In Thanks - SB212 Passage

28 March 2014

As many of you know, SB212, The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, enacting comprehensive Gender Identity anti-discrimination protections, passed the Maryland house with an 82-57 vote and now heads to the Governor, who has stated his support, for signature.  The law will be in effect as of October 1, 2014.  I anxiously look forward to the signing ceremony.

This success is the result of many persons and cannot, and should not, be claimed by any one person or organization but I will be happy to report that it is my belief that Gender Rights Maryland (GRMD) played a key role in that enterprise.   I want to thank all persons and organizations who supported our efforts in the matter including those who perceived GRMD as “competition” in some manner.  Our methods may have been different, the goal the same.  It would be foolish, naive and arrogant, to dismiss any actions taken to further the bill.

It is so readily apparent to me that without our success in Howard County in 2011 and Baltimore County in 2012 that we would not be celebrating today.  All wins have a foundation, these are ours and cannot be ignored.

With that said I would like to offer specific thanks to individuals from my own perspective that made this success possible.  I realize it is unlikely I will be able to name all persons who came before me on this road whose efforts I am unaware of, so apologies in advance for any omissions.

In the fall of 2009 I met Morgan Meneses-Sheets and thus started my interest in getting things done in Maryland.  Morgan got me involved in Equality Maryland at the time and asked me to join their board twice in 2010.  Having recently transitioned I declined but agreed to work on 2011’s HB235 effort.  So Morgan, thank you for getting me started on this. 

I want to thank Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk for sponsoring HB235 in 2011 and our personal dialogs and insights to the workings of the house.  I also want to thank her for being the house floor manager for SB212 in 2014.  Her calm, cool, and collected demeanor made the opposition look as they truly were, fearful and panic stricken.  I found it very satisfying to see her in that role after years of hard work for our community.

I would like to thank those of us who following the defeat of HB235 in 2011 formed GRMD in response to the idea that trans persons needed to create our own organization with our own priorities. 

I want to thank policy advisory board members Heath Goisovich and Catherine Hyde for being the grains of sand in the oyster to get things moving in Howard County.  I want to thank Howard County Councilmembers Calvin Ball and Courtney Watson for sponsoring and shepherding the bill in Howard.  That was the victory that got this ball really rolling.

I want to thank Mara Drummond and Mark Patro for instigating things in Baltimore County and Councilmember Tom Quirk who had the vision and character to carry the bill forward there to success. Tom, despite vocal opposition, you never wavered once.

I want to thank Liz Seaton, who at the time was with NCLR, and became our right arm as legal advisor and counsel for both Howard and Baltimore Counties.  Liz, it was a sincere pleasure to work with you as one of the most professional people I know.

I want to thank all the members of PFLAG Howard and Baltimore Counties, including GRMD board member, Matt Thorn, for their unwavering support of our joint efforts.  We could not have done this without your troops.

I want to thank the members of our board of directors and policy advisory board for your support; in particular, Diego Sanchez, Mark Scurti, David Fishback, Mark McLaurin, Rev. Emma Chattin, Alison Gardner, and Dan Massey, for your sage advice and counsel.

I want to thank Senator Jamie Raskin for being the voice of the movement in both the Senate JPR and on the floor as the bill manager.  Without Jamie and his mastership there would have been no bill to vote on.  I want to thank Senator Richard Madaleno for his efforts as sponsor of SB212. I want to thank Senator Allan Kittleman for crossing the party line and understanding what discrimination really is. I want to thank Delegate Heather Mizeur for her passionate address to the House; it was clearly the most classy and Gubernatorial quality speech of the day.  I want to thank Delegate Bonnie Cullison for her tireless efforts to get the bill out of committee in the House.   I want to thank my own senator, Majority Leader Jim Robey, and Delegates Turner, Pendergrass and Guzzone for their unwavering support.

I want to thank our unpaid, all volunteer, legislative team. Specifically, I want to thank our legislative team chair, Jon Shurberg, for his tireless efforts bending ears in Annapolis.  Jon, your practical insights and perspectives, and knowledge of the law and how it is made, has been crucial to our success.  I want to thank the incomparable Darrell Carrington for your grand view of who’s who in Annapolis and how things get done in that town.  I am thrilled to call you both dear friends.

Lastly I wish to thank our Executive Director, Dana Beyer.  Dana has been on this crusade since the beginning and has never wavered from the goal.  She has put in thousands of hours on this effort and been paid the ripe sum of “not one thin dime” for the honor.  Words are not sufficient to cover my gratitude for her tireless efforts.  Let no one ever say her eyes were ever off the prize.

-- Sharon Brackett, Board Chair GRMD



Progress Made in the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act for Trans Marylanders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Progress Made in the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act for Trans Marylanders



Laurel, MD – July 18, 2013 – Gender Rights Maryland (GRMD), the state’s only civil rights organization exclusively representing trans persons is very pleased to report significant progress has been made in assuring fair and equal implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for transgender Marylanders this coming October. Maryland is not only on schedule to implement the ACA, but because of early acceptance of the Act and foresight in planning for its introduction, will be a leader in the rollout this fall.

As part of the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange (MHBE), the ACA requires that the MHBE be administered in such a manner as to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, and, just as importantly, assess progress in providing access to care and compile data reflecting any disparities encountered, on an annual basis.

Recognizing that discrimination is wrong as well as illegal, the Governor’s Office of Healthcare Reform, the Health Benefits Exchange, and the Maryland Insurance Commissioner are now reviewing the plans to ensure full and equal access to care, with the goal to bring Maryland into line with states such as California, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia, which have taken the lead over the past year.

Gender Rights Maryland wants to thank Delegate Heather Mizeur for spearheading this effort, and all the other members of the Maryland gay and lesbian caucus for supporting our request with prompt and unified action. We also want to thank Governor Martin O’Malley, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, DHMH Secretary Joshua Sharfstein, GOHCR Executive Director Carolyn Quattrocki, and Maryland Insurance Administration Commissioner Therese Goldsmith and their staffs for their steadfast assistance and action on behalf of the Maryland transgender community.


Dana Beyer, M.D.                                                       Sharon Brackett

Executive Director                                                          Board Chair

Link to the letter from the Governor's Office of Health Care Reform



Gender Rights Maryland,


The purpose of Gender Rights Maryland is to promote civil rights, education, tolerance, equality and acceptance on the basis of sex and gender identity/expression in the State of Maryland.  Gender Rights Maryland’s legislative goal for 2013-2014 is to see the passage of statewide legislation consistent with Federal gender identity policy and law in Maryland before the end of the 2014 legislative session.

Maryland Judicial Proceedings Committee Fails to Support SB449

March 14, 2013

I am sorry to report the SB449, the "Fairness for All Marylanders" Gender Identity Anti-discrimination act died in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee today on a 5-6 vote. Of note, voting against the bill were Democrats Brochin, Muse and Stone. 

Thanks to all who put forward supporting efforts in getting the bill as far as it went. Personally I am happy to see that our team made the best efforts we could with several recalcitrant senators. In particular I want to thank Dana Beyer, Jon Shurberg, and Darrell Carrington for their efforts. I am proud to have been a member of that "A" team.

Sharon Brackett
Board Chair, Gender Rights Maryland

Alliance To Continue Moving Gender Identity Rights Forward In Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Alliance to Continue Moving Gender Identity Rights Forward in Maryland


Laurel, MD – November 20, 2012 – Gender Rights Maryland (GRMD), the state’s only civil rights organization exclusively representing trans persons, and the Howard County and Baltimore County Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Chapters, today announced they will continue the alliance they formed this past year in passing gender identity and expression legislation in two Maryland counties.

The alliance will mark the second year of cooperation between the organizations that resulted in the passage of comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for trans and gender non-conforming persons in Howard and Baltimore Counties in 2012.  The organizations plan to take the measures to the Maryland State Legislature and to the Prince Georges County Council for passage in 2013.

PFLAG Howard County President Matt Thorn said, “PFLAG Howard County is proud to have been an integral partner in the successful passage of comprehensive legislation in Baltimore and Howard counties. We stand unwavering with our brothers and sisters in the fight for gender identity and gender expression non-discrimination. The transgender community has stood steadfast with the gay and lesbian community in the quest for marriage equality and it is fundamental that the LGB and ally community stand by the trans community in the pursuit of comprehensive non-discrimination laws on the state level.”

“Following the tremendous success that these three organizations had working together with other friends and allies in Howard and Baltimore Counties; PFLAG Baltimore County is making a commitment to remain part of this alliance and to continue our work for trans rights and protections in the state of Maryland,” said Mark Patro, PFLAG Baltimore County Chapter President.

“We welcome all allies, including those allies who worked for these causes in previous years, to join our alliance in moving these issues forward,” said GRMD Executive Director Dr. Dana Beyer.

“This team has been instrumental in persuading legislators to take action on the issues surrounding trans rights” said Sharon Brackett, Board Chair of GRMD.  “Our alliance with PFLAG, and the results we have achieved together, has secured protections to over a million more Marylanders, including many thousands of trans and gender non-conforming persons in Maryland.  Now is time to make sure that all Marylanders have a common set of rights.”


PFLAG Baltimore County,

Founded in 2009, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Baltimore County promotes the equality and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, their families and friends by providing support to cope with an adverse society, education to enlighten an ill-informed public and advocacy to end discrimination and secure equal civil rights.

PFLAG Howard County,

Founded in 1994, PFLAG Howard County has a thriving program that truly makes a difference in the lives of LGBT people and their families, as well as providing a forum for educating the broader community in order to advance real and lasting change in the hearts and minds of people in our county and beyond.

Gender Rights Maryland,

The purpose of Gender Rights Maryland is to promote civil rights, education, tolerance, equality and acceptance on the basis of sex and gender identity/expression in the State of Maryland.  Gender Rights Maryland’s legislative goal for 2012-2013 is to see the passage of a comprehensive gender identity antidiscrimination law in Prince Georges County, MD and the passage of statewide legislation consistent with Federal gender identity policy and law in Maryland before the end of the