Today, we’re excited to announce that Carly Burton has joined the Freedom Massachusetts team as our campaign manager. In this new role, Carly will be our campaign’s central director, overseeing the lobbying, communications, field and coalition work that will lead us to victory this year. Mason Dunn—the executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition—and Kasey Suffredini—Freedom for All Americans’ Chief Program Officer—will continue to serve as co-chairs of the campaign.
Get to know more about Carly in her interview below!
1. Why does securing full non-discrimination protections for transgender Bay Staters matter to you?
The short answer is that I believe that no one should be discriminated against because of who they are, no matter what. That is not what the Commonwealth stands for, nor is it what this country stands for. The longer answer is that as a mother, this is a critical issue to me. I have a two year old and I want my child to live in a state where she can be free to be who she is, regardless of her gender identity. This is not possible right now in Massachusetts. I want to change that and I feel it is my responsibility to change that.
2. Tell us about your experience. What brought you to Freedom Massachusetts and the movement to protect transgender people from discrimination?
I am honored to be working with Freedom Massachusetts and such a talented team of folks to get this bill passed in 2016. Previously, I worked at MassEquality, where we fought for passage of the 2011 non-discrimination law that created protections for transgender people in housing, employment, education and credit and lending. That law also added gender identity to the state’s hate crimes statutes. Though the passage of the 2011 law was a success, the fact that it did not include protections in public places was a glaring omission. As a result, I wanted to come back and advocate to complete the job and secure comprehensive protections for the transgender community.
3. Why 2016? Why do you think this year will be when Massachusetts lawmakers finally pass legislation prohibiting gender identity discrimination in public spaces?
The time is now. This effort has a groundswell of support behind it from huge businesses to law enforcement officers from across the state to educators, women’s groups and opinion makers. All of these entities are advocating for this bill to get passed because it is good for business, it is important for the Commonwealth and it is critical for the transgender community. Massachusetts, a state which has always been a leader in civil rights for the LGBT community, is in danger of falling behind. As it is 18 other states have these protections in place as do 13 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. It is high time the state does the right thing and joins them.
4. What can supporters across the Commonwealth do to be a part of this campaign to make history in 2016?
I get asked this question a lot and the answer is fairly simple: tell your story. Stories are what change the minds of legislators and the public. Personal stories of why you support this bill are critical. Tell your story as a transgender person, the parent of a transgender person, the sibling, the friend or just someone who cares that everyone in this state be free from discrimination because of who they are–these are the stories that will help the campaign make history. Get involved with the campaign: visit the website, call your legislator, write a letter to the editor of your local paper, volunteer at a phone bank: all of these are critical elements that the campaign needs to be successful.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I like to cook and to read and to giggle and play hide and seek with my two year old and my wife.