BOSTON — In a private ceremony this week, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination of state employees based on gender identity or expression.
Advocates for transgender equality applauded the governor’s action, and are hopeful the historic executive order will underscore the need for similar protections throughout Massachusetts in commercial and private businesses.
“This is going to make a real difference in the lives of transgender state workers and their families,” said Gunner Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition immediately after the ceremony.
“No one should have to work in fear that they could lose their job simply because of who they are,” Scott said.
Scott noted that there is already a proposed “Transgender Equal Rights Bill” pending in the state’s legislative branch that endeavors to prohibit employment discrimination based on gender identity across the Commonwealth.
The order, signed Thursday in the Governor’s office, applies to all state agencies in the Executive Branch, as well as businesses and organizations that contract with the state.
“Governor Patrick is a true champion for the LGBT community, and we applaud the critical first step he has taken with this order toward creating a Commonwealth where all hardworking people, including transgender people, have the opportunity to make a living and provide for themselves and their families,” said Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality, Massachusetts’ statewide LGBT-advocacy organization.
A recent national survey revealed that transgender people suffer widespread discrimination in a variety of fields, including education, employment, housing, health care, and more.
Of the 283 respondents from Massachusetts, 76 percent reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job; 20 percent said they’d lost a job; 17 percent said they had been denied a promotion; and 39 percent said they had not been hired for a job because of their gender identity.
“These statistics show the stark need for a statewide bill to prohibit employment discrimination based on gender identity,” said state Rep. Carl Sciortino, a lead sponsor of the ‘Transgender Equal Rights Bill.'”
“No one should work in fear of being fired from their job for reasons that have nothing to do with job performance,” he said.