Salisbury PFLAG lists legislative priorities as MD legislative session nears end
MARYLAND- The clock is ticking on the Maryland legislative session, but LGBTQ+ advocates say there are still major protections they want to see passed before it ends.
Salisbury PFLAG releasing their list of bills they say they want to see passed before the session ends.
Bills include preserving affordable health care for transgender youth, preserving access to self-affirming education, enabling gender changes on birth certificates, and more.
HB 283, the Trans Health Equity Act – would require the Maryland State Medical Assistance program to cover gender-affirming care.
“That would greatly enhance the lives of thousands upon thousands of transgender Marylanders,” said President of the Board of SBY PFLAG Nicole Hollywood.
“We want to make sure that being low income does not mean you are getting a lower standard of care,” said Lee Blinder of Trans Maryland, whose organization worked to draft the language in the bill and testified on its behalf before the legislative assembly Wednesday.
Also on the group’s agenda, is the Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act, which would give inmates access to that same care, and place them in facilities that match their gender identity.
“There is not a single prisoner in the state of Maryland that is in prison based on their gender identity, every single one is serving time, largely in solitary confinement based on their gender assigned at birth,” Hollywood said.
Advocates say many of those incarcerated testified for the bill saying it would have prevented the violence they faced.
“They were treated disrespectfully, they were assaulted, they were denied access to things they should be able to access such as commissary,’ Blinder said, recalling the testimony heard during Wednesday’s hearing.
Blinder says another focus is allowing transgender people to change their gender marker or their state birth certificate, a change they say is far from symbolic.
“If I had a child that was born in Maryland and I went through the legal name change process I would not be able to update my own name on my child’s birth certificate,” they said adding that being unable to prove parentage via a birth certificate can result in major issues in housing, school registration, and even health care.
Blinder says the connectivity of the issues is why the bills must be passed as a package, to help close gaps in coverage, access, and dignity across the state.
“The last time [best practices] were updated the guidance was from 20 years ago things have certainly evolved since then so we want our community especially our low-income community have access to that standard of care,” Blinder said.
Both Blinder and Hollywood also credit the Moore administration as being more receptive to these issues.
“I was a part of the transition team speaking to these issues, that didn’t happen with the previous administration, and we can be sure these programs will have the support and funding they need,” Blinder said.