Supporters, critics of transgender bills clash at hearing

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey Steven Senne, AP

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura HealeySteven Senne, AP

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

BOSTON (AP) — Critics of proposals to extend non-discrimination protections to transgender people in public spaces in Massachusetts said the state should instead focus on the privacy rights of children and women.

At a Statehouse hearing Tuesday, Andover Republican state Rep. James Lyons said the bills could allow a 14 or 15-year-old boy to decide he is female and walk into a girl’s locker room.

Supporters of the changes — including Attorney General Maura Healey, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy and dozens of lawmakers — said transgender individuals are far more likely to experience discrimination.

The bills would expand a 2011 state law protecting transgender people from discrimination in the workplace and housing by adding “gender identity” to the state’s civil rights laws.

Gov. Charlie Baker said nobody should experience discrimination, but “the devil’s always in the details.”

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