For me Ethical Culture has gone far beyond the Sunday school class room. It has become my daily life.
As a college student, I stumbled upon an overlooked and underserved portion of the American population; the transgender community. The prejudice and bias towards transgender people at my university was baffling to me. How was it possible that my liberal Massachusetts college in Cambridge would be down right discriminatory to a small group of my classmates?
I started investigating some of the legal aspects of transgender rights and soon discovered that in many states transgender individuals do not have the very basic human rights that I assumed they where entitled to. I discovered that in more than 30 odd states (at the time) transgender citizens could be evicted from their homes for their gender identity expression, were denied basic emergency services because of discriminating hospital policies, and were routinely asked to leave or forced from public places like sidewalks, restaurants and schools.
My university requires internships for all undergraduate students. I selected the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC). They were in the midst of a six year struggle to pass the Transgender Equal Rights Bill when I joined them. Much of my internship work focused on the passage of that bill. I prepared and distributed material for the state legislators, and represented MTPC at committee meetings of the coalition working on the bill’s passage. On November 16th, 2011 I had the great honor of witnessing Massachusetts become the 16th state to grant transgender people legal protections with regards to housing, jobs and education.
Interestingly enough New Jersey has had housing and employment protections since 2006 under Gov. Corzine’s administration. Massachusetts (and New Jersey) still has a long way to go before transgender citizens have equal legal protection.
Ethical Culture made this work seem like a “no brainer” for me. I was taught that all people, no matter their gender identity expression, deserve to be treated ethically. I hope that in 2013 the
Massachusetts state legislature agrees with that belief and passes public accommodations laws for the approximately 33,000 transgender people living in the state of Massachusetts.