How Massachusetts and Mississippi treat trans people the same

Mississippi and North Carolina can now be added to the list of states codifying transgender discrimination.

To date, only 17 states across the country have passed nondiscrimination bills protecting transgender citizens in public spaces. Shockingly, Massachusetts isn’t one of them.

With Massachusetts lauded as one of the most pro-LGBTQ states in the country, my lawmakers have disappointed me with their political foot dragging and stalling on our “bathroom bill”. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and Attorney General Maura Healey fully support the bill. Governor Charlie Baker, however, has declined to take a stance on it.

Baker’s inaction has caused him national embarrassment—which is a pox on us Bay Staters, too.

Just recently the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce rescinded their plans to honor Baker when the group learned of his refusal to take a stand on the transgender public accommodations legislation currently before the state legislature, and of his intention to attend a Las Vegas conference that would have anti-LGBTQ speakers and a Texas minister who says God sent Adolf Hitler for the Jews.

Baker was set to be honored by NGLCC alongside Rep. Joe Kennedy III at a gala dinner in Washington, DC until Kennedy flat out stated he would not attend the event because of his strong support for transgender rights and the governor’s refusal to move swiftly and affirmatively to protect transgender people as full citizens of the Commonwealth.

This sort of inaction by lawmakers makes it increasingly unsafe and difficult for our trans denizens to engage in the simple activities cisgendered people can take for granted – like going out to grab something to eat without the angst, anguish and fear of navigating bathroom restrictions.

Across the country, however, this sort of amped-up fearmongering of the “predatory heterosexual male pervert” or “Peeping Tom” has halted momentum toward getting needed public accommodations bills passed. Obstructionists’ claims against the bill, purporting to have nothing against transgender people, state their positions are to “protect” women and children from countless deviant men who would pretend to be transgender.

To date, however, there is no evidence to corroborate the fear. As a matter-of-fact, Chief William G. Brooks III of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association said “There is no reason to believe that individuals – whether transgender or otherwise – will use these protections as cover to enter into the restroom or locker room of the opposite sex and engage in criminal misconduct. We are aware of no such incidents that have occurred in Massachusetts communities that have already have such protections in place.”

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