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Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Act Becomes Law

Posted by Jim Lopata  July 1, 2012 01:00 AM

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aSigning_Photo_v1.jpg
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signing the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Act into law November 23 of last year, with, from left to right: MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, state Sen. Ben Downing, state Auditor Suzanne Bump, BAGLY Executive Director Grace Sterling Stowell, state Rep. Carl Sciortino, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Executive Director Gunner Scott. (photo: Marilyn Humphries)

As of July 1, Massachusetts joins sixteen states and the District of Columbia in providing legal protection against discrimination based on gender identity or expression in employment, housing, education, credit, and hate crimes.

As of today no citizen of Commonwealth of Massachusetts can be fired from a job for being transgender. The Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Act took effect at the stroke of midnight July 1.

Massachusetts now becomes one of sixteen states and the District of Columbia to provide legal protection against discrimination based on gender identity or expression in employment, housing, education, credit, and hate crimes.

MassEquality, one of the primary organizations lobbying for the protections, released comments from several individuals associated with the passage of this historic legislation, including Governor Deval Patrick, and Attorney General Martha Coakley.

“No individual should face discrimination because of who they are,” said Patrick. “This law gives Massachusetts the necessary tools to stop hate crimes against transgender people and to treat others fairly.”

Coakley noted in her comments that the legislation moves Massachusetts closer to ending unfair treatment for residents.

“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.”

Even as many celebrate this legislative victory, activists caution that protections in public accommodations remain absent from the current law, meaning that transgender people are not fully safeguarded from discrimination in places such as restaurants, hospitals, hotels and on transportation like 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.”

Other legislators who worked tirelessly for the passage of the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Act also expressed praise, while noting the work left undone.

“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.”

Massachusetts state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a lead sponsor of the new law, said, “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.”

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About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!
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