Why We Must Defend Transgender Protections in Massachusetts

Editors’ Note: This speech was written by Kaden Mohamed and delivered on October 13, 2016 in Massachusetts as part of the campaign to defend the transgender protections law in Massachusetts – #TransLawMA. Opponents of transgender equality have qualified the law to be on the November 2018 ballot, and now fair-minded Bay Staters across the state will come together over the next two years to defend a law that simply protects transgender people from being discriminated because of who they are. Learn more with Freedom Massachusetts.

kaden-mohamed-200x299My name is Kaden Mohamed and I live in Allston. I came to Massachusetts six years ago for college, and I’ve called it home ever since.

From a very young age, although I did not have the language and vocabulary at the time to describe my experience, I was aware of who I am. I am a transgender man – I was assigned female at birth, but I transitioned to male, and now I live my life as the man I always knew myself to be.

When you’re growing up, it’s not easy being different. It was easier for me to do what I thought I was supposed to do, and what I thought was normal. Being in college gave me a space to explore and understand who I am, like it does for a lot of people. It helped me identify what I was feeling and why I was struggling, and I realized for myself that I am transgender. Starting my junior year, I began to go by the name Kaden and use male pronouns.

For me, the transgender protections law is about equal treatment. It’s about knowing that my state ensures the same basic protections for me as it does for everybody else. I’m more fortunate than many other transgender people in my experiences in the world.

I have seen my own friends be harassed and treated differently for who they are. Those experiences were terrifying, and I’m scared to think about what could have happened if I wasn’t there to help them. This law protects people’s lives, and it makes me sad that others want to take that away. We — the transgender community — don’t do anything differently than anyone else, in a restroom or any other place. We’re human like everyone else, and we grieve the same way as anyone else.

We want to live our lives without fear of discrimination. We don’t want to worry about looking over our shoulder when we are in a store or restaurant. But that’s how we have had to live our lives, until less than two weeks ago.

Massachusetts is a great place – it’s at the top of the list of states that value equal protection and equal opportunity for all people. My community is here, my friends are here, and my chosen family is here. I moved here for school from New York City, and it took some getting used to at first. But I love the fact that I went from one of the most progressive cities in the country to one of the most progressive states in the country.

Massachusetts is a leader in social justice. I hope voters here will extend that fairness to transgender people like myself. I hope that by sharing more stories, and increasing the visibility of transgender people, it helps everyone understand that we contribute to this state and help make it a great place for everybody.

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