Massachusetts' transgender community had a reason to feel extra celebratory this holiday weekend, as the state's governor signed legislation Wednesday forbidding discrimination based on "gender identity" to anyone seeking housing, employment or post-secondary education.
As The Patriot Ledger is reporting, the Transgender Equal Rights Bill also expands the state's hate crime statutes to include violence against transgender men and women, although the removal of a provision that would have required all "sex-segregated facilities" such as rest rooms or locker rooms to grant admission to people based on gender identity was heavily criticized by many who considered it a key component.
"No individual should face discrimination because of who they are,” Patrick said in a statement. "This legislation gives Massachusetts the necessary tools to stop hate crimes against transgender people and to treat others fairly. I am proud to sign it."
In what may have been a nod to the provision's removal, Patrick added that state lawmakers would "come back around to public accommodations," according to the Ledger.
Patrick's decision to sign the bill, which had been widely expected, drew praise from many transgender rights advocates. “Gov. Patrick was a staunch advocate of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill from the earliest days of his administration,” Gunner Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), is quoted by LGBTQ Nation as saying in a statement. “We are so grateful for his leadership in getting this bill passed and for his unwavering commitment to ensuring that all residents of the Commonwealth, including transgender people, are treated with dignity and respect under the laws of our state."
When the bill takes effect next July, Massachusetts will become the 16th U.S. state, along with Washington, D.C., to offer vital protections against discrimination to its transgender residents.