BY AJ TRAGER
DEARBORN HEIGHTS – Maddie Adams, 22, is a regular volunteer at Affirmations, answering phones and assisting members of the staff. She has been interested in LGBT activism for many years, including working with Freedom Michigan to try and pass the LGBT inclusive Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) amendment before the end of the 2014 legislative term. BTL sat down with this young activist to hear more about her personal story.
How long have you been an activist, and what got you interested in activism?
I’ve been interested in activism and politics since I was a teenager, but what really got me interested is when I began my transition. As a trans woman I have seen and heard a lot of very unnerving stories of discrimination in the workplace, public facilities, businesses, schools and many other places. I felt a strong urge to get involved in activism and do what ever I can, and use the skills that I have, to hopefully improve the quality of life for myself and my friends here in Michigan. So, I began volunteering for phone banks and post card drives in the beginning of 2014.
When did you start with Freedom Michigan, and what responsibilities did you have?
I began work with Freedom Michigan at the end of November 2014. I was the advocacy organizer for Wayne County, responsible for all volunteer outreach, growing capacity for our phone banks by contacting faith leaders, community leaders and student organizations to get them involved in volunteering to try to pass (ELCRA) before the new year. We also worked on opposing the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (MiRFRA) for a short time.
What did that experience bring to you?
I learned quite a bit from working with Freedom Michigan, even though it was a short campaign. I learned that the majority of the faith leaders, community leaders, student organizations and citizens in general believe that discrimination in the workplace is wrong and that one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression do not impact ones work performance.
Why is it important for you to stay active in the LGBT community?
As a trans woman myself I feel it is necessary, and I feel an obligation to myself, friends and all trans people everywhere, to stay active by being an advocate in support groups and an activist for the legal non-discrimination protections that the LGBT community so desperately needs.
What other issues should the community be looking at besides marriage equality?
As far as the big issues, we need to look at changing health care benefits so that trans people can get the necessary care that we need. Also, we need to keep pushing forward in the non-discrimination fight. We need to keep working on city wide and county wide non-discrimination ordinances.
What’s next for you, in activism and in life?
I’m currently looking for another position in political activism either here in Michigan or in another state. I love doing that work, and I can’t wait to start again. As far as life, I plan on continuing to volunteer at Affirmations among other things.