Monday, December 2, 2013

Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality reaches over 50 member organizations!

TransMaryland applauds the work of fellow coalition members with the inclusion of our 50th coalition member.

If you or your organization is interesting in joining the coalition which will finally bring  fairness for ALL Marylanders,  please click here

MTCE members as of 12.3.13:

ACLU of Maryland
Advocates for Youth
Baltimore Black Pride
Bethesda United Church of Christ
Baltimore NOW
Black Trans Men
Bois of Baltimore
CASA of Maryland
Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ
Chase Brexton Health Care
Equal Rights Center
Equality Maryland
FreeState Legal Project
Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc.
Gender Empowerment Maryland (GEM)
Hearts and Ears
Hollaback Baltimore
Human Rights Campaign
Jews United for Justice
LGBTQ Humanist Council of Baltimore
Maryland Black Family Alliance
Maryland NOW (National Organization for Women)
Metro Area Gender Identity Connection (MAGIC)
Metropolitan Community Churches/Global Justice Institute
Montgomery County Young Democrats
NAACP – Baltimore
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland
National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)
New Ways Ministry
Open Door MCC Church
Planned Parenthood of Maryland
Pride At Work, Baltimore- Washington Chapter
Progressive Maryland
Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC)
Trans Maryland
SEIU 500
SEIU 1199
Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland
Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice in the National Capital Region
Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore
Unity Fellowship Church of Columbia
Women’s Law Center of Maryland

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Misogyny, it's not just for breakfast anymore.

Recently I came across an interesting story in my newsfeed. It seems SirRichard Branson, of Virgin Air lost a wager to Air Asia Group CEO TonyFernandes. Sir Branson bet Mr Fernandes over whose Formula 1 team would be ranked higher in the 2010 Championships. Branson lost the contest and as a result, he must serve as flight attendant on AirAsia’s Perth to Kuala Lumpur flight. It all seems a bit of fun. The proceeds from the flight go to charity. However, there is something less charitable to all of this.  Sir Richard’s shame is complete, only after he dons a dress.

Rock icon Iggy Pop has posed for photos in a dress which have been turned into an internet meme. That meme intended to cast off the negativity of being a woman. Yet all too often it’s the other way around. Whilethe Iggy Pop meme has not been authenticated as the original intent of thephoto shoot, Sir Branson’s career as a flight attendant in drag is clearly meant to “shame” the loser and in turn, it insults all women. Our society seeks to bring women down though their body image, the clothing they wear, how sexually active they may be, or even because they may out earning their male partners. It’s all based in misogyny. Misogyny is not just the marginalizing of women, yet the marginalizing of any gender, gender identity, or gender expression which does not conform to the standards of the masculine oppressor.

I worked at a large, well known department store. The store manager made a wager with some of the store associates, that if the associates met their goals for soliciting new credit card applications, he would, wear a dress. This wager was made prior to my arrival at the store; however the “contest” was ongoing at my arrival. The store manager lost the bet. The insult was felt doubly for me. The image of my supervisor, was mocking not only women, yet anyone less that the image of masculinity. I had to endure the photos in the break room, and in the office. I approached my assistant store manager in charge of Human Resources, and made him aware of my concerns and the harm I felt. He immediately removed the photos. However the store manager then posted them on the inside of his office door. The reason I know this, is it’s at his desk I was asked to take my annual training on diversity and respect. Ironic, isn’t it?

When our society continues to create stereotypes for men and women and enforces adherence to those boundaries inherent in these stereotypes, anyone crossing the line is subjected to ridicule. Sometimes that’s willingly, yet most of the time it’s not.

Sir Richard’s willingness is someone else’s pain.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

That’s Okay We Can Help Each Other

I make mistakes from time to time. Hopefully in lower frequency than before, but as a human being, like the rest of us, I make plenty. I think mistakes are great. They give us a change to amend, readjust, or re-prioritize.

I made one such mistake when I can across a link for an alleged “Transgender Equality” column. It was a particularly busy week for news in the Baltimore community. There has been another murder in the transgender community on Wednesday and there were request for on air interviews.

I accept the fact that I must own my privilege in respect to race. This is why I declined to be interviewed and instead opted to give the reporter some helpful background on hate crimes and the unacceptable rate in which trans women of color fall victim to them.  I included the Executive Summary of the 2011 survey, “Injustice at Every Turn” which highlights the extreme economic and social inequities the transgender and gender non-conforming communities face. These disparities are exponentially higher in communities of color.

So I come across an article in Baltimore Outloud.  It’s not had a great reputation in the transgender community, not only in Baltimore, yet nationally and possibly I suspect, as I know folks in different hemispheres who have glanced across their site, internationally.  But as a community, we thought those concerns removed. Those concerns coming from contributors to the paper, who seek to create discord in the community as a matter of course, or to satisfy a need for self-importance. It is in this light that Baltimore Outloud is viewed, and it is with that filter, I found this piece.

On Friday April 5th, under the byline “Rational T-hought” which is billed as “Transgender Equality”, I was disappointed  to read what amounted to an extremely disturbing commentary of self victimization displayed on the site.  Two day after the death of another trans woman of color, a very white, very privileged woman in our community is bemoaning the injustice of the DC Police force in not assisting her with her lost iPad.

Hold that thought.

Got it?

Great, there’s more.

Members of our community seek jobs, housing, food, access to healthcare and the comfort of acceptance from a society too indifferent to recognize their equal place in this race we call human.  They do not seek some overpriced technological status symbol. We should be so lucky as to find ourselves at this place. That our greatest equality issues in the transgender community are the lack of attention we are given, by large metropolitan police departments serving communities in excess of six and seven hundred thousand residents, with murder rates historically at the top of nationwide lists, towards our lost….


Do not get me wrong, this is not a bash the iPad opinion I write. It is very much an own your impact and own your privilege. The column digresses into a lament of the loss of security and how when filling up that suburban assault vehicle, you wait IN the vehicle. Many members of our community utilize public transportation as their sole means of travel around town. Some will occasional solicit a hack or hail a legitimate taxi.  The relational security is not even comparable. The cost of filling up those expensive UTEs far exceeds the monthly food expenditures of most trans folk in major cities.

My suggestion is consider writing for The Patch, or, simply, own your privilege. How about we all work collaboratively towards the serious problems of economic justice for the transgender community. iPads not included.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sine Die 2013..Same as it ever was... almost

Sine Die. noun  [sin-ey-dee-ey{ < Latin sine diē without (a fixed) day >

The Maryland General Assembly (MGA) is adjourning without fixing a day to reconvene.  This means the MGA is adjourning without executing its obligation to attend to the safety and well-being of the nearly 14,000 transgender Marylanders.  An obligation they have avoided for 13 such Sine Die. Senate Bill 449 was their charge.

In Maryland a 2011 survey found alarming rates of discrimination against transgender Marylanders. The study found that among transgender individuals, 18% had lost a job, 42% had experienced an adverse job action at work, 17% reported being denied a home or apartment and 54% of transgender Marylanders reported being harassed in places of public accommodation (such as restaurants, stores and movie theaters) because of their gender non-conformity.

According to the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality (MCTE) , the statewide coalition founded by trans Marylanders for the purpose of  working to advance equal rights for transgender, transsexual, and gender non-conforming people in Maryland:

When discrimination prevents or hinders a person from gaining or keeping employment, many other problems can develop which can lead to chronic unemployment, or homelessness, and can render its victims more vulnerable to violence. Transgender individuals may be denied access to social services like shelters or rape crisis centers, refused treatment, ridiculed, or denied recognition of their gender identity by health care professionals, or refused service at restaurants or stores.


Ironically we heard from some folk not in the coalition telling our community that this year was different, that all the stars were aligned and that this was the year.  This person even stood up at a community town hall and told the audience that our bill was going to not only sail through and be signed by Governor O’Malley, but that we wouldn't even see a referendum.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Now they wish to blame this on “a single act of the Maryland Senate president upon the beginning of the new year that settled the fate of this bill. “. It was even suggested that in the back story there was “the usual collection of personality quirks and family secrets that contributed directly to the unfavorable report.”

No one has time for the blame game.

The trans advocates working in collaboration with our allies and legislative champions believe it came down to one vote, one very non independent vote. A vote that was not swayed by the over 1000 constituent contacts in favor of a measure (as opposed to the three (3) contacts against the measure) a measure their jurisdiction already enjoyed. Instead it was swayed by prejudice, by ignorance and by money. That vote could have been yes without affecting a single constituent. The only thing that will change that, is changing the occupant of that seat.

To that extent, most advocates know the value of getting involved. There are some who believe you simply place your name on a ballot and you automatically ascend to office.  It doesn't work like that. Try that once or twice and see if you feel otherwise.  Involvement in the political process at the direct campaign level is the most proven way to get recognized and respected.
I can recall my own personal experience in working on the Mayor of Baltimore’s campaign in 2011. It was an honor to work with so many other committed folks from such diverse background who value collaborative efforts.  When one knocks door for an elected official, those elected officials remember you. Trust me on that.  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake can spot me in a room, and the expression in her eyes tells me, she not only knows who I am, she values what I've done for her. This is something I hear from nearly every advocate I've been fortunate to meet all over this country.

Now as Sine Die is upon us, our dear legislators are free to begin full campaign mode. In 2014 we may well have new delegates and senators, but we will positively have a new governor. Who’s basket are you putting your eggs in?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Kelly Young is mourned

Kelly Young has her friends and family speak to her truth.

"She was a fun person, that's it. She was, she loved everybody and everybody loved her."

If you have any information about the murder of Kelly Young, you can call the Baltimore City Police Homicide Division at (410) 396-2100

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The arc of the moral universe doesn't bend towards Maryland

With the largest number of bipartisan co-sponsors in recent years, with the Governor supporting the bill, with the Senate President clearing the way, it is over. It is dead in committee. Senator Jim Brochin had received overwhelming calls and emails from constituents in support of SB 449, yet in the end, they thought he didn't understand, but he just didn't care.  His NO vote sealed the fate of a bill had a clear pathway to the Governor's desk and a signature.

Some publicly stated that this bill was a done deal in committee and that the bill would never even be brought to a referendum. The advocates working on this bill knew better, and spent weeks targeting key senators via constituent contact to persuade their legislator to do the right thing. On February 26th the bill received its hearing where three and a half dozen people signed up to speak concerning the bill and proponents outweighed opponents 5 to 1, yet they though he didn't understand, but Senator Brochin just didn't care.

The Judicial Proceeding Committee met today March 14 and after much back and forth, the bill failed by a 5-6 vote. Voting in favor of the bill were, Senators Raskin (D), Forehand (D), Frosh (D), Gladden (D) and Zirkin (D). Voting against the bill were Senators Stone (D), Muse (D), Jacobs (R), Brochin (D), Shank (R) and Getty (R).  According to Equality Maryland, a coalition partner with the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality,

It is terribly disappointing that this committee failed to stand up for fairness and protect transgender Marylanders.  In the past month more than 300 people visited their legislators in support of this bill. Additionally, more than 400 constituents called their senators on this committee and almost 2,000 constituent letters, petitions and postcards in support of SB 449 were given to the 11 members of the committee. 
We are particularly incensed with Senator Jim Brochin’s vote. He had at least 1,000 constituents contact him asking him to support this bill. Despite this, he turned his back on these voters. It ironic that transgender people in his own district [Baltimore County] have protections yet he wouldn’t cast a vote to extend these protections to individuals in the 20 counties that aren’t so fortunate.” 
The Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality includes the following 38 organizations:

 ACLU of Maryland, Advocates for Youth, Baltimore Black Pride, Black Trans Men, Bois of Baltimore, CASA of Maryland, Christ Congregational Church UCC, Equality Maryland, FreeState Legal Project, Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc., Gender Empowerment Maryland (GEM), Hearts and Ears, Hollaback Baltimore, Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ Humanist Council of Baltimore, Maryland Black Family Alliance, Maryland NOW (National Organization for Women), Metro Area Gender Identity Connection (MAGIC), Metropolitan Community Churches/Global Justice Institute, Montgomery County Young Democrats, NARAL Pro-Coice Maryland, National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Open Door MCC Church, PFLAG, Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Pride At Work, Baltimore- Washington Chapter, Progressive Maryland, Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), SEIU 500, SEIU 1199, Trans Maryland, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice in the National Capital Region, Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore, Unity Fellowship Church of Columbia, Women’s Law Center of Maryland

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Introducing SB449

January 29, 2012 – Annapolis  Senators Madaleno and Raskin introduced the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013 today. Twenty one (21) of their colleagues signed onto Senate Bill 449 as co-sponsors to this important bill that stands for the notion that every single person in our state deserves an equal opportunity to make a life for themselves, free from discrimination.

Every person in our state deserves an equal opportunity to make a life for him or herself free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.

In Maryland, transgender people are not included in state laws prohibiting discrimination. Only Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard  County and Montgomery County have  civil rights ordinances covering gender identity and expression. When unchecked, discrimination can lead to chronic unemployment and homelessness, and in turn can render its victims more vulnerable to violence. When discrimination prevents or hinders a person from gaining or keeping employment, many other problems develop. Rent doesn’t get paid, which leads to eviction. Transgender individuals may be denied access to social services like shelters or rape crisis centers; refused treatment, ridiculed, or denied recognition of their gender identity by health care professionals; or refused service at restaurants or stores.

The  National Transgender Discrimination Survey found alarming rates of discrimination experienced by Marylanders based on their gender identity or expression. In the workplace 18% had lost a job and 42% had experienced an adverse job action.  In housing 17% reported being denied a home or apartment. In places of public accommodation, 54% of transgender Marylanders reported being harassed  (in places  such as restaurants ,stores and movie theaters).

Sixteen states and more than 145 cities and counties have laws that protect transgender individuals, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia. The total number of people now living in a jurisdiction with a transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination law in the United States is more than 120 million.

57% of Fortune 500 companies include protections for transgender employees in their non-discrimination policies. Maryland companies that have a non-discrimination policy that covers gender identity include Goucher College, the John Hopkins University, Marriott, Sodexho Inc. and the University of Baltimore.

This legislation would prohibit discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.

Similar bills in other states have passed by large margins. According to a Gonzales poll taken in August 2006, more than half of Maryland voters favor making it illegal in Maryland to discriminate against transgender people.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Maryland Needs to Act Now

Nondiscrimination laws are established to mitigate the excessive hardship and suffering segments of our society experience. These hardships are frequent in the transgender community. In the words of Vice President Biden, transgender discrimination is “the civil rights issue of our time . There is opposition to providing anti-discrimination protection to transgender individuals because of misconceptions about gender and gender non-conformity, and over safety concerns in sex segregated spaces.  Because of prevalent and systemic discrimination, Transgender and gender non-forming Marylanders have solid basis for why statewide protections in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations are required and should be codified into state law.

A recent survey of 6400 transgender Americans conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in conjunction with the National Center of Transgender Equality, found that sixty-three percent (63%) of their participants “experienced a serious act of discrimination—events that would have a major impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to sustain themselves financially or emotionally”. Additionally that forty-one percent (41%) had attempted suicide and that number rises to sixty percent (60%) as the frequency of those serious acts of discrimination increase. Currently sixteen states, the District of Columbia and over 100 municipalities provide for protections to transgender individuals representing forty-five percent (45%) of the country. In the state of Maryland, four jurisdictions, Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Howard County and Baltimore County established laws to provide protections for transgender individuals. These jurisdictions represent forty-seven percent (47%) of the state’s population. Of the one hundred and thirty-two (132) respondents from Maryland in the report, seventy-one percent (71%) reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job; eighteen percent (18%) lost a job; eighteen percent (18%) were denied a promotion; thirty-five percent (35%) were not hired; and forty-two percent (42%) experienced an adverse job action, such as being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion. Additionally twelve percent (12%) of respondents had a household income of $10,000 or less, compared to four percent (4%) of the general population.

These clear, persistent and overwhelming examples of discrimination against transgender Marylanders deny them equal access to the same Lockean principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that other Marylanders receive. These inequities are based in the inequities found by the United States Court of Appealsfor the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Glenn v. Brumby, that of gender non-conformity. Vandy Beth Glenn, a transsexual woman was fired from her job at the Georgia legislature after she announced she would be undergoing gender transition. The Eleventh Circuit overturned a lower court ruling, and in doing so stated Glenn’s gender non-conformity was the basis of her dismissal, and that such gender non-conformity is in fact sex stereotyping as supported by existing case law. Glenn v. Brumby references Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the law for the entire county, when making its reasoning on overturning the lower court decision.

Our Fourteenth Amendment gives us the Equal Protection Clause wherein “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. In Macy v Holder, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handed down a ruling in favor of Mia Macy, a transsexual woman denied a position the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives after disclosure in a background check showed Ms. Macy was transitioning from male to female. Prior to the discovery, she had been promised the position over the phone, pending the background check. The EEOC stated “[T]he Commission hereby clarifies that claims of discrimination based on transgender status, also referred to as claims of discrimination based on gender identity, are cognizable under Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition….”

The non-establishment of codified protections in the State of Maryland for individuals based on their gender identity and/ or expression will leave some Marylanders without full and equal protection which are afforded all other Marylanders. This sets up conflict with the Equal Protection Clause and non-compliance with the EEOC ruling providing protections to government workers and federal contractors. The scope of the EEOC is limited and not binding in state court. It is also an administrative ruling and as such subject to change. Protections happen when law is supported by court decisions or court decision precipitate new laws. In Maryland, it is time for some rain to fall.

Opponents to codifying protections into law have stated as their primary claims, two ideas. The first is gender is not changeable and thereby one’s birth sex is constant and that such laws will open sex segregated spaces up to predators and cause increases in rapes and assaults by men against women. On the first account, much of this argument is theoretical and outside the scope of this discussion. However, Maryland’s MVA, an executive branch administration, provides a pathway for transgender Marylanders to correct their gender marker on state issued identification consistent with ones gender identity. Additionally, Maryland courts provide for legal name changes and birth certificates to be amended. It is clear the state of Maryland already recognizes the gender in-congruence many of its residents face and is responsive to their needs. Yet, civil rights are not based on scientific validation of a protected class’ qualification for entry into that protected class. No DNA test is used to determine one’s ethnicity for example. There are no litmus tests to determine one’s creed. The perceived qualification of the object of discrimination, by the perpetrator of the discrimination, is what is of concern.

In the second claim, as the Glenn and Macy cases have determined, perception of non-conformity to a sex stereotype is sufficient. In Maryland the first jurisdiction to pass protections for transgender residents was Baltimore City in 2002 . There was no opposition as this City ordinance passed without any attention from opponents. However, by the time Montgomery County passed a bill to provide protections in 2009, opposition had formed and their narrative had been developed.  The claim presented by opponents to gender identity protections in Maryland, state that men will be allowed in the lockers and restrooms with women. Furthermore that such encounter will produce increases in sexual assaults. Dr. Jacob claims assaults by strangers in bath rooms will rise.

According to the US Bureau of Justice statistics the percent of sexual assault committed by a stranger was twenty-six (26%). In 2010 the total reported cases of rape/sexual assault were 188,380. This means approximately 49,000 sexual assaults were the sort which Dr. Jacobs claims. However, remembering back to the statistics in reference to how much of the country is currently covered by laws protections people based on gender identity, only forty-five percent (45%) of the county is covered. So Dr. Jacob’s claim could only have weight on approximately 22,000 of these reported cases.

Statistics suggest that with approximately 22,000 sexual assaults potentially happening in 45% of the country where gender identity laws exist; there will be examples of assaults specifically attributed to a loop hole or flaw in such bills. To date, no cases can be cited. If there was just a one-tenth of one percent spike because the claim might be true, we could find 22 cases per year. These laws have been on the books since 1975 . The lack of verifiable evidence and no strong argument for making claims that gender identity laws will threaten the security of women and girls in sex segregated spaces demands we reject this false claim as the logical fallacy it is.

With overwhelming and verifiable discrimination, and lack of real and verifiable claims of harm resulting in codifying critical protections into law, transgender and gender non-conforming Marylanders have solid basis for why statewide protections in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations are required and should be codified into state law. There is nothing symbolic about doing that. The time is now.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality

Contact: Carrie Evans,
Donna Cartwright,

19 Organizations Come Together to Pursue Trans Equality in Maryland

January 2, 2013

Maryland — Nineteen local, state and national organizations have joined with individual activists to form the Maryland Coalition for Trans* Equality, in the most broadly based effort the state has ever seen for trans* rights. The formation of the coalition represents the fruition of a year of intensive outreach, organizing, listening and discussion.

MCTE’s mission is to advance equal rights for transgender, transsexual, and gender non-conforming (trans*) people in Maryland through shared leadership, collaborative decision making processes, and resources.

Over the spring and summer of 2012 MCTE held several listening sessions across the state. Through these sessions MCTE asked community members to share their vision of progress for trans people in the state.  Attendees articulated a clear demand for a broader coalition to do this work. Acting on that Directive MCTE has brought together numerous organizations working for equality and justice in Maryland.

“Equality Maryland embraces doing this vital work in a coalition that has trans individuals at the center of decision making. We witnessed the power of a coalition winning and preserving marriage equality and we are confident this model will succeed for trans equality,” comments Equality Maryland’s Executive Director, Carrie Evans.

“For too long trans people of color, who disproportionately experience discrimination and harassment, have been on the sidelines of the trans equality movement. With our inclusion in MCTE the needs of trans people of color will be recognized, heard and addressed,” comments Vann Michael Millhouse, Community Board of Directors, MD/DC State Representative, Black Transmen, Inc.

Linda Mahoney, President of Maryland NOW affirms, “The National Organization for Women is committed to fighting discrimination in all of its forms. This included discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Our alliance with MCTE is one way we will continue to work to ensure transgender people in Maryland can live their lives with dignity and security.”

Donna Cartwright, Secretary of the Baltimore Washington Chapter of Pride @ Work said, “Pride @ Work has worked for many years in Maryland to achieve trans equality and we are happy to work with all of these organizations to achieve legal equality for trans Marylanders.”

Coalition Members
(as of 01.01.13)
ACLU of Maryland
Baltimore Black Pride
Black Trans Men
CASA de Maryland
Coalitions in Action for Transgender Community Health (CATCH) 
Equality Maryland
FreeState Legal Project
Gender Empowerment Maryland (GEM)
Hollaback Baltimore
Human Rights Campaign
Maryland Black Family Alliance
Maryland NOW (National Organization for Women)
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Pride  At Work, Baltimore-Washington Chapter
Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC)
SEIU 500
SEIU 1199
Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland