This Saturday, #TransBillMA will officially take effect, ending more than a decade of legislative wrangling over updating Massachusetts’ law to fully protect transgender people from discrimination.
Until now, Massachusetts lacked explicit non-discrimination protections for transgender residents and visitors in public places like stores, restaurants, and medical offices. And this lack of protections has caused real harm: A 2014 survey found that 65% of transgender people living in Massachusetts reported experiencing such discrimination.
But on Saturday, the thousands of transgender people who call Massachusetts home will no longer have to face the threat of this kind of discrimination. For many transgender Bay Staters, this moment will be the first time in their lives they have felt truly safe and accepted in the place they call home.
Other transgender Bay Staters, like George, say not only will the law impact how he lives day-to-day—like when he goes to a restaurant with friends, or takes public transportation to work—it could spur positive movement in other states.
“Passage of #TransBillMA will mean my transgender friends and I will be treated in the eyes of the law as human beings deserving of equal legal protections wherever we are in the Commonwealth—on the T, in restaurants, at public events, wherever. I will feel a bit safer in the world and I hope that other trans people will feel more possibility in being their authentic selves. As a lifelong Massachusetts resident I look forward to our state being the example of inclusion we should be for other parts of the country.”
That this law is about so much more than legal protections is a theme that runs through how transgender Bay Staters speak about it. Many say that at its core, #TransBillMA is about affirming their human dignity. This is true for Joe and Mimi Lemay, whose son, Jacob, is transgender.
“To us, #TransBillMA means that Jacob will grow up in a state that values his human dignity. It means he will grow up in a state where transgender people like him can expect equal treatment wherever they go. It means our son will be treated equally in the state our family is so proud to call home.”
For other transgender Bay Staters, like Michelle, this law finally taking effect means they can shift their focus to other issues affecting the transgender community. Transgender Bay Staters still face higher rates of unemployment and have more problems accessing health care, and those statistics can’t be fixed solely with a change in the law.
“When the public accommodations bill becomes law, I know I me and my community will feel safer in the city. More importantly, when the bill becomes law, it means we can move forward on other issues with significant importance to my community, such as access to healthcare, employment, education, and fighting transphobia at all levels of our criminal justice system.”
But changing the law is an incredibly important step toward addressing other issues stemming from the fact that up to now, transgender Bay Staters have not been fully protected from discrimination. #TransBillMA sends a message that all people should feel safe, included and accepted in our state. This Saturday, they finally will.
This week, Freedom Massachusetts will be celebrating by sharing more stories like these from the transgender Bay Staters who made this momentous day happen. As you’re celebrating, will you take a moment to tell us what #TransBillMA means to you?