Trans Awareness Week 2019

For Trans Awareness Week this year, MassEquality will be publicizing ways to fight for trans rights in MA, from calling legislators to volunteering your time to donating to activists. Throughout the week, we'll be shining a spotlight on different political issues that affect trans people in MA and explaining how you can take a few simple steps to advocate for trans equality.  The struggle for trans equality is far from over, but with your help, we can make our Commonwealth a fairer, more equitable place for all of us.  Scroll down the page to follow our day-by-day guide, or click through the buttons on your right to find specific issue guidance.  Click here to sign up to volunteer with us as we continue our fight on these issues in the coming months.

Local Day of Remembrance Organizing

For the first day of Trans Awareness week, we encourage you to support the local organizers coordinating Trans Day of Remembrance in your community. Some groups have specific pre-event needs, such as food, transportation, or help setting up; others ask for your presence or participation at the event. Expand the list below to find out where TDOR is being commemorated near you and how you can help:

Individual smiles in front of rainbow banner with sign reading "I Support Transgender Equality."

Non-Binary ID Markers


of trans MA residents reported being assaulted, verbally harassed, denied service, or asked to leave after showing an ID that did not match their name or presentation

source: 2015 US Transgender Survey: MA report

The MA legislature must recognize the dignity and ensure the safety of nonbinary citizens by passing H3664, An Act providing for a gender neutral designation on state documents and identifications. This act would allow all MA residents to use the neutral "X" option as a gender marker on state forms and IDs. While we congratulate the MA RMV on recently implementing an administrative solution by offering X markers on driver's licenses, we need our legislators to codify this change into law and standardize it across all state documents. Without passing the law, our elected officials leave nonbinary Bay Staters in legal identity limbo: able to mark their gender as X on their licenses, but not birth certificates or state forms; and dependent upon the goodwill of the RMV to maintain the X option at all. Call your state legislators today and encourage them to pass this critical act.

Supporting Local Trans Advocates

Massachusetts residents should be proud that our state is home to a multitude of organizations that fight for trans rights.  From lobbying to enshrine trans anti-discrimination protections in state law to supporting homeless trans youth, these local groups are the backbone of the movement in MA.  Day in and day out, we work to make trans equality a reality in our state - and to push the frontiers of the struggle forward, so we can serve as standard-bearers for the rest of the nation.  But none of us can make that dream a reality without your support.  In honor of trans awareness week, consider making a donation to some of the local advocates listed here, so we can continue to make our state a place we can all be proud to live.

Individual wearing Transgender Emergency Fund shirt smiles in front of rainbow banner with sign reading "Don't Make Me a Second-Class Citizen."

Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

For nearly two decades, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition has been tirelessly fighting to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in MA.  Led by and created specifically for the transgender community, they have long and proud history of working to improve the lives of the Massachusetts transgender youth, adults, and their families.


At MassEquality, we have a long and succesful history of engaging in statewide grassroots advocacy to fight against discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. We were right at the forefront of the struggle for both the 2011 and the 2016 statewide trans anti-discrimination laws, and we continue to advocate for our community across the state today. To support our work, please consider donating to our Education Fund (a 501(c)3 organization that engages in public education, outreach, polling, and research) or our side (a 501(c)4 social welfare organization that performs political lobbying and advocacy work). Click here to learn more about the difference between the two or here to learn about our various donation programs.

GLBT Youth Group Network of MA

From Greenfield to Barnstable, the local branches of the The GLBT Youth Group Network of Massachusetts provide social support and direct services to more than six thousand LGBTQ youth every year. Many of these groups host programming targeted to the especially vulnerable trans youth population, such as NAGLY's Transcendence program in Salem or the OUT MetroWest's Umbrella program in Wellesley Hills. Follow the link below to find your local LGBTQ youth organization and donate to ensure that trans youth across the Commonwealth have access to a broad array of supports, services, and opportunities.

Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts

The Transgender Emergency Fund of MA provides frontline services to ensure the safety and well-being of our state's trans population. Created by and for the transgender community, TEF has distributed more than $26,000 to low income and homeless trans people in MA over the last decade. TEF provides critical services that range from homelessness prevention to nutrition assistance to transportation for medical appointments.

Project OUT

Project OUT is a Salem-based nonprofit that provides support and financial assistance to transgender and non-binary individuals.  Through education, advocacy and gender-affirming programs, Project Out works to eradicate bias against the transgender community.  From offering trans inclusivity trainings to businesses, organizations, and health centers to financially supporting and guiding trans people through process for legal document changes, Project OUT strives to empower the community to live safely and authentically each day.

GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders

For over four decades, GLAD's bold litigation has achieved scores of precedent-setting victories on behalf of LGBTQ people and those living with HIV. From tirelessly defending trans rights in court to providing the community with critical legal aid through programs like the Pop-Up Transgender ID Project, GLAD is a fierce advocate in the fight for trans rights in Massachusetts, New England, and beyond.

BHCHP's Transgender Program

Boston Health Care for the Homeless's Transgender Program is the only clinic of its kind serving transgender people in Boston who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  Nearly one in four transgender Bay Staters report experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives.  BHCHP offers critical services, from walk-in urgent care to case management, for this population.

Fenway Health

Since 1971, Fenway Health has been a champion for LGBT healthcare access, providing high quality health care, education, research, and advocacy to their community.  Today, they serve over 28,000 patients, including over 4,000 transgender and gender-conforming patients, and are home to a Trans Health program that is an internationally-recognized model for gender-affirming care.

Trans Community Outreach, Resources and Empowerment

Trans Community Outreach, Resources and Empowerment (TCORE) is a program at Brockton Area Multi-Services, Inc. that nurtures and advances the well-being of trans, gender-expansive, and questioning community members through individualized support and connection to resources.  TCORE offers a range of support and advocacy services, from providing assistance with changing legal documents to hosting collaborative efforts to develop inclusive, affirming resources in Brockton.

BHCHP's Transgender Program

Boston Health Care for the Homeless's Transgender Program is the only clinic of its kind serving transgender people in Boston who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  Nearly one in four transgender Bay Staters report experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives.  BHCHP offers critical services, from walk-in urgent care to case management, for this population.



of incarcerated trans women who experienced solitary confinement report being put there "for their own protection" but against their will


of incarcerated trans people report being denied a diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder or Gender Dysphoria (GID/GD) - a prerequisite for accessing many life‐affirming treatments and services

To assess and combat the trans prison human rights crisis in our state, the MA legislature must pass H1341, An Act to collect data on LGBTQI prisoners held in restrictive housing.  Due to socioeconomic discrimination paired with pernicious profiling and over-policing, 16% of trans people in the US have been incarcerated at some point in their lives, with those most marginalized experiencing the highest risk.  Our prisons then subject trans prisoners to a slate of discriminatory policies that amount to nothing less than institutionalized transphobic violence.

Many trans prisoners are barred from availing themselves of life-affirming healthcare they need: nearly a third report being denied diagnoses of Gender Identity Disorder/Gender Dysphoria, often a prerequisite for treatment, and 44% denied access to hormones they requested.  Incarcerated trans people are often assigned to facilities based on their assigned gender at birth, where they experience horrifying rates of physical and sexual violence, with over 1 in 3 trans inmates reporting sexual victimization by another inmate or facility staff in the past twelve months.  In response, many trans prisoners are placed in restrictive housing, nominally for their own safety and often for long periods of time.  But solitary confinement can be its own form of human rights abuse: the coercive isolation and psychological cruelty of prolonged restrictive housing has been characterized as torture by authorities ranging from Amnesty International to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.  Additionally, solitary confinement often precludes access to work opportunities, resources, and programs that prepare incarcerated people to live successful lives upon release.  Although the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act strictly enjoins officials against placing inmates in protective restrictive housing "unless an assessment of all available alternatives has been made," and MA law prohibits placing prisoners in restrictive housing solely on the basis of gender identity, fully half of the respondents to the 2015 National LGBTQ Prisoner Survey who have experienced solitary confinement reported being put there for their own protection but against their will, with trans populations reporting even higher rates.

H1341 would allow us to gather key data on the number of trans prisoners placed in restrictive housing so we can assess the extent of this crisis in our own state, a critical first step to fighting it.  Massachusetts cannot afford to keep our eyes closed about the trans prison crisis in our own home.  Call your state legislators today and encourage them to pass this critical act.  To learn more about this issue, consider attending Trans Day of Remembrance: An Evening of Education & Action for Our Siblings Behind Bars during Trans Awareness Week on November 18.

Homelessness and ID Access

To empower trans individuals experiencing homelessness in MA, our legislature must pass H3066/S2043, An Act to provide identification to homeless youth and families. This act would eliminate barriers that homeless trans people face to obtaining accurate IDs by instituting a new official process for homeless adults and unaccompanied youths to apply for state IDs and waiving all fees.  Accurate IDs are a basic necessity of life, necessary for working, registering to vote, traveling, accessing government programs, and enhancing a sense of personal dignity.  Further, not having an accurate ID exposes trans residents to violence and discrimination, outing them against their will every time they are forced to display an old document.  Yet nine in ten trans people in MA reported that not all of their IDs had their correct name and gender, citing the prohibitive cost of updating documents as one of the main barriers.  When one in four trans people in Massachusetts has experienced homelessness, and homelessness rates for trans youth are sky high, waiving fees for homeless people to get IDs is a trans human rights issue.  Call your state legislators today and encourage them to pass this important act.

Individual holding dog poses in front of rainbow banner with sign reading "I Support Transgender Equality."
Two individuals smile and hug in front of rainbow banner and hold sign reading "Don't Make Me a Second-Class Citizen."

Trans Youth at School

In MA, LGBT youth are ...


more likely to be threatened or injured with a weapon at school


more likely to rely on school personnel for support that they don't receive from a parent

of trans people in MA faced such severe transphobia that they left a K–12 school

sources: Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth: 2020 Report and Recommendations and 2015 US Transgender Survey (MA report)

Although the right to an education has been enshrined in the Commonwealth's constitution since 1780, trans students in our schools are still waiting to receive equitable access to this centuries-old promise. From violently transphobic bullies to homelessness, trans youth face a battery of systemic barriers to attending school. Their academic outcomes lag far behind those of their cis peers.

One key step to defending trans students' right to learn is lobbying to ensure that S2399, An Act Relative to Healthy Youth, retains language protecting trans students from earlier drafts. In its previous incarnation, the act was supposed to ensure that MA schools that offer sex ed courses must teach a medically-accurate curriculum that features age-appropriate information about gender identity and sexual orientation, including affirmative recognition that people have different sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions, and information about resources that offer support for LGBTQ students.

For many trans children and teenagers, school health classes are their only reliable source of accurate information that can keep them safe. At present, LGBTQ students are far less likely than their peers to report finding sex ed at their school useful - and far more likely to experience adverse sexual health outcomes, such as STIs, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault.

Beyond improved health outcomes, research suggests that offering trans-inclusive sex ed is a critical step to making schools a welcoming environment for trans students. A curriculum that teaches students about gender identity diversity fosters a culture of tolerance and understanding that lowers bullying rates. Further, having access to a trusted adult trained to dispense sensitive, accurate health advice can make all the difference for some trans students.

Given how important accurate sex ed is for trans youth, we ask that you call on your local legislator to insist that the bill regains its previous protections for LGBTQ students.

of LGBTQ students in MA do not receive LGBTQ-inclusive sex education
of US LGBTQ students received information that included negative representations of trans/GNC topics
of US LGBTQ students received information that included negative representations of trans/GNC topics

Volunteer with MassEquality

At MassEquality, we have a long and proud history of advocating for trans rights in Massachusetts.  With the support of our amazing volunteers and donors, our courageous coalition partners, and political leaders who championed LGBTQ+ equality MA, we played a leading role in securing civil rights protections for transgender people both in 2011 and again in 2016.  But our work is far from done - and we can't continue to bring the fight for trans equality to MA without your support.  From testifying in support of bills to calling legislators to organizing public awareness drives, we need your help to keep fighting.  Sign up below to volunteer in the coming months, or click here to donate to our organization.

Two individuals pose in front of rainbow banner with signs reading "I Support Transgender Equality" and "Don't Make Me a Second-Class Citizen."
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