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November 16, 2011

Transgender Protections Passed in Massachusetts; Important Work Remains

A multi-year effort to protect transgender citizens of Massachusetts from discrimination has finally resulted in the passage by both House and Senate of the Transgender Equal Rights bill: the House passed it by a vote of 95-58 last night; and the Senate passed it this morning by a voice vote.  It is expected that Governor Deval Patrick, a supporter of transgender rights, will sign the bill into law.

The bill will provide essential protections for the transgender community in employment, education, housing, and in situations where people face hate-based violence, and will go into effect on July 1, 2012.

Jennifer Levi, Director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders’ (GLAD) Transgender Rights Project, said, “With the passage of this bill, the transgender people of our state will have significantly greater legal protections, and that is what we rightly celebrate.  We all know the bill is not perfect, because it omits the critical protections in public accommodations that the transgender community needs and deserves. Legislation involves hard choices, and it was important not to walk away from the protections we could get today. Our work is far from done; we will continue to work for complete protections for all the members of our community.”

She added, “I am grateful for the leadership of co-sponsors: Reps. Carl Sciortino and Byron Rushing, and Senators Sonia Chiang-Diaz and Ben Downing.  The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) has been tenacious during this long and difficult battle.  We look forward to working with all of our allies on the next stage of our fight for complete protections.