July 15, 2009

Post Your Testimony in Favor of Non-Discrimination

A couple of people approached me and said that the quench DIY ethic required required that instead of asking someone else to post written testimony, we should gather and post it here ourselves.

So, here goes. Comment below with a link to your written testimony (anonymous is ok), or email it to quench.zine@gmail.com and we'll post it here. We will only post testimony that respects the autonomy and inherent worth of all people regardless of gender identity or expression, race, sex, religion, etc.

Here is the testimony we already have found:
(Starting with what we found from a simple google search - if I found your testimony online and you would prefer there were not a link here, just email or comment and I can take down the link).
Barney Frank, congressman
Johnny Blazes
Jennifer Levi, GLAD
Lorelei Erisis

Trans Activists in Massachusetts have their acts together

Yesterday was the judiciary committee hearing for H. 1728, the transgender anti-discrimination and hate crimes bill that was called H. 1722 last legislative session.

Here is some queer press about it. I'm going to write this post assuming you've read or heard a little about it, and just give my additional impressions. If you don't know anything about it, read the article I just linked to and this primer for more info.

Firstly, our side had definitely learned a lot since the last hearing. People were armed for the heat and the wait. I saw our side coming in with their water bottles and staying for the long haul. Lots of people were dressed up, particularly those testifying. Everyone had clearly thought about what they were going to say and rehearsed. All were articulate. The panels were obviously expertly designed. Stand-out speakers included Jennifer Levi from GLAD, a high school senior who believed in justice, a panel of trans folks who had had successful experiences with their employers, parents of trans kids, and a few individual trans folks who were just great at conveying their personal experiences.

Maybe if we are lucky, MTPC will post some of the written testimony on their website so even those who weren't able to make it will be able to read some of the persuasive and powerful stories. Perhaps a few pieces of written testimony could be slected and posted with names removed? In the meantime, MTPC has posted a few stories here, here, and here.

The opposition managed to appear as a living, breathing stereotype of the way that racism, homophobia, transphobia, and sexism band together. Over and over, they noted concern about the safety of those they found to be "vulnerable," such as women and children (especially teens). However, I don't think they had a single young person testify (I left early so I could be wrong). They had no women who appeared to be under 50 testify when I was there. All of these men were worried about what would happen to women in restrooms in the commonwealth, while women's organizations were testifying that they supported the bill and that the bill is good for women's safety. The young people (teenagers) who testified did so in favor of the bill. In addition to these patronizing attempts to speak for women, and in particular young women, we heard tired homophobia (think "gay agenda" and whining about same sex marriage). One person testified about what he saw as good kinds of discrimination, and all in all, I would say the group seemed hostile to discrimination and hate crimes laws in general. Finally, several speakers seemed unable to respect simple rules and customs. They talked back to and talked over the (female) judiciary chair, and one person even had to be told that there was no name-calling allowed.

As a side-note, while complaining about trans people being bathroom predators, one opponent of the bill testified that he has been hanging out near bathrooms with a video camera waiting to videotape transwomen in women's bathrooms, and promised to post the video on his website. So who's the predator now, the woman who has to pee or the guy standing outside with the video camera?

Our community turned out in large numbers to support those testifying. I noticed that in addition to a large trans community turnout including the usual non-trans partners, family, and friends of trans folks at the hearing, there were also many leaders and allies from non-trans LGB, feminist, union, and other progressive groups. I hope we can continue working together to do everything we can to get these long-awaited legal protections passed.

Below are a few photos from the hearing that appeared on GLAD's twitter of the hearing. I recommend reading their twitter for a full account of what happened. I hope others post what they saw so that we can share our experiences of the day.