Metro Weekly

Trans Target

Montgomery County activist claims harassment by county's Ethics Commission

Montgomery County is a little more trans-inclusive today thanks to Dr. Dana Beyer.

The transgender activist, who works as the senior policy advisor for Montgomery Co. Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large), was instrumental in successfully adding ”gender identity and expression” to the county’s anti-discrimination policy two years ago.

Now Beyer herself is using that protection in filing a complaint against Montgomery County’s Ethics Commission, claiming that she’s been under investigation because of her gender identity.

It was on Nov. 21, 2007, when the County Council’s unanimous vote approving the measure to protect transgender residents prompted a group called Citizens for a Responsible Government (CRG) to start collecting signatures for a petition seeking to put the change to a referendum vote.

Beyer and other activists comprising Basic Rights Montgomery (BRM) attended some of those signature gatherings at local grocery stores, offering their own inclusive viewpoint to passersby.

The Circuit Court for Montgomery County eventually ruled that CRG did not have sufficient signatures to put the measure to a referendum. But CRG did not stop there. The group filed its first of three complaints against Beyer on Oct. 7, 2008. The Ethics Commission responded to that initial complaint Nov. 5, 2009, charging Beyer with a violation.

”They claimed that I improperly intimidated members of [CRG] while serving as a public official,” Beyer says. ”I wasn’t one person with a banner that said ‘County Council’ on my forehead, coming in to say you can’t do this. I never said that anyway. They knew who I was, and that’s why they’re doing this. But I never identified myself that way. I was there with Basic Rights Montgomery.”

During a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 17, Beyer announced that she has filed a complaint with the Montgomery County Commission on Human Rights, claiming to be targeted and investigated because of her gender identity.

”There have been efforts here to investigate the circumstances of my hiring, to force me out of my position, to get my boss to ask me to resign a couple of weeks ago,” Beyer told Metro Weekly. “There’s been a sweep of my computer and my voicemail. And then there was a breach of confidentiality so that everybody here in the building is aware … that this is going on, and that hinders my work.

“It is a blatant, political act of harassment because they didn’t interview anybody who was present.”

Representatives from the Ethics Commission did not return calls or an e-mail request for comment before Metro Weekly deadline.

Beyer said this matter has not deterred her upcoming campaign to serve in the Maryland House of Delegates.

”I will not remain silent, and the gay and transgender communities will not remain silent,” Beyer says. ”I’m not going to take being bullied. That’s what this is.”