Massachusetts has once again shown itself to be a leader in LGBTQ rights after residents voters overwhelmingly on Tuesday to uphold a transgender public accommodations law, barring discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places like bathrooms, restaurants and parks.
Sixty eight percent of voters chose to support the ballot measure, keeping in place a 2016 law in the face of an opposition campaign that wanted to repeal the law, claiming it put women and children at risk of sexual predators.
Supports have said throughout the campaign that the 2016 transgender protections law has not led to any public safety issues, but has instead only made the public, specifically transgender individuals, safer from sexual harassment and assault.
— Vote Yes on 3 (@Freedom_Mass) November 7, 2018
“This is an important victory for transgender people, their families, and our entire state. Every resident deserves dignity, respect, and safety in public places like restaurants, retail stories, and public restrooms,” said Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Executive Director Gina Scaramella in a statement. “Although those who sought to repeal our 2016 civil rights law falsely claimed otherwise, the truth is that treating all residents with dignity and respect is a powerful tool for preventing sexual assault and harassment.
“We know from our work that protecting transgender people from discrimination has zero negative consequences on the safety of women and children—including, and most especially, those women and children who are transgender,” she continued. “We also know that transgender people themselves face some of the highest rates of sexual violence: nearly one in two have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. The survivors of sexual assault that I know at BARCC never wanted this law repealed in their name.”
Massachusetts Question 3: historic win for transgender protections
The Question 3 win marks a historic achievement for transgender protections that will reverberate across the nation, supporters say.
The 2016 transgender public accommodations law allows transgender individuals to use sex-segregated public facilities according to their gender identity, not their birth-assigned sex. It was passed in the Massachusetts House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker.
This 2018 election win makes Massachusetts the first state in the nation to successfully defend transgender rights by popular vote.
"Massachusetts made history tonight, both for our transgender neighbors who call this state home and for transgender people across this nation," said Kasey Suffredini, Yes on 3 Campaign co-chair and President of Strategy at Freedom for All Americans, in a statement. "From the very early days of our campaign, we have been clear that this is about dignity and respect for all people. Together, we have shattered broken stereotypes of what it means to be transgender and debunked the myth – once and for all – that protecting transgender people compromises the safety of others."