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Susan Stinson

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11:32 am: Hearing
The hearing itself was in a room with padded benches and a high, curved wooden platform for the legistlators to preside from. There was a low table with microphones for people to approach to give testimony when we were called by the chair of the committee. We were speaking to the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, and the members who were there were attentive and engaged with the issues. It was interesting to watch their faces and listen to their questions and comments over the course of the hearing as they were affected by the testimony.

Edited to add: Here's a link to a brief post that includes a video of some of Beth and Sondra's testimony.

There were all sorts of journalists there, but I wish that the entire hearing was available on youtube, because it was an impressive crash course in the extent of discrimination based on height and weight. The experts, people with extensive research or other professional experience with these issues, testified first, and it was kind of like stepping through the looking glass, in that the things they were saying were consistent with my life as I live it, instead of the usual disorientation I feel when people who are considered experts interpret the experiences of fat people in ways that make no sense to me.

These folks came from all over the country: from Yale; from San Francisco and Michigan, where there are anti size-discrimination laws on the books; from Colorado, home of Paul Campos, who is a rock star in this area, if you ask me. They were asked probing questions, most often about the design of the studies they were citing, and they clearly knew their stuff.

Among the people there:

Rebecca Puhl

Mark Roehling

Linda Bacon

Paul Campos

And, yeah, there was testimony from other folks who care about these issues, short people and fat people. One woman talked about being refused surgery that her doctor found medically necessary because the surgical practice she was referred to had made a decision not to do operations on fat people. Marina from Big Moves spoke. Representative Byron Rushing, who has been so strong and persistent in his support of this bill, was clear, moving and direct.

There was no opposition. Marilyn Wann reminded the committee that they would be hearing a lot of it outside of room A-2. That's when she told them that being a leader in addressing these issues was fun.

I've heard a lot of testimony over the years from fat people brave enough to start to try and describe the discrimination we face in the context of enormous cultural stigma. Here many of us were again: fat people, and short people, too, trying to get it into words. But, this time, we were speaking to people who had decided to give us a hearing which included the possibility that we might have legal recourse against discrimination. I had never experienced that before, and I don't even know how to begin to describe it, except that to say that it felt like it might happen, as it has happened in Michigan and San Francisco and Santa Cruz, that discrimination based on height and weight might become against the law in the state where I live.

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:amarama
Date:March 26th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Hooray that you went and testified, and how amazing, scary, and fraught. So many thanks to you and everybody else that was there.
[User Picture]
From:susanstinson
Date:March 27th, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
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Thanks so much, hon. I just wrote about it in comments to the testimony post, especially to becca and holly, if you're interested. Some of the praise here needs to flow back in your direction, too, if you ask me. And I added a link to a post that includes a brief video of Sondra and Beth above since you posted your comment, if you'd like to see it.

Got to get back work!! Move a little, get my concentration back, go! Like that!
[User Picture]
From:daisygrl
Date:March 26th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
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That is amazing, what a thrill it must have been to be there. Thank you!!
[User Picture]
From:susanstinson
Date:March 27th, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
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You know, in some ways, maybe because I'd met a bunch of the other witnesses before in other places, and some I've known for years and years, in some ways it felt not so much thrilling as another drop in the long river of working to be sure our bodies, with all their diversity and complexity and mortality, can be our joys.

On the other hand, because it was in the context of a proposed law, yeah, that's thrilling. Marilyn was handing out certificates to everybody who testified. Mine reads:

The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance
Recognizes and Thanks
Susan Stinson
For Helping to Make History Today
By Supporting the Massachusetts
Height/Weight Anti-Discrimination Law
March 25, 2008
State House Boston MA
Jeanne Toombs
NAAFA Board of Directors
naafa.org


[User Picture]
From:daisygrl
Date:March 27th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
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Ah! that is great!
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From:liveavatar
Date:March 26th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for testifying! I can hardly wait to follow all these links.
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From:susanstinson
Date:March 27th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, the links are a whole complicated story, I think, and if there were world enough and time I might try to unpack some of it, but, for now (especially because I have to get back to work), I think it's enough to say that these experts were clearly effective in support of the bill.
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From:hhholiday
Date:March 27th, 2008 05:24 am (UTC)
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huzzah to the hearing-goers! thanks for the report and your always-compelling eye witness accounts.
[User Picture]
From:susanstinson
Date:March 27th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
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How could I not report back to you all? Had to!
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