Friday, April 29, 2011

Founder of Equality Ohio named interim head of EQMD

On Thursday, the Board of Equality Maryland announced they had chosen an interim Executive Director in the wake of the fired of Morgan Menese-Sheets. That chose is Lynne Bowman, recently with the Equality Federation and founder of Equality Ohio. Charles Butler, board chair, said in a statement:
“Ms. Bowman will step in to lead Equality Maryland on an interim basis following the departure of Morgan Meneses-Sheets, who has stepped down as executive director,”
Ms Bowman offered this;
“I absolutely have no desire to make it a permanent thing. I think it benefits the organization to have an interim come in that doesn't have an interest in becoming the full-time executive director.”
“My role at Equality Maryland will be to help stabilize and to move things forward and to prepare the organization for their new executive director,” she added.
Equality Maryland recently suffered two legislative defeats with their Civil Marriage and Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination (GIADA)bills. The Same Sex Marriage bill won passage in the more conservative Maryland Senate, yet faltered in what was to be a victory lap in the House. Consequently, GIADA, opposed by some members of the transgender community, gained release from committee and a favorable vote in the House, only to get stalled in the Senate. While EQMD denied involvement with the drafting of GIADA, its complete support, in light of the lack of public accommodations protections, was criticized by those seeking a full bill.

Throughout the legislative session, EQMD's Facebook page was the subject of great controversy over the deletion of comments from supporters of a full GIADA and even supporters of same sex marriage, including former EQMD board member and past interim ED David Toth.

Ms Bowman has a considerable challenge in cleaning up the image and reputation of EQMD. Unless these measures include a shakeup on the board, expect a Spackle and paint job.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Equality Maryland kicking off Transgender Issues Working Group for 2012

From Equality Maryland's website

 Equality Maryland is fully committed to ending discrimination against all Marylanders on the basis of their gender identity and expression.
The input and perspective of our transgender supporters is absolutely vital for the advancement of transgender issues, legislation (including public accommodations) and education in our community. Please join the Equality Maryland team at our biweekly Transgender Issues Working Group on Wednesday, May 5th in Baltimore at the Equality Maryland offices (1201 S. Sharp Street, Baltimore, MD 21230).
Feel free to invite others that should be included in this ongoing conversation.
Due to the nature of these meetings, we ask you to register ahead of time so we can supply adequate spacing needs and any materials. 
Together, we'll make the Free State a place where all Marylanders can live without fear of discrimination and violence.
If folks cannot attend in person, but are interested in listening in to the conversation please contact Linsey at  Folks will need to connect with Linsey to be given call-in information.

Event Location

Equality Maryland Offices1201 S. Sharp Street,
Baltimore, MD 21230

Community rallies around victim of McDonald's attack

Article from the Baltimore Sun

Community rallies around victim of McDonald's attack

Monday, April 25, 2011

From Delegate Pena-Melnyk to her Assembly colleagues --

From: Pena-Melnyk, Joseline Delegate
Date: 4/25/2011 1:55:38 PM
To: MD House of Delegates;  Senate of Maryland
Subject: Attack on Maryland transgender citizen
To My Maryland General Assembly Colleagues,

I respectfully ask that each of you take the time to view the video at this link, but please be advised that it is disturbing and portrays a horrific hate crime: 

Incidents such as this illustrate why the transgender community in Maryland and elsewhere needs to be protected through antidiscrimination legislation.  Supporters of House Bill 235 in this past legislative session recognized this need and stood up for the rights of this community.  While HB235 did not include protection from discrimination in public accommodations due to the intense pressure opponents placed on the bill’s supporters, the bill would have raised public awareness of the issue and paved the way for complete protection for Maryland’s transgender population.  Contrary to statements made by those who should be leading the fight for civil rights in Maryland, this was not an anti-family bill, but a basic civil rights bill.  The failure of this bill goes against Maryland’s long history of being in the forefront of civil rights movements.

This attack, which took place in District 8, has been broadcast all over the national news, and the video has gone viral, bringing shame to the State of Maryland for allowing such things to take place.  I challenge each of the Senators who voted to recommit HB235 on sine die (see the link at to serve as primary sponsors of a stronger version of HB235 in the 2012 legislative session.  It is time to rectify the wrong that has been done to transgender citizens of our State.



Saturday, April 23, 2011

Woman Beaten in Baltimore McDonalds

We at TransMaryland are completely disgusted at the appalling assault that took place in a suburban Baltimore McDonald's on April 18th, 2011. Details of which went viral on Friday April 22, 2011 as news of the attack, sparked by the horrific images captured on video were posted online.

Our first concern is for the well being of the victim in this violent assailment. We are encouraged to hear she received treatment from a local hospital and none of her injuries were reported to be life threatening. Our thoughts go out to her for her continued recovery, not just from the physical injuries she received, yet from the deep trauma one has incurred from a victim of such acts of violence. The members of our community know oh too well the emotional scars it produces. We pray she can bring a community of healing around her through what is to be assuredly a very difficult time for her.

To the incident and the video. We wish not to repost the images here.

There is much discussion and debate swirling around the release of the story and its accompanying video. TransMaryland wishes not to muddle through the speculation  and accusations of responsibility for this attack. We will merely firmly state that Maryland's Hate Crimes were enacted for the protections of our citizens, however, an assault is an assault, regardless of the victim's status as a member of a protected class. We are encouraged at the relative rapid rate in which this incident is being investigated by the proper authorities. We are confident that the public statement released by the McDonald's Corporation is sincere in its statement.

Let's all remember there is a victim here. Our concerns should be on preventing that from happening again.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Maryland House Bill Ultimately Failed on Several Levels

Today is not a day to celebrate, for it is still one more year without the critical and necessary public accommodations protections for transgender Marylanders and those transgender individuals merely visiting our state. Today is a day to remember that every November 20 we hold a vigil, a Day of Remembrance Service for those we lost due to violence because they are transgender or transsexual. That with HB 235 or without it, the list will grow longer until full protections are in place. It must be the stated goal of every transgender person in Maryland and any like minded ally, in or out of our state, transgender or not, to see the day that we stop adding to that list.

TransMaryland believes the goal of every member of Maryland's transgender community should be the day in which the Governor of Maryland signs into law an anti-discrimination bill which includes public accommodations protections based on gender identity. Today is not a victory for our community as we have no such bill to present to the Governor. We wish to thank our allies for their support in fighting for that goal, both now and in the future.

Why Maryland House Bill 235 needed to be defeated

In the last 90 days, the state of Maryland, the greater transgender community across the country and the blogosphere has been ablaze over a piece of legislation introduced in Maryland, House Bill 235.

HB235 was the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination bill intended to provide anti-discrimination protections for the transgender community. Prior legislative sessions of Maryland’s General Assembly have introduced bills for protection, but none like HB235.
It was a flawed bill. Its authorship lacked community involvement, its level of protections lacked community buy-in and its messaging spoke to the flawed strategy of deceiving the community of what real protections look like. We can simply examine one of 13 states or the District of Columbia if we wish to see how a state achieves that. HB235 followed none of those success stories.

The Authorship

TransMaryland has sought to clarify the exact nature in which this bill came into existence. We do not wish to condemn those involved, but to assure such mistakes are not repeated. We insist on transparency throughout this process as a necessary foundation for community involvement.

The Level of Protections

Members of Maryland’s transgender community have grown accustomed to seeking a measure consistent to last years bill, HB1022 (which received no action during an election year) which itself was a carry over of 2009’s HB 474. HB474 included employment, housing and public accommodations. Thee greater community was betrayed when the most vital piece of that legislation, public accommodations had been removed and no community buy-in was sought. We insist on a seat at the table for members of the community in determining protections.

The Messaging

Words mean something and we find it unacceptable to use terms of “just like” and “similar” when defining a bill intended to save the lives of our peers. The truth of what it does or doesn't do needs no obfuscation. The deflection of criticism, censoring of expression or other means to perpetuate an untruth is unacceptable. We own our voices and expect them to be heard and never silenced.

Intentions are never grounds to excuse poor actions. We re committed to not repeating the mistakes of HB 235

Friday, April 1, 2011

Is Frosh to blame?

In yet another development likely to trouble the bill's supporters, Frosh said his office was "inundated" on Monday by calls from transgender activists opposed to the bill because it has been stripped of a provision banning discrimination against transgender persons in the area of public accommodations.
TransMaryland wishes to commend Senator Frosh's legislative aide, David Brewster for his dedicated work in fielding the numerous calls placed to the Senators office. He is professionalism exemplified.

We additionally wish to recognize Senate President Mike Miller's decision to concentrate of securing a final budget for the State of Maryland. He stated this as a primary reason for referring the bill to the Rules Committee.

We also wish to thank Senator Rich Madaleno and his support yet again this year for a fully inclusive bill, even if he was asked by an "advocacy coalition" to not introduce such legislation prior to the start o this year's session.

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.

We will continue to withhold our support for legislation or legislative strategies which exclude input from the greater transgender and transsexual community in Maryland, while seeking workable and long term solutions to the needs of our community.

Lastly we wish to acknowledge the hard work of Delegate Pena-Melnyk. We feel she was betrayed by her advocacy partners into believing she had community "buy-in". This simply was false. The frustration was evident in her tone on our phone conversation of February 16th. She deserved better than to have been placed out to dry without a workable strategy, with all players on page and on message.

So now what?

There are two weeks left in the legislative session.

We could continue to argue over the bill and seek its resurrection from the Rules Committee. This would create more adversarial responses and conflict, sure to catch the eye of Senate President Mike Miller. He may entrench himself in the belief that such a hotly debate bill is too much for the Senate.

We could seek to openly discuss the legislative strategy used by "our advocacy coalition" as a means of finding workable solutions around such problems in the future.

Yet whatever path is taken, we the transgender and transsexual community of Maryland and our allies nationally must finish the hard work put in by volunteers in Maryland's transgender community on BOTH sides of this bill. We both want the same end game. We were not properly unified behind a community embraced plan of action for a common goal. We lacked true leadership throughout.

This leadership must be shared in the community by all voices, from all parts

The process of education must continue today and consistently until the day the Governor of our great state signs a bill which insures anti-discrimination protections based on gender identity in areas of employment, housing AND public accommodations