The College Democrats of Massachusetts, the official youth outreach arm of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, recently voted to endorse H.1577 and S.735, two bills aimed at reducing transgender discrimination. H.1577 and S.735 will make all public accommodations exactly that, public. Anyone, regardless of gender identity, would be allowed entrance. In addition, accommodations that are segregated by sex must allow access to anyone whose gender identity matches that sex. If H.1577 and S.735 are passed, trans women would then be allowed to use public women’s restrooms, and trans men must be allowed to use public men’s restrooms, a crucial step forward for the commonwealth.
However, this bill has a much wider scope than just restrooms. According to a 2014 survey by Fenway Health, 65% of transgender people responding stated that they experienced discrimination in public spaces. The respondents noted being discriminated in everyday settings such as transportation, retail, dining, public gathering spaces, and health care–everyday spaces that cis people take for granted but become minefields for trans people. Yet, in Massachusetts there is currently no legal recourse for this discrimination.
Our work as LGBTQ+ advocates and allies didn’t end when marriage equality became the law of the land. This Thursday, members of the College Democrats of Massachusetts will be joining Freedom Massachusetts in their lobby day at the statehouse. Preventing transgender discrimination in public spaces is an absolutely essential step in supporting our trans siblings.
Public spaces are called “public” for a reason. Everyone has a right to fully experience them.