Voting season is upon us and, sadly, it can be easy in these contentious times to focus on widely-publicized national races at the expense of less publicized local issues.
As a result, if you haven’t been following the progress of the transgender rights movement, you may not know about the Massachusetts ballot question that is attempting to remove transgender nondiscrimination protections. The ballot question aims to repeal a 2016 law passed by the Massachusetts legislature that protects transgender people from discrimination in public places.
According to Kasey Suffredini, co-chair of Freedom for All Massachusetts and the Yes On 3 campaign, these protections, “allow transgender people to safely go about our daily lives, and they send an important message that everyone is welcome in Massachusetts, including transgender people.” He goes on to add, “The good news is, the law does this without interfering with anyone or anything else. Most people probably haven’t even noticed the law over the past 2 years.”
Most may be asking how this attempt to repeal transgender nondiscrimination protections came about in the first place. Why is the Boston transgender community under attack?
I asked Suffredini this same question, and he explained, “Shortly after Governor Baker signed transgender protections into law in 2016, a small but vocal group of anti-LGBT activists—the same people who organized against marriage equality in Massachusetts a decade ago—collected the signatures necessary to put transgender nondiscrimination protections to a popular vote on the November 2018 ballot.”
You may think that it would take a large percentage of Massachusetts residents to get such a high-stakes question on the ballot, but, as Suffredini explained, “due to the unusual procedure they used, the number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot was very small. Fenway Park is one of the smallest ballparks in the country, but it seats more people than the number of signatures the anti-transgender activists gathered.”
This is why it’s so important that we, as a community, work together to protect transgender rights and vote “Yes” on 3. “The outcome will have tremendous consequences for the welfare of the Commonwealth’s communities and neighborhoods, the health of its economy, and the strength of its reputation as a leader on civil rights,” said Suffredini. “It will also have national significance. Anti-LGBT activists have told national media outlets that they will seek to rollback similar protections in other states across the country if they are successful in Massachusetts.”
The Yes On 3 campaign has the support of nearly 1,500 community organizations, civil leaders, and businesses including Eastern Bank, the League of Women Voters, the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, the Massachusetts Parent Teacher Association, and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
If you’re at all like me, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. But in this case, you really can make a difference. Every vote counts. When you turn out to vote this November, remember to vote YES on ballot question 3 to preserve essential protections for your transgender neighbors, coworkers, and family members. Stand up for the transgender rights movement.
This vote is important to your community, to Massachusetts, to the nation, and to transgender people like me.
Get involved in the fight to preserve the rights, the safety, and the dignity of transgender people. Vote “Yes” on 3 this November!