The Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition marked the start of the annual Transgender Awareness week by calling on the legislature to pass the Equal Access Bill (H. 1589/S. 643), which would protect transgender people from discrimination in places of public accommodation.
Taking place nationwide from Nov. 12 – 20, Transgender Awareness Week aims to educate the public about the transgender community and the issues the community faces. It culminates in the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when people around the globe gather for candlelight vigils to memorialize those transgender people who lost their lives to bias-related violence in the past year. This year’s Day of Remembrance will pay tribute to nearly 50 victims.
“Transgender Awareness Week is about increasing the visibility of the transgender community but unfortunately, many transgender people still fear being visible because it puts them at risk for violence, harassment and discrimination,” said Mason Dunn, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC). “Just last week a transgender high school student in California suffered second and third degree burns on a public bus when another student lit his clothing on fire. The assault is being treated as a hate crime.”
Added Dunn, “In Massachusetts, 58 percent of respondents in a transgender discrimination survey reported being harassed and mistreated in public places like buses, airports, government agencies and restaurants. The legislature can help make the Commonwealth safer and more accepting by passing the Equal Access Bill. All residents of the Commonwealth, including transgender people, need access to public places and services without fear of harassment or being made to leave simply because of who they are.”
The Equal Access Bill is currently pending before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. In July, committee members heard testimony in support of the bill from transgender constituents, parents, civil rights leaders, child welfare advocates, and business owners.
“In July, lawmakers heard heartbreaking stories of transgender residents who were excluded from, or treated unfairly in, public places during times of crisis or while simply doing the business of their daily lives,” said Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality. “As we memorialize those lost to anti-transgender violence this week, we call on lawmakers to finish the job they started in 2011 and report the Equal Access Bill favorably to the House and Senate. This is a critical step toward ensuring that everyone in Massachusetts, including transgender people, can access critical services like emergency health care, nursing home care and public transportation safely and without fear of discrimination.”
For information about Transgender Awareness Week events and Transgender Day of Remembrance vigils in Massachusetts, please visit: http://www.masstpc.org/community-events/trans-awareness-week/
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