I have copy-and-pasted the full version of a letter I sent to the editors of The Republican/masslive.com and The Eagle-Tribune below. Freedom Massachusetts will hold a Lobby Day to rally public support for the bill on Thursday …
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To the editor:
An important fight for transgender civil rights is taking shape here in Massachusetts. While the current civil rights law in the state prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the bases of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religion and marital status, those protections currently do not extend to our transgender friends and neighbors. A bill (H. 1577/ S. 735, “An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination”) that would extend such protections to transgender folks is currently making its way through the State House. I support passage of the bill, and I hope our state lawmakers will, as well.
We all expect to be treated equally under the law and with dignity and respect when we’re out in public. But our transgender friends face a far different–and often painful–reality. In a study conducted by the Fenway Institute last year, nearly two-thirds of transgender people in Massachusetts reported experiencing discrimination in various forms in public spaces. This included denial of services in health care and transportation settings, retail and restaurant businesses, and other public gatherings–the very fabric of our society. The study concluded that such pervasive discrimination takes a real toll both on their emotional and physical well-being.
Transgender people deserve better. They deserve to be treated as equals, and they deserve to live in a welcoming and accepting world.
Unfortunately, some, including Governor Baker, disagree and have used terribly derisive language to describe the proposed law, calling it a “bathroom bill.” Such language dismisses the full range of discrimination that transgender people face. But, indeed, their civil rights should also extend to public restrooms. There is no rational reason why people should be denied restroom access simply because they were born as one gender but now identify as another. They are not “a threat to privacy,” as some would suggest; they are human beings who wish to live out in the world just as the rest of us do.
No one in our state should have to face discrimination and disdain in public because of who they are. We can do more to protect our transgender friends and make our state a more inclusive place. I hope we do.