State & Local Laws

It is unlawful in the state of Massachusetts to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and expression in the areas of employment, housing, public education, credit/lending, and public accommodations.

In November of 2011, Massachusetts became the 16th state to add non-discrimination laws for gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, public education, and credit/lending. Additionally, Massachusetts Hate Crimes laws were also updated to include gender identity. This law is known as An Act Relative to Gender Identity.

The Definition of Gender Identity

“Gender identity” shall mean a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth. Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person’s core identity; provided however, gender-related identity shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.

This legislation makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity in the areas of:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Public education
  • Credit/lending

It also amends the definition of hate crimes to include crimes motivated by prejudice against a person’s gender identity.

In 2016, the law was amended to included public accommodations, and in 2018 the law was successfully defended at the November ballot.

State Executive Orders and Local Ordinances

State Executive Orders

  • Executive Order 526 Regarding Non-discrimination, Diversity, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action
  • Executive Order 527 Establishing the Office of Access and Opportunity within the Executive Office of Administration and Finance

Local Ordinances

The following cities and towns in Massachusetts have local ordinances for non-discrimination on the basis of Gender Identity or Expression:

  • Cambridge (1997)
  • Boston (2002)
  • Northampton (2005)
  • Amherst (2009)
  • Brookline (2014)
  • Medford (2014)
  • Melrose (2014)
  • Worcester (2014)
  • Newton (2014)
  • Swampscott (2015)

Contact us if you or someone you know have experienced discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression.

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