By Oliver, Public Education Intern
On Tuesday, October 6th, the public hearing on An Act Relative to Gender Identity and Nondiscrimination (SB 735 and HB 1577) took place at the State House. The bill would legally protect transgender people from discrimination in public spaces; hotels, restaurants, public transportation, hospitals, etc. These protections already exist in employment, housing, education, and credit and lending, so this bill is the last thing standing between us and full protection under Massachusetts law.
The hearing had a great turnout thanks to MTPC supporters like you! Green-clad advocates and allies filled the auditorium, and influential figures spoke in favor of the proposed protections, including Attorney General Maura Healey and Congressman Joe Kennedy. Many powerful personal testimonies were given. “Today, I have a thriving daughter,” said Jeanne Talbot, whose teenage daughter, Nicole, is transgender. “But there is still discrimination at every turn…. Our work is not done until every person in Massachusetts is protected.” Fourteen-year-old Brandon Adams shared his harrowing story of receiving death threats after coming out as transgender in public school. He went on to say, “I refuse to live in fear. I have come here today, with my family and friends, to loudly and proudly support this bill.”
Testimonies like these paint a clear picture of why this bill is so vital to the Massachusetts transgender population. Gaps in the law are not just inconvenient; for people like Nicole and Brandon, lack of protections can be life threatening. No one should have to live with the fear of facing discrimination or harassment every time they take a taxi, eat at a restaurant, or check into a hospital – simply because of who they are. Massachusetts has long had a reputation of inclusion and tolerance; it’s time to update the laws to continue reflecting those values.
We can’t do this without your help.
As lawmakers make their decision in the coming weeks, it’s critical to keep up the momentum by continuing to put names and faces to the supporters of this bill. Freedom Massachusetts, the coalition spearheading this campaign, is still collecting personal stories from transgender folks and their allies.
Encourage your friends and family to tell their stories, and submit your own here!
The opposition needs to know that this issue is not just an arbitrary ideological debate; real people’s safety and wellbeing are on the line. To learn more about the bill and other ways you can help, please visit freedommassachusetts.org.
Photos by Hurley Event Photography