Tuesday, July 9, 2013

TODAY is the MA Trans Equal Access Bill's 1st hearing!

TODAY is the MA Trans Equal Access Bill's 1st hearing!  Click here for more info!

Here is my testimony:

July 9, 2013

Senator Katherine Clark
Senate Chair, Joint Committee on the Judiciary
Room 405

Representative Eugene L. O’Flaherty
House Chair, Joint Committee on the Judiciary
Room 136
State House
Boston, MA  02133

Dear Senator Clark, Representative O’Flaherty and other members of the Judiciary Committee,

My name is Mycroft Masada Holmes, and I live and work in greater Boston, where I was born 37 years ago last month and where I have always lived.  I love Boston and the rest of Massachusetts; this great city and state have always truly been my home and I hope they always will be.

I’m also a locally-based faith leader – Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s (MTPC) Interfaith Coalition for Transgender Equality (ICTE), a Community Engagement Adviser at TransFaith, and a board member of Congregation Am Tikva.  I’ve testified before you in support of the Transgender Equal Rights Law.  Today I testify in support of the Transgender Equal Access Bill (House Bill 1589 / Senate Bill 643), which would complete the TER Law by restoring public accommodations – joining Boston, Cambridge, Northampton and Amherst, as well as state employees and companies with state contracts.

Founded in 2007, the MTPC’s Interfaith Coalition for Trans Equality (ICTE) connects transgender people in Massachusetts with supportive faith community, empowers them to further the welcoming and inclusion process, and organizes the MA faith community in support of trans equality.  ICTE led the successful faith campaign for the Trans Equal Rights Law and is working for the Trans Equal Access Bill.

ICTE created and has submitted to you several updates of our Declaration Of Religious And Faith-Based Support for the bill – you will receive the latest version today, signed by hundreds of Massachusetts faith communities, clergy, lay leaders and other individuals.  You will also receive testimony today and in the coming days from members of the MA faith community.  We’ve also organized Acts Of Faith, Transgender Faith Action Weeks, a clergy press conference at the Statehouse, clergy speakers at hearings and action days, and more.  The Massachusetts faith community wants to see this vital legislation passed this session.

Ever since I was a small child, I wanted to work in criminal justice. After public school in Brookline and Newton, I attended Northeastern University as a Criminal Justice major.  The university was supportive, but classes, campus life and housing were very challenging.  After my sophomore year, I tried to participate in the cooperative education program -- students are placed in jobs in their majors during their next three years, helping them pay tuition and living expenses and find employment in their field after graduation.  The co-op department was supportive, but the employers wouldn’t even communicate with me, never mind interview me.  Because I was transgender, I was the only one of the 200 criminal justice students who wasn’t placed in a job.  Without the financial support and experience of co-op, I had to leave Northeastern.

It was devastating to learn that I couldn’t pursue my dream because I was transgender, and that I had no legal recourse. The day my co-op advisor called to tell me I couldn’t be placed, and the details of the discrimination, I understood what it meant to be a member of a group of citizens that don’t have civil rights. And I realized that my calling was to be a transgender leader.  I’ve had a wonderful career, and have a bright future.  But very little of my career work has been or is funded – I’ve always needed other full-time paid work, and I’ve continued to experience employment discrimination because of my gender identity and expression, leading to underemployment and unemployment.    

My wonderful life partner Julia McCrossin is also gender non-conforming, and is a native and lifelong resident of Maryland and Washington DC – the former is working to pass trans equal rights laws, the latter has had them in place successfully for some years.  Julia has visited me here in Massachusetts several times over the four years we’ve been partnered.  We have considered making our home here, and in any case will remain connected and visit, and have much to offer my great state.  But we are both challenged by discrimination, including in public accommodations.  We and so many others need the Transgender Equal Access Bill to pass into law, and soon.

I want my family to have full civil rights whenever we’re here, and wherever we are.  I want us to be able to continue to live, work and play better than we has done, contributing even more to our society than we have.  I want this for all residents of and visitors to Massachusetts.  I don’t want anyone to experience discrimination – and yet I know that some will, and I want them to be able to take appropriate action.  

I urge you to do everything you can to further this vital and long overdue legislation.  I ask you to the TEA Bill out and on so that it can be voted on by the full legislature and pass during this legislative session.  This bill would finally give transgender people equal rights in our home state.

Thank you,

Mycroft Holmes
{home and e-mail addresses}

Cc: MTPC
Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz
Representative Elizabeth A. Malia
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