Press Release

Press Release Massachusetts Showed Up On Transgender Day of Visibility

For immediate release:
4/01/2022
  • Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth

Media Contact for Massachusetts Showed Up On Transgender Day of Visibility

Molly Wexler-Romig, Commission Program Manager

TDOV steps

BOSTON, MAOn March 31st, 2022, in recognition of International Transgender Day of Visibility, members of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth gathered alongside trans and nonbinary youth and state lawmakers on the front steps of the State House to declare that LGBTQ youth belong here and everywhere. Transgender Day of Visibility is an international event dedicated to recognizing the resilience and accomplishments of the transgender community. On this day, we celebrate the trans people amongst us, raise awareness about the struggles that they face, and advocate for more protected rights for them in a bid to reform society and empower this community — as it so rightfully deserves.

The event, titled We Are A State of Love: A Gathering of Visible Solidarity with LGBTQ Youth, came about as a response to state-sponsored discrimination in other states across the nation, in conjunction with a statement the Commission released on March 10th. It was co-hosted by Representative Jack Patrick Lewis, who has been the lead sponsor of legislation to dismantle systemic racism and support healthy relationships, along with priority bills for statewide public health, social service, youth, LGBTQ, and HIV/AIDS organizations; and by Senator Julian Cyr, a former chair of our Commission who serves with Representative Lewis on the LGBTQ Caucus in the State House. Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Pro Tempore Kate Hogan shared remarks, as well as Senator Jo Comerford, another member of the LGBTQ Caucus.

In addition to legislative speakers, the keynote speakers for the event were:

  • Alia Cusolito (they/them/theirs), a sophomore from southeastern Massachusetts and an active member of the Massachusetts GSA Student Leadership Council, a program of the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students which is sponsored by the Commission and DESE. They’re also Head of Teams for the national nonprofit Queer Youth Assemble, which is a youth-led organization dedicated to fostering a queer-youth-led movement across the United States and providing the resources for youth to create positive change in their communities. Alia has been involved in activism for about four years and has spent countless hours advocating for change.
  • Grace Sterling Stowell (she/her/hers): As executive director of BAGLY, a founding member of both the MA Commission on LGBTQ Youth and the MA Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission and a long-time Steering Committee member of the MA Transgender Political Coalition, Grace continues to advocate for the needs of LGBTQ youth and transgender communities throughout the Commonwealth. Most recently, Grace was among the leaders of the successful effort to add gender identity to the Massachusetts non-discrimination laws in 2011, expand gender identity protections in public accommodations in 2016, and defend gender identity protections at the statewide ballot box as part of the Freedom MA Yes On 3 Campaign in 2018. Grace is now the longest-tenured transgender executive director in the nation (and one of the few leading a non-trans-specific organization), and she has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work, including the National LGBTQ Task Force’s “Susan J. Hyde Activism Award for Longevity in the Movement” award in 2010.  While Grace has served many roles in her community work over the past four decades, she remains especially honored to be known as “Mother” (and now “Grandmother!”) by three generations of LGBTQ youth.

The event was covered by a number of media outlets whose coverage highlighted poignant excerpts from these speeches as well as interviews with attendees and relevant context for the event:

We Are A State Of Love was attended by numerous additional legislators (and their staffers), including Senator Adam Hinds, and Representatives Natalie Higgins, Adam Scanlon, Sarah Peake, Steve Owens, Sean Garballey, Jamie Belsito, Vanna Howard, Jacob Oliveira, Christine Barber, Carol Doherty, and Nika Elugardo. Also in attendance was Boston City Councilor-at-large Ruthzee Louijeune, and Mariangely Solis Cervera, Boston’s Chief of Equity and Inclusion, who attended on Mayor Michelle Wu’s behalf.

Although unable to attend, Governor Charlie Baker submitted the following statement of support:

​​The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to stand with the LGBTQ youth of Massachusetts in recognition of March 31st as Transgender Day of Visibility. This day honors transgender people in the Commonwealth and celebrates their achievements and accomplishments in raising awareness and promoting equality throughout the state. Massachusetts has long been a national leader in equality, and we will continue to ensure that the Commonwealth leads the way in the fight for a fairer society for all.

Speaker of the House Representative Ronald Mariano also expressed regrets and shared this message:

The attacks on transgender rights in Texas, and around the country, are wrong and dangerous. Currently, there are over 100 proposed anti-trans bills nationwide, representing an unprecedented effort to repeal trans rights. I know the House stands with the LGBTQ+ community and condemns these discriminatory policies.

The Commission estimates that over 150 people attended the event in person, with an additional 15 watching it live on Instagram. A complete video of the event can be viewed on the Commission’s Facebook page at https://fb.watch/c6KFSxcHiJ/ (no account needed). Many participants shared photos and videos of the event, which you can view on this Instagram Story Highlight (requires account).

It is heartening that in its 30th year, the Commission enjoys such strength of support in the State House, which is a testament to the tireless efforts of LGBTQ, and particularly transgender and BIPOC, activists who work in partnership with and also hold accountable our elected leaders tasked with the wellbeing of all people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We have come a long way toward realizing the dream of a state where all youth can thrive. Beyond the state level, yesterday the Biden administration announced “new actions to support the mental health of transgender children, remove barriers that transgender people face accessing critical government services, and improve the visibility of transgender people in our nation’s data”. It seems clear that while discriminatory actions are boasting temporary success in statehouses in many parts of the country, their supporters will soon be on the losing side of history.

And yet, when LGBTQ youth continue to attempt suicide at four times the rate of their straight, cisgender peers, with transgender youth in particular making attempts nearly six times as often, we know that we cannot rest. As Representative Lewis said as he concluded his remarks: “Enjoy the celebration. Tomorrow, we get back to work.”

The Commission on LGBTQ Youth is established by law as an independent state agency to recommend and advocate to all branches of state government effective policies, programs and resources for LGBTQ youth to thrive.  Founded in 1992 as the first body of its kind in the nation, the Commission has been advocating for LGBTQ youth wellbeing in and out of school for 30 years.

The Commission wishes to thank Greater Boston PFLAG for providing event support including hosting the event website and contributing staff time. Greater Boston PFLAG is a local chapter of PFLAG National and is composed of staff, volunteers, and members throughout eastern Massachusetts. GBPFLAG provides opportunities for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and works every day to achieve our vision of a world in which LGBTQ+ individuals are safe, supported, included, and equal in their families, in their communities, and in society. For more information about Greater Boston PFLAG call 781.891.5966, find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram @GBPFLAG or visit www.gbpflag.org

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Media Contact for Massachusetts Showed Up On Transgender Day of Visibility

Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth 

The Commission is an independent state agency that helps all youth thrive.
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