Hikers cross mountains to spread awareness for trans rights
By HAVEN ORECCHIO-EGRESITZ
Aug. 27, 2018
ADAMS, Mass. (AP) — Mason Dunn and Ev Evnen have spent the past two weeks hiking across Massachusetts with a message: Trans rights are human rights.
After trekking up and over 13 mountains, encouraging fellow hikers to vote yes on Question 3 on the November ballot — it asks to stop the repeal of the 2016 state law that banned discrimination against transgender people in places of public accommodation — the two celebrated their journey Saturday, Aug. 25 with two dozen supporters at the summit of Mount Greylock.
"There have been many days over the last two weeks while climbing these mountains, I was done. I wanted to sit down. I wanted to call it quits. I wanted to call an Uber and be done with this," said Dunn, of Peabody. "But in those moments, I thought of the trans pioneers who have gone before us and who have given me the opportunity to be out and be proud and to be doing this work."
Perched atop the highest mountain in the state, with expansive views of Berkshire County, hikers who joined Dunn and Evnen on the 5-mile hike up Mount Greylock bowed their heads in honor of transgender activists.
"Hiking is so much about bodies, right? We're listening to our bodies, we're using our bodies, we're seeing other bodies on the trail," said Evnen, who asked to be identified by they and them pronouns. "And my fat, trans body has walked almost all the way across Massachusetts."
Evnen said that throughout the journey, he has seen a lot of white faces, but realizes there needs to be intersectionality within their work. In addition to fighting for transgender rights, they should be fighting for the rights of minorities, immigrants and others, said Evnen, of Cambridge.
"We have to be doing this right, we have to be doing this intersectionally," they said.
Along the Appalachian Trail, the two talked to dozens of hikers about their initiative, stayed in shelters and, for two nights, were hosted by families in their homes.
Dunn fears that repealing the law wouldn't just allow for transgender people to be kicked out of public restrooms, but it would open the doors to discrimination in other public places, like trails and shelters.
"I'm trans myself," Ray Bridges, of Pittsfield, said Saturday. "I want to be able to hike without being kicked off a trail."
Marcia Garber, who is on the steering committee of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, for which Dunn is executive director, worked for 10 years to get the 2011 and 2016 anti-discrimination laws passed. She traveled from her home in Manchester, New Hampshire, to be at the rally Saturday.
Garber became involved in the effort after learning in 2003 that her son, who was born female, was transgender.
"My son is watching over us from the great beyond," she said on the mountain. "He passed in 2009. He would be 30."
While her son was transitioning, he suffered from extensive bullying in high school and, in 2008, he began using drugs. He died from a heroin overdose, Garber said.
"Our family is kind of the perfect example; we had everything we thought we needed," she said. "Even when you have everything in place, you could still use empathy and compassion."
Evnen and Dunn are expected to complete their trek at the Vermont border Aug. 27.
Information from: The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle, http://www.berkshireeagle.com