Mass. Gov. Signs Executive Order Protecting Trans State Employees

Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick on Thursday signed an executive order barring anti-trans workplace discrimination against state government employees and contractors.

The executive order extends existing nondiscrimination protections to cover state employees, protecting them on the grounds of gender identity and expression. These protections cover all state agencies and programs and will affect those contracting with the state.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, alongside transgender rights groups, helped advise on the order.

Rea Carey, executive director of the group, issued this statement in response to the order being signed into law:

“We commend Governor Deval Patrick for today’s historic achievement in ensuring that all state employees, regardless of gender identity and expression, are equally protected from discrimination under the law. We applaud the Commonwealth’s continued commitment to equal opportunity and inclusion in its state workplaces, as well as services, programs and contracts. This is a tremendous step forward. We would like to thank everyone involved in today’s developments, including Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, MassEquality and the entire transgender equal rights coalition for their efforts to secure this executive order. We urge the Massachusetts state legislature to move quickly to pass the Transgender Equal Rights Bill to extend these basic protections to all workers in Massachusetts.”

Also advising on the nondiscrimination order was the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. Executive Director Gunner Scott had this to say about this important change:

“Governor Patrick’s executive order is a great step towards equality for transgender individuals and we still need to extend these protections to all transgender members of Massachusetts. Our hope is that the legislature will pass the Transgender Equal Rights Bill quickly this session.”

While extremely important, the executive order will be small in scope and will not protect all transgender employees in Massachusetts, yet it does lend weight to the concerted push of having the Massachusetts Legislature roll out these protections state-wide with the aforementioned Transgender Equal Rights Bill.

However, the need for federal protections in the form of a trans-inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act remains very real in jurisdictions where such employment protections remain a distant dream.

A recent study published by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that almost half of the trans people surveyed had attempted suicide, that trans people had double the rate of unemployment and were four times likely to live in extreme poverty. You can read more about the studies findings here.

Given that there is an LGBT-rights hostile Republican majority in the U.S. House, it would seem that the chances of passing LGBT-inclusive employment nondiscrimination legislation are, at this juncture, slim.

As such, some advocates have turned their attention to asking President Obama to sign an executive order along the same lines as the one Gov. Deval Patrick signed on Thursday, but this time extending protections to those that contract with the federal government.

Again, this would be similarly limited in both scope and permanence and should not be taken as any kind of a definitive solution to the issue of LGBT employment discrimination, but it would be a step toward securing fairness in the workplace for trans employees who desperately need these protections. You can read more about the push for an executive order here.

Related Stories: 

“Transgender” Now an Official Sex in Nepal

Almost Half of Transgender People Have Attempted Suicide

Transgender Woman Turned Away From Indiana Hospital


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to brainchildvn.


Ian Donelson
Ian Donelson8 years ago

Good article.

Joyce Squillante
Joyce S8 years ago

Great start.

Brigid C.
Brigid C8 years ago

excellent good news

Ron Avila
Ron Avila8 years ago

: )

Emily M.
Emily M8 years ago

I couldn't find the original text of the bill. Sometimes these trans-inclusive nondiscrimination bills, like ENDA, put an emphasis on "passing" in the workplace. Barney Frank made a comment about having a "full beard and a dress" and basically said that people who don't pass don't enjoy non-discrimination rights. Or, they don't allow trans people to use gender specific places. For example, ENDA doesn't require businesses to provide gender-neutral bathrooms or allow trans people to use the bathrooms of their expressed gender. Legislators are still reducing people to their genitals, which is the total opposite of what protections for trans people should have. Hopefully this executive order truly helps trans people and doesn't rely on cis people's biases of what it is to be a man or a woman get in the way of trans people's rights.

florin r.
oana r8 years ago

That's a good news. Transsexual right are human right!

Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart8 years ago

Bravo, Governor Patrick!
Sometimes it seems to me that "secessionists" have the right idea, but for the wrong reasons. As a citizen of MA, I can't help but believe that my home state would be much better off, financially and socially, if we weren't burdened so by the neaderthal-like policies of the blood-red states and their influence on the federal government. Luckily, our policies are largely in common with our neighboring states, which is evidenced by the moderate stances of most of the elected officials in the region... even most of the Republicans. The exceptions to this all seem to be the ones with their eyes on national office, like lieberman and brown, who owe their "success" to massive outside support.

Bon L.
Bon L8 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Susanne R.
Susanne R8 years ago

Live and let live! What the Governor of Massachusetts did was a brave and noble thing --but if not for the fact that so many of us are judgmental and intolerant, such steps would not be necessary.

Ahron E.
Ahron E8 years ago

I a male should then be able to use the womans bathroom, if I was a state employee in Mass. Tear down the gender signs on bathrooms.