Massachusetts Could Roll Back Trans Rights This Year — And We Need to Fight Back

From Them:

A vote this November on trans rights in Massachusetts could have wide-ranging national consequences.

By and

This November, Massachusetts voters will be the first anywhere to be asked whether they will retain a statewide law protecting transgender people’s equal access to public places. The law, Bill S.2047, was passed in 2016 with bipartisan support and signed by a Republican governor. For over two years, it has worked to promote understanding and support for transgender people, ensuring that they can eat, shop, work, and go to school on equal footing with others. But shortly after the law’s adoption, a small group of anti-transgender activists gathered the minimum number of signatures to put the law — and the rights of transgender people — up for a popular vote. Now, residents must vote YES on Question 3 in order to keep basic protections for transgender people in place.

The law adds transgender people to equality and fairness guarantees that have existed in Massachusetts for over half a century, ensuring that people have access to restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, and other places of public accommodation on equal terms with others. These protections are critical for transgender people and other marginalized groups to be able to access public places without fear that they will be turned away or excluded simply for being who they are. As lawyers who regularly hear from people who face discrimination in a wide range of contexts, and as transgender individuals ourselves, we know all too well the challenges that transgender people navigate in these spaces and the tremendous benefit of having basic anti-discrimination protections that provide clear guidance to business owners and a baseline of equality for all people.

Over the more than 20 years that we have done this work, we have seen tremendous progress and positive change for transgender individuals. The first state to enact express state law protections for transgender people was Minnesota, in 1993. Rhode Island was the second, in 2001. Since then, 18 other states and the District of Columbia have added protections, which have been hugely influential in shaping and changing the experience of day-to-day life for transgender individuals. They mean that young people can attend school in safety and on equal terms with their peers. They mean that transgender people have been able to get jobs to support themselves and their families. And they mean that transgender people can visit stores and restaurants without being turned away.

Just as important, these laws have given transgender people an opportunity to be more visible, to participate in public life, and to share their lives and stories with others. More friends and family members have come forward to speak publicly and freely about their transgender children, parents, neighbors, colleagues, and loved ones. TV shows and movies now have more transgender characters than ever before, and social media better reflects the gender diversity that surrounds us. We are all better for this richness.

But that forward progress is at risk. We are no strangers to attempts by small but powerful groups to roll back advances in equal rights. Following the 2003 Goodridge ruling, we fought for four more years against attempts to roll back marriage equality in Massachusetts. On November 5, 2008, we all woke up to the heartbreak of the passage of Prop 8, which did turn back equality, for a time, in California.

We can’t ever let that happen again.

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The Problem With ‘Hey Guys’

One Texas/Southern speech term that fits the gender neutral qualification is y’all.  A collective general pronoun.

I must also admit a fondness for “folks”.

From The Atlantic:

A broad coalition of English speakers—teachers, retail workers, ice-cream scoopers, and plenty of others—is grasping for a more inclusive greeting.

Aug 23, 2018

“Okay, guys,” a female coworker of mine recently began, as she addressed me and a female colleague. Then she stopped herself, said she was making an effort to use more gender-neutral language, and carried on talking.

It was a small self-correction, and a glimpse at the conflicted feelings stirred up by one of the most common greetings in the English language. Guys is an easygoing way to address a group of people, but to many, it’s a symbol of exclusion—a word with an originally male meaning that is frequently used to refer to people who don’t consider themselves “guys.”

My coworker is one of many who have started editing themselves in response to this exclusion. In the course of reporting this story, I heard from teachers who wanted a better way to get students’ attention, an ice-cream scooper who wanted a better way to greet customers, and a debate coach who specifically encourages his students to use y’all. These are representatives of a broad coalition of people who have contemplated, and often gone through with, excising guys from their vocabularies.

There are, of course, plenty of people—including many women—who have no problem being addressed as “guys,” think the word has evolved to be entirely gender-neutral, and don’t see a reason to change their usage. But others aren’t so sure. “I think there’s a really serious and welcome reconception of gender lines and relationships between sex and gender going on,” says John McWhorter, who teaches linguistics at Columbia University and has written several books about language. He says “something has crested in particular over about the past 10 years”—something that has people examining their everyday communications.

In my reporting I heard from several people who said that the word is particularly troubling for trans and gender-nonconforming people. “As a transgender woman, I consciously began trying to stop using guys some years ago,” says Brad Ward, a college counselor at a high school in Atherton, California. She added, “When I’m included with a group that is called guys, there’s some pain, since it takes me back to my male days in a way that I’d rather not go.”

I also heard that guys could grate on women working at male-heavy companies. In tech in particular, some told me they saw the word as yet another symptom of a female-minimizing industry. “There are a lot of guys in tech and ‘guys’ is used all the time in my work and social environments by both men and women, but since it doesn’t resonate with me anymore, I do feel like I’m not part of the group,” says Amy Chong, a 29-year-old user-experience researcher in San Francisco.

In some workplaces, people have used technology to gently push back against the gender-neutral guys so that they themselves don’t have to speak up. A group of government employees wrote a custom response for the messaging app Slack that would have a bot ask questions like “Did you mean friends?” or “Did you mean you all?” whenever a user wrote “Hey guys”; a Spotify employee embraced the idea, and the professional network Ladies Get Paid has a similar feature in its Slack group of some 30,000 members.

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The Rich Want To Keep You Dumb

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