This year, the Baltimore Pride Committee and GLCCB Board of Directors are thrilled to honor Sharon Brackett as the 2014 Baltimore Activist of the Year. Brackett is the founder and Board Chair of GenderRightsMaryland, a trans civil rights organization and has been instrumental in helping get The Fairness for All Marylanders Act, also known as SB 212, which recently passed into law.
The Fairness for All Marylanders Act bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and sexual identity and defines gender in terms of a person’s consistent and sincere expression of sexual identity based on appearance, expression or behavior, regardless of biological sex at birth. The law goes into effect Oct. 1.
“Sharon’s tireless effort in getting SB 212 passed is only the latest example of the activism she leads every day,” the GLCCB Board of Directors said in a statement. “Her leadership is an asset to our community. Instead of lamenting the state of things and wishing other people would figure out how to make it better, she articulates the best path forward and leads the way to making it happen.
In addition to heading GenderRightsMaryland, Brackett is a serial entrepreneur who serves as the President/CEO of Tiresias Technologies and was as one of Washington’s Smart Magazine’s 100 CEOs for 2010 and then again, after transition, in 2011. She is a founder of TransParent Day, a former board member of The GLCCB, and a current board member of the Point Foundation. In her spare time she works with youth groups with technical interests such as rocketry and robotics.
Brackett spoke to Gay Life in advance of her appearance at this year’s Pride festivities.
What are some “next steps” you believe need to be taken in Baltimore to be more trans-inclusive?
My focus has been the entire state, so we are talking about more than just Baltimore. One key area is educating law enforcement about the rights that have been secured by trans persons in this state. Passing the law is only the start, you have to inform and educate to make it effective and enforced.
What is one of your current projects that you are working on that you’d like the community to know more about?
We tend to work directly with officials to move the ball for trans rights. We have been working on making sure the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is implemented in Maryland without any discrimination for trans care. We are not there yet, but I am hopeful that we can see this next step and eventually have transition costs supported by the ACA and all insurance plans in the state.
What experiences led you to become an activist?
I am an “accidental activist.” At a trans conference in 2009, my first such event, I found myself in a confrontation with a person who had decided to prevent another conference attendee from using the restroom she identified with. At that point, I found myself being asked by others to help them. That escalated over time and I then experienced discrimination myself that led me to believe I could contribute something to advancing our rights.
Do you have any additional comments or thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
I am very happy that after a 13-year wait Trans persons will finally be on an equal legal footing with our LGB peers in Maryland. I am grateful to all who helped make this a reality. There is still much work to be done but for the moment, let’s savor this win for equality.
Gay Life June 2014