This Sunday, the Transgender Equal Rights Act will take effect. For the first time in the Commonwealth’s history, transgender residents will be included in the Commonwealth’s statutes, prohibiting the unfair and unjust discrimination they have faced for far too long. Massachusetts will join 15 other states and the District of Columbia in extending critical protections to transgender residents in employment, housing, education, credit, and hate crimes. Below is a press release from MassEquality about the new law:
“No individual should face discrimination because of who they are,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “This law gives Massachusetts the necessary tools to stop hate crimes against transgender people and to treat others fairly.”
“Massachusetts strives to be an inclusive Commonwealth, and this new law acknowledges that discrimination against any person will not be tolerated,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.
“This law is an important step toward eradicating discrimination in our Commonwealth and extending equal protections to all citizens,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “Transgender individuals are frequently targets of bias-motivated crimes and this law will help to ensure that people cannot be discriminated against based on their gender identity or expression.”
“This is an historic piece of civil rights legislation,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo. “When it takes effect July 1, the state will be a safer place for all of its residents.”
The law that takes effect July 1 is not perfect. While it is a solid piece of civil rights legislation that represents an historic step forward in supporting full civil rights protections for the transgender community, it does not include public accommodations protections. That means that transgender people will not be protected from discrimination in places like hotels, restaurants, hospitals, and buses.
“This law includes essential protections for transgender youth, adults, and families and is a life-changing piece of legislation,” said Kara Suffredini, Esq. , executive director of MassEquality. “Its passage is historic and we are thrilled with the political support that made passage of this act possible. And while we pause today to celebrate, tomorrow we continue our advocacy and education about the need for the vital public accommodations protections that are missing. We are looking forward to working with the Governor and lawmakers in fully implementing this historic law and getting public accommodations provisions passed that will also protect transgender people from discrimination in public places like restaurants, grocery stores, trains and buses, and other places where daily life is routinely conducted.”
State Rep. Carl Sciortino, a lead sponsor of the new law in the House of Representatives said, “The implementation of this law is going to make an immediate difference in the lives of the state’s transgender residents, who desperately need anti-discrimination protections in housing and employment. I have been so moved by the courage of constituents who’ve shared their stories with lawmakers and shown the critical need for these civil rights protections, and I look forward to working on the next piece of legislation that will fully protect transgender residents.”
“This act adds essential protections for transgender people to our laws,” said state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a lead sponsor of the new law. “While we are celebrating the implementation of this law, we realize that our work is not yet complete, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on passage of a public accommodations bill.”
“The rights that will take effect July 1 are rights that our transgender residents have always had. These are human rights,” said state Rep. Byron Rushing, a lead sponsor of the new law. “What government will be doing July 1 is finally taking action to protect those rights and acknowledge those rights and that is the great work that government does.”
“This law is about making sure that our anti-discrimination and civil rights laws protect all victims,” said state Sen. Ben Downing. “For too long the 33,000 transgender residents in Massachusetts have gone without these protections. Thanks to this step that will no longer be the case.”
The Transgender Equal Rights law was passed by the House 95-58 on Nov. 15, and by the Senate the following day on a voice vote. Gov. Patrick signed it into law Nov. 23.