October 14, 2014 at 9:28 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Honor for trans activist sparks controversy
Dana Beyer, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame on Sunday inducted Dana Beyer into its ranks amid criticism from two prominent  LGBT advocates in the state.

The Washington Post earlier this month reported Beyer “was nominated for her work to secure passage” of Maryland’s transgender rights law that took effect on Oct. 1. Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans is among those who continue to challenge this claim.

Beyer, who is executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, worked with then-Montgomery County Council member Duchy Trachtenberg to write the county’s anti-trans discrimination law that took effect in 2007.

“While I am personally deeply moved by my induction into the Montgomery County Hall of Fame, I believe the entire trans community shares in this honor,” Beyer told the Washington Blade. “It is also a significant recognition of the progress the county has made in welcoming all its residents as equal and full participants in the county’s life.”

Evans told Montgomery County Office of Human Rights Director James Stowe in an e-mail the Post obtained that nominating Beyer for her role in advancing the state’s trans rights law was “a grave mistake.” Gay Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin in a separate e-mail described out state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who introduced the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 earlier this year, as “one of the major LGBT heroes in Montgomery County.”

Beyer is a former member of the Equality Maryland board of directors.

Madaleno defeated Beyer in June’s Democratic primary after a heated campaign.

Equality Maryland and Slavin endorsed Madaleno.

“He works passionately and effectively for his constituents and indeed for all Marylanders,” said Evans late last year when Equality Maryland endorsed Madaleno’s campaign. “We are confident the voters of District 18 will convincingly send him back to Annapolis.”

Madaleno did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Sharon Brackett, president of Gender Rights Maryland’s board of directors, defended Beyer’s induction.

“Dana’s induction to the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame is a fitting tribute to her tenacious commitment to make a better world,” Brackett told the Blade. “Be it conducting life changing surgery in the third world to civil rights legislation in the first. Her lifetime efforts are now being recognized and she is fittingly among her peers.”

Brackett further defended Beyer in a letter to Stowe after news of Slavin and Evans’ opposition to the induction broke.

“Dr. Beyer and I have both been the target of unfounded charges and rhetoric from certain persons and organizations,” wrote Brackett. “I would urge you to dismiss these behaviors as sour grapes and the behavior of those persons who are unable to share the credit or recognize those who contributed to the success of expanding the rights of trans persons in Maryland.”

Stowe did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Beyer on Monday referred to Stowe’s closing remarks at the induction ceremony in response to criticism over the committee’s decision to honor her.

“Some people criticize and complain,” said Stowe, according to Beyer. “We’re here to honor the doers; those that do.”

In addition to Beyer, the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame also inducted Montgomery County Human Rights Commission Chair Russell Campbell, Charles Kauffman, Revs. Mansfield Kaseman and Ruby Reese Moone, James Offord and George Thomas, Sr.

The ceremony took place at Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

10 Comments
  • There should be no question that Dana Beyer is an activist deserving of awards and thanks from our community. No activist will make everyone happy. Dana and I have disagreed on numerous things. But her work for the entire LGBT community is something that we all should recognize, respect and thank her for. Dana congratulations on this well deserved award.

  • How about including the views of a trans person not conjoined with Beyer's obnoxious elitism?

  • Dana Beyer and Sharon Brackett will now be inducted in to the Hall of Crooks and Liars! During the pendency of their inductions they will claim many honors and civil and human rights achievements, which will never be verified because they are false, untrue, and border on the very hard long works of those that actually have advanced rights in Maryland.

    Shame on Montgomery County for being fooled by these wannabes!

    As one who actually set the stage for a great deal of the progress for persons of trans-history in Maryland, having personally made some of that myself, this induction disgusts me!

  • Well, let me see. I’ve been on the receiving end of harassment from Gender Rights Maryland (GRMD) because of my work on the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, especially my work to defend it against referendum. GRMD was opposed to that work and–as has been reported on by the Blade and Metro Weekly–tried to convince others to stay out of it. Fifty organizations came together. GRMD stayed out and was opposed to much of the ultimately successful advocacy behind the bill. Constituent pressure, PACs, and discussions of electoral endorsements were involved in passing the bill. And none of that came from GRMD.

    So let me see. Huge numbers of people get together and do the work to get things done. The one group in their opposition is the group that gets the honors. Now we’re supposed to be surprised that the people who actually did the work are upset?

    No . . . when you honor a person for their work on behalf of a group of people and that very group of people gets upset at you, that’s a sign that you are honoring the wrong people.

    I’ve got to give GRMD credit. They may be lousy lobbyists, and they may be lacking integrity. But they are very good at the art of self-promotion. I’m glad that, slowly but surely, in this report and others, the truth about these people is slowly coming out.

    Let’s see, usually Sharon Brackett likes to write in and attack me by claiming that I’m not signing my comments with my name. Let me just briefly pre-empt that by pointing out that Sharon already knows perfectly well that this is my name and this is how I’ve been signing it ;or years now. That’s just more of the same from that crowd.

  • STOP THE PRESSES! Gay paper refused to cover the TRUTH, now spends it energy seeking discord in the trans community. Film at 11….

  • "I’ve got to give GRMD credit. They may be lousy lobbyists, and they may be lacking integrity. But they are very good at the art of self-promotion."

    The GRMD-ers all have degrees from Wilchins-Keisling University.

  • I am proud of Dana. I know her personally and know her dedication and commitment to trans advocacy. It takes all kinds of advocates to create progress, not just one's in national organizations that expect everyone to fall into line. Stand proud Dana and CHEERS!

  • This story is based on the Washington Post article from September…
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/maryland-news/montgomery-county-hall-of-fame-induction-leads-to-harsh-words-among-lgbt-leaders/2014/10/03/ee6c090e-4a3a-11e4-a046-120a8a855cca_story.html
    "Slavin and Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans took particular exception to the county’s news release, which said Beyer “was nominated for her work in the passage of The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014.” The state law bans discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing and public places.
    Evans told Stowe in an e-mail that Beyer’s nomination for her work on the bill was “a grave mistake” because Beyer did little to further its chances of passing."

    If one reads the Post article and one reads this, they are left with different impressions..

    The point raised by Carrie Evans was, if Beyer was being nominated for her work on the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, then that was a grave mistake because Beyer did little to further its chances of passing.

    The Blade wrote: "Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans is among those who continue to challenge this claim.[That Beyer has a significant role in passage]"

    Well, yes. And you make it appear to be an act of blasphemy to do so. Everyone who did work on the bill has challenged that claim. The Blade has for two years falsely painted Beyer as some "player" in this process. Let's examine some ways Beyer could be counted as significant in FAMA's passage.

    Did Beyer identify and approach the lead sponsor to introduce the bill?
    Did Beyer work 24 other senators to sign-on as co-sponsors? 61 House members?
    Did Beyer get Senate President Miller to change his views and support the bill and vote for it?

    Did Beyer organize the panels of testimony, HELL, did Beyer even testify for the bill?!!!!

    Did Beyer collect and orchestrate over 20K constituent contacts to key legislators?
    Did Beyer hold series of phone banks to apply pressure on legislators, while insiders work the inside game?
    Did Beyer take any of the over $250K she dropped trying to beat the lead sponsor of this bill, Rich Madaleno, in the primary, while the lead sponsor was in session, trying to pass the bill, on the legislative, grassroots or petition defense campaigns?
    Did Beyer tell Chairman Frosh to hold the committee vote precisely the moment it was, because a small window of opportunity to move Senator Norm Stone, the crucial 6th committee vote, was at hand?

    She was a decided outsider. Someone incapable of working in consensus and with others. This false narrative that somehow she orchestrated passage is far afield from the truth. She has her opinions of how a campaign should be run, yet no mechanism to promote that. Whatever effort she offered was akin to Evan Wolfson and Freedom to Marry in the 2012 Marriage Equality campaign…. No wait, they actually opened up their coffers and spent significant money in Maryland. Beyer spent more than that amount trying to unhinge the lead sponsor's political career while he was in session, in Annapolis, working for trans Marylanders.

    It is not to say her induction is without merit. Just not for FAMA…

  • "It takes all kinds of advocates to create progress"

    Including egomaniacal parasites?

  • There you go again…

    Successfully utilizing facts to prove your point against a Chosen One. You realize that you just disqualified yourself from ever being considered for inclusion in the permanently-employed activism elite of Gay, Inc., don't you?

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