October 2, 2017
One year ago, Massachusetts’ law protecting transgender peoples’ use of public accommodations went into effect. This victory means something incredibly simple yet also incredibly profound – that transgender people in Massachusetts can go about their daily lives knowing that they cannot lawfully be turned away from establishments that provide goods and services to the general public simply for being transgender.
The passage of this law was the culmination of a years-long battle for the inclusion of express protections for transgender people in public spaces, such as hospitals, restaurants, libraries, and movie theatres. Making our non-discrimination law whole means that everyone from all walks of life, including transgender people, must be treated fairly and with dignity.
This is a moment to reflect on the incredible progress we have made in Massachusetts towards justice. It is with great pride that I remember the strong coalition of community members that was the driving force behind getting this law passed. We could never have achieved what we did without the broad show of support from faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and legislators, not to mention the many incredibly articulate and courageous transgender individuals, family members, and friends.
Yes, we are celebrating a great legislative victory achieved a year ago. But putting it in that time frame highlights how much work remains and reminds us that, unfortunately, we cannot rest comfortably on our achievements and must be ever vigilant.
This past year marks some of the most hostile and significant backlash the LGBTQ community has experienced in recent memory. From the transgender military ban – which GLAD along with our partner NCLR is fighting with everything we’ve got – to the withdrawal by the U.S. Department of Education of critical school guidance for transgender students, the transgender community has been under attack by this new administration.
Here, too, in Massachusetts, we remain vulnerable. In November, 2018, due to the efforts of a small group who want to roll back protections for transgender people, there will be a question on the ballot: should we maintain the critical public accommodation non-discrimination protections that went into effect last year? I’m confident that Massachusetts will once again say yes to fairness and equality – but it will take every one of us working together to make sure that happens.
To join the fight for equality in Massachusetts, and defend non-discrimination protections for transgender people, visit our friends at Freedom For All Massachusetts to get involved.