Two Years Later, Basic Protections for Transgender People in Massachusetts Under Threat
October 1, 2018

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On October 1, 2016, the law signed by Governor Charlie Baker went into effect, ensuring basic protections for our transgender neighbors in public spaces like restaurants, retail stores and medical offices.

Our non-discrimination law—similar to other laws on the books in 17 states and 200+ municipalities in Massachusetts and across the country—has ensured that transgender people can go about their daily lives with dignity and safety, knowing that if they experience discrimination, the state of Massachusetts has their backs.

The passage of the law was the result of over a decade of transgender people and their families sharing their stories—along with a robust coalition of the state’s leading law enforcement officials, sexual assault and domestic violence experts, 300+ businesses, 500+ faith leaders and all of New England’s professional sports teams. Lawmakers heeded the call of the coalition and a majority of Bay Staters who support their transgender neighbors with an overwhelming, bipartisan vote making Massachusetts the 18th state in the country to enact these basic protections.

And since these protections have been in place, law enforcement across the state have been clear: There has been ZERO uptick in public safety incidents. Ensuring dignity for transgender people has not made anyone in Massachusetts less safe.

But now, these protections are under threat. Opponents of transgender equality submitted the minimum number of signatures to force the law onto the ballot—making Massachusetts the first state in the country to hold a statewide vote on transgender protections this November.

A YES vote on Question 3 this November is a vote to uphold the law—and defend dignity, safety and respect for every transgender person who calls Massachusetts home.

And for individuals and families across Massachusetts, the threat of these protections being repealed in November is terrifying.

Vanessa Ford, whose daughter Elie is transgender, is one of hundreds of parents across Massachusetts who have joined the Yes on 3 campaign to make a personal case to her neighbors and fellow voters to uphold protections for Elie. In a column in The Boston Globe, she explained:

This law doesn’t impact most people. But for transgender people, it is critical. This law says to children like my daughter: ‘You are welcome here, just as you are. You have opportunity. You are safe to be who you are.’ Isn’t that what we want for all our children? For kids like my daughter Ellie, please vote ‘yes’ on Question 3.

Transgender people like George can also attest to the importance of keeping these protections on the books. George faced discrimination at his bank in Boston, who didn’t believe he was the man he knows himself to be. He spoke out—and made sure the bank knew that they could not discriminate against him because of his gender identity.

And when he told his story to us earlier this year, George underscored that it was Massachusetts’ non-discrimination law that made him feel confident to speak up for himself—and he worries that if the law is repealed, transgender people like him will be less likely to come forward when they face discrimination in public places:

“However, without Massachusetts’ law in place that protects him from discrimination in public places, George doesn’t know if he’d have the courage to speak out.  Repealing Massachusetts’ nondiscrimination law could leave people like George more vulnerable to harassment and intimidation, and cause him to avoid or fear doing everyday things as simple as making a call to the bank.”

It’s because of Elie, Vanessa, George—and the countless transgender people and families across Massachusetts—that we MUST fight harder than ever to ensure that next month, Massachusetts becomes the first state in the country to uphold transgender protections at the ballot box.

As we celebrate two years of our transgender neighbors, friends and coworkers being fully protected under Massachusetts law, our campaign of volunteers across the state is determined to safeguard these protections.



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