City Council Motion Against Transgender Anti-Discrimination Act

A quick post on a time sensitive subject: Dick Howe’s weekly roundup shares the disheartening news that Councilors Elliott and Mercier have a joint motion requesting the City Council “vote to adopt a resolution to oppose the transgender bill adopted by the State Senate which allows access to women’s bathrooms and locker rooms.”

I imagine many readers of this blog are are already asking “How can I stop that?!” Easy. There are 3 important things you can do here: 1) Contact the city council and let them know where you stand. 2) Show up on Tuesday (register in advance to speak) 3) Spread the word. Here’s how:

1) Contact the City Council

This is easier than you might think. Follow this link and you’ll see a simple form to fill out. http://www.lowellma.gov/citycouncil/lists/ContactTheCityCouncil/NewForm.aspx?PageType=8&ListId={0a606722-04e6-4a9a-8031-3fe071aeb7f9}&RecipientName=&RootFolder=%27

You can even submit anonymously if you want, though your voice will be stronger with your address attached.  I did this just now and it took me 3 minutes. Here’s what I said “I am for the Transgender anti-discrimination act and urge the council not to pass a motion against it. This motion could hurt us economically, as we have seen it hurt North Carolina. More importantly, transgender people need to be protected by our laws, not attacked by them.”  See, easy!

If you have another way to contact them, like if you know them personally or have ever talked on the phone or over facebook, try that too!

2) Show up on Tuesday

This is the most powerful thing you can do, absolutely. This has changed the course of motions, as with the bike lanes on Father Morissette; and changed the way that decisions went, as with the visit from Hun Manet. The City Council, while they have their own opinions, are genuinely interested in being a voice for you and absolutely do not want to be on the wrong side of an unpopular issue.  If you want to speak, you usually have to register in advance (though I think sometimes on a popular issue they just open up the floor). To do that, you email or call the City Clerk’s office mgeary@lowellma.gov or 978-674-4161.

3) Spread the word

One disadvantage this issue has going in is that, as far as I know, there’s not an organized LGBTQ advocacy group in the city. This means this effort will have to be more grassroots, and we need as many people as possible to hear this information. Please share this post or Dick Howe’s with your friends over email, on facebook, on twitter, and in person. The reality is, most people will not have heard that this is happening. It is HARD for most folks to keep up with local news, even though they want to. Making noise and talking about what happens in the community is one of the most important things you do as a citizen.

UPDATE: There’s now also a facebook event here, which makes it super easy to share.

Why is this important?

Now, for those of you who are feeling out of the loop, I do want to talk about this issue in more detail. The bill currently making its way through the Statehouse (passed in the senate, on to the house) would allow a transgender woman to use the women’s bathroom and a transgender man to use the men’s bathroom. This issue has rocketed to the forefront of our national dialogue, and many people are still learning these terms and becoming familiar with what these laws mean.

A transwoman is someone who, when they were born, the doctor said “it’s a boy!” but as this person grew up, that seemed to not match how they felt inside. At some point, they made the physically and emotionally difficult decision to begin living as their real self, changing how they appear to match the way they felt. Some trans people get surgery, some don’t. This shouldn’t matter to you any more than it matters to you what anyone else’s private parts look like. Even outside of trans folks, there’s a lot more natural variation than you might imagine, and frankly, unless those private parts belong to you, it’s really none of your business.

Dick Howe has done a great job with why rejecting this motion is important from an economic perspective. I’ll quote him here:

“With the expansion of MA/Com, the arrival of Kronos and the Markley Group, and all of the exciting work being done at the UMass Lowell Innovation Center, Lowell is rapidly becoming a center of high tech. These businesses and others form a solid foundation in the innovation economy and will only attract similar companies and startups. Yet the people who run these companies, and the people who will be working at them, will not want to come to a community that takes a backwards, irrational view of transgender rights. That is why so many companies have cancelled plans to relocate to or expand in North Carolina which with its “research triangle” had been a leading high tech region.

“This motion urging defeat of the transgender rights bill also jeopardizes Lowell’s efforts to become a college town and to continue to grow as a home for artists. Both of those groups, college students and artists and all those drawn to them, want a community that is welcoming to everyone and that is open to change and new ideas. In fact, every economic development strategy pursued and being pursued by this city will be undercut by the passage of this motion.”

I want to say just a little more about this issue from a moral perspective. To some this can seem like a niche issue, because trans people are a relatively small percentage of the population. Because it hasn’t been a popular issue until relatively recently, others assume that it can’t really be a major issue. The truth is, we all should have been doing more to help this community for a long time. Trans people have long been in need of additional protection under the law, as a group that has experienced violence, discrimination, and suicide at much higher rates, even as compared to gay and lesbian people. 90% of trans people reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination on the job. – See more at: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/headlines/beyond-stereotypes-poverty-in-the-lgbt-community/

Additionally, 64% of transgender people will experience sexual assault in their lifetime: http://abcnews.go.com/US/sexual-assault-domestic-violence-organizations-debunk-bathroom-predator/story?id=38604019

While it’s understandable that many people, especially women, worry about sexual assault, it’s hard to see how a law allowing people to use the bathroom they chose is a real danger. First of all, most trans people already use the bathroom of their choice. Think about it: many trans people “pass”, and using the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth would be a much more uncomfortable experience for everyone. Second, transgender people are much more likely to be a victim of violence than the other way around. Finally, the reality is that sexual violence knows no gender, and no orientation. Especially to children, a trusted adult is much more likely to be a source of danger than a stranger in a bathroom.

Laws that try to legislate trans folks out of bathrooms don’t want them in the opposite bathrooms either. They just want trans people to stop existing. That is not going to happen. We’re going to need a find a way to accept trans people as part of our community. Let’s get Lowell, and Massachusetts, on the right side of history.

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5 thoughts on “City Council Motion Against Transgender Anti-Discrimination Act

    • Yes, surely there are better options (such as individual bathrooms) than something that can so easily be abused by sexual predators posing as transgender individuals just to gain access to women’s bathrooms. We’re already seeing stories of this in the news. Also, I think it is very interesting that there are even transgender individuals who oppose this whole bathroom thing (http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/hes-transgender.-he-identifies-as-female-and-hes-against-transgender-men-us) or are in opposition to this whole big push right now to encourage more and more transgenderism, such as this article, “I was a transgender woman”: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/04/14688/ … as well as the fact that the American College of Pediatrics has come out to clearly say that the encouragement of transgenderism in our young people is child abuse: http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/gender-ideology-harms-children
      There’s obviously a lot more that could be said on the topic on other fronts, of course, as someone who follows God. But I recognize blog comments are not the best place for such discussions. 🙂 I do want all people to be safe, and surely there is a better solution than something that can be so easily abused by people claiming to be trans who are not. I do plan to be at the meeting in support of the motion.

      • The tiny American College of Pediatricians (not pediatrics) was founded to oppose LGBT rights so it is no surprise that it opposes transgender rights. It was started to oppose the American Academy of Pediatricians, an organization that bases its views on scientific evidence. The ACP is classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  1. I just sent my message to the city council. I think that opposing the protection of the rights of transgendered people would send a message about Lowell that I would not want reflected on me. We need to be moving forwards, and not seen as backwards. I hope to be there on Tuesday urging the council to defeat this motion.

  2. Pingback: Showdown at City Hall – TONIGHT – Support Transgender Rights – Communique

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