Monday, March 28, 2011

CALL TO ACTION- Senate Rules Committee

The time is now. We have the chance to make a difference of whether Marylanders are denied full protections or not. The House of Delegates believes its okay to discriminate against members of the transgender and transsexual community in Maryland with respect to our basic human rights.

This is unacceptable. The recent passage of HB 235 in the House of Delegates will legalize discrimination based on gender identity in areas of public accommodations and must be amended or withdrawn.

Join us in this action.

Contact the Senators on the Rules Committee and let them know you do not support the passage of HB235 as written and to amend or withdraw it.

Dear Senator [ insert Senator's name ] ,
All of Maryland's protected classes deserve full and equal protection under the law. The civil rights movement in our country was founded to protect rights in public accommodations.  Transgender and transsexual people experience grave abuses when accessing everyday goods and essential services, from retail stores and buses to police and court systems. From disrespect and refusal of service to harassment and violence, this mistreatment in so many settings contributes to severe social marginalization and safety risk. 
HB 235 serves to perpetuate this by creating a further inequity in Maryland in which residents in Montgomery County and Baltimore City have full protections in their everyday lives, but the rest of the state is forced to suffer dire consequences. There is a member of the transgender and transsexual community murdered every 3 months just because of how they were born.
Please vote to end this needless loss of life, please amend HB  235 to include public accommodations or vote an unfavorable report. The life you save may be mine,

Respectfully yours,
[your name]

Katherine A. KlausmeierChair (410) 841-3620, (301) 858-3620
Brian E. FroshVice-Chair (410) 841-3124, (301) 858-3124
Clicking each member opens a link to their Senate age with email and phone numbers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Equality Maryland interested in monologue not dialogue

After three weekly transgender legislative workgroup meetings designed to bolster support for the flawed Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill (HB235) Equality Maryland has decided to walk away from dialogue with the transgender community and has canceled all further meetings until after the legislative session is over. Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets explains this as a “scheduling conflict.” Truth and justice apparently conflicted with her organizations agenda.

Nearly a month after HB235's introduction and the extreme backlash from the Maryland transgender community, Equality Maryland called together a "Transgender Legislative Workgroup" session to be held at the City Cafe, a busy coffee shop in Mt. Vernon in Baltimore's Cultural District.

Such a venue could never support the number of individuals and that is was absolutely a poor choice for such a sensitive subject. The meeting location was changed the day of the event.

After only three weekly meetings it has been canceled until after the legislative session in Maryland ends on April 11, 2011. In other words, Equality Maryland does not wish to be part of any discussion which furthers the interests of the greater transgender community of Maryland nor does it wish to seek solutions to the greater problems with this bill.

The last three weeks have seen attendance of around two dozen. Of this attendance, a minimum of 8-10 were members of Equality Maryland’s Board, Staff or Volunteers. Of the remaining 14-16, real members of the community, support for public accommodations was 3-1.

What was Equality Maryland’s purpose for the meetings?

By the very nature of its hurriedly conceived workgroup, its nonexistence in the months prior to the bill's introduction and its sudden cancellation until after The House and Senate adjourned their 90 day session in Maryland, it is evident Equality Maryland did not like the voices or message coming from the group and in fact, that message had staying power and impact of others in attendance. By continuing these meetings, Equality Maryland realized the stranglehold of the community was eroding. Its purpose was to appear to be working with the community, something it absolutely failed to do in the months leading up to HB235's introduction and for 3 weeks after.

Some individuals attending the workgroups were notified, but certainly not all. Here is an email sent to one such attendee.

“Due to scheduling conflicts, the transgender issues working group meeting originally scheduled for tonight has been postponed.

Thank you for coming out to Baltimore these past few weeks, lending your time and your voices to the discussion.

We believe these meetings have been constructive. We are committed to continuing these conversations after the legislative session so we can best formulate a coordinated, long range educational and legislative agenda.

We look forward to continuing this important dialogue. The next meeting will be scheduled for Wednesday, April 13th at 7:30 PM in the Equality Maryland offices. At that time we hope to have a system in place that will allow folks to join via a conference call. We'll keep you posted as the date draws closer.

We are of course aware that some members of the group disagree with the strategy behind HB 235. For those who are interested in supporting this legislation, please consider getting in contact with our deputy field director, Aimee Martin at aimee@ We're committed to winning these vital protections for the transgender community now, and hope you'll join us.

We look forward to seeing you on April 13th.


Morgan Meneses-Sheets
Executive Director”

If you are of the majority which believes this bill is fatally flawed, this is no surprise to you. If you are still clinging to the idea that incremental protections is a pathway to full equality we suggest you seek the examples of where it has been attempted. There has not been success with this approach. The vast majority of states with transgender protections are fully inclusive. In Maryland, the City of Baltimore and Montgomery County offer full protections. Glendora Hughes, General Counsel for the Maryland Commission on Human Relations stated:

“Yes, Baltimore City and Montgomery County covers gender identity. So now we have an inequity in the State of Maryland. Based on your geography, where you live will determine whether you have protection against being discriminated against.”

We agree with Glendora Hughes that there is an inequity in the State and the only way to eliminate the inequity is to provide the exact protections as currently offered to 25% of our citizens by amending HB235. Anything less is an inequity itself and as we all know, two wrongs don't make a right.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trans Maryland and Allies Organize March 15th Education Rally in Washington DC to Demand HB 235 Fully Protect Transsexual & Transgender Marylanders

Trans Maryland and Allies Organize March 15th Education Rally in Washington DC to Demand HB 235 Fully Protect Transsexual & Transgender Marylanders

WHAT: The Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill (HB 235) proposal in Maryland is supposed to protect people from discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression; however, a compromise has been made to remove protections against discrimination in public accommodations for transsexual and transgender (TS/TG) Marylanders, and is about to be sent to the committee for a vote in its tainted format. Maryland State Senator Rich Madaleno has made a call to amend HB235 to put public accommodations protections back in, yet gay and lesbian leadership via Equality Maryland and elected officials, all who are not TS/TG, have decided to edit out lifesaving protections, outraging many TS/TG community members who are being misrepresented, censored, shut out of the decision making process and are unwilling to accept a bill that will create second class citizenship and legalize discrimination.
The education rally will appropriately be on Maryland Ave and 1st Street, right next to The Supreme Court

WHEN: March 15th 7:00pm-8:00pm

WHERE: On the North West corner of 1st Avenue & Maryland Ave, Washington D.C., DC 20002

Jenna Fischetti, Media Director for Trans Maryland, explains, “Trans Maryland originated in 2009 to educate the citizens of Maryland, legislative leaders and policy makers as to the needs of Maryland’s transsexual and transgender community. In the aftermath of HB 235 being compromised, collective members of our community have now joined together to oppose Equality Maryland’s misrepresentation of Maryland’s transsexual and transgender communities best interests. Transsexual and transgender people should represent themselves, not gay and lesbian organizations. We are taking back our voice.”

Ashley Love, a national TS/TG media advocate, explains why this is more than a Maryland state issue: “Though I live in New York, I will join the many people from around the country that will be at Trans Maryland’s education rally in Washington D.C. this Tuesday because the threat of this compromised bill passing without needed protections for transsexual and transgender people could set a dangerous precedent that other states could follow in denying basic human rights to oppressed minorities simply because they were born with a birth challenge or medical condition.”

Donna S Plamondon, a Trans Maryland organizer, recently testified at the Public Hearing on the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill in Annapolis on March 9th. Today she says, “Many of Maryland’s transgender, transsexual and intersex communities oppose any legislation being introduced without consulting the affected community. I hope to see HB235, as written, die in committee and a fully inclusive bill introduced in the near future. We need protections to which all citizens are entitled under the laws of the State of Maryland and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

For press inquiries or interviews, or to learn more about the education rally on Tuesday, please

Monday, March 7, 2011

Amid setbacks and widespread bias, transgender-rights activists seek new strategies Transgender activists face multiple challenges

Originally posted online and readily available to be read, it has disappeared from the web.I've reposted it here, in its entirety.

Please note NCTE was remained publicly silent on HB235...

Amid setbacks and widespread bias, transgender-rights activists seek new strategies
Transgender activists face multiple challenges


Many transgender Americans face intolerance in almost every aspect of their lives, contributing to high levels of homelessness, unemployment and despair, according to a comprehensive survey being released Friday.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality say their survey of 6,450 transgender people is the largest of its kind. It details discrimination encountered "at every turn" _ in childhood homes, in schools and workplaces, at stores and hotels, at the hands of doctors, judges, landlords and police.

"Their lives are just a crapshoot," said Rea Carey, executive director of the task force. "They don't know from one interaction to the next whether they will be treated with respect and dignity. It's not the way people should be living their day-to-day life."

The report comes at a sobering time for transgender community.

While their gay-rights allies celebrated the recent Senate vote that will enable gays to serve openly in the military, transgender people were left out of the debate and remain barred from service.

Efforts to pass a federal law barring workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation failed in the previous Democratic-controlled Congress gender identity was a key stumbling block and the new Republican-led House is considered more hostile.

Uncertain of prospects for progress at the federal level, activists hope to make headway through lawsuits, corporate diversity programs, local anti-bias ordinances, and public education efforts. They hope the survey will buttress those efforts; some of the data had been released in preliminary reports, but the final version contains new details and is prefaced by an emotional plea for Americans to rethink their attitudes.

"It is part of social and legal convention in the United States to discriminate against, ridicule, and abuse transgender and gender non-conforming people," the survey says. "Nearly every system and institution in the United States, both large and small, from local to national, is implicated."

According to the survey, 41 percent of respondents reported attempting suicide, 26 percent said they had lost a job due to being transgender, and 19 percent reported being denied a home or apartment. Almost one-fifth said they'd been homelessness at some point.

The survey found that complaints of discrimination were particularly pronounced among blacks.

In an e-mail, Ja'briel Walthour of Hinesville, Ga., detailed the difficulties of growing up in the 1980s and `90s as an African-American boy in the South who began to identify as a female. Neither her church nor rural community offered acceptance, she said.

"I felt there was not an ounce of compassion or empathy for individuals who may be displaying atypical gender roles," and by 17 she was contemplating suicide, she wrote.

"I got into a place where I wanted to just not be here anymore," she said.

Walthour, now 34, eventually became a school bus driver while deciding to transition to female and pursue a degree in social work.

Transgender activists say future progress for their cause may depend on more people like Walthour choosing to speak out.

"We need more trans people telling their stories," said Diego Sanchez, a transgender aide to U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., at a forum last weekend. "We need to represent ourselves, and not let others represent us."

The forum was convened to address the frustrations of some transgender people who feel marginalized within the broader gay-rights movement. The movement has for years adopted the initials LGBT lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender but transgender activists at the forum wondered if the "T" instead meant "token."

"We've become second fiddle, maybe third fiddle to LGB rights," said Meghan Stabler, a transsexual businesswoman. "We're a minority inside of a minority ... Right now, we're a small `t'."

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the LGBT movement _ by sheer force of numbers and financial support _ was inevitably going to focus on the agenda of gays and lesbians rather than transgender people.

"But the relationship has helped out," she said. "We have a shared history, shared friends and enemies."

Looking long term, Keisling expressed optimism.

"The people who just plain hate us they're dying out," she said. "There is not a reasonable person left in United States who doesn't understand that transgender people exist, that it's a legitimate aspect of the diversity of nature."



National Center for Transgender Equality:

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Senator Rich Madaleno’s statement on HB 235: Human Relations - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Antidiscrimination

(301) 858-3137
March 3, 2011

Senator Rich Madaleno’s statement on HB 235: Human Relations - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Antidiscrimination

I have been the lead sponsor or lead cosponsor of the Gender Identity Antidiscrimination Act for the past four years. In advance of the 2011 Session, I had a bill drafted that is identical to the bill I had introduced previously. This draft prohibited discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. However, our advocacy coalition asked me to not introduce the bill, preferring a strategy of pursuing a House bill alone. This approach has not diminished my commitment to enacting these much needed protections, and I urge the House of Delegates to pass HB 235, with an amendment that prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals regarding public accommodations.

Providing transgender individuals with basic protections against discrimination is long overdue. Although much of the media attention this legislative session has centered on marriage equality, we cannot let that debate overshadow efforts to enact these essential protections. Protection against discrimination, including gender identity discrimination, is a basic human right. Our state laws must reflect the values of equality and equal opportunity – values that are central to who we are as Americans.

Now is the time for Maryland to join thirteen other states, Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, and Baltimore City in protecting individuals from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. In 2007, Governor O’Malley signed an executive order adding protections against discrimination to our state personnel policies. We now must pass a statewide law that protects transgender individuals from discrimination when seeking employment, housing, and public accommodations.


To my friends who believe incrementalization is the answer.

It is NOT.

It establishes legislative intent that separate but not equal classes were the intent of the legislature in drafting the bill, preventing jurist interpretation which might otherwise provide protection not explicitly defined.

Additionally at a point when the very same House of Delegates is seeking redress to the public accommodations provision to include a private right of action well in excess of the current $500 "parking ticket" assessed by an Administrative Law Judge. That bill, HB285 FURTHER deepens the divide between the current protected classes(race, creed, age, sexual orientation, et al) and the legislatively proposed(HB235) subclass "gender identity"

No, backwards is not forwards in this case, nor is an acceptable path to the majority of transgender Marylanders who are willing to let HB235 die quietly, without publicly challenging our legislative sponsors, allowing them to save face, and report to their constituents they support LGBT rights.

There is but ONE acceptable solution to the transgender community of Maryland, short of amending HB235 to include public accommodations or letting it die. That solution is to amend HB235 to STRIKE sexual orientation from the public accommodations portion of Maryland's Annotated Code ( 20-302, 20-304, 20-401, 20-402).

With this measure, all members of the Gay Caucus and representatives of Equality Maryland must hold a joint news conference acknowledging their extreme sacrifice for the transgender community in Maryland, pledge to place themselves directly in the struggle for continued fights for FULL and EQUAL protections under the law. The transgender community of Maryland will completely engage with our legislative leaders and support their full legislative agenda, not this session, but future sessions as well.

In addition to these modifications, Equality Maryland needs to adopt a policy on diversity to include members of the community they purport to protect. This includes diversity in respect to all the current protected classes in Maryland in addition to gender identity and socio economic status. If a civil rights organization is to be seen as credible on issues, it must be of the people it seeks to protect.

Fairly simple, fairly equal.