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Alumnus advocates for trans rights

Mason Dunn aims to end gender-based discrimination

Sam Dunaway | News Editor

Many Western alumni have moved on to accomplish extraordinary things after graduation. One notable individual is Mason Dunn, whose advocacy and dedication has led to major policy changes for transgender rights and won him the 2017 Leadership Award by the Equality Federation.

Dunn graduated from Western in 2007 with a degree in criminal justice. During his time here at Western, he was president of Triangle Alliance, served as the executive diversity coordinator for ASWOU and helped found and open the Stonewall Center. Dunn also sat as co-chair for the Oregon Students for Equal Rights Alliance at the statewide level.

After graduating from the University of New Hampshire School of Law in 2012, Dunn worked as an LGBTQ rights organizer with the New Hampshire ACLU. Soon after that, he was hired as executive director at the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and has held that position since 2013.

As executive director at MTPC, Dunn works as a lobbyist, advocate, administrator, educator and speaker. He follows the organization’s mission to stop gender-based discrimination with political advocacy, education and community empowerment.

“Trans rights are human rights,” Dunn said in an interview with the Journal on Nov. 18. “When the rights of a marginalized group are under attack, it has an impact on us all. As a result, we should all work towards and for equal rights for all people.”

Dunn and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition played a critical role in advocating for trans rights. He advocated for transition-related healthcare coverage, simplifying the process for changing names and gender markers on Massachusetts birth certificates and adding legal protections in public spaces for transgender individuals. All of these issues were won by the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and signed into law. In 2018, statewide non-discrimination laws will be up for a referendum vote and mark the first time that transgender rights will be on a statewide ballot.

Dunn received an award by the Equality Federation, a national organization that supports and collaborates with state-based LGBTQ organizations. He was the recipient of the 2017 Leadership Award in honor of his advocacy for nondiscrimination protections for gender identity and expression.

Dunn has worked as an LGBTQ rights advocate for over a decade, but he encourages everyone to get involved in some capacity; “Whatever you do, and in whatever capacity, get involved and stay involved. It will take all of us to address inequality in our world.”

“You don’t have to be on the front lines in this work. You may not have the capacity to march, or organize, or speak out,” Dunn said. “But sharing articles on social media, speaking up when friends or family show bias towards marginalized groups, fundraising for a local nonprofit, or even volunteering once a month – all of these are ways to be involved in the work for equality.”


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