Massachusetts has become an unlikely battleground for the future of trans rights. No, this traditionally blue state is not leading the way for increased protections for trans and gender nonconforming people. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Massachusetts voters will either vote to keep or repeal a law designed to protect trans people from discrimination in public spaces on Election Day 2018.
The law in question is Senate Bill 2407 is also known as Freedom Massachusetts. The law itself is quite new in the scheme of things, with Governor Charlie Baker having signed it into law in July 2016. Shocking, I know, a Republican governor seemingly supporting human rights, but stranger things have happened. Freedom Massachusetts is straightforward in its purpose: The law protects trans people in public spaces, such as in bathrooms, schools, restaurants, and hospitals.
If this sounds ridiculous to you, that makes sense. This is ridiculous. We should try and to protect marginalized populations, not get rid of protections that are already in place. Because everything sucks in 2018, Massachusetts voters are able to get rid of this trans public accommodations bill.
At a federal level, trans people have been put increasingly under attack by the Trump administration. In late October, it was reported that the Trump administration is considering narrowing the definition of gender to only reflect the biological sex that a person is assigned at birth. If the Trump administration won’t stand up for people who are discriminated against, then states need to step up with enacting state-level protections. This is why it is crucial that Massachusetts voters vote ‘Yes’ on Massachusetts Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Veto Referendum.
At the surface level, it seems that Massachusetts Question 3 will allow Freedom Massachusetts to continue to exist. Ballotpedia lists that hundreds of Massachusetts based companies and associations support the existence of this law, and so does incumbent Baker. On the ‘No’ side, there is only one association that supports this transphobic law, the Massachusetts Family Institute, which, unsurprisingly, also has tried to attack Planned Parenthood. If the 2016 Presidential Election taught us anything, simply supporting Freedom Massachusetts is not enough. Massachusetts voters need to go out and cast their ballot in order to work to keep trans people safe in the state of Massachusetts.
As a Massachusetts voter, I am concerned about the safety of trans people. Question 3 on the Massachusetts ballot is the only reason why I am voting absentee in Massachusetts, despite currently living in New York. I went to public schools in Massachusetts, and I saw how my trans friends were discriminated against. At my high school, trans students were forced to use single-stall bathrooms in the nurse’s office. They were not allowed to use the other bathrooms that were in other parts of the school. I don’t know how to view this as anything but discrimination. My high school did allow trans students to use other bathrooms my senior year, but this was only a few months before Freedom Massachusetts was signed into law. If Freedom Massachusetts is repealed, I see nothing from stopping my high school and other public spaces to go back to how they were.
If you are a Massachusetts voter and care about protecting trans people during this horrifying Trump administration, vote ‘Yes’ on Question 3.