This Week: Transgender Non-Discrimination Advances Out of Committee & Other “Firsts”
May 2, 2016

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This week is proving monumental for transgender rights in the Bay State.

After an overwhelming vote to advance #TransBillMA (HB 1577/SB 735) on Friday, the important non-discrimination legislation was reported out of committee today.

Having been stalled out for nearly a year, this marks the most significant forward momentum in the history of #TransBillMA.

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The legislation would update existing state law to explicitly protect transgender Bay Staters from discrimination in public places, like hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and doctors offices. Transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections already exist in areas of housing and employment.

The committee vote comes after Governor Charlie Baker, for the first time ever, made comments to the Globe indicating tepid support for the bill.

Though it remains unclear if HB 1577/SB 735 will go straight to the floor for a vote, Senate President Stan Rosenberg has said the Senate will debate the bill next Thursday, May 12th.

In addition to the first-ever vote on the bill, today also marked the first-ever transgender pride flag raising in Massachusetts’ history. Boston city officials—led by Mayor Marty Walsh, City Council President Michelle Wu, and bill sponsor Senator Sonia Chang Diaz—raised the transgender pride flag at City Hall today as a signal to state lawmakers of the overwhelming support for transgender non-discrimination.

Despite poor weather conditions, the flag raising ceremony drew impressive crowds of grassroots supporters, LGBT advocates, and the media. Senate President Stan Rosenberg and bill sponsor Rep. Denise Provost are just a few of the elected officials who made statements of invigorated support for the legislation. Boston has had transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections on the books for 14 years, and Mayor Marty Walsh indicated the flag will fly until state legislators pass #TransBillMA into law and extend those same protections statewide.

As HB 1577/SB 735 picks up speed, supporters continue to do the work of educating the public about who transgender people are. Last Thursday, we joined with transgender youth and parents at Boston City Hall for a reading of “I Am Jazz”—the courageous first-person account of being a transgender teen.

Want to play an active role in the movement to pass full and equal protections for transgender Bay Staters? Click here to send a pre-drafted message to your lawmakers urging them to vote YES on HB 1577/SB 735 when it hits the floor.


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