Monica Roberts

We're Sick of 'You People' Screwing Us Legislatively, Del. Pena-Melnyk

Filed By Monica Roberts | February 28, 2011 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: civil rights, justice, Maryland, transgender rights


MD Del Joseline Pena Melnyk.jpgIt seems MD Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk is a little upset about all the attention she's been getting about the flawed trans rights bill she introduced at the behest of (In)Equality Maryland.

I guess I should be thankful for the small favor that Del. Pena-Melnyk referred to us as "you people."

And as for your threat to pull your support for this jacked up bill you worked so hard on, that goes both ways. We can also find someone to run against you in 2012.

But seriously, Del. Pena-Melnyk, you're a smart woman. We got screwed by the Maryland legislature and our gay "allies" in 2001 and we fear it's happening to us again. What did you expect the reaction of the Maryland trans community and its brothers and sisters around the nation would be when you introduced a bill that members of the community that it's supposed to help and lawyers we have consulted tell you is flawed and worthless?

Did you expect the portion of the Maryland trans community who isn't white, well-heeled, and kissing EQ MD's behinds to just sit down, shut up, and submit to being screwed?

Did those smooth-talkers at (In)Equality Maryland tell you that MD 235 was "supported by the trans community" as they paraded two white affluent trans people to parrot their party line?

And you of all people as an attorney should know the significance of leaving public accommodations out of a civil rights bill for a marginalized group.

All we're asking for is that public accommodations language be added to HB 235 to eliminate the Mack truck-sized loophole in it that will allow bigots to continue to discriminate against transpeople. Why is that so hard?

Can you explain to me and the Maryland trans community why that is so difficult or is too much to ask?

President John F. Kennedy once said, in a televised June 11, 1963 civil rights speech, "When we grant rights to others which belong to them, we expand rights for ourselves."

maryland Flag map.pngDon't you think you and your kids deserve expanded civil rights? Don't you think that transpeople deserve the same rights that other Marylanders do? Right now, we transpeople have the perception, based on the HB 235 bill you put your name to, that you don't.

So yes, Del. Pena-Melnyk, we're just as sick of "you people" in the various levels of government playing games with our civil rights and our lives. Our people are dying and being disrespected out there. We transpeople don't have the luxury of waiting for the "incremental progress" that EQ MD is pimping.

Morgan Meneses-Sheets and much of her all-white Equality Maryland staff is already covered under existing Maryland civil rights law. The GL members of it were covered in the 2001 Maryland law that transpeople were cut out of. It's sad that the transpeople who live inside the borders of your state and contribute to its economy (if they are lucky enough to have a job) aren't.

Isis King grew up in your district. You mean to tell me that she doesn't deserve civil rights coverage when she comes home? That Sandy Rawls in Baltimore doesn't? That Alyson Meiselman, an attorney who has argued cases at the federal level, doesn't?

So if you're the civil rights champion people in Maryland have told me you are, how about stepping up to the plate and doing what is morally right and correct for the trans community? I know if I were in your pumps as a state legislator, I would want any civil rights bill that had my name attached to it be as air-tight and comprehensive as possible so it fixed the problem, not kicked it down the road five, ten, or twenty years later.

Maryland, the nation and the world are watching.

crossposted from TransGriot

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I am a married lesbian in Maryland. I think it is a shame that while we are calling for equality that some forget or discriminate against our brothers, sisters,and friends that are transgender. They are as much a part of the LGBT population as the LGB. How can we as a group discriminate against any fellow being? We are the leaders for equality for all not some like the far right believes. We HAVE TO set the example for the rest of the world.
Being a part of the LGBTQ umbrella means we are the most diverse minority group. Being LGBTQ cuts across every race, religon, gender, national origin, and so on.
If we can't stand together as ONE, how are we going to show the rest of them how it's done?
This is American and we should not discriminate against anyone. Certainly not within our own ranks.

Lincoln, in a perfect world you would think that would be the prime organizing principle for TBLG civil rights.

As you gained your rights, you made sure your legislation was written broadly enough so that others could follow in your footsteps.

For folks who claim to understand, respect and revere the African American civil rights movement they repeatedly fail on that simple principle.

For an elected rep to put out such a statement is just unbelievable!

Someone needs to explain to this delegate, and hopefully in a very public way, that she is the one who chose to run for an MD delegate seat, and taking calls from constituents is a part of the job even when you completely disagree with them ... and if she is running her office properly, every such call is getting logged and counted, and the callers are being treated with courtesy. Otherwise, she is not living up to modern minimum standards for an elected representative official.

If she doesn't want for her or her staff to field these calls, is she willing to offer a slice of her office operating budget returned to the people of Maryland?

Now ... quit whining and do the job you were elected to do!

Oh no she didn't go there with "you people"!?!&

Well, bless her heart.

excellent call for accountability monica

Amen to that, this wasn't a beat-down, it's a necessary example of standing up and demanding that policies that affect trans people reflect the real-world concerns of trans people. Tacit exclusion and hand-waving--not good enough now, later, or ever.

She called us people... she LOVES us!

Seven Carlings, please....and where's Otis?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if InsidersOut would take up trans people's actual, legit concerns on this topic and make it part of their messaging for, I dunnow, at least a week or so?

or publish the words of two trans MD orgs that have come out against this bill? Or about HB285?

But I will say that Bilerico published Monica's post. This is a great post Monica!

Meghan Fenner | March 1, 2011 1:50 AM

Great post Monica, and props to Bil for having the juevos to post it.

Why wouldn't we? With a million topics out there now, we still rely on contributors to blog about topics important to them.

And it's not clear to me from Monica's post, a bill to include trans folk has been introduced in Maryland but doesn't include public accommodations? What does it cover? And why leave out PA?

Housing, jobs and credit are protected in the bill. It appears that PA language is simply to hard to get through...

Personally, I think it was the trade off to get marriage passed, but I'm cynical.

Agree with what AJ said above. But antidiscrimination is only going to get harder and harder to pass in a post Citizens United world. Better get it all through now.

Tyra Hunter died on August 7, 1995 in the District of Columbia, the seat of Power for our Nation because she was refused public accommodations.

You see, she was an African-American transsexual woman who died after being injured as a passenger in a car accident and was refused medical care. Emergency medical technicians at the scene of the accident uttered derogatory epithets and withdrew medical care after discovering her biological sex, and ER staff at DC General Hospital subsequently provided dilatory and inadequate care.

An observer at the wrongful death trial, wrote that the evidence supported "the inference that a stereotype (namely that Tyra was an anonymous, drug using, TG street person) affected the treatment Tyra received," and that the "ER staff, as evidenced by their actions, did not consider her life worth saving."

Maryland's Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act WITHOUT public accommodations allows that stereotype to continue and as such, more members of our community will continue to die.


Bil...I'm slamming HB 235, the Maryland GINDA bill.

Public accommodations isn't just bathrooms as the lie was told.

Public accommodations is basically businesses or buildings that are open to or offer services to) the general public. It's broken down into two types of businesses/facilities:

* Government-owned/operated facilities, services, and buildings
* Privately-owned/operated businesses, services, and buildings

Government-owned/operated facilities include courthouses, jails, hospitals, parks, and other places owned and operated by federal, state and local government. Government-operated services, programs, or activities provided by federal, state, or local governments include transportation systems and government benefits programs (such as welfare assistance).

Privately-owned/operated businesses that offer certain goods or services to the public -- including food, lodging, gasoline, and entertainment -- are considered public accommodations for purposes of federal and state anti-discrimination laws. For purposes of disability discrimination, the definition of a "public accommodation" is even more broad, encompassing most businesses that are open to the public (regardless of type).

Note the Maryland 2001 GL bill protective bill transpeople were cut out of HAS the public accommodations language.

Without the 'public accommodations' language, the bill not only is worthless as an anti trans discrimination tool, it would allow continued discrimination against trans people even if passed.

It would also have deleterious effects beyond MD's borders when people in other states try to pass trans inclusive civil rights laws.

"You People" nice, it fits to move your point along, but in reality, Del. Pena-Melnyk called out of state bloggers, (*read you and Kelli) - "you people." Not calling the entire trans community "you people".
Out of state folks, understandably passionate on this subject have been calling and yelling at the delegate. Yup, that's the way to convince her, good job!
I understand your passion and I agree with you, but my fellow trans brothers and sisters, yelling and demanding does not advance anything, only distances us from the few willing to help us.

You are absolutely incorrect.

On the morning of February 16, 2011, at 10:36am I reached Delegate Pena-Melnyk's office and had a pleasant conversation with her aide, Spencer whom I had also been receiving direct email replies from. I was following up after EQMD's Lobby Day on the evening of February 14 and seeking input from the Delegate on the meetings. Her aide, mentioned the Delegate wants to speak to you.

When Del. Pena-Melnyk and I starting discussing the possibilities for public accommodations her tone and volume went just shy of a scream and remained there until I, through consistently lowering my voice( a tactic learned through 20+ years of sales and customer handling experience) got her to finally speak in a typical conversational tone. The words she used to this LOCAL member of the Maryland transgender community, a person who was BORN in her district on Prince Georges Street, grew up in her district, attended 12 years of primary education entirely in her district, has family and friends in every corner of her large gerrymandering district from College Park, to Beltsville, to Laurel, to Maryland City/ Russett, to Piney Orchard, who went to high school with the Chief of Police in Laurel, Rich McLaughlin, who's been supportive of my gender transition, who knows the Mayor family very well and they have all been of civic service from the Police Department to the Fire Department to the City Government. You Google my last name and Laurel and the hits keep rolling. No, Delegate Pena-Melnyk spoke to me BEFORE she spoke to the outside of Maryland bloggers.

She disrespected a constituent. All because her pet bill was not accepted and the panacea for "you people" Her bill was drafted without the consultation of members of the transgender community, and with very little outside input. No, I remained completely silent on our conversation as to spare her the embarrassment until I heard the exact same words being used towards three other callers to the Delegate herself. That is not a coincidence, that's is bigotry and an inexcusable act of an elected official of her stature.

Your speculation "but in reality, Del. Pena-Melnyk called out of state bloggers," is as insulting as your naivety.

Delegate Pena-Melnyk owns the yelling and screaming and I will not be told by someone not even involved in the situation how to handle myself. In her words..

"Have a blessed day!"

Leigh Anne | March 5, 2011 2:53 PM

"You people."

Yes, she was referring to a group of callers, likely members of the Maryland transgender community -- in context those who keep calling her and telling her that public accomodations must be included in HR235.

Not all members of the Maryland transgender community think that public accomodations must be included in HR235, and even among those who take that position, it's safe to assume that not all "keep calling" Del. Pena-Melnyk and telling her that.

She was not referring to the entire Maryland transgender community as "you people." This I know because I know Del. Pena-Melnyk personally.

She has introduced a bill including public accomodations in each of the preveious four years, and has stated why it was dropped from this year's bill: to improve the chances of the bill passing. Was that a mistake? I think so, and I have told her that.

All this name-calling and impugning her motives does nothing to help, IMHO.

"Yes, she was referring to a group of callers, likely members of the Maryland transgender community -- in context those who keep calling her and telling her that public accomodations must be included in HR235."

You start out confident in your assertion with "Yes", but then you offer a hypothesis. Which states you are not sure of what you speak about. Try this on for size,

"Its possible she was referring to a group of callers. likely members... " Its consistent with your ignorance of the issue. I mean no disrespect. Ignorance is the lack of knowledge. I have first hand knowledge as I am one of "you people".

Delegate Pena-Melnyk is a representative in the Maryland House of Delegates and the Lead Sponsor of this bill. She should expect phone calls and plenty of them.

If she is unable to handle a phone call from a constituent, might I suggest she seek other employment. It is her job to field inquiries.

How many phone calls do you think she would field from members of the transgender community, opposed to her legislation if she offered up a bill on par with last years HB1022, one including public accommodations? So we can agree that number would be in the none to almost non existent range.

Then it stands to reason that the high volume of calls, and her frustration of having to field so many would tell you an overwhelming portion of the community does not want HB235, period.

Of course it is just a prerogative for me to make speculations...