The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition offers a transgender 101 FAQ for anyone curious about or looking to educate themselves about transgender issues.
This information is available to download as a PDF in download our Media Kit.
In the Massachusetts statewide Transgender Equal Rights law, formally known as An Act Relative to Gender Identity, gender identity is defined as:
“Gender identity” shall mean a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth. Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person’s core identity; provided however, gender-related identity shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.
A person’s Gender Identity is how someone identifies his/her own gender — a person’s inner sense of “being” male or female. Most people, but not all, have a gender identity of “man” or “woman” that is also consistent with their assigned sex at birth. There are some people who feel their assigned sex at birth is not consistent with their own gender identity.
A person’s Gender Expression refers to how a person expresses their gender identity, or the cues people use to identify another person’s gender. This can include clothing, mannerisms, makeup, behavior, speech patterns, and more. There are some in society whose gender expression does not conform to traditional gender stereotypes what men or women should look or act.
Transgender is an umbrella term for people who transition from one gender to another and/or people who defy social expectations of how they should look, act, or identify based on their birth sex. This can include a range of people including: male-to-female (MTF) or female-to-male (FTM) transsexual people and more generally, anyone whose gender identity or expression differs from conventional expectations of masculinity or femininity. Some transgender people experience their gender identity as incongruent with anatomical sex at birth.
It is important to note that there are many variations of gender identity other than male-to-female or female-to-male that also fall under the transgender umbrella. These include being genderqueer, bigender, non-binary, neutrois, and more. Never assume someone’s gender identity. If you don’t know, educate yourself. Never ask someone outright if they are transgender. Often, many people may be living stealth, or simply choose not to disclose their transgender status. If someone feels right informing you of their gender identity, this is an act done in trust and confidence. Support your transgender community members by treating them with respect.
Gender dysphoria refers to discomfort or distress that is caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and that person’s sex assigned at birth (and the associated gender role and/or primary and secondary sex characteristics)
(Fisk, 1974; Knudson, De Cuypere, & Bockting, 2010b).
Gender dysphoria can in large part be alleviated through treatment. (Murad et al., 2010) See the 2011 WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) Standards of Care, which is clinical guidance set of standards for health professionals to assist transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming people with safe and effective pathways to achieving lasting personal comfort with their gendered selves, in order to maximize their overall health, psychological well-being, and self-fulfillment.
Traditional Gender Stereotypes: Culturally defined code of acceptable behavior for men and women. Men/boys are to exhibit masculine gender presentation, behaviors, and social roles and women/girls are to exhibit feminine gender presentation, behaviors, and social roles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are transgender people the same as gay/lesbian people?
No. Transgender is about gender identity and gender expression whereas gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual/straight is about sexual orientation, which is emotional and physical attraction to others. While transgender people are sometimes assumed to be gay or lesbian based on stereotypes about gay men and lesbians, the terms are not interchangeable. Transgender people also have a sexual orientation, just as everyone else in society, which can be heterosexual (straight), bisexual, or gay or lesbian.
Can I tell if someone is transgender?
Not always. Many transgender people are seen and accepted as the gender they identify with and live as. There are many transgender people whom no one would know they are transgender or where assigned a different sex at birth, and who choose to keep their personal and medical histories confidential. For some transgender people, they maybe visibly different from what society views as traditional stereotypes for men and/or women and may be easily recognizable as being transgender. There are a number of factors of why a transgender person may be visibly different, such as access to transgender specific medical treatment. Sometimes transgender people are discriminated against or harassed because others suspect them to be transgender or gender non-conforming from their assigned sex at birth. In other situations, transgender people are discriminated against or harassed because someone shares a transgender person’s history inappropriately with others, turning private medical information into gossip. Often, a transgender person’s former gender or name can be made known through their identity documents, work references, credit reports, CORI checks or other background checks as the gender marker or name may not match with their name now or the gender they identity, live, and present as.
Lastly, a transgender person does not have to disclose that they are transgender, just as others have the right to privacy about their identity, their medical status, or other information that is not pertinent in a given situation.
What is gender transition?
Gender transition is a personal process in which a transgender/transsexual person goes through when they begin to live and identify as the gender they see themselves as. This process includes a social transition, which can include a person changing their gender expression, such as clothes and hairstyle; pronoun; and possibly their first name, to be reflective of the gender they are transitioning to. This process may also include support from therapist and a medical transition, which can be hormone replacement therapy and/or sex reassignment surgery.
For some transgender people, they may not access medical transition due to the prohibitive cost, access to providers, physical health issues, lack of health insurance coverage, and/or personal choice. The reality is that many transgender people live, present, and are accepted as the gender they see themselves as without medical transition, hormones, and/or sex re-assignment surgery.
Why do transgender people need legal protections?
Transgender people in Massachusetts and around the world face high levels of discrimination and violence because of widespread prejudice and the assumption that transgender people are “outside” of the law’s protections. This bill amends both non-discrimination laws and hates crime laws in order to comprehensively make clear that transgender individuals have equal protection under the law.
The 2009 National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that:
- Double the rate of unemployment: Survey respondents experienced unemployment at twice the rate of the general population at the time of the survey, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate.
- Widespread mistreatment at work: Ninety percent (90%) of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it.
- Forty-seven percent (47%) said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being ﬁ red, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming.
- Over one-quarter (26%) reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming and 50% were harassed.
- Respondents reported various forms of direct housing discrimination — 19% reported having been refused a home or apartment and 11% reported being evicted because of their gender identity/expression.
- One-ﬁfth (19%) reported experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives because they were transgender or gender nonconforming; the majority of those trying to access a homeless shelter were harassed by shelter staﬀ or residents (55%), 29% were turned away altogether, and 22% were sexually assaulted by residents or staﬀ.
- Fifty-three percent (53%) of respondents reported being verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.
- Refusal of care: 19% of our sample reported being refused medical care due to their transgender or gender non-conforming status, with even higher numbers among people of color in the survey.
The baseline rates of discrimination against transgender people have been consistently high. A review of six studies conducted between 1996 and 2006, in cities and regions on both coasts and the Midwest, showed the following ranges for experiences of discrimination based on gender identity:
- 13%-56% of transgender people had been fired
- 13%-47% had been denied employment
- 22%-31% had been harassed, either verbally or physically, in the workplace
ASSOCIATED PRESS (2006)
Transgender: Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.
NEW YORK TIMES (2005)
Transgender (adj.): is an overall term for people whose current identity differs from their sex at birth, whether or not they have changed their biological characteristics. Cite a person’s transgender status only when it is pertinent and its pertinence is clear to the reader. Unless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent, use the name and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by the transgender person. If no preference is known, use the pronouns consistent with the way the subject lives publicly.
1. Badgett, M.V., Lau, Sears, and Ho. Bias in the Workplace: Consistent Evidence of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute. June 2007.
If you have been a victim of discrimination or a hate crime in Massachusetts based on your gender identity or expression, MTPC wants to know. Please report the experience to us.
We have compiled many resources that can help you deal with discrimination you have faced. If you have an issue that is not addressed by the resources below, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MTPC cannot provide you with legal representation.
Forms and Documents for Reporting Discrimination:
Information on how the MCAD (Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination) process works, links to MCAD offices in Massachusetts, and forms to help you begin filing a complaint with MCAD can be found at:
Reporting An Experience to MTPC (whether positive representation of transgender individuals or negative interactions, we want to know!):
If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination or a hate crime because of your gender identity or gender expression, the following resources may be helpful (residents of Boston & Cambridge should also use these statewide resources in addition to any more local ones).
- The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (how to file a complaint)
- Massachusetts Public School 2010 Anti-Bullying Law [download pdf]
- Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) legal information hotline: 1-800-455-GLAD (M-F 1:30p-4:30p)
- Fenway Community Health Center’s Violence Recovery Program, The helpline for or anti-LGBT physical and verbal harassment is 1-800-834-3242.
- The Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Office enforces Massachusetts laws that protect citizens of the Commonwealth from discrimination.
- The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston: The mission of the FHCGB is to work to eliminate housing discrimination and promote open communities throughout the region. It serves the counties of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk. For services click here.
Boston and Cambridge
If you experience discrimination from a Boston Police officer, please file a complaint HERE. If you prefer to contact the Internal Affairs Division directly by phone to file a complaint, please call 617-343-4320 (Mon-Fri, 9 am to 5 pm).
This is an issue we at MTPC take very seriously. Please let MTPC know so we can track these complaints.
Public Accommodation, Housing, Credit
If you have been discriminated against because of gender identity/gender expression in public accommodation, housing, or credit, the following may be able to help you file a complaint and obtain compensation or restoration if you have been wrongfully removed from a residence based on your gender identity/expression:
- Mayor’s 24 Hour Help Line: 617-635-4500
- Or file by email
- Cambridge Human Rights Commission: 617-349-4396, http://www.cambridgema.gov/~HRC/
- Hours: 8:30 am to 5 pm; after-hours answering machine in both English and Spanish
As of July 1, 2012 it is illegal in the state of Massachusetts for any employer, housing authority, credit issuer, or public educational institution to deny rights or discriminate against any individual based on their gender identity or expression. If you believe you have been discriminated against in one of these areas, please review the Act Relative to Gender Identity and contact a legal advisor.
- Massachusetts State Civil Rights Resources
- The Network/La Red: Support for dealing with partner abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault in lesbian, bisexual women’s and transgender communities. 617-423-SAFE (7233) v/tty, email@example.com
If you have a local (Massachusetts-based) resource you would like to see added to this list that you feel is of value to the Mass. transgender community, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Action Day at Your Desk
If you missed the Action Day for Trans Equal Access to public accommodations at the State House yesterday, you can take action, right from your desk (or couch). It’s never to late to make your voice heard.
1) Locate your state officials.
2) Ask for your Representative or Senator by name. Usually you end up speaking with a legislative aide. Introduce yourself as a constituent. Give your name and town. Tell them that passing the Act Relative to Equal Access bill is VERY important to you. If they need more information, tell them the bill has been filed as House Docket #1172 and Senate Docket #568.
3) Fill out our Report Results form to let us know how it went.
If you’re worried about what to say, just follow the script below.
Hi my name is _____________. I am a constituent of Representative/Senator ______. Is the Representative/Senator in today? (If no, ask if there is someone you can talk with.)
I am calling because I would like my legislator to cosponsor An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public, which is House Docket #1172 and Senate Docket #568. This bill has been filed in the House by lead sponsors Representatives Carl Sciortino and Byron Rushing and in the Senate by lead sponsors Senators Sonia Chang-Diaz and Ben Downing. Is this something Representative/Senator ______ is willing to cosponsor?
IF THE AIDE SAYS YES, you can reply with:
Thank you! That’s great! I really appreciate Representative/Senator _____’s cosponsoring this bill. I will be sure to pass your name along to Representative Sciortino (or Senator Chang-Diaz if talking to a Senator). The bill has been filed as House Docket #1172 and Senate Docket #568. Your office can seek or confirm your cosponsorship on LAWS. (If Representative) Please contact Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, 617-722-2013, email@example.com, in Rep. Carl Sciortino’s office. (If Senator) Please contact Katherine Adam, 617-722-1673, Katherine.Adam@masenate.gov, in Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz’s office if you have any questions.
IF THE AIDE SAYS YES, WE HAVE ALREADY SIGNED ON AS A COSPONSOR, you can reply with:
Thank you! That’s great! I really appreciate Representative/Senator __________’s cosponsoring this bill.
IF THE AIDE SAYS THAT THEY NEED TO CHECK WITH THEIR BOSS, you can reply with:
I have an Equal Access Legislative Brief that I would like to email to you about the bill. Also, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, 617-722-2013, in Representative Carl Sciortino’s office (if talking with your Rep) and/or Katherine Adam,617-722-1673, in Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz’s office (if talking your Senator) can also provide your boss with more information. Thank you for your attention to this matter. When is a good time for me to check back about where you stand after reading the brief and what action you are taking on this bill?
IF THE AIDE SAYS NO, you can reply with:
Thank you for your time. I would like to email a 2013 Equal Access Legislative Brief to you today and I would like to meet with you (if talking directly with Senator or Rep) Representative/Senator _____ in the district office to talk about the bill. When is a good time for me to check back about where you stand after reading the fact sheet?
Thank them for taking the time out of their busy schedules to talk with you and wish them a good day!
We’d love for you to post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc., about why you are supporting the Equal Access Bill today. Why are public accommodations protections important to you? Use the hashtag #MAtransbill, and add #TransMA if there’s room.
Signal boost! If you couldn’t make it to the State House, get on the phone and help out!
In November of 2011, Massachusetts became the 16th state to add non-discrimination laws for gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, K-12 public education, and credit. Additionally, Massachusetts Hate Crimes laws were also updated to include gender identity. This law is known as An Act Relative to Gender Identity.
The Act Relative to Gender Identity defines “gender identity”:
“Gender identity” shall mean a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.
Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person’s core identity; provided however, gender-related identity shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.
MTPC’s Executive Director Gunner Scott was a leader of the legislative campaign that made this Act into reality. Gunner worked non-stop for five years to organize, curate, and lead the efforts that would see the Act passed into law. It went into effect statewide on July 1, 2012.
The Act Relative to Gender Identity ensures that transgender individuals in Massachusetts will not be denied housing, credit, employment, or equal access to public education based on their gender identity.
Unfortunately, this new legislation does not extend protections in public accommodations. There is a campaign for public accommodations protection in 2013 going on now. If you have not yet sent an RSVP for our Legislative Action Day taking place on January 17, 2013, at the State House, please do so now. Aid MTPC in the next critical step toward equal rights under state law for transgender individuals in Massachusetts.
If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination in employment, see MTPC’s Discrimination Resources page for more information on how to file discrimination complaints.
This includes discrimination in housing, at a homeless shelter, in a hospital, at school, at a bank, by a government or state agency, by the police, in a retail establishment, at a restaurant, in a hotel, or while voting. And if you have been the victim of a hate crime because of your gender identity or gender expression, we can help you find assistance.
Just a heads up for transgender individuals in MA who may not know their legal rights! Great information available here.
Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is an advocacy, education, and community-building organization that works to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. This includes working toward the empowerment of all persons who have been, are being, or might be deprived of equal rights and/or fair treatment because of their gender expression or identity. MTPC is a fiscally sponsored 501c3 non-profit with one full-time staff, active Board, dedicated volunteers, and statewide chapters. MTPC does not engage in campaign or electoral politics.
We at MTPC believe that denying transgender individuals in our great state of Massachusetts their basic rights is unjust and discriminatory. We believe strongly that Massachusetts is the state paving the way on LGBT issues, and are working toward our goal of bringing transgender issues to the forefront of Massachusetts legislative attention. There is no time like the present, and we at MTPC strive to change the face of transgender rights in Massachusetts. We are off to a great start in the new year with our work on the 2013 transgender Equal Access Bill, and have many more exciting projects ahead!
How is MTPC run?
MTPC is governed by a Steering Committee (SC), made up of persons of all ages who self-identify as transgender/gender variant/genderqueer/intersex (majority) as well as non-transgender family members, partners, friends, and allies (minority). SC members, elected on an annual basis by the voting membership, oversee its executive director and direct policy and priority, as captured in a mission statement and bylaws. The SC also performs much of the work of MTPC in the absence of adequate paid staff.
What does MTPC provide that varies from other LGBT nonprofits in Massachusetts?
MTPC provides a consistent voice to key decision makers about the lives of transgender youth and adults and their families. While there are many legal, advocacy, and social organizations focused broadly on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community there are very few that are led by and created specifically for the transgender community, and in Massachusetts MTPC is that organization.
What are MTPC’s current goals?
The aim of MTPC’s programming is to improve the lives of the Massachusetts transgender youth, adults, and their families by working on the following initiatives on a daily basis:
- Organizing and empowering transgender people to advocate for themselves
- Developing leadership within transgender communities through community education and opportunities
- Educating the public, the media, and institutions about issues facing transgender communities
- Increasing the awareness of policy makers about the needs of transgender communities
- Advocating for equal access through policy changes at the institutional, state, and local levels.
These initiatives were created in direct response to the needs voiced to MTPC by transgender people and reiterated in the findings of a 2009 community needs survey conducted by MTPC.
Please submit any questions or comments for us to our Ask box or send us an email. Following us ensures you’re always up to date on the latest news from MTPC!
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is hosting a Legislative Action Day at the State House January 17 from 11 am to 1 pm. Constituents will gather to educate their legislators about the necessity of protecting transgender people’s access to public accommodations through the passage of An Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public.
The Equal Access Bill would add “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts civil rights law for public accommodations, which currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex and marital status. Nationwide, 15 states, the District of Columbia and 187 cities and counties (including Boston, Cambridge, Amherst and Northampton) have passed non-discrimination laws or ordinances protecting people on this basis.
Public accommodations include any establishment, public or private, that is open to the general public and provides, or endeavors to provide, some type of goods and/or services to the general public. Examples of accommodations are banks, gas stations, beauty salons, funeral parlors and employment agencies; offices of professionals such as doctors, attorneys, dentists, accountants, travel agents and insurance agents; court rooms, lobbies, polling places and government agencies; hotels, restaurants and bars; shopping centers; theaters, concert halls, sports arenas and convention centers; museums, libraries and galleries; parks, zoos, amusement parks and beaches; public transit and airports; and public streets and sidewalks.
MTPC’s Executive Director, Gunner Scott, said, “Public accommodations protections would make explicit the Commonwealth’s commitment to providing people of all gender identities equal protection under the law, and guarantee transgender youth, adults, and families the opportunity to participate in and contribute to their communities and to the local economy. This bill is about fairness and all residents having the same access to public places.”
According to a recent transgender discrimination survey, 58% of Massachusetts respondents experienced verbal harassment or mistreatment in public accommodations such as hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies because they are transgender; 22% of transgender adults were denied equal treatment by a government agency or official; and 24% of transgender adults who interacted with police experienced harassment by officers.
“I applaud the Massachusetts legislature and Governor Deval Patrick for the 2011 passage of An Act Relative to Gender Identity, which adds gender identity non-discrimination protections in the areas of education, employment, housing and credit/lending. The Equal Access Bill fills in that missing piece of public accommodations, which are all the places between home, work or school. This is necessary for full equality all transgender youth, adults, and families in Massachusetts,” said Nancy Nangeroni, chair of MTPC’s board.
Signal boost for all you Massachusetts folks!!
Imagine what the world would look like if every high school gay straight alliance, queer-friendly church, and LGBT advocacy group knew about our community, respected us, and included us in their ongoing education work. We’re not talking about one-time press, we’re talking about sustained, persistent education about asexuality anywhere that sexual diversity is being discussed. It puts us on the map. It changes the game.
AVEN and Asexual Awareness Week are teaming up to raise money to cover the costs of organizers who are attending the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s conference in Atlanta in January, as well as to fund their administrative and server costs for the year. Donate today at http://www.indiegogo.com/MakeAtlantaAsexy
The Internet and media have revolutionized coming out and accessing resources for young transgender youth. However, some transgender youth are being called out by members of the same community for not being “trans enough” or are labeled “trans-trenders,” which is taken to refer to women who take steps to begin to transition to male simply because they do not fit a stereotypical mold of womanhood (“I don’t like my body/situation/how people treat me as a female, so I think I want to be a guy!”). The fear is that these “trans-trenders” will make obtaining lifesaving medications, such as testosterone and other forms of hormone therapy, difficult for those who are transitioning with a real medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
Fashion is universal. Everyone wants to look good, and feel confident when they’re out in public. For that matter, people often just want to look good and feel comfortable just sitting around at home. Everyone should have clothes which fit well and make them smile when they see their reflection….
Genderplayful is a Marketplace unlike any other. We know that fashion and gender are two very different things, despite mainstream media telling us fashion for genders only works ‘one way’. Here at Genderplayful we’re hoping to meet the needs of all body types, gender identities, and presentations.
If you missed our post yesterday, we’re looking for vendors! Signing up is simple, and once you submit an application our wonderful vendor coordinator Zee will get in touch with you to get your shop set up. We use a storefront that’s Wordpress based, so if you are familiar with Wordpress based templates you’ll have little trouble getting your shop up and running. If you run into problems, rest assured that we’re here to help!
We need your help (yes, all of you!) to continue to bring Genderplayful to its full potential. We have amazing vendors as it stands right now, but we’d love to see that number grow. If you know someone who is crafty, loves to check out thrift shops for the latest edgy fashion finds, or you’re a crafty type yourself—we’d love to have you fill out an application. Before you do, though, take a minute to read our guidelines so you can make sure we’re your cup of tea.
Also, if you run a website that matches up with what we’re about, or you think we’d click—we’re looking into doing ad swaps with other like-minded sites! Feel free to email us for more information.
We know fashion affects everyone on a personal level, and that finding clothes and accessories can often be a hassle when it doesn’t need to be. Here at Genderplayful Marketplace, we’re hoping to have a bazaar that has something for everyone. We can’t do that without your help, so help us spread the word by giving us a signal boost.