to public accommodations. The bills also would add offenses involving gender identity and expression to the state’s list of hate crimes."

Please ready YDM’s full testimony below the fold and be sure to contact your legislator to make sure they support equal rights for all people and will support this bill.

Senator Cynthia Stone Creem
Joint Committee on the Judiciary
State House Room 405
Boston, MA 02133

Representative Eugene L. O’Flaherty
Joint Committee on the Judiciary
State House Room 136
Boston, MA 02133

Re: An Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights

Dear Senator Creem, Representative O’Flaherty, and Members of the Committee:

We are writing to ask you to support the passage of “An Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights” (H.502/S.764).

The Young Democrats of Massachusetts supported this bill last year, and we have renewed our commitment to see its passage this year. Our three thousand members state-wide believe that all people deserve equality under the law, regardless of their gender identity. As the current and future leaders of Massachusetts, we see this proposed law as a bold assertion that the legislature and citizens in our state believe in the first article of the Constituent of the Commonwealth, that “All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.”

This proposed law would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit lending, and public accommodations on the basis of a person’s gender identity or expression. It adds ‘gender identity or expression’ to existing hate crimes statutes, which reflects the heightened level of violence experienced by transgender people.

Transgender people throughout the Commonwealth are often harmed by harassment, discrimination, and violence. For example, Bay State employers have fired transgender people either before or after transitioning their gender, while many other transgender people in the state remain unemployed or underemployed as a result of discrimination, hostility, and misunderstanding about who they are.

This legislation is absolutely vital to our community. In countless dehumanizing ways, transgender people are denied opportunities and services for their basic needs, as well as the ability to be productive members of society. The Massachusetts Legislature has a chance this year to send a very different message by passing “An Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights” Bill. This bill makes it clear that we value our transgender residents and will protect them against discrimination and violence.

We urge you to support this legislation, which represents an important step towards equality for all residents of the Commonwealth. It is time for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to join 13 other jurisdictions, including Washington D.C., and the hundreds of municipalities, including Boston, Cambridge, Northampton, and Amherst, that already protect their transgender residents in this country, and once again take its rightful place as a beacon of liberty, justice and equality for all people.

Respectfully,

Elaine Almquist, Chair
Ashley Coulombe, Vice Chair of Administration and Finance
John Kleschinsky, Vice Chair of Programming and Policy
James Ryan, Public Policy Director

Young Democrats of Massachusetts Board of Directors
77 Summer St., 10th Floor

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