Somerville Becomes Sixth Jurisdiction in Massachusetts to Enact Public Accommodations Protections for Members of the Transgender Community
Amended language also addresses discrimination in housing, employment and other areas
SOMERVILLE ─ May 23, 2014 ─ By a unanimous vote, the Board of Aldermen in Somerville passed amended language to Ordinance 2-237, which will now add the term “gender identity and expression” to the city’s anti-discrimination policy. The amended language addresses the issue of discrimination against members of the transgender community in housing, employment, education, legally-binding agreements and financial transactions as well as public areas such as retail establishments, transit, and restaurants.
“We know that 58% of surveyed transgender people in Massachusetts report suffering harassment or mistreatment in places of public accommodation. With this ordinance, Somerville joins the growing movement to ensure that transgender people have equal access and protections in these places. We applaud the City of Somerville, the aldermen and women, and the residents who came together to make this important ordinance happen,” said Mason Dunn, the executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.
Somerville follows Boston, Northampton, Amherst, Cambridge, and Salem in implementing comprehensive non-discrimination protections for the transgender community.
Rebekah Gewirtz, Ward 6 alderwoman for the City of Somerville and sponsor of the resolution, said that implementing a policy like this is part of a progressive effort in Massachusetts to provide protections for all residents of the Commonwealth:
“I’m thrilled Somerville is joining a growing number of cities and towns that embrace the fundamental rights of the transgender community. Here in Somerville, all people should be treated with dignity and respect. Passage of this resolution provides additional confirmation of this value we all share.”
Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality, the leading grassroots advocacy organization for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community in Massachusetts, praised the City of Somerville for their historic work.
“Right on the heels of celebrating 10 years of marriage equality in the Commonwealth, Massachusetts is again taking steps to be a trailblazer on the issues of LGBTQ equality. As the sixth municipality in the state to enact this vital policy, Somerville is taking part in what will hopefully be a domino effect across the Bay State, one will that will see more cities and towns coalescing around the necessity of acknowledging the rights of everyone.”
For more information on MATERC, visit http://www.masstpc.org/coalition.
The Massachusetts Equal Rights Coalition (MATERC) succeeded on November 16, 2011 in securing passage ofAn Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights thanks to lead sponsors former Representative Carl Sciortino and Representative Byron Rushing, and Senators Ben Downing and Sonia Chang-Diaz. MATERC will continue to work towards passage of non-discrimination protections in public accommodations.