In a historic move, today in the Massachusetts Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass SB 735, legislation that would extend existing non-discrimination protections to transgender Bay Staters in public places like restaurants, doctors offices, malls, and banks. The bill now moves to the House.
Today’s victory marks the most significant movement on these protections since they were first introduced in the legislature nearly a decade ago. Now, #TransBillMA is moving through the legislature at an incredible pace. Only a few weeks ago SB 735—along with its House companion bill, HB 1577—had been stalled for nearly a year.
Kasey Suffredini, co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts, the bipartisan campaign working to pass the bill, praised the bill’s Senate backers for their leadership:
“Today’s historic passage of the transgender protections bill in the Massachusetts Senate sends a message the transgender community has longed for decades to hear—that we are truly welcome and valued in our Commonwealth, and that our contributions are a part of the fabric that allows Massachusetts to thrive and prosper. We are grateful to Senate President Rosenberg and the bill’s lead sponsor since 2010, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, for their determined leadership in bringing us to this victory. They have raised the bar on what being a champion for LGBT equality looks like, and in the process, they have saved lives.”
This momentum is the direct result of a surge in advocacy from transgender Bay Staters and allied groups. Since January, the Commonwealth’s major educational associations, leading women’s organizations, sports teams, faith leaders and businesses have publicly voiced support for SB 735/HB 1577. Legislative movement snowballed in late April after Governor Charlie Baker indicated he would not veto the bill. And just yesterday, Massachusetts’ biggest labor unions—including the AFL-CIO and the 1199 SEIU—delivered a letter to lawmakers urging them to pass SB 735.
But none of this would have been possible without transgender Bay Staters themselves. They are the real heroes of today’s momentous vote. They have bravely shared their stories and put a countless amount of time and energy into advocating for #TransBillMA, helping tip the public, Governor Baker, and the Senate toward supporting it.
In addition to Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Freedom Massachusetts would like to thank Senator Will Brownsberger—chair of the Judiciary Committee—and each and every senator who spoke in favor of the bill today.
The fight to pass #TransBillMA is certainly not over. A version of it must now pass the House, which is expected to vote on the coming weeks.