By: Christine Nicco/TRT Reporter
Gunner Scott, a founding member and executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to ending gender identity and expression discrimination, has been at the forefront of the transgender rights movement since 1998. In this role, he has truly been a father to many. Scott has been named a nationally acclaimed activist, educator, and community organizer on LGBT issues, particularly relating to health, partner abuse, and access issues for the transgender community.
Under the direction of Scott, the MTPC focuses on educating the public,advocating with state, local and federal government, engaging in political activism, and encourage empowerment of community members through collective action, according to the organization’s website. To say that he is passionate about transgender rights and equality is an understatement. The MTPC pioneer can often be found working long days, late nights and his dedication to the transgender movement is palpable, even to those who do not know him personally. He has vested his life to the betterment of the LGBT community and that is why he has been nominated as a TRT Hero.
Q. What needs to be done to increase awareness of the importance of funding for HIV/AIDS?
A. Public education on why and how funding has helped to decrease HIV rates and the impact of the reduction in funding would have on the HIV rates going up again. Additionally, transgender women in particular are dealing with significant rates of HIV with very few programs and services directed at that community, therefore increased resources are needed to increases services.
Q. Which people in the LGBT or allied community have been most influential in your life?
A. Rita Hester, Nancy Nangeroni, Grace Sterling Stowell, Sylvia Rivera, Penni Ashe Matz
Q. How can the average member of the LGBT community and ally make a difference in our struggle?
A. [By] contacting their state legislator about the Transgender Equal Rights Bill and their federal congressional members about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)
Q. What is the best advice you have ever been given to do the proactive things you do today for our community?
A. Remember to take care of myself, without enough sleep, down time, and self-care I will get rundown and be no good to the movement.
Q. What have you done for the LGBT community individually or collectively that you are proudest of?
A. Working to get the Boston City gender identity ordinance passed in less than a year and worked on the campaign for the statewide Transgender Equal Rights Bill.
Q. What motivates your work within this community?
A. Meeting other transgender people and their families and hearing their stories of struggle and success.
Q. What can be done about teen suicides that happen as a result of bullying or anti-gay sentiment?
A. It is not just anti-gay sentiment also anti-trans or anti-bi sentiment, sometimes bullying is based on gender expression and that perception that not being “masculine or feminine enough” equates being gay or lesbian. There is a need to challenge gender stereotyping.
Q. What are the top three issues that affect our community the most? What can you do to make a difference?
A. “Our community” is broad term and I would say that economic issues that are affecting the rest of the country are affect LGBTQ people, but are often not highlighted even by our community, covert and overt discrimination and the effects that has on a person’s well-being and equality at every level for all LGBTQ people.
Q. Do you think that there are special needs in the Hispanic LGBT community that do not exist in the mainstream LGBT community?
A. I think because of the issues of racism still being prevalent in this country as whole and in the LGBTQ community, that many of our LGBTQ people of color community members are dealing with multiple layers that need to be addressed, including dealing with racism within LGBTQ communities and supporting and sustaining spaces, programs, and leaders in the LGBTQ people of color communities.
Q. Do you consider yourself a hero for the LGBT community?
Q. Will full LGBT equality be achieved in this country during the next 10 years? 20 years?
A. Equality gains will continue to steadily grow over the next 10-20 years, but there is always backlash to fight against and our own apathy once one part of the LGBTQ community makes some strides.