In November, voters will decide whether to repeal a state law that protects transgender people from discrimination in public places.
Passed in 2016, the law faced pushback before its passage, specifically around the protections it provided in restrooms and locker rooms. Now, Question 3 seeks to undo the legislation.
“This is a safety and privacy issue for women and children in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Debby Dugan, chairwoman of Keep MA Safe.
The organization has been campaigning for voters to overturn the law, arguing it allows men posing as women to access sex segregated facilities and potentially cause harm.
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However, in its crafting, Attorney General Maura Healey said these concerns had been considered by legislators, who wanted to ensure the law would never serve as a defense for someone who committed a crime. Since then, advocates for the protections contend there has been no evidence to suggest that has not worked.
“We have seen no increase in public safety threats or concerns since we passed this law. And it’s been on the books now over two years,” said Mason Dunn, co chair of the Yes on 3 campaign.
For many families with transgender members, the law has been a reassuring measure. To lose it could potentially set a tone for the state and country.
“If this law is not upheld, there is nowhere to look to for our family,” said parent, Vanessa Ford, whose 7-year-old daughter is transgender.
According to a document viewed by the New York Times, the Trump administration is considering redefining gender under federal protections as a condition determined solely by your biology.
The shift has left Ford fearful for her family’s future.
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“I don’t like to think about that possibility. She walks to schools somedays. She’s with her friends,” Ford said, “She goes to the park and somebody could ask her to leave just for being who she is with no other reason.”
While Ford and others are optimistic the effort to repeal the law will not succeed, they are looking to state officials for support. Recently, Gov. Charlie Baker indicated he also believes the law should be upheld. Advocates hope voters agree.
“Trans people all over the U.S. will be watching this vote,” said Dunn.