“Supporting my country and protecting my community”

Alishia is one of thousands of transgender Bay Staters directly impacted by the recent update to Massachusetts law that protects transgender people from discrimination in public places.

“As a transgender person, this is about me and people like me,” Alishia said.

Alishia has faced the very kind of discrimination that was recently outlawed—but if it happens again she and other transgender people know that the law is on their side.

Alishia PhotoA few years ago, Alishia was regularly working out at a gym near her home. In addition to just getting some exercise, Alishia had a very specific workout regimen as part of a physical therapy plan for an injury she sustained in her job as a firefighter.

“So, I’m not just there for me, but also so that I can return to my job and do my job better,” she said.

For a while, Alishia felt happy and safe at the gym. The management, who knew she was transgender, were helpful and supportive. Alishia made a few workout buddies who were often at the gym and pool at the same time she was.

Then, after about a year with no issues at all, Alishia was abruptly told she would no longer be allowed to use the changing facilities she’d always used. The notice came only after a news story about another transgender person at a gym on the other side of the state hit the papers.

“They didn’t have any complaints, no one was uncomfortable, they just told me, ‘Not anymore,’” Alishia explained.

Because exercise was a critical part of her physical therapy, and there wasn’t another gym nearby, Alishia didn’t have any choice. But now, instead of having access to the individual dressing rooms where she’d been changing—in private—for a year, Alishia started wearing her bathing suit under a sweat suit and simply taking the sweat suit off poolside.

“It was humiliating,” Alishia said.

Alishia is overjoyed that the law has been updated so that no one who is going about their normal life will have to face this kind of discrimination—unless, that is, #TransLawMA is repealed.

Opponents of #TransLawMA have succeeded in placing an initiative on the ballot this November that, if passed, would rescind the protections that Alishia relies on to keep herself healthy and be able to do her job effectively.

As a firefighter, Alishia works every day to keep the people in her community safe. That’s what she wants, too—the ability to feel safe in her community. She feels that more than ever now that non-discrimination protections are the law of the land, and she doesn’t want Massachusetts to move backward.

“We’re everyday people,” she said, “We’re just living our lives.”

“As a Navy veteran and a firefighter, I’ve spent my whole life supporting my country and protecting my community, it would mean a lot to me if my community could do the same for me, and for others like me,” Alishia said.

“We’re everyday people,” she said, “We’re just living our lives.”

Because of #TransLawMA, Alishia’s home state now offers those protections. The other good news is that many gyms and fitness centers also offer this security for their transgender customers as a point of internal policy. In fact, Planet Fitness, which has more than 900 franchise locations nationwide and more than 50 right here in Massachusetts, has such a policy in place already. But if #TransLawMA is repealed, transgender gym-goers at other facilities might face discrimination.

We cannot go backward in protecting all Bay Staters from discrimination. If you agree, join our movement to protect #TransLawMA by clicking here.

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