Lawmakers all over the country are considering or passing anti-transgender laws as the US is caught up in a debate about bathrooms, gender identity, and where trans people should go to pee.
Massachusetts is taking a different approach: Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday signed into law a civil rights measure that protects trans people from discrimination based on gender identity in public accommodations. That means trans people are now protected in restaurants, hotels, public bathrooms, and other places that serve the public.
This isn't exactly groundbreaking; dozens of other states have laws protecting trans people. But most states don't explicitly protect trans people — even in the workplace:
So under most states' laws, an employer can legally fire someone because he's gay, a landlord can legally evict someone because she's lesbian, and a hotel manager can legally deny service to someone who's transgender — for no reason other than the person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
As the map shows, Massachusetts already protected people from discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. But such protections only expanded to gender identity in the workplace and housing — leaving out public accommodations. With the new law, the legislature has fixed that.
That Massachusetts is moving to change this is remarkable given the current political climate. For one, Baker is a Republican — and his party has not been friendly to LGBTQ rights. But more broadly, the nation is caught up in a debate about trans people using the bathroom that matches their gender identity — a debate that has stopped LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws in North Carolina and Houston, Texas. So Massachusetts is really going against the grain, showing that the fight for LGBTQ rights is far, far from over.