When Beryl’s son Micah came out to her as transgender when he was 21-years-old, she remembers feeling “overwhelmed”—not because of what her son had just told her, but because, as a social worker, she knew many things he didn’t tell her.
“I was overwhelmed with the need to protect my son from a world that suddenly seemed a very unsafe and unfair place,” she said, noting that transgender people in Massachusetts face higher rates of assault, homelessness and suicide.
Her son, she says, can’t go out to a bar, or to a club—things that are normally a way for young people to relax—without fearing being turned away because of his gender identity, or worse, harassed.
“I immigrated to this country to escape apartheid and live in a place that values freedom and protections from discrimination,” she said. “My husband and I chose Massachusetts because we believe it is a symbol of freedom and equality in America.” –Beryl
Until two years ago, the law didn’t protect Micah from this kind of discrimination. That’s when Beryl decided to start fighting to secure nondiscrimination protections for her son, a fight that ended in 2016 with the passage of a law ensuring transgender people can’t be denied service in public places like restaurants, hospitals and public bathrooms because of their gender identity.
Beryl, who emigrated from South Africa to escape the violent discrimination of apartheid, said she was shocked to learn that her adopted state of Massachusetts was lagging behind so badly in ensuring nondiscrimination protections for all people.
“I immigrated to this country to escape apartheid and live in a place that values freedom and protections from discrimination,” she said. “My husband and I chose Massachusetts because we believe it is a symbol of freedom and equality in America.”
Now that her son is fully protected under the law, she doesn’t want to see Massachusetts slide backward—something opponents of transgender equality are working hard to do, by placing the repeal of these important protections on the ballot this November.
For Mother’s Day this year and every year, she just wants what every mother wants: fairness for her son.
“I want him to be treated with respect, to have fair access to everyday resources like restaurants, hospitals and public bathrooms, and to be ensured the same legal protections that everyone else in our family has in the face of discrimination.”