March 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm EST | by Michael Key
Trans Maryland rallies at Supreme Court

(Blade photo by Michael Key)

Activists from Trans Maryland and their allies held a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to demand that lawmakers reinstate language barring discrimination in public accommodations to the proposed Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill in Maryland.

The bill, if passed, would bar discrimination based on gender identity in employment and housing.

Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties), a strong LGBT rights supporter who has sponsored a transgender rights bill in the legislature since 2007, said she removed the public accommodations provision after determining it was the only way to obtain enough votes to pass the legislation.

“The bottom line is discrimination is not right,” she told the Blade. “I have had this bill now for over three years and initially I introduced it with the section on public accommodations, which I believe in.”

Ashley Love, a transgender and intersex advocate attending the rally, told the Blade, “If the bill is passed in its compromised form, a transsexual woman may gain the protection to keep her job as a nurse at a Maryland hospital, but she could be denied emergency room care in the same hospital she is employed at if the staff were transphobic. For instance, Tyra Hunter was refused care for serious injuries by EMS worker Adrian Williams, and later by the physician. As a result, she died. Without public accommodations protections, this bill has no merit.”

A committee vote on the measure in the Maryland House of Delegates is expected later this month.

Michael Key has worked as a photojournalist for the Washington Blade since 2009 and is currently serving as the photo editor. He has worked on Capitol Hill, in the White House, on the campaign trail and in cities along the East Coast taking iconic photos documenting the extension of marriage benefits to same-sex couples, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and other events of interest to the LGBT community. Follow Michael

  • It needs to be clarified that even though Ashley Love identifies as a transsexual, she doesn’t identify as transsexual. She might consider herself to be an activist for transgender people, but she isn’t a transgender activist.

    And beyond that, she has a history of calling transgender identified people she disagrees with by anti-transgender terminology, and has misgemder transgender people (such as Kate Bornstein, Brittney Novotney, and myself), as well as speaking ill of drag performers and genderqueer identified people as classes of people.

    In my mind, it’s a misnomer to call her a transgender activist, so quoting her as a transgender activist is probably a questionable identifier.

    • If she speaks on behalf of the best interest of the members of Maryland’s Transgender community, in my mind, AS a Marylander, as a transsexual woman, and as an activist, she is a transgender activist.

      However, those seeking to deny members of the transgender community their basic rights because those interests do not conform to the interests of national organizations seeking to impose their will in state level affairs, CAN NOT hold themselves up as transgender activist, they are shills for large national non profits. This includes Lisa Mottet, Director of the Transgender Civil Rights Project. Not a member of the transgender community.

      I know where I stand.

      Jenna Fischetti

    • Stick and stones… come on ladies / men.

      “…speaking ill of drag performers and genderqueer identified people as classes of people.”

      – There is so much wrong with this comment. Keep talking this kind of trash and you will never proceed to the next step. Your battle will never be won if you fight among yourselves.

      You are up against the YUCK factor big time, as I have said before. Three years on this bill should tell you something.

      Maybe it is time to reorganize and you might consider finding a few other words to use as well.

      I have been out for over three decades and this comment even disturbs me.

      “genderqueer identified people as classes of people.” – WHAT is this?

    • Actually there is no need to clarify anything accept that you are a spiteful, mean and nasty person. You said that personal attack article on Ashley love wasn’t actually an attack on her but you removed all doubt about that today. You use the same techniques that the right wing extremists do. On PHB you have a section of people who you don’t agree with and you group trans activists along with official hate groups.

      Get over yourself Autumn!

    • Just for the record Autumn that other Dana isn’t me. I always sign my posts.

    • Really? This was the most important point of the article for you? I have my own issues with Love’s general approach, but her involvement in this article was appropriate and spot-on.

    • Autumn, you are very wrong for this. The fact that you didn’t comment on the actual issues, and resorted to a mean girls attack, is very telling. What is your obessession with Ashley Love? Are you upset she was in this article and not you? You are 60 years old but act like a teenager. I always tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, even though I do feel you are a tool for the gay elite, and you dont take a stand for transgender people when the gay groups push their needs aside, but your petty hatchet job has done it for me. Regardless of your personal issues with Love, she actually gets things done, a lot of stuff done. You just dont like how she calls out your Gay Inc bosses, and your token ways, time and time again. You have lost all credibility

  • Thank you.

    We now have the principle agents for the drafting of this bill, Maryland Delegate Pena-Melnyk,(D-21) and the General Counsel of Maryland’s Civil Rights Commission, the Maryland Commission on Human Relations, Glendora Hughes both admitting the bill’s flaws.

    None of these people are transgender or transsexual and the transgender community in Maryland was not consulted throughout this drafting process.

    “The bottom line is discrimination is not right,” states Del. Pena-Melnyk.

    In testimony before the Health and Government Operations Committee’s hearing on HB 235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill without basic rights, Glendora Hughes, the State’s top Civil Rights lawyer agrees ” “Yes, Baltimore City and Montgomery County covers gender identity. So now we have an inequity in the State of Maryland. Based on your geography, where you live will determine whether you have protection against being discriminated against.”

    HB235 does nothing to address either of the chief designers of this bill wish for, the implementation of full protections for Marylanders who are being bing discriminated against and worse, dying.

    Once a year, the transgender community holds a Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20. The event is a solemn gathering to reflect on those in our community lost to discrimination based on how they were born. This year we have regrettably already added one name from Baltimore, Tyra Trent to that list. Our objective is to see the day when names are no longer added to the list. Proponents of an “incremental” concept like Equality Maryland, are comfortable with the list growing by not supporting anti-discrimination protections in the most basic area needed, public accommodations.

    After three weekly transgender legislative workgroup meetings designed to bolster support for the flawed Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill (HB235) Equality Maryland has decided to walk away from dialogue with the transgender community and has canceled all further meetings until after the legislative session is over. Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets explains this as a “scheduling conflict.” Truth and justice apparently conflicted with her organizations agenda.

  • Finally, a gay news source actually tells the other side of this controversy. I agree with Trans Maryland, the watered down bill is a diservice to equality, and a slap in the face to trans people. Great article

    @Autumn Sandeen, everyone knows you are a puppet for the gays to get away with them kicking trans issues to the curb in favor of gay only issues, but you just made it look so obvious by attacking Ashley Love. Why didnt you comment on the issues, HB235, Trans Marylands rally or public accomodations? Because according to your blog you are a Uncle Tom and support the half bill. So you sensationalize this thread to take attention away from the real and good work Ashley Love and Trans Maryland are doing. You have no morals. Do us a all a favor and stop selling out our community. Also, just because Ashley Love is intersex, does not mean she can’t be an advocate for all LGBTIQ people. The journalist did not say “she is a transgender PERSON”, he said she as a “transgender and intersex ADVOCATE”, so stop acting like a jealous lunatic, and get a life. I also dont agree with your critique of Love “misgendering” anyone, she just isn’t a politically correct shill, and speaks the truth. If anyone misgenders the community, its you, afteralll, you did confess to being a transvestite in the Washington Post, which is a man with a sexual fetish

  • All we have heard since President Obama took office in 2009 is the GL community loudly characterize as ‘crumbs’ anything they deemed as short of full civil rights for GLB people.

    Well EQ MD and GL community, we trans people don’t like or want civil rights ‘crumbs’ either. A so called trans civil rights bill such as HB 235 without public accommodations language is a waste of tim and is a sterling example of what trans people would consider a civil rights ‘crumb’ .

  • I strongly agree that HB235 is woefully incomplete and should not be passed until the language includes and covers public accommodations. However, I must ask why TM rallied in front of the US Supreme Court, which has no say over the language or passage of this bill in the MD legislature? Why weren’t they rallying in Annapolis, in front of the Maryland state house, or perhaps governor’s offices? If I was trying to pass, amend, or kill a state law in Kentucky, I’d be rallying in Frankfort, not Washington. Isn’t a rally supposed to be a show of strength that proves to legislators that the ralliers have a valid point to make or valid grievance to correct, and does so right where the legislators cannot help notice?

  • The bill should die in committee and only a bill with full intergrity should move forward. Equality maryland has been throwing transgender in the trash for 15 years now. Im thrilled Trans Maryland is mobilizing and represnteting themselves

    Polar, I think the reason they had the rally at The Supreme Court , from what I read, was because the lack of public accomodations protections is unconstitutional, and if HB 235 is passed with out PA protections, other states could follow the trend. Plus, it sure did get Maryland’s lawmakers attentions (they commented above), and national attention, which will provide the agitation, pressure and public attention needed to inspire awareness and change.

  • If you discriminate against the transgender/transsexual community then you are, at least in part, responsible for some of the deaths in this vulnerable community. Partial discrimination is still discrimination.

  • We may not always agree with Ashley Love, but lets not forget to focus on the issue here. This bill is a BAD idea! It is dehumanizing for the trans community, and has already led to the death of trans people being denied medical care. I mean really people! Your rationalizations are disgusting and these actions are no different from the religious zealot that commits suicide in a demonstration of his/her faith. “911” ring any bells. Look in the mirror THAT is who you are!

  • I support Ashley Love 100%. She refuses to compromise. “Incrementalists” and sell outs, and the gay mafia, hate her for it. Trying to smear her is just a way to discredit the transsexual uprising. And doing it in this comment section is classless.

    The bottom line is HB 235 is worthless without public accomodations protections, and the Maryland transgender community deserves a seat at the table. Trans
    Marylands rally has put more resistance into the aire, and lawmakers now know transgender people will not accept segregation

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