Two Massachusetts state representatives have co-authored a ridiculous protest bill that seeks to give every "law abiding" Massachusetts resident $700k.
The bill is in response to a judge's ruling that the state had to pay legal expenses to a trans* woman in the prison system who successfully sued for the state to provide trans* related healthcare during her time in prison, including gender confirmation surgery. It's worth noting that both representatives voted against legal protections for trans* people in 2011.
One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Jim Lyons had this to say about their legislative stunt:
This is an issue of fundamental fairness," Lyons emphasized. "The hard working citizens who follow the rules and pay their taxes do not qualify for benefits like this. If we provide extravagant benefits like this to a vicious murderer, then why deny them to the law abiding citizenry? It's a simple matter of fairness and justice.
And truthfully, I couldn't agree more, though probably not in the way Representative Lyons would like.
Don't get me wrong, his proposal to give the residents of Massachusetts a cash sum equal to more than a quarter of the United States national debt is a joke and a waste of time.
But there is something fundamentally unjust about a system wherein a woman in prison can get access to medical care recognized as vital by medical authorities, while other women cannot, simply by virtue of not being incarcerated. Trans* people are disproportionately represented on the rolls of state medical care for the poor, and back when I lived in Massachusetts, I knew quite a number of trans* people for whom the various permutations of gender confirmation surgery was little more than a distant, bitter wish. Even minimum elements of care, such as hormone therapy, are rarely covered by medical insurance, state or private.
So yes, these two men have pointed out a real failure of equality. Which isn't to say that Michelle Kosilek, the prisoner whose lawsuit prompted this discussion, should have been denied appropriate care. However, it's a travesty that the state doesn't extend the same level of concern to law-abiding, if underprivileged trans* people, whose medical care the state is likewise responsible for, particularly in a state known for having a top-flight state healthcare program (by American standards at least).
None of which gets into the unfairness of "no trans* coverage" clauses found in the vast majority of private and employer-provided health insurance programs
But that issue is a bit beyond the purview and, almost certainly the interests of Jim Lyons and Marc Lombardo, who would much rather waste taxpayer time and money taking cheap shots at trans* people from their positions in the State House.
Even if said shots did manage to inadvertently hit awfully close to the mark in terms of real inequality.
And now, here's what you need to know today: