Friday, February 25, 2011

Put your money where your mouth is

An interesting suggestion was offered as a solution to the loss of support for EQMD by the TG/TS community in Maryland. "Make this a battle WE ARE ALL in."

EQMD's continued search for persons of any unbiased basis to support HB235, EQMD has published a statement by Rev. Lisa Ward, Unitarian Church of Harford County. In response, Tom Lang, Director of, a grassroots, non-profit organization promoting dialogue on equal rights for gay citizens, couples, and their children offered this.

Tom Lang:
I have a suggestion regarding HB235. Obviously you know that the TG/TS community has history with EQMD and is angry about the incarnation of HB235 leaving gender identity and expression out of public accommodations. EQMD will continue to be taking hits in the public activists realm until it does something to acknowledge and correct the fact that trans people were left out. I understand you didnt have the votes, I am in contact with one of your Delegates and this was explained to me. But with "not enough votes" comes the finger pointing that not enough was done.

My suggestion, and this is only a suggestion as I think most definitely EQMD should be reaching out to more TG/TS people and activists about this, but I think that if you were to amend the current bill to REMOVE L and G from public accommodations also and then at a later time, fight UNIFIED for the inclusion of L, G and T together into public accommodations, many wounds might heal. You have a hard road ahead fighting for just T's in a future amendment. If you remove L an G now it would seem that the battle might be just a little bit easier in the future, plus you may just win some of the trust of the TG/TS community back.

Tom, I think EQMD's going to have to get back to you on that one...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Public Hearings Maryland HB 235

The Maryland House of Delegates' Health and Government Operations Committee is scheduled to hold public hearings on HB 235, the Gender Identity Anti Discrimination Bill which excludes any protection for public accommodation, sponsored by Delegate Pena-Melnyk.

Human Relations - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity - Antidiscrimination


Prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity with regard to housing and employment and by specified licensed or regulated persons; prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity with regard to commercial leasing; altering an exception for employers relating to standards concerning dress and grooming; providing specified immunity; requiring State personnel actions to be made without regard to gender identity or sexual orientation; defining the term "gender identity"; etc.

It's hearing is the same day as HB 285, no relation... also sponsored by Delegate Pena-Melnyk

Human Relations - Discrimination by a Place of Public Accommodation - Enforcement and Remedies


Expanding the remedies available for discrimination by a place of public accommodation; clarifying the remedies available for an unlawful employment practice; authorizing a complainant alleging discrimination by a place of public accommodation to bring a civil action; etc.

Quick pop quiz,

What protected class was most recently added to statewide anti-discrimination in the State of Maryland in 2001 by throwing transgender Marylanders under the bus?
HINT: begins with sexual, ends with orientation

i.e. MORE Gay rights, less trans rights....

Say it ain't so!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

For Let: Roomy Bandwagon

Offered, one all inclusive bandwagon. No previous ridership required. It is requested to see it to the end of the line.

Inquire within.

The Leader Sponsor of HB235 endorses FULL equality...almost

Hold your horses!

Delegate Ariana Kelly (District 16), lead sponsor of HB235 (gender identity anti-discrimination)

"I support this bill because it is a common sense measure that will protect Marylanders from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity just as you cannot discriminate based on religion or race. Montgomery County has had anti-discrimination law since 2007. It has been implemented successfully, with no problems. It is time for all residents of our state to be treated fairly and equally under the law. I am glad the bill's supporters will be in Annapolis tonight to speak with their state legislators and show how strongly people believe in this measure."

Delegate Kelly, in what can only be described as clueless or completely deceitful ( I firmly believe it to be the former) states "will protect Marylanders from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity just as you cannot discriminate based on religion or race. Montgomery County has had anti-discrimination law since 2007. It has been implemented successfully, with no problems. It is time for all residents of our state to be treated fairly and equally under the law."

Delegate Kelly, are you suggesting HB235 provides protections equal to Montgomery County and Baltimore City's protections? That HB235 offers protections for gender identity at the same level of protection we grant race and religion?

Let's have a look.

In Montgomery County , 23-07 states:

AN ACT to:
(1) prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, cable
television service, and taxicab service on the basis of gender identity; and
(2) generally amend County laws regarding discrimination.

By amending
Montgomery County Code
Chapter 8A, Cable Communications
Section 8A-15

Chapter 27, Human Rights and Civil Liberties
Sections 27-1, 27-5, 27-6, 27-10, 27-11, 27-12, 27-16, 27-19, and 27-22

Chapter 53, Taxicabs and Limousines
Section 53-313

Baltimore City's 02-453 states:

(clicking the image above will open the full document)

Let's see what Maryland's own laws on Race and Religion offer...


This subtitle does not prohibit the proprietor or employees of any establishment
from denying service to any person for failure to conform to the usual and regular
requirements, standards, and regulations of the establishment, provided that the
denial is not based on discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, age, color, creed,
national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability.


An owner or operator of a place of public accommodation or an agent or
employee of the owner or operator may not refuse, withhold from, or deny to any
person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges of the place of
public accommodation because of the person’s race, sex, age, color, creed, national
origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability.


This subtitle does not prohibit any person that is licensed or regulated by the
Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation from refusing, withholding from, or
denying accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, sales, or services to any
person for failure to conform to the usual and regular requirements, standards, and
regulations of the licensed or regulated person, provided that the denial is not based
on discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, color, creed, national origin, marital
status, sexual orientation, or disability.


A person that is licensed or regulated by a unit in the Department of Labor,
Licensing, and Regulation listed in § 2–108 of the Business Regulation Article may not
refuse, withhold from, or deny any person any of the accommodations, advantages,
facilities, privileges, sales, or services of the licensed or regulated person or
discriminate against any person because of the person’s race, sex, creed, color, national
origin, marital status, sexual orientation, age, or disability.

I think its plainly clear HB235 is severely flawed.

Delegate Kelly, if you feel this way and support The Executive Director of Equality Maryland, Morgan Menese-Sheets in her statement "This is a historic day for all Marylanders as we stand here advocating for our community's most basic rights - the right to be who you are.." then your only course of action is to amend HB235 in the image of HB1022 before public hearings.

Zoe's Trans Support Group

While the segmnt is not recent, its still very powerful to revisit the entire story line of discovery.

A Call to Action

I'm constantly reminded, that "Faith without works is dead"

I can believe in something so passionately, yet if I sit idle, its for naught.

The State of Maryland is posed to make national headlines in its General Assembly sessions on two very important fronts for Equality. One in the realm of Same Sex Marriage and the other in the area of Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination. However, not for the same reason in respect to both. Same Sex Marriage for its advancements, and Gender Identity Anti Discrimination for its lack of advancements.

Both stand to set the tone moving forward for each individual cause, with respect to other states and on the national level. So it no wonder so much outside attention is being drawn.

I would like to focus on the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act introduced in Maryland as House Bill 235. I do not expect to change the opinions of those so determined. Yet I do wish to promote clarity and a simple alternative, satisfying the needs of ALL transgender Marylanders and those members of the transgender community throughout our nation.

House Bill 235's introduction and language came as a shock to the majority of the transgender community because its lack of protection in respect to not only previous bills, or currently enacted laws in both Montgomery County and Baltimore City, but because of its lack of consideration to the reaction from those it sought to provide relieve to. The last 4 years, Maryland has introduced a bill offering protections to individuals based on Gender Identity, with most recently HB 1022 in 2010. At no time were members of the community informed of either via email update to those subscribed to EQMD, nor through EQMD's Yahoo based listserv, TransEquality Maryland . In fact HB235 is in direct conflict to published objectives for 2011 on their website (please note this is subject to the page being taken down)

EQMD is employing its available resources in the most beneficial way it sees fit. I do not blame them for that, as resources in this economy are precious, both in terms of money and manpower. however, they employ Field Organizers, maintain mailing lists, promote community events, are active on social networking sites and are the occasional recipient of charity fundraisers a modest and busy organization indeed. The ability to promote their message though is not restricted.

The concern comes from a lack of sensitivity to the transgender community not only in Maryland, but nationally when it comes to the community's feelings of being sold out. The transgender community has experienced its share of disappointment and rejection, heartache and betrayals over the years from EQMD (when it went by Free State Justice) and the Human Rights Campaign, HRC. In 2001 it was told that by supporting sexual orientation only in that year's anti-discrimination bill, it would be revisited to add gender identity in the near future.

Fast forward ten years. Rhode Island (2001), California(2003), the District of Columbia(2005), Hawaii(2006), New Jersey(2006), and Vermont(2007) all ADDED Gender Identity to laws already including sexual orientation protections. New Mexico (2003), Illinois (2005), Maine (2005), Washington (2006), Colorado (2007), Iowa (2007), Oregon (2007) all added Sexual Orientation AND Gender Identity protections. In Maryland we wait. In fact, Hawaii was the only state to added full protections the subsequent year (2005-2006) but the Polynesian culture embraces Māhū, a traditional third gender person and as such has a respect for such transgender citizens. Additionally California rewrote the definition of sex with their passing of FEHA, Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Rather than expressly prohibiting discrimination against transgender individuals, the Legislature amended FEHA to expand the definition of “sex,” which is, of course, already listed as a protected category. As amended, FEHA now states that sex is defined to include “a person’s gender.” FEHA then incorporates a somewhat unusual definition of “gender” that appears in the California Penal Code. Under this definition, gender is defined as (1) an employee’s actual sex, (2) an employer’s perception of an employee’s sex and (3) an employee’s “identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the [employee’s] sex at birth.” (The FEHA definition includes applicants in addition to employees.) Thus, in California it is now illegal to discriminate against an employee or applicant who has undergone a sex change operation or who dresses or behaves in a manner inconsistent with his or her “sex at birth.”

But in Maryland we wait.

The solution presented is the notion that incremental change is the answer. We have been told since the bill was introduced, that all civil rights have been earned incrementally ( sound familiar HRC?) That Maryland's transgender community must accept incremental progress as it is the path all others have taken. Nonsense. Speaking solely for actions in Maryland concerning incremental rights, let us ask this question.

"What other protected class of citizens in Maryland have had to earn rights incrementally?"

That is, they were granted protections for say employment, then housing, then credit and then public accommodations. Or even a package deal of EHC, and get "revisited" for public accommodations. To steal a line from Baltimore's own Ben Stein in the now classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" Anyone?, Anyone? Anyone?

Sexual orientation was added in 2001. Free State Justice, currently incarnated today as, Anyone? Anyone? Equality Maryland, told the transgender community it would be covered by existing statutes and laws as a justification to remove the language of gender identity. Were these protections granted those based on sexual orientation for Employment, Housing and Credit? Anyone? Anyone? No, they were NOT incremental, they were FULL protections.

In fact, EQMD is now citing a 2009 interview former Governor Parris Glendening gave in which he felt removing gender identity in 2001 was a mistake and they, EQMD have been fighting since to overcome this. EQMD, is publicly acknowledging that its then policy of "incrementalism" was a mistake and are now fighting it with ANYONE? ANYONE?

More incrementalism.

This would be sad if it were not true.

The danger to this approach, both locally AND nationally is, its promotes a separate but equal mentality proven to be as discriminatory as no protections. It departs from the tried and true path of adding protected classes to the FULL suite of anti-discrimination protection currently enjoyed in respect to race, sex, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, age, or disability. It makes the argument that transgender individuals are NOT deserving of FULL protections. It places the transgender community at risk to attempt to fight for public accommodations at a later point with the assistance of ? Anyone? Anyone? Yeah, you've got it... We've seen their track record. No thank you.

So what's the solution?

The solution is to contact your legislator and express your complete and unwavering support for ONLY FULL gender identity protections and nothing less. There is a distinct possibility that HB235 will pass. And we will have nothing but an empty shell where promises for continued action once flourished. There is the possibility that the bill will be defeated or will not clear the committee to even come for a vote and there is the possibility that HB235, will be redrafted in the image of last year's HB1022.

Half a loaf of moldy bread is certainly not better than a full loaf, even if that loaf takes longer to bake.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Silent ''T'': Leaders need to overcome their fears and represent everyone in the LGBT community: Opinion section: Metro Weekly magazine, Washington, DC newspaper

The Silent ''T'': Leaders need to overcome their fears and represent everyone in the LGBT community: Opinion section: Metro Weekly magazine, Washington, DC newspaper

by Dana Beyer
Published on January 12, 2011, 11:55pm | 6 Comments, 22 Tweets

''LGBT.'' The ''T'' is silent.

No sooner did the gavel make contact with the podium repealing DADT than our national organizations were talking up marriage equality as the next big thing. David Brock, founder of the new organization Equality Matters, said, ''But we believe the big battle is full equality, which is gay marriage.'' Fred Sainz, speaking for the Human Rights Campaign, was ebullient on marriage. Donor and activist listservs were all gaga over marriage.

Dana Beyer
Dana Beyer
(Photo by Todd Franson)

What happened to ENDA?

This was strange, since after talking to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a number of colleagues said she was perplexed as to why the national LGBT leadership had abandoned ENDA in favor of DADT repeal. Congressional leadership hadn't asked for a change. The whip counts showed more support for ENDA than for DADT repeal. It seems that getting the last few votes for ENDA could have been no harder than getting DADT repeal at the 11th hour.

So if not Congress, the obstacle had to be LGBT leadership. I will say upfront and from personal experience that I don't believe any of our leaders personally desire to leave anyone behind. But just as full equality for everyone is my personal priority – exemplified in the firstDallas Principle, ''Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now. Delays and excuses are no longer acceptable'' – so I now believe that for many gay leaders, civil rights for all is not their priority. Rights for the relatively few gay people who want to serve in the military or get married are more important than the basic rights of the entire LGBT community to employment, housing and public accommodations. The same dynamic has been evident in a number of states, such as New York and Maryland.

Why does the ''T'' in LGBT again seem to stand for ''token''? Historically the gender non-conforming, such as trans persons, drag queens and butch women, were relegated to the sidelines, as they weren't passable in a bourgeois sense. There was thought to be no way the movement could succeed with ''regular Americans'' if its representatives were seen as strange. It was easier to have buff men and femme women in thousand-dollar suits do the work and carry everyone else along for the ride.

Most Americans viewed gay people simply through the lens of their sexual relationships until recently, when they've finally been seen as complete human beings. It has made all the difference, feeding the drive for acceptance into the all-American triptych of the military, marriage and motherhood.

Perceptions have yet to change as extensively for gender non-conforming people, leaving us viewed through a lens of sexual and mental pathology. That, in turn, makes it harder for our passable gay allies to fight the battle for gender identity and expression protections with us. They seem to fear being tainted by association with us, their discomfort making them poor lobbyists for the cause. I've seen this happen too often, both in Maryland and D.C., and my colleagues report similar experiences elsewhere. We need them to overcome that fear and represent us all, or step aside.

Ironically, the man who did the most to derail an inclusive ENDA in 2007 led the efforts to educate himself and his colleagues about the trans experience, and worked hardest on its behalf this past session. Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) made the effort to become comfortable with trans people, exemplified by his hiring of Diego Sanchez. If only our community leaders did the same. It would be refreshing to see trans people leading national organizations. It would also be bracing to hear gay leaders speak passionately for full civil rights for trans and gender non-conforming individuals. Where there is silence, there is, naturally, the inference that the issue is of little importance.

To move forward, I echo Tom Carpenters's call for an independent debriefing on our advocacy during this past congressional session. We must learn from the past, and do so quickly.

Dr. Dana Beyer, a retired eye surgeon is an author of The Dallas Principles. She is former vice president of Equality Maryland.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

2011 marks the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference's 10th anniversary

The Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference (PTHC) was founded in 2002 by a group of transgender activists, allies, and service providers. Now in its tenth year, PTHC proudly offers a space for transgender people and our allies, families, and providers to come together to re-envision what health means for transgender people.

The focus of this unique conference is promoting transgender health and wellness in mind, body, spirit, and community. PTHC recognizes the interconnections among all aspects of our well-being; including health, safety, education, employment, housing, and social support. Further, PTHC recognizes that accessible and quality healthcare is an integral part of self-determining our bodies and identities in the larger world.

As much as possible, PTHC strives to ensure that the conference addresses the diverse needs of all transgender communities: transgender men, transgender women, gender-queer, and gender-variant people, as well as our partners, families, and allies. In addition, in an effort to increase the availability of quality, culturally-competent care for transgender communities, PTHC also provides a workshops for medical, mental health, and social service providers.

We are committed to making the conference as inclusive and accessible as possible. Therefore, the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference charges no registration fee.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Have You Received a “Gender No-Match” Letter? We need to hear from you

From NCTE:

Have you or your employer received a notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that says the gender on your SSA records does not match the gender your employer has recorded for you? Transgender people know these notifications as “gender no-match letters” that can out transpeople at work and place us at great risk for discrimination or even violence.

NCTE has been working with the Social Security Administration for several years to end these notifications and we have made considerable progress; most of the SSA programs that might cause these letters have been fixed to stop their being issued at all. Whereas in past years, NCTE heard from many trans people each month who had received these letters, we have heard from only a handful in the past year and a half. According to our conversations with the SSA, the difficulty seems to be that the agency has many interrelated verification programs that can issue these letters and some of the programs have computer software that is apparently challenging to adjust.

We will continue to advocate with SSA to entirely stop every one of these unfair and dangerous letters from outing people at work.

So that we can accurately understand the extent of the issue and know which SSA programs are still causing the letters, it is very important that we hear from you.

If you have received a “no-match” letter since 2009, please let us know as exactly as possible 1) when you or your employer received the letter, and 2) whether we can have a copy of the letter (with your personal information deleted, of course). We will protect your privacy and will not contact your employer in any way.

Additionally, if you have received such a notification, please see NCTE’s recommendations HERE with ideas about how to deal with it. Please contact Harper Jean Tobin in our office if you have questions or concerns. Her email address is

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act

Despite very little fanfare, the Gender Indentity Anti-Discrimination Act of 2011 was formally introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates by Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk and Del. Ariana Kelly. A hearing in the House Government & Operations Committee is slated for February 14,2011.

You may locate your elected officials here and offer them this request:

SUBJECT: Support FULL equality for Transgender Marylanders

My name is [YOUR FULL NAME] and I live in your district at [ENTER YOUR ADDRESS].

I am writing to urge you to vote for A Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act which protects Transgender Marylanders are the SAME level as Race, Color, Religion, Sex, Age, Disability, Marital Status, Sexual Orientation, or National Origin by INCLUDING PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS. This bill is important to me because I believe that ALL Marylanders deserve protections and respect, regardless of their gender identity.

Only by passing a FULLY protective GIADA can Maryland truly be called the Free State, where everyone is treated equally.

Thank you!

We applaud the efforts of legislators and LBGT organizations who wish to promote a FULL GIANA in 2011.

Thank you for your political courage!!