In November of 2018, the people of Massachusetts will go to the polls to defend comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people at the ballot. These protections ensure that LGBT people in the Bay State are free from discrimination in public places like restaurants, retail shops and hospitals.
Here, we feature the stories of three transgender veterans who believe that non-discrimination is invaluable to the LGBT community, and who are working to uphold the law.
Nycii enlisted in the Marines during Operation: Desert Storm in the early 1990’s. At the time, she had no idea what the word ‘transgender’ meant, but in the 2000’s, when the internet began to include information about any myriad number of topics, including transgender people, she finally understood who she was.
Because of Massachusetts’ current non-discrimination law, Nycii is able to breathe easier when she is out in public, because she knows she is protected in public places like restaurants, retail shops and doctors offices. When she heard the news that the law would go to the ballot in 2018, she was devastated, because Nycii knows what she and the LGBT community have to lose if the law is repealed.
“I would feel less safe. I would go out less. If we were to lose these protections, with the present climate of LGBTQ hate groups, if we didn’t have any protections, that wouldn’t leave me a whole lot of places to go. It would leave me a very small existence.”
Nycii believes in standing up for non-discrimination, and continues to spread the word about exactly why these protections are essential for LGBT people in Massachusetts to be able to live openly and freely.
A proud Air Force veteran, Rebecca McDonald served from 1973–1980, including during the Vietnam War. Although she is proud of her time in the armed forces, she did not like that she couldn’t serve openly as a transgender woman.
Today, Rebecca has transitioned, and is an active member of Boston’s transgender community, including a group of trans veterans. During the Obama administration, she was thrilled to see the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, as well as the lifting of ban on transgender people to serve in the military. However, when she heard the new Trump administration announce a ban on transgender military service, Rebecca felt disgusted and disheartened.
“We just lost everything we worked for. Everything. My personal feeling? Our president just put a target on my back because I’m transgender. It’s unfair and unjust. If you can do your job, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to serve.”
Emma grew up in a volatile home. To bring some stability to her life, Emma enlisted in the Air Force when she was 18 and was assigned to Little Rock, Arkansas’s 314th Combat Support Group: Services Division, where she would serve for four years and work her way up to the rank of Sergeant.
When she heard that the Trump administration was placing a ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, she was confused and upset. But she was still grateful that in her home state, the law explicitly protects transgender people from discrimination.
“What I kept saying to my friends was, ‘At least we have protections here in Massachusetts. Here, we’re okay.’”
If Massachusetts’ law protecting transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations isn’t upheld at the ballot box next year, though, that will change. Join our movement to protect the law and ensure veterans like Nycii, Rebecca and Emma are safe from discrimination.