Saturday, October 6, 2018

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan and Joe Kennedy: YES on 3!

On the momentous occasion of the YES on 3! rally at Copley Square, Boston, Massachusetts Representative Joe Kennedy and Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Director of External Relations at the National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund, took the microphone to inspire the many participants to vote YES on ballot question 3 on November 6. They received uproarious support from the enthusiastic crowd to back and to promote the preservation of current Massachusetts legislation to protect equal access for all in public places, and notably for the transgender community.

Read on below for Raffi's powerful speech at the YES on 3! rally. Note that BU's Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program (WGS) is a strong proponent of YES on 3! Raffi is a long-standing member of our WGS community.

L to R: Rep Joe Kennedy and Raffi Freedman-Gurspan
Photo: Raffi's Personal Collection

Good Morning!

Thank you so much for coming out early this Sunday to show your support for Yes on 3!

I’m Raffi Freedman-Gurspan and I’m the Director of External Relations at the National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund in Washington, DC.

The NCTE Action Fund is proud to be a coalition partner with the Yes on 3 Campaign. We stand together with you all to defend this law that guarantees transgender people the right to enter places of public accommodation free from discrimination. I am very proud to have at my side my beloved parents, Marion and Stan, who raised me down the street in Brookline and who have supported me, their transgender daughter, every step of the way.

Transgender equality is under attack across the nation.

During this past year, 10 states introduced 21 anti-transgender bills. We have seen the Trump Administration attempt to rollback important progress for transgender equality from the classroom to the workplace to doctor’s offices and even attempt to ban brave transgender military members from serving. Our opponents continue to misuse the Constitutional protection of freedom of religion as a cruel shield to justify bigotry against you and me because of who we are or who we love.

What can be done? We can fight. We can vote. And we can win just as we always have.

This year the NCTE Action Fund and others have worked hard to make sure policies and laws that protect transgender people are kept in place. We door knocked through the snows of Anchorage, Alaska to ensure one of America’s northernly cities continues to be a welcoming place for all. We worked with the trans community in the Big Sky Country of Montana to defeat a proposed ballot initiative that would have ripped up a similar law to the one we are defending today. And we have worked day in and day out in Washington to ensure equality under the law includes every transgender and non-binary person in America.

Now the transgender battlefront has moved to the hallowed land of Massachusetts. Only 18 other states and the District of Columbia have a law similar to our own that we defend today. Should Massachusetts fail on November 6th and step back from the noble values of freedom, justice and equality it has always stood for, it could send a rippling affect across the land.

But we won’t let that happen will we?

We are Massachusetts – her waters have bathed us, her institutions have guided us, and her soul from the Berkshires to the Islands resides in us. We are that City Upon the Hill where the eyes of all people are upon us. We say it on our license plates – we are the Spirit of America.

Fellow Bay Staters, it is time to awaken that Spirit once again. We know what we must do. It is time to sound the alarm like the Minutemen of old. Do not walk, run. Run to every home, every business, every institution, every pulpit, every Middlesex village and farm. Knock those doors hard, call again, be persistent, do not give up. Go! Go from this place and let them hear you from Cape Ann to Great Barrington, VOTE YES ON 3!

Thank you.

Congratulations Raghu Rai!

Breaking news: world-famous photographer, India’s Raghu Rai, is to be honored with the prestigious Achievement in Photojournalism Award of the Lucie Foundation on October 28th, 2018 at Carnegie Hall! Raghu has over the years been a supporter of the work of our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture and People-Centered Development, notably in the state of Punjab.

Raghu’s stellar accomplishments include poignant photo features and books on the devastating human impact of the Bangladesh War and the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. He worked with top newspapers and magazines in India and abroad, providing pathbreaking photo articles vividly portraying humanitarian, cultural, and political themes. He has been called “father of photojournalism in India” by the Lucie Foundation website, and he has produced over 50 compelling photography books on a range of topics inspired by his home country. Raghu is a member of Magnum Photos.

See more at Raghu Rai, 2018 Honoree: Achievement in Photojournalism here:

Photo of Raghu Rai by Brenda Gael McSweeney