Protections for all
Many of you here know that besides my work with QAPA, I am also involved with a the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. We advocate and educate of behalf of transgender people in MA. It is work that I am incredibly proud of.
For the past year the LGBTQ community of MA has been working to pass a bill that would protect transgender people in all places of public accommodations. Yes, that includes bathrooms and locker rooms. But it also includes grocery stores, movie theaters, public parks. The MBTA. Hospitals.
Many of you have heard me talk of this exact bill before. Many of you have come with us to the State house to ask for these protections. Many of you have written and called your legislators. Thank you.
And I will confess, that I did not want to talk to you tonight about this bill. It is late March and I had hoped with all my hopes that we would have been done with this bill and able to move on to so many of the other topics that affect our diverse community. Issues like poverty, healthcare, youth homelessness, and immigration.
But it hasn’t passed.
And I have grown weary. I have seen up close and personal what it means to be part of the political system. It is a big clunky system which systemically oppresses marginalized people. People of color. Transgender voices. We have repeatedly asked legislators what piece of paper, which business owner, or which brave human being they need to hear from in order to pass this bill and give us these BASIC protections. And time after time, we have provided that testimony, or statistic. But yet they keep asking for more. They keep moving the goal posts.
It’s been exhaustive work. And I don’t want to do it any more.
But we have to. Because my friends right now we are under attack. Transgender people are being targeted with open hostility at every level of our society. Transgender women of color are being murdered. An Arizona transman with Aspergers was shot and killed by police, in his own home. In the past three months alone, bills which dehumanize trans people have come up in South Dakota, and Tennessee. And just the other day in North Carolina, the home state of my mother, their state government made it law that forces a transgender person to use the facilities of their birth certificate. And even though I stand here with a mustache and baritone voice, I do not have a birth certificate that matches my gender identity. So does that mean I use the men’s room knowing that I am breaking the law and could be arrested. Or do I use the women’s room and face violence.
It’s confusing, it’s dehumanizing and it’s wrong. And it scares me to death when the system creates institutionalized ways to oppress me and discriminate against me and those I care about. Every one of these attacks means we have to invest more resources into playing defense. Rather than working on so many other issues that need our attention. Issues like poverty, healthcare, youth homelessness, and immigration reform.
So I am asking you again. In your program is a postcard. On the table is a pen. It a gift from QAPA. It is the most powerful tool that we could ever give to you. Lend us your voice. We must tell Governor Baker that Massachusetts is NOT North Carolina. And that transgender, gender queer, gender non conforming, and non binary people have the right to live full lives. Because public spaces are our spaces. And our lives are your lives.
Given by Maxwell Ng
@ QAPA’s Community Catalyst Awards Dinner, 3/26/2016
China Pearl, Boston