A coalition of transgender rights groups in Massachusetts this week rallied to demand the state Legislature finally passing a trans-inclusive nondiscrimination law.
During a rally at the State House, members of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and the Transgender Equal Rights Coalition spoke about the backlash and hardships they face at work, at school and in housing. They called on lawmakers to debate their proposal.
“We are here to urge our Legislature to move this bill out of committee and to the floor for a vote,’’ said Gunner Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. “We know all too well the devastation discrimination causes to our lives.’’
Despite support from Governor Deval Patrick and more than half the House and Senate signing on as cosponsors, the bill failed to emerge from the Judiciary Committee last session. The committee held a hearing this month on the bills, which have fewer cosponsors this session. Earlier this month, Patrick issued a statement urging “prompt passage’’ of transgender nondiscrimination legislation.
The transgender equal rights legislation currently stuck in Senate committee would put “gender identity” and “gender expression” into existing civil rights laws alongside language that prohibits discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation and marital status.
This, in turn, would cover discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education and credit. The bill would also add gender identity and expression language to the state level hate crimes statute. Fifteen states have enacted such protections including Rhode Island and Maine.
Proponents categorize this bill as a simple matter of human rights. Opponents have smeared the bill with accusations that it opens up public bathrooms to sexual predators — they have not, however, provided evidence of such incidents where trans protections have already been approved.
Ahead of the debate, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition created the following video campaign. It is designed to put a face on the discrimination that trans people must combat every day without these protections and perhaps speaks volumes against the prejudiced opposition to the bill:
Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to brainchildvn.