STUDY: No Increase in Public Safety Incidents Following Passage of Transgender Protections in Massachusetts
September 12, 2018

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Protecting transgender people from discrimination in public places does not jeopardize safety in public restrooms or locker rooms.

That’s the topline finding from a new study conducted by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think-tank specializing in LGBT issues.

Conducted in Massachusetts, this is the first empirical study to assess opponents of our nondiscrimination law’s claims that these protections lead to privacy and safety violations in restrooms. It finds these claims to be completely baseless—just what we’ve known all along.

Laws that include gender identity do not affect the number or frequency of criminal incidents in restrooms, locker rooms or changing rooms, according to the report. In addition, reports of privacy and safety violations in these places are extremely rare—and almost never involve perpetrators who are transgender.

Lead author Amira Hasenbush, a law and policy fellow at the Williams Institute, says the study’s results should give pause to anyone who hears opponents’ false claims about public safety.

“Opponents of public accommodations laws that include gender identity protections often claim that the laws leave women and children vulnerable to attack in public restrooms. But this study provides evidence that these incidents are rare and unrelated to the laws.”

Researchers’ methods for finding this conclusion were straightforward: They used criminal report data from several Massachusetts localities to assess differences in the crime rates in areas with and without laws that protect transgender people in public places.

“Opponents of public accommodations laws that include gender identity protections often claim that the laws leave women and children vulnerable to attack in public restrooms. But this study provides evidence that these incidents are rare and unrelated to the laws.” —Amira Hasenbush, lead study author

Results showed that immediately after the laws’ passage, there were actually fewer incidents of privacy and safety violations in places with transgender protections.  

The study dovetails with what law enforcement, violence prevention organizations and other groups concerned with public safety already know: Our communities are safer when everyone is protected from discrimination.

That’s why the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and Massachusetts Major City Chiefs support upholding our nondiscrimination law, as do Jane Doe Inc., the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and dozens of other groups focused on protecting women and girls from violence.

Our transgender friends and neighbors are counting on us to uphold these protections at the ballot box on November 6th. If you’re with us, sign the pledge and join our campaign.


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