Understanding Transgender Communities and Equal Rights in Newton

The Newton Human Rights Commission will sponsor an event next week to provide more information to Newton residents about the transgender community.

Did you know that Massachusetts recently passed a law protecting transgendered people from discrimination

Do you have questions about the transgender community?

The Newton Human Rights Commission will host an educational forum this week that aims to inform local residents and business owners about the transgender community. 

"Understanding to Enactment: Applying the Transgender Equal Rights Law in Newton," will take place at the Newton Senior Center on Thursday, Nov. 29 from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

According to Commission member Holly Ryan, the event aims to give an overview of transgender communities, including terms used, definitions and labels. 

Earlier this year, Mayor Setti Warren appointed Ryan as the Human Rights Commission's first transgender member.

With her recent appointment and the passage of the transgender anti-discrimination law, Ryan said the timing was right to bring this kind of education and information to Newton.

"I gave myself a mandate that I needed to do this," Ryan said. "It's never been done before."

In addition to her position on the Human Rights Commission, Ryan was the former co-chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC). During her time at the MTPC, she worked with legislators to pass the transgender anti-discrimination law, which went into effect on July 1, 2012.

Thursday's event at the senior center will be led in part by MTPC Executive Director Gunner Scott. It will start off with information on how to understand the transgender community itself, Ryan said, including language and misconceptions about transgender people.

A portion of the event will also feature videos from the "I AM: Trans People Speak" series, including a video from Ryan. 

"[The videos] allow people to really see who transgender people are," Ryan said. 

Those who attend the event will also have a chance to learn more about topics pertaining to transgender employees in the workplace and how to support and communicate with those employees as well as handle conflict resolution with co-workers. 

In addition to the information and training provided during Thursday's event, Ryan said there will be a wealth of resources and contact information available for local business owners, landlords and public educators. 

For more information on the Human Rights Commission, contact the Newton Health & Human Services Department at 617-796-1420.

A full press release from the Newton Human Rights Commission is included below:

From Understanding to Enactment: Applying the Transgender Equal Rights Law in Newton 

This year the state of Massachusetts enacted a statewide law adding transgender people to other protected classes for non-discrimination… but who are transgender people? There are approximately 33,000 transgender people in Massachusetts and how many are citizens, business owners, neighbors, friends, and family in Newton? Cities of all sizes have transgender people either as constituents and/or employees.

This event will highlight personal experiences of transgender men and women, family members and friends through videos from I AM: Trans People Speak collection and short presentation as way to understand this emerging community. This training encompasses collaborative learning model by using  interactive methods; providing cultural information; skills building; and problem solving techniques for supporting employees and constituents.


  • Overview of transgender communities including terms, definitions, and labels
  • Supporting transgender employees and their co-workers in promoting an inclusive workplace
  • Communication, conflict resolution, and responding to co-workers through skills building exercises

At the end of the Program you will be able to:

  • Have basic understanding of transgender issues, language, and community
  • Assess the workplace environment and constituent service experience from the perspective of transgender employees and constituents
  • Have the skills and tools to promote diversity and intervene when necessary 


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