Letter to the Editor


Dear Editor

Massachusetts has always been a leader in the nation. The United States looks to our state as a model for progressivism, especially when it comes to civil rights. We were, after all, the first state to acknowledge and legalize the right for same sex couples to marry. The landscape of Massachusetts is dependent on the upholding of civil liberties. This November, one such liberty is in danger.

In 2016, at the urging of civic, business and community leaders throughout the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts legislature passed – with a bipartisan, supermajority vote – the historic nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public places. When Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill in July 2016, it was a major victory for our state. Specifically, for the transgender community, this law made them feel heard, accepted and safe in the Commonwealth. It showed the rest of the nation that Massachusetts is a state that treats its citizens equally with dignity and respect, regardless of their gender identity.

Shortly after it went into effect in October 2016, a small group of opponents gathered the minimum number of signatures required to place the law on the ballot for repeal in November 2018. Rolling back these protections would completely change the landscape of our state, and ultimately, our country. If we decide to vote no and repeal protections for transgender individuals in Massachusetts, the message we send to the rest of the nation is that it isn’t important to treat transgender people with dignity and respect.

Massachusetts is the first state in the nation where transgender protections will be up for a vote on a statewide ballot measure. Currently, Massachusetts is among 19 states and more than 250 municipalities with nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public places.

The anti-transgender activists making the case for the no vote are using scare tactics to try to convince the public that the safety of women and children is in jeopardy by protecting transgender people from discrimination and harassment in public spaces, particularly restrooms. That just isn’t true. Since the law was implemented two years ago, there has been no increase in safety incidents in restrooms. Safety in restrooms is important to all of us – including transgender people. Harassing people in public facilities remains illegal and those who commit crimes are prosecuted, as they should be. The law protecting transgender people from discrimination hasn’t changed that. That’s why the state’s leading safety officials – including the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence – support this law. Additionally, a report out of the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School examined restroom crime reports in Massachusetts cities and found no increase in crime and no difference between cities that had adopted transgender policies and those that had not.

For most citizens in Massachusetts, this law does not affect them one way or another. But for the people that it does affect, it means the world. Please vote Yes on 3 in November to uphold transgender protections.

Ariel Sussman

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