Equality Maryland’s annual Lobby Day is happening on Monday, February 14th at 5pm in Annapolis.  Show your little love bug how much you care by bringing hir, her or him by the state house for a spot of lobbying for the gender identity anti-discrimination and marriage equality bills.  You can find more details and sign up here.

Equality Maryland recently posted this essay by Sandy Rawls, a transgender activist from Baltimore.  It’s another sober reminder of how immediate the need is for employment and housing protections for transgender people in Maryland.

After beginning my transition, I was pushed out of the trucking trade. While looking for employment in other fields at entry levels of work I found it to be much harder then I imagined too find work and make a livable wage.

I spent a short time at my ex-wife’s house, but ended up living in emergency shelters, but they would often want me to sleep in male quarters.  To spare myself of that mental anguish I began living on the streets.  I would ride the Baltimore light rail during the day to get sleep and stay awake all night to watch out for my safety.  After eight months, I was accepted into a local Baltimore homeless shelter. I was, at times, discriminated against by the staff and residents.

With my future in mind, I said “even if it kills me” one day I will be part of the transgender activist movement to help establish resources in the community to help other transgender people become productive citizens.

Today, I am the director and founder of a transgender organization called Trans-United.  Trans-United provides vital resources and advocates for social justice for the transgender community.  As a part of my work with Trans-United, I have traveled to Annapolis each year to lobby on behalf of the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act (HB 235).  I have testified in the committee and shared my story with my legislators.

Recently, I participated in Equality Maryland’s “Why Equality Matters Day” on January 31st.  Again, I found myself lobbying my lawmakers to push for support of anti-discrimination protections.  I will also be joining EQMD for their annual lobby day efforts on Monday, February 14th.  I’ll be joined with others and will participate as a fellow speaker at Lawyers Mall at 5:00 PM.

I’ll be there when the bill is heard and I plan to keep fighting to convince our legislators that we need these protections under the law, and now.  Our freedoms and civil rights as transgender people definitely are not free. We have to make our voices heard and be an active part of the solution.  Not only this year as we fight for HB 235, but in future fights to come.  

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