Our Issues

FreeState Justice works toward equity, equality, and justice for all Marylanders. Through advocacy, litigation, and legislation, the FreeState team focuses on the following six areas of need.

Name and Gender Change for Transgender and Non-Binary Individuals

While our culture continues to evolve around transgender issues, major barriers like access to changing one’s name and gender on identity documents remain, putting transgender and non-binary people at risk for discrimination in jobs, housing, travel, and schools.

Issues include:

  • Need for third-gender marker on state-issued IDs
  • Strict and cumbersome identity document updates for minors
  • Strict and cumbersome physician requirements for birth certificate update

Access to Quality, Affirming, and Inclusive Health Care

The Affordable Care Act went a long way to ensure that LGBTQ people had access to better care, but the law doesn’t guarantee that our community will receive access to care and work remains to ensure that LGBTQ people have access to quality, affordable, inclusive, and often life-saving health care.

Issues include:

  • Discrimination in health and mental health care
  • Gender-affirming healthcare exclusions in state public insurance policies

Education and Youth Policy

With increased access to information through the internet and social media, young people are coming out as LGBTQ or non-binary at much younger ages.  Even those fortunate enough to have the love and support of their parents and guardians may find their schools to be hostile and sometimes dangerous environments, particularly in more conservative parts of the state. LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems are at special risk of harmful, dangerous, and even deadly situations.

Issues include:

  • LGBTQ youth not receiving support in the foster care system
  • Lack of LGBTQ policies and protections in the Department of Juvenile Services
  • Need for inclusive sex education

Non-Discrimination Policies

Legal equality does not mean lived equality. All too often, transgender Marylanders are denied access to restrooms and locker rooms in places of public accommodation, despite having legal protections enshrined in state law that allow the use of restrooms consistent with one’s gender identity.

Issues include:

  • Employment discrimination
  • Lack of safe, affirming spaces

Police Interactions, Corrections, and Criminal Justice

While Baltimore City has been in the news for how its police disastrously deal with community members, the entire state has long-standing issues with how it handles people in the criminal justice system. LGBTQ individuals face extra – often dangerous – problems throughout the system.

Issues include:

  • Law enforcement misconduct
  • Lack of cultural competency training

Family and Relationship Recognition

Passage of marriage equality did not resolve a host of family law issues that continue to impact LGBTQ families in Maryland, such as parental rights and custody determinations. Moreover, unexplored areas of family law as they apply to LGBTQ families leave parents with a great deal of uncertainty about whether their parent-child relationships will be recognized.

Issues include:

  • Weak parental protections
  • Burdensome second-parent adoption process
  • Domestic and intimate partner violence

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