HRC Blog

Massachusetts Governor Holds Public Ceremony for Transgender Equal Rights Bill

This guest post comes from David Wilson of the HRC Boston Steering Committee:

I had the great fortune of being in the room last week as Massachusetts achieved another milestone in its rich history of civil rights.  It was amazing to be with Governor Deval Patrick last Thursday in the Senate Reading Room of the Massachusetts State House as he signed the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, which was passed by legislators in November. I was joined by my fellow HRC Boston steering committee members Ralph Freidin and Mario Rodas, who took the pictures.

The ceremonial signing event was kicked off by State Representative Carl Sciortino, the lead sponsor of the bill in the House.  He recognized the years of hard work by many incredible advocates, including Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition executive director Gunner Scott, members of the Transgender Equal Rights Coalition, Senate President Murray, Speaker of the House DeLeo, Governor Patrick, all the House and Senate members, the brave and courageous members of the transgender community, and allies.

Governor Patrick told the audience, "No individual should face discrimination because of who they are. 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."

Attorney General Martha Coakley added, “This legislation is the next step in our forward path of extending equal protections to all citizens and eradicating discrimination in our Commonwealth. For too long, transgender people have suffered in silence in seeking employment, safe housing, and educational opportunities.”

All the elected officials who spoke credited successful passage of the bill to the transgender community, their allies and the community at large.  Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, the bill’s lead sponsor in the senate, specifically thanked the transgender community for persevering in their efforts over many long years and for reminding her why she chose to represent her community as a public representative.

“The bill that Governor Patrick signed today adds essential protections for transgender people to our laws” said Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project Director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. “Today we rightly celebrate this historic achievement, but do so with the knowledge that we cannot stop working until transgender people enjoy comprehensive civil rights protections including in all areas of public accommodation. We look forward to working with the Governor and the legislature in the future to achieve that important goal."

The room was filled with members of the transgender community, their families and friends. By the time the Governor signed the bill there were cheers, smiles and tears on everyone’s faces.

When the law takes effect on July 1, 2012, Massachusetts will join 15 other states and the District of Columbia in extending critical anti-discrimination protections to transgender people.

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