Massachusetts Approved Proposition 3 In A Victory For Transgender Rights, But Here’s Why We Have To Keep Talking About It
Massachusetts voters slammed anti-transgender policy in their state by voting “yes” on Question 3 on their Nov. 6 ballots, WBUR reports. The ballot question asked voters whether they wanted to uphold or repeal a two-year-old state law that protects transgender people in public spaces, says WBUR, such as bathrooms and locker rooms. If voters chose to repeal the law, transgender people would not be protected from discriminatory policies, giving them no recourse if forced to use facilities that correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth, rather than their correct gender, WBUR reports.
But thanks to the efforts of organizers, voters overwhelmingly rejected the transphobic measure, with 67 percent voting yes to keep those protections in place, says WBUR. According to Boston Magazine, this marks the first statewide victory for transgender protections. It’s a historic win for transgender rights, without a doubt. But for trans folks and allies, the fight is nowhere near over.
It was less than a month ago that The New York Times leaked a memo from the Trump administration that reportedly outlined plans to adopt a new legal definition of a person’s sex based “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” This news was met with mass protests around the country, from transgender folks saying they #Won'tBeErased, to the scientific community, which decried the memo and the administration's views on gender as having no backing in science.
Soon after that, the Department of Justice filed a brief with the Supreme Court claiming that transgender people are not protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin,” NBC News reported. The brief claimed “sex” means biological sex, referring to a “physiological distinction between male and female,” and thus, according to the DOJ, Title VII does not apply to discrimination against a person based on gender identity, NBC News said.
In May 2018, the Bureau of Prisons in the Department of Justice reportedly adopted a policy of housing almost all transgender people in federal prison facilities according to their gender assigned at birth, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. In fact, the NCTE has a whole list of human right violations in the form of federal legislation and policies enacted within the last year.
“The Trump-Pence Administration is continuing down a destructive path that will put transgender people at further risk of discrimination and violence,” Sarah Warbelow told NBC News.
So what happens now? First, we celebrate the victory in Massachusetts. If we don’t stop to take a breath and celebrate those hard-won battles, it can be really tough to keep going. Voters in Massachusetts showed bigots across the nation that this country will not stand for hate.
After you’ve taken the time you need to catch your breath, get ready. Transgender folks have been fighting for their rights — without the help of cisgender people — long before the battles today. But, regardless of your gender identity, transgender people across the country are going to need help to ensure they have access to the exact same rights as everyone else.
Follow organizations that support the transgender community to see how you might be able to help, such as The National Center for Transgender Equality, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Trans Lifeline, the Transgender Law Center, and the Trevor Project. Spread awareness of bailout funds that support transgender people who have experienced incarceration. Some include the Tranzmission Prison Project, TGI Justice, and Lambda Legal's Transgender Immigrant Resources. You can either donate to them, volunteer for them, or signal boost their missions to let others know how important it is to support them when they can. Be vocal, but know when it's your turn to just sit back and hand the mic over to trans folks — and listen when they speak.
The situation in this country is going to keep getting dark before it gets bright again. But when in moments of disappointment, you can look back at how the people of Massachusetts voted early in the night to do the right thing as a beacon in times to come.