Transgender Awareness Week: Transgender Equal Rights Coalition Calls for Legislative Action on Equal Access Bill

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20131112-122047.jpgBOSTON, Mass. – The Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition marked the start of the annual Transgender Awareness week by calling on the legislature to pass the Equal Access Bill (H. 1589/S. 643), which would protect transgender people from discrimination in places of public accommodation.

Taking place nationwide from Nov. 12 – 20, Transgender Awareness Week aims to educate the public about the transgender community and the issues the community faces. It culminates in the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when people around the globe gather for candlelight vigils to memorialize those transgender people who lost their lives to bias-related violence in the past year. This year’s Day of Remembrance will pay tribute to nearly 50 victims.

“Transgender Awareness Week is about increasing the visibility of the transgender community but unfortunately, many transgender people still fear being visible because it puts them at risk for violence, harassment and discrimination,” said Mason Dunn, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC). “Just last week a transgender high school student in California suffered second and third degree burns on a public bus when another student lit his clothing on fire. The assault is being treated as a hate crime.”

Added Dunn,“In Massachusetts, 58 percent of respondents in a transgender discrimination survey reported being harassed and mistreated in public places like buses, airports, government agencies and restaurants. The legislature can help make Commonwealth safer and more accepting by passing the Equal Access Bill. All residents of the Commonwealth, including transgender people, need access to public places and services without fear of harassment or being made to leave simply because of who they are.” [pullquote]“As we memorialize those lost to anti-transgender violence this week, we call on lawmakers to finish the job they started in 2011 and report the Equal Access Bill favorably to the House and Senate. This is a critical step toward ensuring that everyone in Massachusetts, including transgender people, can access critical services like emergency health care, nursing home care and public transportation safely and without fear of discrimination.” —Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality[/pullquote]

The Equal Access Bill is currently pending before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. In July, committee members heard testimony in support of the bill from transgender constituents, parents, civil rights leaders, child welfare advocates, and business owners.

“In July, lawmakers heard heartbreaking stories of transgender residents who were excluded from, or treated unfairly in, public places during times of crisis or while simply doing the business of their daily lives,” said Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality. “As we memorialize those lost to anti-transgender violence this week, we call on lawmakers to finish the job they started in 2011 and report the Equal Access Bill favorably to the House and Senate. This is a critical step toward ensuring that everyone in Massachusetts, including transgender people, can access critical services like emergency health care, nursing home care and public transportation safely and without fear of discrimination.”

For information about Transgender Awareness Week events and Transgender Day of Remembrance vigils in Massachusetts, please visit: www.masstpc.org/community-events/trans-awareness-week/

About the Transgender Equal Rights Coalition

The Transgender Equal Rights Coalition is working to pass H. 1589/S. 643, “An Act relative to equal access in hospitals, public transportation, nursing homes, supermarkets, retail establishments, and all other places open to the public. Also known as the Equal Access Bill, this legislation would add protections based on gender identity to existing Massachusetts’ civil rights laws governing public accommodations, which currently prohibit discrimination on the basis of religious affiliation or belief, race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, or any physical or mental disability. Gender identity is defined as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.” Members of the coalition include: Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition; MassEquality; Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders; National Association of Social Workers, MA; Mass Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus; National Organization for Women, MA; ACLU of Massachusetts; Mass. LGBTQ Bar Association and ADL New England.

[From a News Release]

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