Question of Transgender Protections to Hit Massachusetts Ballot

It was 2016 when Massachusetts passed the public accommodations law providing protections for transgender people in places like parks, movie theaters and bathrooms. Now, just two years later, that law could soon be repealed if a group of religious and conservative activists are successful.

Andrew Beckwith of the Massachusetts Family Institute is working with Keep Massachusetts Safe to pass the November ballot question that would repeal the public accommodations law.

"This is about the safety and privacy of women and children who should not have to get undressed in front of anatomical males," Beckwith said.

Supporters of the repeal say the law makes some feel unsafe by letting people make their choice of locker room or bathroom based on the gender they identify with.

"An anatomical man could go into the women's room... and they can just kind of hang out there and nothing can be done to prevent them from doing that," Beckwith said.

Matt Wilder is with Freedom for All Massachusetts, a coalition of unions and employers, that has raised more than $2 million to make sure that transgender people do not experience discrimination.

"There has been no uptick in public safety incidences," Wilder said. "It's why the Mass. Association of Chiefs of police have endorsed our campaign."

Lisbeth DeSelm, a transgender woman, worries people don't understand what's at stake.

"If I was a server at a restaurant, I could get off shift and then go back and be told that they would not serve me on the basis of my being a transgender person," she said.

A recent poll shows 52 percent of voters want to keep the law in place to preserve transgender protections. Thirty-eight percent want to repeal the law.

"I think 52 percent is good, but we want to see that number grow," Wilder said.

"We need you to vote yes," DeSelm added. "We need you to affirm that we are, in fact, human."

Opponents of the ballot question are optimistic it can be defeated, but they say if it passes, they will return to the legislature to get another public accommodations law in the books as soon as possible.

Contact Us