MoCo Local

International Transgender Day of Visibility 2021

Today is a day of celebration in the transgender community—International Transgender Day of Visibility. I grew up in a small, rural town and I had no idea what transgender was until I was well into my teens. I didn’t know any transgender people and our only representation in media was on television shows like the Jerry Springer Show or movies like Ace Ventura Pet Detective where we were made fun of, especially Black trans women and other transgender women of color. Visibility in those days came at the expense of ourselves, we were the butt of the joke, we were made to feel less than and othered and disgusting. It took me a long time to want to be visible as a trans person because of how the world demanded we be seen. 

Growing up in that time and place was difficult and I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have had transgender elders around, guiding the way, showing the world that we are beautiful and strong and can thrive despite all the things that work against us. But this also highlights the problem with visibility. Visibility doesn’t mean that we are free, that we are protected, that we are safe. For myself, as a white, cis-assumed trans man, it means that I have the privilege of being myself authentically that many of my BIPOC trans siblings don’t have the same privilege of enjoying. Black trans women, especially, are hyper-visible in death but not in their everyday lives. Being more visible costs us our lives, especially Black trans women, and it costs us anti-trans legislation. We might be visible, but we are not yet liberated—not until all of us are free to live authentically, free from harm, free from discrimination.

International Transgender Day of Visibility is a day we celebrate because we have lived. So many before us have not, and still, so many of us can’t. It isn’t safe for many trans individuals to be visible. If that is you, I want you to know that you are still valid and you are still trans. You do not need to be visible, you need to be safe. For those of us that can be visible, today is a day to show transgender kids that there are adults that look like them, that have similar lived experiences, and that not only are there people that are like them, they too can thrive and experience joy and love. 

In Disclosure, the documentary about trans representation in media, Yance Ford tells us that “children cannot be what they cannot see, and it’s not just about children, it’s about all of us, we cannot be a better society until we see that better society. I cannot be in the world until I see that I am in the world.” I’m not sure how much different my life would have been had I been able to see myself represented on television, in movies, or as characters in books had I seen a positive representation of the trans community. Today is about looking back at how far we’ve come, holding space for love and loss, celebrating trans joy and how resilient we are, while also recognizing that we have so much work still to do. 

Happy International Transgender Day of Visibility to my trans siblings. Celebrate who you are and the journey you’re on and know that you are loved for who you are.

MoCo Local Podcast

The MoCo Local Podcast – Repealing LEOBR and Montgomery County Community Solar

Repealing LEOBR and Montgomery County Community Solar

In this Episode, Vito takes a look at how repealing the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights is going in Maryland and how Community Solar didn’t quite get the start we needed in Montgomery County.


2:30 – Quote from Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher via Maryland Matters

3:05 – MGA Committee Meeting Video

3:36 – ACLU MD Tweet

3:57 – Will Jawando Tweet

7:13 – ZTA 20-01 bill

8:26 – Letter from Kumar Barve to Council via The Seventh State

9:03 – Mike Tidwell quote from Washington Post

9:38 & 10:51 – Comments from Councilmember Hans Riemer and Councilmember Evan Glass

13:50 – Widening freeways doesn’t reduce traffic congestion

14:12 – WMATA Ridership h/t Dan Reed at Just Up The Pike


Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | MoCo Local Voicemail: (301) 679-0252Thank you to Stephen Indrisano for the Intro/Outro music

Montgomery County State

Pandemic likely contributed to overdose fatalities in Montgomery County, Maryland

Opioid-related deaths in Montgomery County increased 34% through the first quarter of 2020. Experts attribute the increase to pandemic related stressors and lack of access to treatment due to pandemic shutdowns.

According to preliminary data provided by the Vital Statistics Administration (VSA) of the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), there were significant increases in unintentional intoxication fatalities related to nearly all major drug categories in Maryland through the second calendar quarter of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has very likely contributed to and compounded these trends. Taken together, the associated social isolation, disruptions of support, impeded access to care, and economic distress have helped to create an extremely dangerous environment for those suffering from substance use disorder (SUD).

Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center – 2020 Second Quarter Report

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).

County Council Education

Members of MCPS SRO Workgroup Call Process “Incredibly Flawed” in letter to County Council

UPDATE: The Board of Education has asked the SRO Workgroup to reconvene given the concerns raised by 6 members of the workgroup. The Workgroup was tasked with seeking out community input and will reissue their recommendations in May. However, they did not address the composition of the workgroup, which is fundamentally flawed and biased towards the SRO program.

In a letter posted to Moco Against Brutality’s Twitter account, 6 members of the MCPS BOE workgroup to study School Resource Officers state that the workgroup was “flawed and oppressive,” stating that:

“Signed onto this letter are 6 members of the MCPS SRO Workgroup. We wish to bring your attention to the flawed and oppressive nature of the Workgroup, which we believe was not effective in its task of crafting representative, informed, and accurate recommendations and findings regarding the School Resource Officer Program. We found that by the design of the Workgroup, its composition was heavily skewed, our perspectives were actively ignored, and the appropriate data was not considered, leading to the failure of the Workgroup to complete its goal outlined in the June 11th memorandum.”

The workgroup members outlined several issues with the Workgroup, including:

  • only 5 members of the 25 were students of color, 20 were adults most of whom were biased favorably towards SRO programs, and of those 20, 7 were law enforcement officers
  • only pro-SRO articles were reviewed, not empirical evidence or studies that were more critical of SRO programs
  • calls for discussions for alternatives to SRO programs were ignored

Previously, Councilmembers Will Jawando and Hans Riemer introduced legislation that would remove SROs from schools but the other members of the council objected, stating that they would prefer to wait for recommendations from the MCPS Board of Education.

It is incredibly disingenuous of the MCPS BOE to create a Workgroup primarily of individuals that have no stake in the outcomes of the School Resource Officer program, and further outrageous that so many members of law enforcement, who have a vested interest in keeping the SRO program as is. To say that this is disappointing is an understatement. MCPS and the Board of Education has failed, again, students of color.

The individuals signed onto the letter are urging the County Council to not use the recommendations presented to them by the MCPS Workgroup.

See the two-page letter below.

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).

Government Montgomery County

Updates: Montgomery County Restaurant lawsuit against indoor dining ban will be heard Wednesday

The lawsuit against Montgomery County’s most recent indoor dining ban brought by the Restaurant Association of Maryland with several local restaurants signing on as Plaintiffs will be heard on Wednesday.

Despite contact tracing data showing that many cases within Montgomery County have come from indoor dining, as well as additional data and guidance from the CDC and elsewhere, these restaurants argue that there isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant indoor dining closure.

The restaurants who have signed on in the lawsuit are:

  • Silver Diner – Multiple locations
  • Outta the Way Cafe in Rockville
  • Gringos & Mariachis – Multiple locations
  • Olazzo – Multiple locations
  • Duck Duck Goose in Rockville
  • Trattoria Sorrento in Takoma Park
  • Social Heights Restaurant, LLC which owns Tommy Joe’s in Bethesda
  • DTI, LLC which includes restaurants like Cava Mezze
  • Medium Rare in Bethesda
  • Il Pizzico in Rockville
  • BTI Hospitality, LLC which includes owns Julii
  • Coty Group, LLC, Quincy Group, LLC, The Rat Pack of MD, LLC, The Rat Pack of MD II, LLC which owns Quincy’s South in Rockville
  • Bassett’s Restaurant in Poolesville
  • Raw Bar LLC in Baltimore
  • The Barking Dog in Bethesda
  • Potomac Pizza in Chevy Chase, Potomac, and Traville
  • Clementine Cafe in Chevy Chase
  • D.G. Holdings which owns Raku in Bethesda
  • Sheger Spring Cafe in Silver Spring
  • Palisades Lounge in Silver Spring
  • Barrell and Crow in Kensington
  • JMGM Group LLC which owns Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg
  • Clare, Inc which owns Lahinch Tavern in Potomac
  • Unique Asset, LLC which owns Persimmon in Bethesda
  • Tally-Ho Restaurant in Potomac

Correction: An earlier report listed RW Restaurants instead of Tommy Joe’s. This article has been corrected.

Federal Montgomery County State

Montgomery County Restaurants join Restaurant Association of Maryland’s lawsuit against Montgomery County

According to Bethesda Beat reporting, 35 restaurants in Montgomery County have signed on to the lawsuit brought forth by the Restaurant Association of Maryland. RAM successfully reversed a similar order in Anne Arundel County so they have moved to reverse orders in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.

I am very sympathetic to small businesses and how they are barely surviving during the pandemic, but to risk more lives is unconscionable. County health officials have analyzed contact tracing data to determine that enough cases of the coronavirus were transmitted during indoor dining to warrant suspending indoor dining. What we need is federal funding for small businesses, not corporations, and pandemic assistance to individuals so that they can afford to support small businesses. Montgomery County is facing a budget deficit due to funding several grants and programs related to the pandemic. I’ve argued previously that tax hikes are needed instead of austerity measures.

While 35 restaurants in the county have signed onto the lawsuit as Plaintiffs, only a few are currently known: Tommy Joe’s in Bethesda, Duck Duck Goose in Bethesda, and Seibel’s Restaurant and UpTown Pub in Burtonsville.

If you feel that this helped you in any way, consider buying MoCo Local a coffee or beer. You can do so through Venmo (@Vito-Anastasia).

Montgomery County State

Maryland SNAP Recipients can now use their EBT card to purchase groceries through Instacart

In October, Aldi and Instacart announced that they would begin accepting grocery orders for SNAP recipients through Instacart’s app.

If you receive SNAP benefits in Maryland, you can now use the service. You will need to have a debit or credit card attached to your account to pay for taxes, any non SNAP-eligible items, the delivery fee, and any driver tips.

To successfully use your EBT card, a credit or debit card must also be linked to your Instacart account to cover fees, bottle deposits in some states, taxes, delivery tips, and any other non-EBT SNAP-eligible items you may want to purchase.


In addition to Instacart, you can purchase groceries online for delivery via Walmart’s app, Amazon, and ShopRite.

Government State

COVID-19 Exposure Notifications are now available in Maryland on iOS and Android devices

COVID-19 Exposure Notifications are now available for Maryland. The notification system is an API developed by Apple and Google in conjunction with health departments to help alert individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19. For privacy reasons, these alerts are turned off by default but you can turn them on if you’d like to be notified.

On iOS, go to Settings -> Exposure Notifications

On Android, go to Settings -> Google -> COVID-19 Exposure Notifications

Education Elections Montgomery County

Shebra Evans wins re-election to Montgomery County Board of Education District 4 seat

Shebra Evans has won re-election to the Board of Education District 4 seat over challenger Steve Solomon by 80,169 votes. This was the highest margin between two candidates in any of the Board of Education races this year.

NameTotal VotesPercent
Shebra Evans172,82464.64%
Steve Solomon92,65534.66%
Results as of 9:55pm

Congratulations, Shebra!

Education Elections Montgomery County

Rebecca Smondrowski wins re-election to Montgomery County Board of Education District 2 seat

The race for the District 2 seat in the Montgomery County Board of Education race saw the least amount of total votes across all of the Board of Education races showing that voters weren’t really excited to vote for either candidate. Unofficial vote counts show that Rebecca Smondrowski beat challenger Michael Fryar by 51,799 votes to win re-election to the District 2 seat.

NameTotal VotesPercet
Michael Fryar105,16839.77%
Rebecca K. Smondrowski156,96759.36%
Results as of 9:55pm

Congratulations, Rebecca!