Alliance To Continue Moving Gender Identity Rights Forward In Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Alliance to Continue Moving Gender Identity Rights Forward in Maryland


Laurel, MD – November 20, 2012 – Gender Rights Maryland (GRMD), the state’s only civil rights organization exclusively representing trans persons, and the Howard County and Baltimore County Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Chapters, today announced they will continue the alliance they formed this past year in passing gender identity and expression legislation in two Maryland counties.

The alliance will mark the second year of cooperation between the organizations that resulted in the passage of comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for trans and gender non-conforming persons in Howard and Baltimore Counties in 2012.  The organizations plan to take the measures to the Maryland State Legislature and to the Prince Georges County Council for passage in 2013.

PFLAG Howard County President Matt Thorn said, “PFLAG Howard County is proud to have been an integral partner in the successful passage of comprehensive legislation in Baltimore and Howard counties. We stand unwavering with our brothers and sisters in the fight for gender identity and gender expression non-discrimination. The transgender community has stood steadfast with the gay and lesbian community in the quest for marriage equality and it is fundamental that the LGB and ally community stand by the trans community in the pursuit of comprehensive non-discrimination laws on the state level.”

“Following the tremendous success that these three organizations had working together with other friends and allies in Howard and Baltimore Counties; PFLAG Baltimore County is making a commitment to remain part of this alliance and to continue our work for trans rights and protections in the state of Maryland,” said Mark Patro, PFLAG Baltimore County Chapter President.

“We welcome all allies, including those allies who worked for these causes in previous years, to join our alliance in moving these issues forward,” said GRMD Executive Director Dr. Dana Beyer.

“This team has been instrumental in persuading legislators to take action on the issues surrounding trans rights” said Sharon Brackett, Board Chair of GRMD.  “Our alliance with PFLAG, and the results we have achieved together, has secured protections to over a million more Marylanders, including many thousands of trans and gender non-conforming persons in Maryland.  Now is time to make sure that all Marylanders have a common set of rights.”


PFLAG Baltimore County,

Founded in 2009, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Baltimore County promotes the equality and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, their families and friends by providing support to cope with an adverse society, education to enlighten an ill-informed public and advocacy to end discrimination and secure equal civil rights.

PFLAG Howard County,

Founded in 1994, PFLAG Howard County has a thriving program that truly makes a difference in the lives of LGBT people and their families, as well as providing a forum for educating the broader community in order to advance real and lasting change in the hearts and minds of people in our county and beyond.

Gender Rights Maryland,

The purpose of Gender Rights Maryland is to promote civil rights, education, tolerance, equality and acceptance on the basis of sex and gender identity/expression in the State of Maryland.  Gender Rights Maryland’s legislative goal for 2012-2013 is to see the passage of a comprehensive gender identity antidiscrimination law in Prince Georges County, MD and the passage of statewide legislation consistent with Federal gender identity policy and law in Maryland before the end of the

Gender Rights Maryland Statement on SB212 and the General Assembly Crossover Date

Laurel, MD – March 26, 2012 –– Today marks the crossover date in the Maryland General Assembly for bills to move from one house to the other.  It is unfortunate that we cannot report that SB212 is among those in consideration for that process.  Unlike efforts last year, SB212 was never put up for a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. There are multiple reasons for why this is the case but for GRMD it comes down to one -- Senate President Miller does not want this bill.  It is unfortunate that a single person, despite the will of the people of this state, can decide the fate of so many Marylanders on such life and death matters as the basic civil rights of employment, housing and public accommodation.

Since the end of the 2011 legislative session events in Maryland had clearly indicated that there was strong support for this bill.  Governor Martin O’Malley had publicly endorsed the measure in response to the prosecution of a hate crime against Chrissy Lee Polis’ attackers in 2011.   Polling results show that 63% of Marylanders support civil rights for trans people.  And yet we cannot get forward movement in the Maryland Senate.

That climate did however bear fruit with those legislators that seem to be more closely in tune with their communities.  Howard and Baltimore Counties were brave enough to put forward these civil rights for their residents.  GRMD was an integral part of those efforts and we are proud of the addition of gender identity protections for over one million additional Marylanders in 2012.  This brings the total coverage to 2.6 million Marylanders. This should be considered remarkable progress considering that momentum in this space has been dormant since 2007.  GRMD is proud to have played a strong role along with PFLAG and other allies in moving this legislation to law.


How To File A Discrimination Claim With The EEOC

You may file a charge of employment discrimination at the EEOC office closest to where you live, or at any one of the EEOC’s 53 field offices.  Your charge, however, may be investigated at the EEOC office closest to where the discrimination occurred.  If you are a U.S. citizen working for an American company overseas, you should file your charge with the EEOC field office closest to your employer’s corporate headquarters.

Where the discrimination took place can determine how long you have to file a charge. The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a state or local law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. The rules are slightly different for age discrimination charges. For age discrimination, the filing deadline is only extended to 300 days if there is a state law prohibiting age discrimination in employment and a state agency or authority enforcing that law. The deadline is not extended if only a local law prohibits age discrimination.

Many states and localities have agencies that enforce laws prohibiting employment discrimination. EEOC refers to these agencies as Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs). EEOC and some FEPAs have worksharing agreements in place to prevent the duplication of effort in charge processing. According to these agreements, if you file a charge with either EEOC or a FEPA, the charge also will be automatically filed with the other agency. This process, which is defined as dual filing, helps to protect charging party rights under both federal and state or local law.


Baltimore County Council Passes Gender Identity Protection Ordinance


Towson, MD – February 21, 2012 –– This evening the Baltimore County Council passed legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation, in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodations, and financing. The bill was initiated by Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) Baltimore County and Gender Rights Maryland (GRMD), an organization dedicated to enacting similar statewide protections.

"This is a great day for Baltimore County” said Mark Patro, Chapter President of PFLAG Baltimore County. “Despite pressure from opposition groups, the County Council was able to look past the rhetoric of fear and do the right thing by securing these critical civil rights for all residents of Baltimore County.”

“Our success here in Baltimore County, and a few months ago in Howard County, is a testament to the forward thinking of our local elected officials. We would like to thank the entire Council for having the courage to pass this legislation and, in particular, Councilmember Tom Quirk for being a steadfast champion for passage of this bill. In the past 6 months we have collectively brought these protections to over one million more Marylanders. This should be a strong message to Annapolis that it is time to lead the rest of the state on this matter,” said Sharon Brackett, Board Chair for Gender Rights Maryland.

”Baltimore County will now join Howard, and Montgomery County and Baltimore City as the fourth jurisdiction in Maryland supporting these rights. This is a clear sign of exciting and changing times in Maryland for advocates of civil rights,” added Brackett.

The bill will now be forwarded to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz who is expected to sign it.


PFLAG Baltimore County,

Founded in 2009, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Baltimore County promotes the equality and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, their families and friends by providing support to cope with an adverse society, education to enlighten an ill-informed public and advocacy to end discrimination and secure equal civil rights.

Gender Rights Maryland,

The purpose of Gender Rights Maryland is to promote civil rights, education, tolerance, equality and acceptance on the basis of sex and gender identity/expression in the State of Maryland.  Gender Rights Maryland’s initial legislative goal is to see the passage of a comprehensive gender identity anti‐discrimination bill by the end of the 2012 legislative session.

Our Testimony in Annapolis

Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee

February 28, 2012

On this day GRMD with the support of other organizations assembled panels to testify on behalf of SB212.  Many of you were not able to attend or listen live.  And of course the feed you can get from the state of Maryland does not let you pick and choose the testimony you want to hear from that session.  So we did that legwork for you and will update this page with links to the audio testimony over the next few days as we put them on line.

If you want the most current information we urge you to join our facebook group.

Go to the bottom of this page to see what we have added most recently.

Senator Jamie Raskin

For the next few days we are going to put up the testimony from the Maryland Senate JPR SB212 hearings. That way those of you who missed it can get to hear some of our great testimony. And we will put up some of the more interesting opposition testimony too. The source of these recordings is the State of Maryland. We have only put them in bite sized chunks. Enjoy. Here is Senator Raskin getting things started.

Dana Beyer, MD

Our first panel was Medical. Dana Beyer, MD led off reading a letter from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit. And signed by five of the faculty. This was created at our request to counter the continued use of the anti-trans writings and opinions of Dr. Paul McHugh who has not been with Hopkins for years.

Lori Hollander, LCSW, BCD

Lori Hollander, LCSW, BCD takes the Senators to "school" on trans issues. Senator Brochin, who represents Baltimore County which just passed protections, seems to have a personal issue. It would seem he has no fear of trans people doing something bad in the bathroom, just that he might have to explain diversity to his kids. Senator Forehand poses valid questions about intersex conditions. Dr. Beyer responds.

Eva Hersh, MD

Dr. Eva Hersh has been an icon for trans health in Baltimore for years. Dr. Hersh clearly states that being transgender is a medical condition. And points out what is the appropriate and effective treatment for trans people. She also highlights the plight of many trans people. We are luck to have her here in Maryland. Her testimony concludes the medical panel testimony. Tomorrow we will put up part of the legal panel.

Laure Ruth

Laure Ruth is the Legal Director of The Women’s Law Center of Maryland. The WLC advocates for an equal playing field in the law for women and children. Laure testifies that women have nothing to fear from trans people regardless of where they encounter them. Senator Raskin talks about why he did not show the Polis beating in his testimony but poses the question about the safety of trans people in the bathroom. The collective wisdom, trans people have more to fear from the public than the public has to fear from them.

Jon Shurberg

Attorney Jonathan Shurberg testifies about the impact of 11th Circuit Court's decision in Glenn vs Brumby. And then stresses that 4 jurisdictions in Maryland have these protections and that this kind of legislation has been in place throughout the US. In some cases for 30 years. And poses that if there were problems we would already know about it.

Glendora Hughes

Our last legal expert. Glendora Hughes, General Counsel of the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. The MCCR has the job of enforcement of these protections. She clearly points out that in Maryland where the protections are in place there have been no issues of the sort purported by the opposition. She should know, it is her job! She also points out the challenge of trying to enforce these rules given the "patchwork" of coverage in the state. Glendora has supported this legislation for years.

Peter Sprigg - OPPOSITION

Before we continue with our testimony we want to offer you a bit from our OPPOSITION. This is Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council. The FRC is on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of “hate groups”. His testimony today focuses on his new favorite reference source, Bailey's "The Man Who Would Be Queen". This text has been largely discredited by experts in the field and most trans people. This book, and the alleged "science" of it, are challenged by Senator Raskin. Listen to Sprigg squirm under questioning from the Senator. I think he forgot that Raskin is a law professor. We particularly like his reference to "Dr. Beyer's testimony not withstanding" which was a letter from five prominent experts from Johns Hopkins in support of our bill.

Catherine Hyde

Now we go back to our SB212 testimony. Catherine Hyde of PFLAG Columbia/Howard County is the parent of a trans child and serves as PFLAG's Transgender Coordinator. Her passionate testimony speaks for itself. She has been a prime instigator in the passage of the bills in Howard and Baltimore Counties. Catherine is evidence that a single person with a compelling story can create change. She is amazing.

Bruce Savadkin

Bruce Savadkin is our second parent who has a trans child. Bruce talks about his daughter who is presently a college student who has experienced discrimination. And who is now flourishing. He asks to "choose compassion, not fear".

Bonnita Spikes

Bonnita Spikes shares the story of her trans child. She shares a horrific story of an assault of her trans child. The story is moving. Bonnita is a huge champion for many issues regarding civil rights. You can see why in this testimony. Senators Raskin and Forehand ask additional thoughtful questions. Bonnita is a treasure to all of us.

Deborah Strauss

Our final parent panelist is GRMD board member Deborah Strauss who talks about her transgender daughter Emily. She talks about the roadblocks her daughter may face going forward. She is concerned that she cannot return to her home state of Maryland without increasing her own personal risks. Deborah also runs T-Families, a support group for families with transgender members.

Cynthia Cantrell

Cynthia Cantrell is our first trans panelist. She uses some dry humor with respect to last year's bill that allows dogs in restaurants in comparison to her rights. But it is also great testimony. Senator Brochin makes an error in his question regarding the prosecution of hate crimes in Baltimore County. Cynthia points out this is an anti-discrimination bill, not hate crime bill. Senator Brochin should read the law on that as gender identity is included in the definition of sexual orientation in the Maryland hate crimes law.

Oliver "Ace" Davis

Oliver "Ace" Davis is from Calvert County and is a recent high school graduate. His story is compelling and addresses what transitioning in high school and in a small town in Maryland is like. A great job for a young man who has never testified before.

Staci Hack

Staci Hack is a lifelong resident of Baltimore County. She talks about her personal struggles in accepting being trans and the interactions with her family. Staci has embarked on a new career path, by enrolling in college, and changing her life by accepting herself. She is now on a path to success but tells us there is still work to do in our state.

Keith Thirion

Our last trans panelist (save for yours truly) is GRMD board member Keith T. Thirion
Keith is the Lead Virginia Field Organizer with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. He works daily as an activist for this organization and not only works there but he is the public face of this non-LGBT organization. He shares his concerns about that role and how the fact that he has protections in Montgomery County has given him the confidence to pursue that work. This is inspiring testimony about how trans people not only are productive but, if given a level playing field, can flourish. Good job Keith!