This Sunday, July 8, marks the two-year anniversary of Massachusetts providing statewide nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public places like restaurants, retails shops and hospitals. It was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker, after a bipartisan push through the statehouse. Leading the charge was our Freedom for All Massachusetts coalition, which at that time formed to pass these protections. Upon the Governor’s signature, Massachusetts became the 18th state in the country to offer statewide protections.
However, not long after the law’s passage, a group of anti-LGBTQ activists sought to petition a repeal effort. Needing an incredibly low number of signatures to qualify, the groups were able to gather the required amount, and upon certification by the Secretary of State, the issue will now be up for a vote this November. This makes Massachusetts the first state forced to defend the dignity of transgender people at the ballot.
We are now working to get YES votes at the ballot box this November and uphold this important law, affording transgender people the right to participate in public life and live openly, without fear of discrimination simply because of who they are.
The most recent polling shows a slight majority of Massachusetts voters are in favor of defending the law. The state has also been called by many, “the next transgender rights battleground,” following victories in Anchorage, Alaska and New Hampshire, which saw the dignity of transgender people upheld and protected under new law, respectively.
Below, read the thoughts of people across Massachusetts, including parents of transgender children, safety advocates, and transgender Bay Staters themselves, on why a YES vote on defending #TransLawMA this November is essential to protecting transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations.
John Espinosa | Lowell
“As an attorney, educator, and mediator I know that no person should be discriminated against based on their gender identity or expression. When Massachusetts wisely passed the transgender non-discrimination law in 2016, that helped to finally give me the confidence to publicly come out as non-binary transgender. I am proud to live in a state that legally recognizes my identity as valid and protects me from discrimination. We cannot allow these legal protections to be undone, not just for those of us who are already out but also for the countless others who have yet to.”
Rachel Burckardt | Cambridge
“As a professional civil engineer, I have to be able to work and function in business and in society in general, just as any other person. With my transition behind me now, my agenda is to go to work, do a good job at my profession (which includes working with many state and local government agencies), and make money to support myself and my family. As a transgender individual, it is important that I have the same rights in employment and in accommodations, so I can do my work every day and be a productive member of our Commonwealth. Fortunately, we have laws on the books here in Massachusetts, so I don’t have to worry about getting the respect due any individual.”
Parents & Youth
Kristen Ando | North Andover
“I am the proud parent of a transgender child. As someone who is cisgender, the misalignment between sex and gender is difficult for me to understand. What I DO understand is that since my child transitioned, he is happy. What I DO understand is he is the happiest I have ever seen him. Happier than he has ever been in his whole life. As cisgender citizens, we do not need to completely understand a transgender person’s transition. We DO need to protect our transgender brothers and sisters, everyone deserves to feel safe in our public spaces. We DO need to support the idea that all people deserve to be happy.”
Christina Ward | Scituate
“Our 4.5-year-old transgender daughter only recently socially transitioned to living as her authentic self this past spring. As my husband and I became more educated about raising a transgender child, we were hugely relieved to know that Massachusetts is one of the states with laws in place to protect our daughter’s ability to live her life privately and free of discrimination in the most basic areas of daily life. We were also just as quickly horrified to learn of the ballot initiative coming up in November that would rip those protections away from her. While we are new to this journey, Dan and I are now joining the fight to protect the rights and dignity of transgender people from being ripped away from them. We are, frankly, deeply horrified to think that such a thing could happen in Massachusetts in 2018.”
Rabbi Elias Lieberman | Falmouth
“In the early 1990s I led my congregation to open its doors to a monthly meeting of PFLAG, a support and advocacy group for families and friends of LGBTQ people. Because I have family members, congregants and friends who are part of the LGBTQ community, I am compelled to help secure their protection under the law and the dignity they deserve to be accorded. As a person of faith and as the leader of a faith community, I commit myself to vote ‘YES’ in November to keep my transgender friends, relatives and neighbors protected.
Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier | Berkshires
“It was my honor two years ago to vote in favor of these long-overdue non-discrimination protections, ensuring that transgender residents of Massachusetts are treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else. As a constant advocate for children, women, and other people whose rights have historically been overlooked, I’m proud that this is no longer the case in the Commonwealth for our transgender friends and neighbors. Now, it’s up to the voters to say, unequivocally, that Massachusetts supports fairness for everyone, and vote ‘yes’ to uphold these protections in November.”
Bedford Chief of Police Robert Bongiorno
“As chief of police, my overarching concern is safety for all citizens. The Commonwealth’s transgender nondiscrimination law has only helped enhance feelings of safety and security in our community and has posed no threat to safety in the past two years it has been in effect. Everyone should have basic protections that allow them to be treated with dignity and respect, and that is exactly what this law has done. It has sent a message to our transgender neighbors that they are welcome in Massachusetts without weakening our police department’s ability to hold actual criminals accountable for their crimes. That’s why I’m voting yes to uphold the law this November.”
Jane Doe Inc.
“As advocates and survivors, we know that the threat of sexual assault, domestic violence and harassment is real–especially for trans people. Safety concerns should not be dismissed, but hateful and false claims that our current law will make people less safe singles out trans people as potential perpetrators while threatening the safety of trans communities and anti-sexual violence efforts overall. Supporting transgender protections furthers our commitment to ending sexual and domestic violence and working for human rights.”