Essdras M. Suarez/Globe Staff
After being hired for a job in Foxborough last year, Logan Ferraro, a 19-year-old female-to-male transgender man received a call from his new boss.
When he had filled out his application, he had stated his gender as the one with which he identifies: male. However, this didnít match his Social Security data, which indicated he was female. His boss had questions. After Ferraro explained his status as a transgender man, his boss assured him it wouldnít be a problem.
The next contact Ferraro had with the boss, he said, was a letter he received with information on how to file for unemployment.
About 100 people gathered in front of the State House today to listen to speakers like Ferraro call for action on a bill protecting transgender rights that has been stuck in a legislative committee.
"I'm sick of being a second-class citizen," Ferraro said. "I may be a transgendered man, but Iím nonetheless a man."
The bill would make workplace and housing discrimination against transgender people illegal as well as protect them against hate crimes.
Activists noted it was Harvey Milk Day, the day that would have been the 80th birthday of the gay rights activist and first openly gay man elected to California public office.
"If Harvey were alive today, he'd be at the forefront of the effort for full rights for transgenders," said Don Gordon, an event coordinator for Join The Impact MA, the main organizers for the event.
The bill has stirred sharp opposition from critics who have dubbed it the "bathroom bill," contending it would make it easier for sex offenders to have access to young children in public restrooms by allowing people of both genders to use single-sex facilities such as bathrooms, gyms, and locker rooms.
Two of the three major Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates, Republican candidate Charles Baker and independent candidate Timothy Cahill, have said they would veto the bill if elected to the office. Baker today issued a statement saying that "I believe we should treat everyone fairly under the law, but I don't think this legislation is the way to get there, and I oppose it." Cahill's campaign didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
Supporters say such criticisms are baseless, and denounce them as scare tactics designed to score political points among social conservatives.
"When all they have to talk about is bathrooms, we know we've won the argument on merits," Gordon said.
Some in the crowd represented organizations such as Equality across America and the Mass Trans Political Coalition. Some people came on their own.
With the encouragement of speaker Gunner Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, the crowd chanted, "Hey hey, ho ho, trans-phobia's got to go."
"Trans people have been here," Scott said. "We're not this newfangled thing."
Several speakers followed Scott, including Representative Carl M. Sciortino Jr., a Medford Democrat, and representatives from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, and other LGBT groups.
Before the March, Keegan O'Brien of the UMass Boston LGBT Equality Coalition evoked a loud 30-second ovation with an impassioned speech calling for action on the issue.
"It doesnít matter who's in office," he shouted into the microphone. "It matters Ö who's protesting in the streets, who's making history."
Following the speeches, O'Brien led the crowd down Park Street, gaining marchers as they made their way to the JFK Federal Building, holding signs and chanting.
They continued drawing attention as they made their way to Downtown Crossing and through the Boston Common where onlookers took pictures, some unsure of what they were protesting.
The march ended back at the State House where Gordon reflected that such rallies gave needed attention to LGBT issues.
"There's an intensity factor," he said.
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