Guest Blogger

Maryland Nondiscrimination Bill Marks Potentially Life-Saving Advance

Filed By Guest Blogger | April 07, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: anti-discrimination, gender identity, Maryland, nondiscrimination, public accomodations, transgender, transsexual

Editors' note: Mara Keisling is the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Lisa Mottet is the Transgender Civil Rights Project Director at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Lisa_Mottet_187.jpgMaraKeisling.jpgAn important thing we have learned from "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey," that our organizations released in February, is the high human cost of discrimination. It is no exaggeration to say that discrimination is literally killing transgender people. In addition to the shocking rates of discrimination reported, there were unconscionable amounts of violence perpetrated against transgender people. For the many who have lost a job or become homeless, rates of HIV infection, drug and alcohol abuse, and, ultimately, suicide attempts, skyrocketed.

What is the historical perspective?

The first state passed a trans-inclusive nondiscrimination law in 1993, the second in 2001, and 11 more states (and D.C.) passed protections in the four years between 2003-2007. And, we now have more than 125 cities or counties with protections as well, with 41 percent of the country, by population, covered with a law. Even though we have not passed a statewide law in almost four years since 2007, this is tremendous progress.

Sometimes passage in these states and cities was easy, and sometimes, quite difficult. Many times, the law didn't go as far as many would have liked. In fact, almost every local ordinance or state law that has passed has some imperfection, weakness or compromise-- some small, some quite large. But they have represented important progress that we were collectively able to build upon.

Maryland's nondiscrimination bill

In Maryland this year, we have strongly supported the transgender nondiscrimination bill (HB235) that would ban discrimination in employment, housing and credit. Yet, oddly, this bill has become a bit of a lightening rod as some transgender people, especially those outside of Maryland, have attacked it for its lack of coverage of public accommodations. Certainly, a few transgender Marylanders have also expressed concerns about the bill and have opposed it (two testified against it), but the vast majority of transgender people in Maryland are supporting the bill. Transgender person after transgender person -- 14 in all plus three loved ones of trans people -- testified in favor of the bill at a House of Delegates hearing last month, with several telling stories of discrimination so harsh that those listening were tearing up at the inhumanity of this discrimination.

Baffling legal inaccuracies floating around the Internet

In the process of opposing the bill, some people have made up or repeated incorrect information about what the bill would and would not do; in fact, the rhetoric reminds us of the charge that "death panels" were part of health care reform (that law passed Congress a year ago and, of course, death panels are nowhere to be found). Thus, many folks who believe they are against the Maryland bill are against it because they don't know the legal facts. Here, we hope to provide accurate information so Maryland transgender people can understand the rights they may soon have.

  1. Employment protections: This bill would give transgender Marylanders robust employment protections, including the right to sue and the right to use workplace bathrooms. Transgender people would gain the right to sue if fired or not hired, harassed or otherwise discriminated against on the job. If a transgender person prevails in court after being discriminated against, they would win attorney's fees and costs, plus back pay, compensatory damages up to $300,000, and also, in some cases, punitive damages. The court could order that the victim be given their job back. These are the same remedies that are available under federal law for race, sex and other types of discrimination.
  2. If a discrimination victim does not have money to hire an attorney, they may instead file a complaint with the Maryland Human Relations Commission. The commission processes claims of discrimination, investigates them and holds hearings. They also issue rulings on these claims, and can order a discriminatory employer or housing provider to pay the same types of monetary awards and award a person the same type of relief as courts can, such as restoring the employment.
  3. Bathrooms at work are not an excluded "public accommodation"; legally, they are part of employees "terms and conditions" of employment, and thus have to be available to all employees, including transgender employees, in a nondiscriminatory manner. This is even true in workplaces that are also public accommodations such as retail establishments and restaurants.
  4. Likewise, employers who also offer public accommodations to the public would not be able to lock employees out claiming a right to exclude them from the establishment.
  5. Housing protections: The bill would also give trans people the right to sue if denied rental housing, rejected from buying a home, evicted due to their gender identity, or denied shelter at an appropriate homeless shelter. The law says a provider of housing cannot "refuse to sell, rent or otherwise deny" access to housing. Using federal case law, the Maryland Human Relations Commission interprets "otherwise deny" housing to include discrimination by homeless shelters. For any violation of housing rights, the law spells out various remedies, such as attorney's fees, compensatory damages and punitive damages.
  6. Credit protections: There are also protections against credit or loans being denied on the basis of gender identity.
  7. Public accommodations: Public accommodations are hotels, restaurants, health clubs, and service providers who are open to the public -- places where anyone can walk in off the street and buy something or access a service. The bill would do nothing to existing public accommodations law in Maryland. Nothing would be gained; nothing would be taken away. If anything, employment and housing protections should actually help reduce instances of public accommodations discrimination as employers update the nondiscrimination employment policies. This important cultural shift regarding employment should have a helpful effect on public accommodations discrimination. (No employer would instruct their employees to treat trans employees respectfully but customers in a discriminatory manner.)
  8. Due to political calculations of legislative allies (see below) public accommodations protections were not included in the bill this year. Had they been included though, it is incredibly important to understand that, in Maryland, there is NO RIGHT TO SUE for discrimination in public accommodations, and including public accommodations in HB235 would not have fixed that. So, if a Latino man, for instance, is denied service at a restaurant, or denied entry to the men's restroom (not his workplace), he cannot sue the restaurant under Maryland law even though it includes public accommodations protection based on national origin and race. His only remedy is to file a complaint and the restaurant, if found violating the law, would be subject to a $500 fine and a ruling that the restaurant should not discriminate against him again. When gender identity is eventually added to this portion of the law, transgender people will win an important but largely legally toothless right to access public accommodations. When HB235 in its current form passes, there will be no increase in public accommodations discrimination. Wild charges we have read of new "trans Jim Crow laws," "segregation" and even "trans slavery" are entirely baseless exaggerations that serve no legitimate place in the dialog.
  9. HB235 passing as written would not mean that doctors and hospitals can refuse to treat a transgender person in an emergency medical situation. There are laws that require emergency personnel to treat everyone who has an emergency medical situation if they are able to do so. Most trans people know of Tyra Hunter's case in Washington, D.C., (where EMTs delayed treatment when they discovered that she was born male) and it has been cited as a reason for public accommodations protection. Importantly though, her mother primarily won her case on "wrongful death" and medical malpractice. Family members have a right not to have their loved ones "wrongfully" killed, and Tyra's mom won on that legal claim; the discrimination claim was a small part of her lawsuit, which ultimately resulted in her $1.75 million dollar settlement.

Political calculations

The two of us have worked on more than 100 state and local nondiscrimination efforts and we can tell you that there are political calculations and judgments that are made every single time. The lead sponsor of the Maryland bill made a decision this time to streamline the bill, deleting public accommodations protection because it had been slowing the bill down for several years, making it impossible to pass from her perspective. Her analysis was that it would be years, or more likely a decade, before the Maryland legislature was willing to budge on public accommodations.

The problem is that the extreme right wing has made false accusations around the applicability of these laws to bathrooms and shower facilities for so long that Maryland legislators have largely bought into them. In fact, Montgomery County, Md., is the one place in the country where the right wing used this strategy (in 2008) loudest and most successfully. While we were able to shut down their repeal effort, based on the technical merits of their signature collection effort, we were not able to succeed before their lies scared a lot of legislators. Of course, the anti-trans people are wrong that transgender people are any danger, but the legislators, at this point, aren't convinced that the public isn't worried -- and, in fact, the legislators are a long way from being convinced.

Given that calculus, pro-equality advocates, including trans folks, in Maryland decided to support the bill, given the life-saving job and housing protections that are very much needed. Absolutely no one liked that public accommodations protections were removed from the bill, but because the job and housing protections were so needed and because workplace bathrooms are still protected, many have continued to work toward passage of HB235.

Insisting that Maryland have a perfect bill, when state and local anti-discrimination laws never are, would have been at the cost of years of continuing legal discrimination in employment and housing for transgender Marylanders. The vast majority of Marylanders, who are the ones who would have to bear this cost, have chosen to support the bill and therefore we do too. In the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 41 percent of transgender people reported attempting suicide. Among Maryland respondents of the survey, 43 percent had. Suicide attempts are often about not having hope for the future, a feeling that things won't improve. Passage of this bill can give people hope that they have a future in Maryland, one that does not involve living on the street and doing sex work to survive or to have a place to sleep.

Where we are now

It appears that the political calculations made by the lead sponsor were at least correct politically, given that this bill has finally passed the House of Delegates (86-52) after several years of not even receiving a committee vote. The recent holdup in the Senate has been resolved for now due to tremendous grassroots and grasstops pressure, and the bill is moving forward. If this bill passes the state Senate, we will begin the next legislative session assertively and proudly fighting for the passage of a public accommodations bill in Maryland. We hope that fair-minded trans people and allies will join us for one last push on this important but misunderstood bill this year, to get these basic, life-saving protections in place. We will have a solid and proven base on which to build even stronger protections. We will be giving trans Marylanders protections and hope. And we will continue building a better place than the discrimination and disrespect we documented in the "Injustice at Every Turn" report.


Recent Entries Filed under The Movement:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


I've got Mara on the show tonight talking about this. Be sure to tune in! 7pm eastern Live Feed: http://loudcaster.com/channels/560-q1-fm

Cathy Brennan | April 11, 2011 10:40 AM

You do realize the HB 285 was put in by the Delegate at the request of the National Federation of the Blind, and that your editorializing ("Not mentioning HB285 - the bill that puts teeth in Public Accommodations rights for Gays") sounds dangerously close to the line of what I and others view as a homophobic argument (i.e., trans oppression is mostly committed by the evil gays.) See http://www.nfbmd.org/pdf/Accommodations.doc

Not mentioning HB285 - the bill that puts teeth in Public Accommodations rights for Gays - is perilously close to lying by omission. The fact that you didn't mention it does nothing for your credibility in other areas.

It is the impression that HB235 had P/A removed so as not to cause problems with HB285. This article does nothing to correct that impression if it's false.

Regarding homeless shelters - first, the caselaw that exists says homeless shelters are Public Accommodations not Housing, unless they offer long-term stays of 120 days or more, being in fact short-term rental. There are AFAIK exactly zero of these in Maryland - no doubt you can correct me, and tell me exactly which ones do.

Furthermore, the homeless shelters that do exist often require trans and intersexed people to either be housed with the opposite sex, with attendant risk of rape to TS and IS females, or in the case of IS people, "housed" in corridors, cupboards etc. That's if they're allowed in at all. HB235 would do nothing to correct that.

To say that "homeless shelters are covered" is therefore exactly like saying "trans people are covered" by the 2001 legislation, an argument which also relied on specious and imaginative interpretation of out-of-state caselaw. Less so, in fact, than this time. Those difficulties should have been mentioned if there was full disclosure.

Is this supposed to be a propaganda piece, giving a one-sided view, or an objective assessment of the situation so we can make up our own minds as to whether the costs outweigh the benefits?

I have yet to hear a coherent explanation of why the P/A provisions could not be added as an amendment in the committee it's stuck in at the moment, voted on in the Senate, then passed back to the House for reconciliation. The huge majority this bill gained in the house argues that the votes are there, and to spare - even if it would embarrass some Democrat politicians by forcing them to get off the fence.

Summary:
HB235 provides some good protection regarding credit, housing (rental and buying), employment (large firms) and arguably small firms too. That last may or may not be the case.

It also legitimises Trans people from being denied service at lunch counters, being forced to travel at the back of the bus (if allowed on at all), and not just denied the use of "whites only" restrooms and drinking fountains, but any restrooms or drinking fountains whatsoever. The exceptions that have been carved out just for Trans people, as opposed to every other minority show clear legislative intent to allow discrimination here.

That argument was used in the Schroer case, and found persuasive by the Judge. Whether it is a real, rather than purely hypothetical, problem is another matter.

I think if this article was revised, and some of the difficulties admitted, it would greatly improve it. It would be seen as a useful and realistic assessment, not just more of the same propaganda and suppression of inconvenient facts that's been associated with this issue.

SHOW NEWS: We may be starting a few minutes late due to software issues. Don't worry, we're still doing the show, though so keep trying!

The one sticking point for me that this comes down to in what is happening in Maryland boils down to the fact that everyone is so afraid of the bathroom meme that ultimately people caved and conceeded public accommodations. That act creates a whole air of validation to something that is absolutely substanceless.

I realize that the dropping of the provision isn't the same as something like the "Equality Act," where exemptions were actually written into the bill, and consequently that part is going to remain open to interpretation. I realize that Maryland has had the longest, most heated and bitterest battle with pee fear.

But the meme is still substanceless.

If it becomes perceived as "real" enough to get this concession now, how do we know that that act isn't going to convince the next legislator in the next state to include a written exemption for washrooms or public accommodations? And the legislator after that to conclude that this is how you pass a trans rights bill?

I know the difficulty that orgs are facing, and the temptation to think that something is better than nothing (especially given the MD history). I also know firsthand how thankless a job it is operating from a non-profit organization, where nothing you do will ever be seen as "right" by anyone. I can empathize with that.

But in the end, the legislators' and EQMD's move to make this concession over a substanceless fear stands to cost trans people far more in the long run. I just don't think this is something that we ever should have compromised on. (not that it helped, since notmyshower etc. are still using "bathroom bill" themes, anyway)

The flip side of it is that we all share some responsibility (not all of it -- there are factors like media bias at play) to fight the meme so that it doesn't pack the political power that it currently does. That hasn't happened so far, and why we're at this juncture.

In a recent NPR article about your survey one of the chosen speakers for NCTE and NGLTF said this: "and I just want people to understand that as transgendered individuals, as a transgender community, we are not trying to put out there that we are going to change medically to fit into this." Are you now leaving transsexuals out from under your organizations representation? Also this was stated: "So our sample is a bunch of folks who are connected in some way to transgender LGBT communities through organizations." Are you aware the vast majority of TS identified women aren't LGB or Transgender identified or active in the community? Are you also aware that your survey also completely excludes this entire group of people? Your survey is only representative of those who identify as transgender and are somehow associated with the LGB. What would a survey of those who don't associate with the word transgender or the LGB community find? By excluding an entire group that only identify as transsexual or women transsexual history but still including them under the survey discription under the umbrella term trangender you are skewing numbers to favor your result.You are also making false implications about transsexuals by the purposeful and deceptive exclusion of those outside the LGBT community.This akin to only conducting a survey in Red States on political issues and claiming it to represent the views of the entire United States.

News flash: You'll be covered, too. Seems that the general public doesn't give a damn about the screaming and hollering done about "transsexual vs transgender" labels that some people think will make a difference. You can label yourself anything you want, but the law will cover you whether you want it to or not. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Sorry to burst your bubble my questions were for Mara Keisling and I'd like to see her answer them.

Such stunning arrogance. The public doesn't care about a lot of things. There is the law, however. It does matter whether she has changed sex or whether she is just expressing her "gender identity", which seems to be an option open to anybody. What are you trying to do? prove she hasn't changed sex? It's a simple conclusion if you make the assumption that she has changed sex, she shouldn't need ENDA protection. Saying she does puts her in a category that excludes her as female.

This article is one of the reason there are many people are pissed at EQMD. It seems they are getting their marching orders from national groups instead of listening to the citizens of MD. Not just on this but on marriage equality too. When a sizable portion of the transgender in MD started voicing their opinion against the bill EQMD shut down the meetings. And instead of defending the bill they bring members of national groups to make their arguments for them.
It's becoming increasingly obvious that EQMD is toothless and taking their marching orders from national groups. They caved on marriage equality after being pushed by HRC, Gill Foundation etc.

Chris Daley | April 8, 2011 10:55 AM

Tim -

I know this national v. state v. local organizations/interests theme is popular but, at the very least, in this case it is misplaced. Both Mara and Lisa live in the Maryland area. Lisa has lived there for at least a decade. The interests of Maryland residents are their interests as well. This bill will directly affect people they know well and see every day. It is simply incorrect to obscure this fact by labeling their interests as national simply because they run a national org and project (respectively).

It is also inaccurate to write that EQMD is hiding behind national groups. You may not have seen this, but the ED of EQMD just did a lengthy interview with Metro Weekly: http://www.metroweekly.com/feature/?ak=6135. In it, she states her own case for what has happened/is happening this legislative session.

Larger picture, the rhetoric about the relationship between local, state, and national groups is oftentimes oversimplified. Having run a statewide group in California and having volunteered with Indiana's statewide group, it simply hasn't been my experience that the national groups throw their weight around. Some national folks have large egos and/or prickly personalities. No more so than statewide or local folk, though.

In particular, in my extensive dealings with both Lisa and Mara, they are great examples of people who work hard to form true national, state, and local partnerships. Both are incredibly respectful of the role that statewide/local groups play and have, again in my experience, taken great pains to support not supplant local priorities and expertise.

I don't know anything about what happens with marriage equality bills in Maryland or elsewhere (other than what I read online). But I do know a lot about how work around transgender equality bills gets done. Based on that experience, I think your analysis of what is happening in Maryland is off-base.

All the best,

Chris

Good analysis.

I was speaking to a civil rights lawyer the other day who told me that the sad truth of the matter is that most of the states' gender identity protections aren't really worth the paper they're written on because they're so vague and contain a lot of possible loopholes. Would you agree?

And, with some in the trans community up in arms over the lack of public accommodations protections, I just want to ask, "Then why do you support ENDA so much? There's no public accommodation protections there either. Or housing for that matter!" It seems like a double standard.

"... most of the states' gender identity protections aren't really worth the paper they're written on because they're so vague and contain a lot of possible loopholes."

When it comes to religious exemptions, dress code exemptions that aren't specific about accommodating one's gender identity... yes, there are laws that are horribly flawed and this doesn't get the notice or column inches that it should. Even in the case of good laws, if an employer can trump up an alternate excuse well enough, he can often convince a court that he didn't fire someone out of bias. Laws aren't the final word.

They're a step, though. And the existence of an inclusive law signals to employers that it's time to create trans-inclusive policies within their companies, signals to legal agencies that they have to take complaints by trans people seriously... not to mention the awareness that the creation of the law generates in the general public.

Sounds horribly incrementalist, doesn't it? :)

"Then why do you support ENDA so much? There's no public accommodation protections there either. Or housing for that matter!"

Again, I can't speak for everyone else. My concern is that a visible concession was made to unrealistic fearmongering. Whether it's public accommodations or a washroom exemption or whatever, it's a bad precedent.

We have to rethink our response to "Bathroom Bill" rhetoric. Rather than having any basis in fact, the persistence of this meme exactly demonstrates why trans protections need to be explicitly included in legislation.

Mara Keisling | April 10, 2011 1:56 PM

Mercedes, I think you are getting to the problem here. A real problem is that public accommodation protections seem to have been pre-bargained without even trying. Is it true? The lead sponsor believes it was necessary, but I don’t know. Regardless, it seems like that to a lot of people. My main reason for support though is that, regardless of how and why PA was removed, the only choice once it was removed was to try to get employment and housing protections or nothing.

There was never a chance to add it back in this year. Either we go back and get PA protections in future years or we go back and get PA, employment, housing and credit in future years. It’s a fairly easy decision for me.

The reason I am visibly supporting it is because I was very concerned about the misinformation, exaggerations and even hate that was clouding rational conversation. I am not saying you, Mercedes, have perpetrated misinformation, etc.

I just want to ask, "Then why do you support ENDA so much? There's no public accommodation protections there either. Or housing for that matter!" It seems like a double standard.

Hey Bil, you shouldn't have taken lessons from Sarah Palin on how to read notes on your hand. And BTW, who wrote this talking point on your hand anyway - Morgan Meneses-Sheets? Caroline Temmermand?

A trans-inclusive federal ENDA doesn't contain public accommodations FOR ANYONE, be it me or you. Get it?

http://endablog.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/why-transphobic-con-artists-is-about-the-nicest-way-that-one-can-describe-equality-maryland/

HB235 leaves in place a portion of the gay-approved, anti-trans apartheid of Maryland's 2001 political hate crime: It leaves you legally superior to me, simply only in the realm of public accommodations. Get it?

No, all you get are talking points - but you are either unable (or unwilling) to try to find out whether the BS you're pushing is in fact just BS.

I think you just proved my point, Kat. You went into automatic insult mode without even bothering to examine what I said. It went to emotion vs facts.

You're right, ENDA doesn't cover public accommodations protections for me either. That's the point. There are no public accommodations at all in ENDA. There's not in this bill either - although it goes further than ENDA and includes housing protections. So if the reason to defeat the Maryland bill is because it doesn't contain those protections, why isn't it a reason to defeat ENDA in favor of a mega-ENDA that includes housing and public accommodations protections? It's a disconnect that I don't understand.

As for talking points from whomever, I didn't realize that asking a question constituted "pushing" anything. Instead, I'm offering you a chance to discuss the topic. That's it. Climb off that cross; we need the wood.

And, with some in the trans community up in arms over the lack of public accommodations protections, I just want to ask, "Then why do you support ENDA so much? There's no public accommodation protections there either. Or housing for that matter!" It seems like a double standard.

While ENDA says absolutely nothing about public accommodations one way or another, this is what Maryland HB 235 says about discrimination in public accommodations: discriminate all you like, so long as the basis of your discrimination is gender identity or expression. (Yes, I'm paraphrasing to skip all the legalese, but that's the gist of it.) That's the difference between these two bills that lets me support ENDA while not supporting HB 235. No double standard there.

Michilko Ota Eyre | April 8, 2011 11:29 AM

As someone who was born in Maryland and plans to move back and who has been a major opponent of HB-235 "as written", I appreciate your article but I wish to clarify some things.

There are some of my peers who are equating HB-235 without public accommodation (P/A) as a "Jim Crow Law". I personally do not subscribe to that thought. In order for a law to be considered a "Jim Crow Law", there has to be mandated discrimination. That does not exist. There is nothing in the law that requires business owners to prohibit transgender people from using certain public accommodation. Even the proposed law in Maine is not a Jim Crow Law as it gives the proprietor the option to discriminate sex-segregated facilities based on biological sex.

Homeless shelters are a public accommodation. This has been proven in the Boise case. Intermountain Fair Housing Council v. Boise Rescue Mission, Inc., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48065 (D ID, May 12, 2010). In this case, the court rules that a homeless shelter is a place of transitory lodging and therefore does constitute "housing" under the federal fair housing laws. Equality Maryland responded to my claims citing Woods v. Foster, 884 F. Supp.1169, 1173-74 (N.D. Ill. 1995). With that, they included a portion of the decision that may show that this "shelter" was in fact housing but they did leave off an important piece of the court's opinion:

' ' The court was not persuaded that a one-hundred-twenty day stay-which the defendants claimed was the maximum period of time an individual was allowed to stay at the shelter-was a transient visit" making the shelter merely a form of accommodation, like a hotel. Id. at 1174. "The women in the Shelter inhabit the Shelter, although the length of time they live there depends on their success in finding more permanent housing. Their residence is not so short-lived or transient that the Shelter can be considered a mere public accommodation." ' '

So in this case, the court only considered it housing because clients were able to stay for up to 120 days and not just overnight like a majority of homeless shelters.

Equality Maryland countered claiming that an attorney at the Maryland Commission on Human Relations (MCHR) told them that they consider homeless shelters as "housing" however there is no public document that indicates this and MCHR or EQMD has not released any decision or case law that shows that the MCHR will rule or has ruled in that direction. That is not good enough for me.

On workplace restrooms. I think we can agree that while a stretch, the law could be applied to restrooms at a workplace, even if those restrooms allow for public access. What the law does not cover is discrimination at P/A, while in the course of someone's job is denied due to a third party P/A provider. Examples include but are not limited to: denial or harassment of a restroom facility at a remote location as a result of someone having a job that requires driving routes (such as a transit bus operator or a taxi cab driver), being denied lodging in connection with a position that requires overnight stays in hotels as well as denial of public transportation.

My main issue is that Equality Maryland and its allies are misinforming people in order to get their support. This includes not disclosing exactly what rights will be gained by removing P/A from the legislation (P/A is much more than just restroom access), the claims that all transgender Marylanders will be protected when in fact there will be a subset of people who will not because they work in positions that require P/A that is not in the direct or even indirect control of the employer as well as all of the false claims made about homeless shelters.

If HB-235 does pass, I am calling on the HRC, NCTE, EQMD and all of the other state and national organizations to NOT add Maryland to the "list of states" with transgender rights. This information is used by visitors who will be using primarily P/A and if Maryland is listed that way, it will give some transgender people the wrong impression that when they visit Maryland, they will be protected.

If HB-235 does pass, it will definitely help transgender Marylanders where it comes to rental housing, purchased housing and obtaining credit. It will definitely cover many (but not all) workplaces that are not already covered by anti-discrimination policies and it will add well needed protections in state employment.

Despite the good points I have made about HB-235, with the removal of P/A protections, transgender Marylanders will continue to be denied the rights that our gay, lesbian and bisexual brothers and sisters continue to enjoy and not all workplaces will be protected. Organizations that help the poor and homeless can still deny access to food banks and transgender people run the risk of sexual assault by being placed in shelters that are congruent with their biological gender and not their identified gender.

I also do not see how a standalone bill with strictly P/A for transgender people will be able to survive on its own in a future legislative session, even if the Maryland State House and Senate shift to being both Democratic Party controlled.

I feel that HB-235 "as written" is inadequate to protect transgender Marylanders as well as visitors to the state and puts the state in an unusual situation to pass a transgender P/A only bill in the future.

Some are saying that California was a state where this "incrementalism" worked. This is not correct. What happened in California was after gender identity was added to employment laws, there was a lot of litigation around gender identity where it came to P/A access under the Unruh Act. (Perhaps because P/A access is necessary to do many jobs??) CA added gender identity under definition of "sex" and they also added marital status to the Unruh Act at the same time. So no, it was not a standalone "P/A for trans" bill like some would suggest.

If HB-235 does pass, I call on Trans-United and Trans-Maryland to temporarily take the lead on starting up support for P/A laws at the county an state level in order to give Equality Maryland to ramp up to better support the transgender community but at that time, any decisions made to advance transgender legislation needs to be done not solely by Equality Maryland (which was the case with HB-235) but with the different aspects of the transgender community in Maryland with assistance from advocates nationwide.

Equality Maryland has a chance to redeem themselves with the rest of transgender community and I feel that this is possible. But in order for that to happen, changes will need to take place in the organization in order to best represent all aspects of transgender (gender identity from the perspective of both identified genders as well as from the gender expression community) people.

I personally look forward to that day.

"You're right, ENDA doesn't cover public accommodations protections for me either. That's the point. There are no public accommodations at all in ENDA. There's not in this bill either - although it goes further than ENDA and includes housing protections."

Nice try Bil. You can't circle back and repeat the same bullshit and expect that it will be viewed as cotton candy. It was an 'Equality' Maryland talking point the first time and it is an 'Equality' Maryland talking point the second time as well.

In Maryland right now, you are legally superior to trans people. Under HB 235, you'll simply be 1/3 as legally superior to trans people as you are today. Under a trans-inclusive ENDA, we will be all equal.

If you take pointing out bullshit as an insult, that says fare more about yourself than it does the person doing the pointing.

Crosses?

Never touch 'em.

They all belong in the same landfill as all purple-and-yellow equal signs.

I'd have no idea if it's a talking point for Equality Maryland. I've not been following this controversy or the legislation very closely at all. I'm not trying to pick a fight. I just don't understand and you're not explaining it very well at all. In fact, you've not offered any rational argument about what I said, just said it was "talking points" and "BS."

It's easy to just issue a blanket statement, but you've got to have the facts to back you up. What's the difference between ENDA and this bill? Explain your thinking to me. Please. There's no need for hostilities, it's just a question.

None of our contributors - including Monica Roberts and Kelley Winters - have posted about this so I don't get the thinking behind it. I know they're both upset about it, but I've not seen why. I've been trying to follow along on your blog, but what I've mostly seen has been posts about EM scrubbing their Facebook page instead of an argument on why it's bad for trans folk.

It's called the legislative intent defense Bil. What that means is since public accommodations were pointedly left out with discussion, the legislature can be taken as opposed to those civil rights. When a group becomes a "protected class" as this bill does, their civil rights actually can be effectively limited, as this will do.

In other words, someone owns a public accommodation and discriminates openly against anyone trans anything. They find themselves in court, offer the legislative intent defense and opps......that's a legit reason to discriminate. This bill actually creates a situation that makes discrimination now illegal into a legal one.

I have seen this in action when SONDA became law in New York to a very dear friend. You might be able to win in court but only if you have boatloads of money to hire lawyers because none of the civil rights orgs will be there for you unless you sue and already spend that boatload of money and just how many trans anythings have more than just enough to survive?

It's more than bad law, it's downright anti-civil rights law.

BTW, since trans people don't really count, consider that the exact same type of discrimination becomes possible against a lesbian who is too butch. All the defense has to show is they have no problem with a nice lipstick lesbian and it becomes a gender issue.

Mara Keisling | April 9, 2011 12:20 PM

Hey folks, I'm sorry I pretty much hit the road early morning after this was posted so I haven't had time to respond to comments. I will try now. Please note that I'm going to start at the top with Zoe's comments and get as far down the list as I have time. That means I might not get done and it also means I might not reference later comments when responding to earlier comments. I'm one of the folks who doesn't participate much in blog comments so I apologize if I'm breaking protocol somehow.

Mara Keisling | April 9, 2011 2:07 PM

Zoe, Thank you so much for the very important comments and your reasonable tone. Let me respond point by point.
First, HB285. That bill was not an intentional omission from our piece. Let me explain what it is for the folks who may not have heard of it as you have. Let me say right up front that I am not an attorney, and I’ll try not to say anything that I haven’t learned from civil rights attorneys who know the subject matter. Please bear with me if I don’t get every legal word exactly right.
So, HB285: Basically, as we noted, the public accommodations (PA) protections in current Maryland law have no private right of action—meaning essentially that individuals who are victims of PA discrimination cannot sue the perpetrator. So a bunch of civil rights groups, in this case led by advocates for the blind, wanted to fix that with HB285. Public accommodations protections are really really important to many blind people. HB285 would give a private right of action to every category currently protected by PA laws and every category that will eventually be protected. So, yes, sexual orientation would be covered right away along with race, national origin religion, etc. And gender identity (GI) would be protected once GI PA protections are passed. This situation is analogous somewhat to something that was going on in the last Congress while ENDA was progressing, there was also a bill progressing that would have fixed an enforcement problem in existing and future civil rights laws. The loophole for discriminating employer opened up in a case called Gross v. Something-or-another and has to do with whether an employment discrimination event resulted from discrimination based on just one factor, such as race or multiple factors, such as race and national origin. Had there been committee action in the HoR, a fix to the Gross problem would have been added then, but either way we were supportive of the more general Gross fix (I forget the bill #, but introduce by George Miller (D-CA) )for all categories just as we should all want HB285 to pass so that there is a private right of action once we do get PA protections. Judging only from the Maryland legislature website, it seems that HB285 is about as far along as HB235 (as of Friday afternoon), but no one in the LGBT community nor Del. Pena-Melnyk—who I believe is the lead sponsor on both bills—has prioritized 285 over 235.
So, Zoe said, “It is the impression that HB235 had P/A removed so as not to cause problems with HB285. This article does nothing to correct that impression if it's false.” As far as I know, that impression is false, but still it is an impression and that’s important to know and we probably should have thought to bring it up. But Lisa and I omitted it from our piece only because it is an important bill but both tangential to whether to support HB235 and supportable regardless. But HB285 is not in any way slowing down trans rights or being used against us in any way, so far that I can figure.
Second, you mentioned homeless shelters. This is a really important conversation. 1. The case law on this is not nearly so clear as you imply. Our point, which is accurate, is that the Maryland Human Rights Commission believes and says that it would be able to enforce the housing protections to include Maryland homeless shelters. Of course that is ultimately insufficient. There is still a lot of work to do around getting better shelters, better shelter policies and better shelter enforcement, but having PA protections in HB235 also would not have resolved that.
But let’s say that PA protections were more important for homeless shelter rights than housing protections. That still in no one way would mean that we should refuse to win employment and housing and credit rights until we can also simultaneously win PA protections. The choice in Maryland this year, once PA was removed, was for some rights or no rights. Nothing in HB235 will degrade our currently weak homeless shelter rights—they would however be enhanced with HB235 because the MHRC (or whatever its initials are) says that it can and will enforce homeless shelter rights based on the proposed housing protections.
Okay, third, why couldn’t have PA protections been added back in committee? Had I been involved in the debate over whether to take out PA in the first place, I would have argued among other things that we never—I really think never—get good things added in committee. We were going to try with ENDA and the Gross fix I mentioned above, but that was not a trans-specific gain. We are still at the point where we are always fighting tooth and nail to NOT have additional things removed in committee. But this is related to the next point.
You wrote: “The huge majority this bill gained in the house argues that the votes are there, and to spare - even if it would embarrass some Democrat politicians by forcing them to get off the fence.”
I really don’t know if it could have been originally introduced and passed with PA in it. I would have liked for them to try. But if the lead sponsor was correct about the POLITICAL need to remove it to get it through the House, she looks like she was right from where the Delegates sit today. It hadn’t passed before with PA and now it has without. Because it passed by a lot as is, does not mean it would have passed heavier. And again, personally I wish they had tried. They didn’t.
Finally, you wrote: “It also legitimises Trans people from being denied service at lunch counters, being forced to travel at the back of the bus (if allowed on at all), and not just denied the use of "whites only" restrooms and drinking fountains, but any restrooms or drinking fountains whatsoever. The exceptions that have been carved out just for Trans people, as opposed to every other minority show clear legislative intent to allow discrimination here. That argument was used in the Schroer case, and found persuasive by the Judge. Whether it is a real, rather than purely hypothetical, problem is another matter.”
I think these concerns are horrifying AND entirely hypothetical. There is not a single reason to think that HB235 without PA protections will cause there to be a single additional act of PA discrimination against a single trans person. I agree that it is a bad statement morally and theoretically, but it is a statement that frankly no one will hear. The Maryland Restaurant Association, the Maryland Retail Association (assuming these exist) aren’t going to write newsletter articles telling their members that “it is still okay to discriminate against trans people so step it up.” Passing HB235 would not take away a single right from trans people; it just would not add this one class of rights. Nothing will change on the ground except hypothetically– as Lisa and I mentioned—they may change slightly in our direction because businesses will be told by their employment lawyers not to discriminate against trans employees. That moves the big ball down the field for us and is most likely to lead to decreased PA discrimination. I don’t want to overplay that point; we’ll still need to come back and win PA. But I still argue the immediate PA damage is hypothetical and very much overplayed. No rights will be lost, just not gained.
Lastly, let me kind of agree with you on a paragraph and thank you for pointing it out. You wrote: “Is this supposed to be a propaganda piece, giving a one-sided view, or an objective assessment of the situation so we can make up our own minds as to whether the costs outweigh the benefits?”
In retrospect, I think I led Lisa away from her goal of just debunking the made-up legal stuff that was floating around and maybe made it too much advocacy. But I’ve been troubled that people making up problems were getting all the play to the point that more and more trans people had only heard one—largely made up—side of the argument. But the here is the cost benefit analysis from my point of view:
Once the PA protections were removed from the bill prior to introduction, the only choice for Maryland Trans people became try to win desperately needed employment protections (with workplace bathroom protections) and housing protections or get nothing.
Zoe, thanks again for your comments.

Thanks for the comprehensive answer.

Having seen the amendments proposed in the judiciary committee, I see your point there.

Yes, I think you could have done better. But I'm even more sure that I, and many who have criticised you, could not have done half as well in your position. Thanks for your efforts.

Mara Keisling | April 9, 2011 2:42 PM

Mercedes,

I agree largely. The problem is the pre-negotiation that legislators always seem to try to do.

Too often, we are put in the position where strong allies negotiate against themselves even before the opposition has a chance to raise a problem.

Both Lisa and I have fought that problem numerous times in city councils, state legislatures and of course Congress. We actually win a lot more than we lose, but folks never hear about that because it's always feared that if anyone even knows a compromise has been considered, the next legislature will try harder to get the compromise.

I wasn't on the ground during the Maryland conversations so I don't want to judge the accuracy of their calculations, but yes it really is unfortunate that PA was removed. But we should not assail the motives of the lead sponsor or Equality Maryland (not that you were Mercedes); I know them to have done what they thought best. And remember, most Maryland trans activists who have been working on this opposed the removal but made moral decisions to keep working after the removal.

Mercedes, you said: "But in the end, the legislators' and EQMD's move to make this concession over a substanceless fear stands to cost trans people far more in the long run. I just don't think this is something that we ever should have compromised on. (not that it helped, since notmyshower etc. are still using "bathroom bill" themes, anyway)"

Your use of the term substanceless fear is excellent and points to one of the biggest issues here. The bathroom nonsense is substantively baseless, but the fear of the bathroom thing to legislators who worry about angry right wing constituents is very very real. And we are just figuring out how to go at that fullforce. Many trans folks probably would prefer that we ignore the truly baseless bathroom meme, but if we do, we will continue to have the same pre-bargaining against ourselves problem. We can't afford that and, I think, we MAY need to have a very public debate about trans people in the bathroom. It wouldn't be a pretty fight, but we may need to have it and soon.


Finally, there is an odd claim floating out there that no civil rights movement has advanced with incrementalism. That is exactly wrong and made up. (not by you, Mercedes) There is not a single civil rights movement I know of that has moved forward with anything but incremental wins. Believe me, nothing would be better and more moral than winning all at once. It doesn't happen. Sure, that's bad. It doesn't happen.

Wisconsin.

It's been 35 years since GLBs were protected, and T's were not.

Demographic changes now mean that they never will be. Incrementalism means forward progress, not stopping forever with the job half-done.

The debate over ENDA was that if T's were included, GLBs might have to wait 2, 3, maybe even 5 years for protections.

T's would be ecstatic if we only had to wait 5 years, and happy if it were 10. Because the record shows, as with Maryland, as with Mass., and as with Wisconsin, that usually it's not 5, or 10, or even 15 years before protections are gained for us. How long has it been in NH? How long will it take for P/A to be gained in Maryland? When SONDA was passed in NY, did anyone seriously believe that T's still wouldn't have protections in 2011, and the way things are, possibly not in 2012, 2013, 2014...?

To follow up on Mara's comments, as one who actually has been rather involved and knows what's going on, I'd like to say the following:

I, too, do not like this bill. Had I been on that committee I would not have allowed PA to be stripped. But I don't sit on that committee, because I didn't get elected. That's the value of having "a seat at the table."

I know the members of that committee, and I am very disappointed at their unwillingness to challenge the "substance-less fears" addressed By Mercedes. She has written extensively and forcefully on this issue, and knows of what she speaks. But just because we know better, that doesn't mean that generally decent people listening to Ruth Jacobs are willing to expend political capital to stand against her nonsense. These legislators have 2200 bills a session, we're not the only ones, and until we come up with a cogent counter-argument that will allow them to just shrug and say, "That's ridiculous, let's move on," we will have this problem.

Mara, there ARE organizations called the Maryland Restaurant Association (I've worked with them extensively on trans fats legislation) and the Maryland Retailers Association (and we've worked with them for years to respond to their concerns). Neither opposes this bill (or the previous comprehensive ones). The restaurants are not salivating at the opportunity to deny us service.

Most importantly, to this discussion -- PA were stripped from the bill before it was dropped, so there can be no legislative intent read into this bill's history. There is just as much legislative intent in the fact that the comprehensive bill has been killed the previous four years. I know that the lead sponsor had extensive conversations with her colleagues on the House committee on which she sits, and she simply did not have the votes to submit a comprehensive bill. In 2007, yes. In 2009, yes. In 2011, unfortunately, no.

Now it can also be said that the persistent roadblock that has been Senator Frosh in the Senate has been removed. He introduced a friendly amendment which was accepted by the entire Senate committee, and the Delegate sponsor as well, redefining "gender identity." probably for the 130th time in this country, but Lisa can give you a better sense of that. So, now he's happy, the two recalcitrant Democratic Senators are happy, the bill left committee today with a very strong 7-4 vote, and the Senate President, who had declared the bill dead 13 days ago, has promised to expedite its passage once it hits the floor Monday (http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2011/04/-before-the.html). He asked us to show him the votes, and we did. He wanted the bill to be clean and free of controversy with the Dems, and it is. We may still lose as the clock runs out, but the work is nearly done.

One last point -- this was a community effort. Not an Equality Maryland effort, but a community effort in which EqMD played a necessary but far from sufficient role. So we can proud to have begun the creation of a more diverse and unified coalition to move to the next step.

To follow up on Mara's comments, as one who actually has been rather involved and knows what's going on, I'd like to say the following:

I, too, do not like this bill. Had I been on that committee I would not have allowed PA to be stripped. But I don't sit on that committee, because I didn't get elected. That's the value of having "a seat at the table."

I know the members of that committee, and I am very disappointed at their unwillingness to challenge the "substance-less fears" addressed By Mercedes. She has written extensively and forcefully on this issue, and knows of what she speaks. But just because we know better, that doesn't mean that generally decent people listening to Ruth Jacobs are willing to expend political capital to stand against her nonsense. These legislators have 2200 bills a session, we're not the only ones, and until we come up with a cogent counter-argument that will allow them to just shrug and say, "That's ridiculous, let's move on," we will have this problem.

Mara, there ARE organizations called the Maryland Restaurant Association (I've worked with them extensively on trans fats legislation) and the Maryland Retailers Association (and we've worked with them for years to respond to their concerns). Neither opposes this bill (or the previous comprehensive ones). The restaurants are not salivating at the opportunity to deny us service.

Most importantly, to this discussion -- PA were stripped from the bill before it was dropped, so there can be no legislative intent read into this bill's history. There is just as much legislative intent in the fact that the comprehensive bill has been killed the previous four years. I know that the lead sponsor had extensive conversations with her colleagues on the House committee on which she sits, and she simply did not have the votes to submit a comprehensive bill. In 2007, yes. In 2009, yes. In 2011, unfortunately, no.

Now it can also be said that the persistent roadblock that has been Senator Frosh in the Senate has been removed. He introduced a friendly amendment which was accepted by the entire Senate committee, and the Delegate sponsor as well, redefining "gender identity." probably for the 130th time in this country, but Lisa can give you a better sense of that. So, now he's happy, the two recalcitrant Democratic Senators are happy, the bill left committee today with a very strong 7-4 vote, and the Senate President, who had declared the bill dead 13 days ago, has promised to expedite its passage once it hits the floor Monday (http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2011/04/-before-the.html). He asked us to show him the votes, and we did. He wanted the bill to be clean and free of controversy with the Dems, and it is. We may still lose as the clock runs out, but the work is nearly done.

One last point -- this was a community effort. Not an Equality Maryland effort, but a community effort in which EqMD played a necessary but far from sufficient role. So we can proud to have begun the creation of a more diverse and unified coalition to move to the next step.

Mara Keisling | April 9, 2011 7:26 PM

AmyM, I understand from this and previous discussions that this is somehow distressful to you, but I think you will find that yours is not the only opinion about this identity issues among trans people. I haven’t heard the NPR piece so I won’t comment on that.

Though NCTE does define transgender to include transsexuals and we make sure our work will not exclude any type of trans person, if you really look at our work and our successes, they disproportionately positively affect transsexuals.

I totally hear you that you do not like being called a transgender person and I agree that some transsexuals agree with you, but I am a transsexual and I am fine with the word transgender, so I think it’s not helpful to make it seem like you speak for all or even most transsexuals.

I’m working right now without my copy of the report or access to the data, but a large portion of our sample was made up of people who identify as both. As for sampling only to people with transgender community connections, that’s not precisely accurate. Even if it were, those people would have included folks like you who say they don’t want to be included in a transgender umbrella but maintain active connections with “transgender” support groups and “lesbian, gay, bisexual and TRANSGENDER” blogs like Bilerico.

I get that this survey was somehow distressful for you, but I think you can’t look too successfully in transgender space for people who think the transgender framing is immoral.

Jillian Weiland Jillian Weiland | April 10, 2011 3:11 AM

Mara:

I think Amy brought up some extremely relevant questions regarding the message people within your organization are sending about transsexuals to those outside of LGBT related organizations: those who may not have a comfortable grasp on T terminology. There are transsexuals in existence for whom medical treatment, ie SRS and hormone therapy is necessary. I am one of those people. For us, not receiving that treatment can lead to depression, substance addiction, self mutilation, and even suicide. I have both seen this and experienced it firsthand. For others as well as myself, this is a very real medical condition that can be cured with the proper treatment.

A huge part of getting that treatment is ensuring that our condition be recognized as a medical condition, not a choice. When no distinction is made between those who absolutely need medical care and those who “are not trying to put out there that we are going to change ourselves medically to fit in this” (verbatim from a representative of your organization stated on the National Public Radio article Amy cited), many get the impression that medical treatment is merely optional for all those transgendered (the umbrella term under which transsexuals lie). This is not the first and only instance statements like this have been made by organizations such as your own, and due to the extent of your influence, it is generally accepted as fact.

True, not all transgendered people transition, seek or need medical treatment or get surgery, but there are people (mostly identified as transsexuals) who need that care and their state of mind and survival in the world is dependent on receiving it. Because people like me are grouped under the transgender term, the message is being sent, whether intentional or not, that medical treatment is merely an option for me.

The implication of the message your organization sends about transsexuals via the transgender umbrella is not only misleading, but destructive and harmful to transsexuals for whom medical treatment can be lifesaving. You are sending the message that treatment for us is not necessary, and this is the message heard by everyone in the United States: doctors, politicians, universities, voters, people who have a say in what is covered by health insurance, the insurance companies themselves, CEOs, those uneducated on trans issues, those within the LGBT community and transsexuals like me you claim to represent for whom treatment is not an option.

Shame on you, and shame on the NCTE. I understand your organization was founded to help transpeople, but actions speak louder than words or mission statements. A TS person without the proper medical treatment is an ill person, this I know firsthand. Whether you see it or not, you have the blood on your hands of TS people unable to receive treatment by spreading your organization's deceptive “medical intervention is optional” message on a national level. I have been following these matters for some time, and can remain silent no longer.

Your response to Amy implies that you are simply do not care if there are transsexuals who are “distressed” by your agenda. I can assure you that there are transsexuals out there who are more than just distressed by being labeled transgender, they are not receiving treatment, suffering, and dying.

There is however a solution to this problem. I ask you as a fellow transsexual identified woman to lift the fog of confusion hurting us transsexuals who need treatment and make an adjustment in your terminology. I ask your organization to differentiate between those for whom medical treatment is necessary (including hormones and surgery if medically possible, the transsexuals), and those of whom medical treatment is an option (the transgendered). I am a supporter of the rights of others in the TG umbrella, but we are two very different groups of people with differing needs. There needs to be a distinction, there needs to be a separation.

It is to my understanding that you will be visiting Iowa this November for the Transgender Day of Remembrance to give a public appearance. If you and your organization continue to push an agenda that implies medical treatment for transsexual people is optional, rest assured I and many other transsexuals who feel the same will be there to let the public know the extent of our dissatisfaction with you, the NCTE, and the transgender term you label us with. I ask you: remember the feelings you had living as male, the pain and suffering that came with it, and the relief and serenity you must have gained post surgery. I haven't reached the point of surgery. I still have not yet received all the treatment I need. Remember those feelings, and do the right thing.

Mara you are totally missing the point and have tried to sidestep it by claiming it somehow distresses me.How as a Lesbian Identified Transgender woman can you claim to represent the interest of heterosexual identified TS Women and Women of a TS history by pinning the word transgender on them Pre or Post-op? How many heterosexual and transsexual only identified transsexuals do you have working in your organinzation? Are you claiming that most transsexuals aren't LGB oriented or LGB associated? How as transgender organization can you claim to represent them? While you can conveniently claim I don't speak for all T people, how can you put yourself on the pedestal of claiming to speak for all T people when by the numbers you only represent a very small portion of the total T population? I know many transsexuals and people who identify as transgender and most of them see your organization as causing damage to transsexuals by 1) claiming surgery isn't medically necessary 2) forced association with the LGB instead of respecting us enough to say that we are heterosexual women therefore you can't represent our best interest in marriage and other heterosexual interests.3) Continuing on what was touched on, we are women and don't need special protections we need to be legally treated as women. 4) By failing to push us away you are invalidating us as women and in turn invalidating yourself.5) by forced LGB association you are invalidating the marriages of heterosexual women by casting doubt on their validity as being truly heterosexual.6)No matter how comfortable you are in identifying as a Transgender woman it does not entitle you to put others under that label. 7) you are causing severe harm to others and as evidenced by your acknowledgment that you are causing others distress yet you don't care about their health or welfare and that you are happy to continue causing them damage while claiming to be helping them.

Mara Keisling | April 10, 2011 2:44 PM

AmyM (and Jillian),

This is thread about the Maryland bill. It is not about an NPR article, in which no NCTE staff or board appears anyway. If you write a piece about your theories and let me know where to read it, we can talk about it there.

All I will do here is just fix all of the inaccuracies that you just carelessly put out there.

1) I didn’t say that I didn’t know about the NPR story, I said I had not heard it. My exact words were, “I haven’t heard the NPR piece so I won’t comment on that.”
2) Nobody in the NPR piece was from NCTE or was speaking on behalf of NCTE. My friend, Jaime Grant previously worked for the Task Force and now works at a college. Michelle Enfield is a wonderful transsexual woman who has faced a lot of discrimination and now works in service to trans people with HIV/AIDS. She was kind enough to step forward and tell her story to educate the public. We can’t know exactly what she said, what context she said it in or how it was edited. But she a wonderful and very strong advocate. I think you are missing her point. But, she does not work for NCTE and I did not know in advance, nor need to know, that she and Jaime were doing this interview.
3) I do not believe that surgery is not medically necessary. That is not even close to my position. Transition-related surgeries are absolutely life-saving to so many people and much of NCTE’s work is aimed at advancing that point.
4) It is true that currently most transsexuals who need surgeries cannot access them.
5) I have and do argue that surgeries should not be required in order for trans people to have human and civil rights, respect and proper ID. Until we can win access to surgeries for everyone who needs them, that seems to me the only reasonable, practical and humane position.
6) I am not going to debate fine survey research methodological points other than to say two things. First, I have something like 25 years of survey research experience as a pollster, academic and consultant. Second, sure, the sample methodology we used is not perfect because sampling methodology can never be perfect for a population that is not even exactly definable and which is largely invisible for many reasons. However, it is the best methodology used to date and is passing muster with many methodologists as a solid study. The survey has already had remarkable advocacy impact and we should be thrilled about that. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development used it to justify their new proposed regulations that are great for us. The Institutes of Medicine used is in their report to HHS to make and important methodological point and to show a real need to end trans health disparities. The department of Health and Human Services used it in their own Healthy People 2020 report as evidence of the need to fight trans health disparities. At a health conference this weekend, I saw a presentation by a doctor from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), who used the data to show a real need for additional study of trans mental health needs. This is a solid survey methodologically and is also having huge advocacy benefits.
7) I did not say that I caused you to be distress or that I didn’t care that you were. I said “I understand from this and previous discussions that this is somehow distressful to you.” I was, in fact, trying to express sympathy.
8) Finally, you accused me of “forced association with the LGB,” that is, you believe that I or NCTE is somehow forcing you and all transsexuals (including me) to be associated with gay people. First, the irony of you saying that after willingly coming to LGBT space (Bilerico) to say it yet again is fascinating and irresistible. Second, there are certainly discussions to be had about the relationship the trans movement and the gay rights movement. However, I do believe that a) gender identity and sexual orientation are very different things and b) we are tied very closely by shared culture, political friends and enemies, public perception and safe space. Thinking of gay and bi people as the other is counterproductive.

Amy and Jillian, when I come to DesMoines in November, I hope we can sit down and have this conversation, but it isn’t fair to others to keep having it in the middle of other barely related conversations. And again, if you write a piece about your theories and let me know where to read it, we can discuss it there.

Mara here is a link to that NPR story please tell how it isn't damaging to transsexuals and how as the head of the NCTE you didn't know about it.When organizations screw up usually the CEO's take a walk it's time for you to follow the path.
http://www.npr.org/2011/03/28/134926352/Study-Discrimination-Takes-A-Toll-On-Transgendered-Americans

The two people being interviewed by Michele Martin in the NPR link you provide come across as refined and articulate, Amy. You must be aware of that. I doubt many people will spend the time reading and re-reading the transcript as I have but, clearly, the statement was made that:

"we are not trying to put out there that we are going to change medically to fit into this."

We are told over and over by the people who seem to have the popular support that "changing medically" doesn't matter.

The answer we get over and over again is, "I am a transsexual and I am fine with the word transgender."

Well, I am not "a transsexual", either but,

"You can label yourself anything you want, but the law will cover you whether you want it to or not."?

Instead of the doctors defining us, now, we have transactivists and we're being told we can go to hell if we don't like it. The problem is, you have to be allowed to leave before you can go back.


Mara Keisling | April 10, 2011 1:45 PM

This article is one of the reason there are many people are pissed at EQMD. It seems they are getting their marching orders from national groups instead of listening to the citizens of MD. Not just on this but on marriage equality too. When a sizable portion of the transgender in MD started voicing their opinion against the bill EQMD shut down the meetings. And instead of defending the bill they bring members of national groups to make their arguments for them.
It's becoming increasingly obvious that EQMD is toothless and taking their marching orders from national groups. They caved on marriage equality after being pushed by HRC, Gill Foundation etc.

Edith,

They certainly aren’t taking marching orders from NCTE or me personally. And I know the Task Force was invited in to consult because Lisa Mottet has been positively involved in the vast majority of successful legislative efforts in the states and cities. I’m pretty sure no one has been involved in more or has a better overall picture of how to pass these than Lisa. In Maryland, NCTE has played almost no role. My involvement now is because I personally was very troubled at all of the misinformation that people had made up and other people kept repeating. I got involved because I was very troubled—upset and a bit angry really—that mostly out-of-state people were using scare tactics, exaggerations and even straight-up immoral threats of violence.

It is not my business to defend Equality Maryland or any organization. I will however say (and this is not in response to your analysis or word choice, Edith) that it is sad and unequivocally wrong factually and morally to call Equality Maryland things like “gay murderers” and “oppressors.” That type of hate has occurred. And that type of hate has no place in this conversation. If our perspective is that skewed and hateful, we need to think through our involvement in civic discussion. And again, Edith, I am not saying you have done that; as far as I know you have not.

What I do know is that a lot of Maryland trans people support HB235. I don’t know anyone who likes that PA protections were removed, but I know a lot of good, smart Maryland activists who strongly support passage of HB235 because they understand how desperate people are for employment protections. This is a situation where all of us need to make up our own minds, because Maryland trans people are not unified on this. That's why Lisa and I wrote this piece hoping people would want to hear facts.

I really am not that interested in what's going on as far as the equality debate in Maryland is concerned. My concern has to do with the transgender/transsexual word selection, in a way, but what I am concerned more about is sex vs. gender. The expression "transgender" carries too many implications with it, the most problematic being embodiment as unimportant. I am on my way out. I don't have time to elaborate. It must be exhausting for you to try to absorb all this.

I find that sex and gender can be used in very opportunistic ways to jerk people around. After doing all that I could to have the "m" references removed in my life I am very worried that it doesn't mean anything at all but "t" which will probably revert back to "m" again when push comes to shove. If embodiment is not an important consideration what does that mean about the judgment of those for whom it meant so much?

I think Amy poses a lot of obvious questions which have been raised by others. I think the insistence, coming from those a lot of people refer to as "gender politicians", that none of these objections raised are significant enough to be considered is arrogant.

I don't think the debate in Maryland should matter to people of transsexual history or intersex people who have a need to have their misassignment corrected on their birth certificates. I think having a legal sex change should mean what it implies on the face of things. One's rights and responsibilities should logically follow according to that. I don't think there is a need to be defined as "trans" anything or be third sexed. Yet, we are told, in this thread by a prominent trans activist that:

"You can label yourself anything you want, but the law will cover you whether you want it to or not. Sorry to burst your bubble."

One last thing that I think is horribly oppressive was this remark I read at Helen Boyd's page this morning:http://www.myhusbandbetty.com/2011/04/03/homophobic-sue-stanton/

"What isn’t mentioned is that Stanton herself is trans", in regard to Susan Stanton.

Whether Susan Stanton is homophobic or not is totally beside the point. It really seems to be a matter of the pot calling the kettle black, in my opinion. Should a person who has changed sex, legally, be required to identify themselves as "trans" for the rest of their lives? What are the implications if one is compelled to identify themselves as "trans"? or transsexual, even? Do two wrongs make a right?

I don't think the debate in Maryland should matter to people of transsexual history or intersex people who have a need to have their misassignment corrected on their birth certificates. I think having a legal sex change should mean what it implies on the face of things. One's rights and responsibilities should logically follow according to that.

You are technically correct that in theory legally recognized post-op transsexual men and women do not need civil rights protection, but in practice this is only true for the privileged few who can pass perfectly. Given that there are multiple cases of cis women being denied bathroom rights after being misread, it's certainly not true that corrected legal ID is an ironclad guarantee of appropriate treatment.

"You can label yourself anything you want, but the law will cover you whether you want it to or not. Sorry to burst your bubble."

This is an accurate and correct statement; the proposed anti-discrimination law will provide coverage for fully transitioned transsexual women when they are discriminated against on the basis of being misread. That does not define transsexual women as seperate from women; cissexual women have exactly the same coverage when they are misread.

Mara if you want to talk to LGB people about this in an open internet forum where do you go? Also are you saying as a non transgender identified person I can't support LGB people on their issues or come here and point out where I think those who are Transgender identified are screwing up? Remember you have also said that you represent me whether I want you to or not that places me in LGBT space whether I want to be or not. What about it Bil are you willing to let me place an article here on your website unedited as written by me?

Bil just to clarify my statement I respect your blog very much and its integrity. By placing the stipulation that my article be unedited as written by me I feel that I may have insinuated otherwise. The one thing that I love about Bilerico is that you show both sides of the coin whether it be those who were for DADT repeal or those who were against. Or those who are for gay marriage or those who were against it. I hope that you continue that tradition by showing those who are for the use of the word transgender and those who are against. In all my time posting at Bilerico I can't think of one time a comment of mine was altered and maybe a time or two that they were removed for violating the TOS and that would have been a long time ago.

We'd still do basic edits for grammar, typos, and formatting. We do that to every post. We don't change words or intent tho, Amy.

You're always welcome to submit a guest post to editor@Bilerico.com w a headshot and 2 sentence bio.

Thanks Bil it will take me a couple weeks to complete it as I want to make sure that everything I post is verifyable through links and passes academic standards.Mara and Lisa I will be contacting both of your organizations requesting copies of your media guides.

Mara Keisling | April 10, 2011 10:41 PM

Amy,

I look forward to reading your piece. I ask only that you be a lot more careful than you have been here. For instance, you just said about me "Remember you have also said that you represent me whether I want you to or not." I have not and would not say that. Please be more careful.

Also, we are a very small organization and do not have a media guide. I think the same is true of the Task Force, but I'm not sure.

Let me know when and where you post your exegesis.

Mara if you don't have a media guide to describe the terminology how do you expect the media to understand the terms used and their proper definitions and uses? I find it surprising that two organizations that claim to nationally represent transgender individuals don't provide a terminology guide. Is there is one you recomend?

Bil, thanks so much for giving Mara and Lisa this forum. This information was sorely needed.

Mara, you have the patience of a saint. Seriously, it's one thing to take the time to delineate the comprehensive argument on behalf of the bill and the political realities that go with it. It's quite another to slog through all of these comments. But then to compose numerous and lengthy responses is remarkable. I never could have done it.