This November, Massachusetts voters will be asked to vote on ballot question 3. This is an attempt to repeal the recent law that protects the rights, safety, and dignity of transgender people in public spaces. Supporters of transgender rights, including various Boston transgender support groups, hope you will vote “Yes” on 3 to preserve the current law. This will maintain and support the community empowerment work that activists and allies have fought for over the years—often spearheaded by staff and volunteers of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC).
Through my association with MTPC and other Boston transgender support groups, I’ve seen the advocacy needs of the transgender community grow and change. I’ve been proud to watch visionary MTPC executive directors Gunner Scott, Jesse Begenyi, and Mason Dunn guide the organization in growing and adapting to meet those needs.
Describing their mission, Dunn said, “MTPC works to end discrimination and oppression on the basis of gender identity and gender expression in Massachusetts.” He continued with a brief history of the organization, “MTPC was founded in 2001 with the goal of being transgender-led and transgender-focused in our work and advocacy.”
From its founding, MTPC has successfully advocated for nondiscrimination laws and ordinances across the state. Their first success was in 2002 with Boston’s nondiscrimination ordinance. By the time I became involved with the organization in 2009, MTPC was working to pass the first state-wide nondiscrimination law protecting transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary people from discrimination in housing, employment, schools, and in credit and lending. The law was finally approved in 2011 and went into effect in 2012.
After that initial success, MTPC worked to expand the law to cover the public accommodations that had been dropped at the last minute in order to ensure the passage of the first law. In 2016, the hard work of MTPC and their allies paid off with a law that provided full protections for transgender people in public places.
“I think it’s important to have an organization that is working for the transgender community and led by the transgender community,” said Dunn. “Representation matters—in our leadership bodies and on our staff. Furthermore, our advocacy work is critical to ensure [that] we have the legal protections we need to prohibit discrimination in our lives.”
Though much of the work MTPC is focused on right now is the critical Yes On 3 campaign, they are always looking ahead and working on a variety of projects. “We are working closely with the RMV/DOT to start issuing nonbinary gender markers on Massachusetts state IDs and driver’s licenses by the end of 2018. MTPC is also continuing our work in healthcare advocacy, to ensure all transgender people can access essential healthcare, including insurance coverage for transition-related care.” MTPC also stays closely tied to the community it represents by helping to organize events like the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance observances.
Speaking to what the future looked like for MTPC, Dunn mentioned, “That decision is up to the community. As always, MTPC is about giving voice and power to the transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary communities. After the November 2018 election, we’ll engage in strategic planning and conversations with our community to determine our direction and focus going forward.” Summing up, Dunn offered this perspective, “So much of MTPC’s advocacy and education is about demystifying and humanizing our lives as transgender people. I hope that, through this work, people will see our community as an integral and beautiful part of the human experience. Trans rights are human rights.”
Learn more about the important work being done by the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition to empower transgender people, protect their rights, and educate our communities.