This article first appeared in HRC’s Equality magazine. View the latest issue at hrc.org/magazine.
A lot is at stake for advocate and author Mimi Lemay’s family this midterm election. On Nov. 6, Massachusetts voters will decide the fate of a non-discrimination law that protects transgender people in public spaces.
Lemay’s son, Jacob, came out to his parents when he was two-and-a-half years old. Lemay and her husband, Joe, who are both part of HRC’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council (PTEC), supported Jacob, now 8 years old, and his transition. PTEC is a coalition of the nation’s leading parent-advocates working for equality and fairness for transgender people.
“Our transition was such a positive experience, but we realized that families with trans kids still faced many hurdles from folks who didn’t understand how a child could know their gender identity,” Lemay told Equality.
Since then, they’ve dedicated themselves to education and advocacy. When Lemay publicly shared her experience, advocates in Massachusetts reached out to her family to join the fight they had been waging for a decade to pass the transgender non-discrimination bill. In July 2016, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law, and it went into effect in October 2016.
Opponents of equality, led by the anti-LGBTQ Massachusetts Family Institute and Keep MA Safe, used anti-transgender tactics and messages to get Question 3, which would repeal these non-discrimination protections, on the ballot this election.
“This is a horrifying prospect,” Lemay said. “The civil rights of our transgender and non-binary citizens in Massachusetts are at stake. If Massachusetts, one of the most progressive states in the union, falls, what happens to the rest of the country?”
In an exclusive HRC and Freedom for All Massachusetts video (see below), Lemay talked about what it would mean to her family if the law is repealed.
This ballot fight, Lemay emphasized, will have national ramifications.“Hate groups across the U.S. see the ballot measure in Massachusetts as a potential catalyst that will help them strip rights from LGBTQ people nationwide,” she said. “What happens in Massachusetts will have significant impact – either positive or, God forbid, negative, in the rest of the country.”
Through her advocacy and as a member of PTEC, Lemay found that her local community has been responsive to understanding the need for anti-discrimination laws that protect transgender people.
“I ask people what kind of world they would like for their children, one where all can participate in public life, or one where some people, like my son Jacob, are relegated to the shadows?” said Lemay. “I feel optimistic that with HRC at our backs we will win this fight in November.”
Lemay hopes voters see the urgency to affirm equality and fairness.
“I remind people that my son is real, that he is a good person, that he is who he is meant to be and should be allowed to grow up alongside their own children. I remind them that when they go to the polls on November 6, they are voting for his future,” she said.
HRC calls on Equality Voters to vote YES on 3 and preserve the dignity and respect for transgender Bay Staters like Jacob and many others this November. Learn more about the #YesOn3 campaign here.