It’s been one year since a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers passed and Governor Baker signed a law updating Massachusetts’ existing non-discrimination statutes to protect transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations—places like restaurants, retail shops and hospitals.
Now, transgender Bay Staters like Leea are working hard to uphold it.
That’s because almost immediately after the law took effect on October 1, 2016, opponents of equality succeeded in collecting the small number of signatures required to put the law up for a public vote. That means a question requiring voters to affirm or repeal the law will appear on the 2018 general election ballot.
Leea says this law has transformed her life, and she would be shocked if it was repealed. She recalls the anxiety she used to experience when she was out in public before these protections were in place.
“You do not know what it is like thinking that you can be arrested for going to the bathroom. This law has put my mind at ease.” —Leea
“You do not know what it is like thinking that you can be arrested for going to the bathroom. This law has put my mind at ease,” she explains. “I suffer from PTSD and going into a bathroom and worrying about being arrested only agitated that PTSD so this has made a huge difference in my life.”
Leea’s fears are not unfounded. Prior to the law taking effect, the lack of explicit protections under state law was causing real harm: A 2013 survey found that 65% of transgender people living in Massachusetts had experienced this kind of discrimination.