Supporting the Public Accommodations Bill in MA

Here’s a letter I wrote to members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary (MA Legislature) in anticipation of their meeting this coming Tuesday (6 Oct) to discuss making transgender individuals a protected class in public accommodations.


 

To: Members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary

Hearing Date/Time: Tuesday, October 6, 2015, 2:00 PM

Place: Gardner Auditorium, Statehouse, 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 01233

Re: Strong support for HB 1577, SB 735 for transgender inclusive protections

Dear Chair Brownsberger, Chair Fernandes and members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary,

I am a father of a transgender teenager and I am writing in support of HB 1577 and SB 735.

I tell people all over that I thank God that we live in Massachusetts. Ever since coming out and accepting himself for who he is, my son Eli has been met with nothing but love and acceptance in school and among our friends.

I would never have believed this until now, but I feel that the culture of love and acceptance here in Massachusetts is a logical extension of acts of courage by the Legislature several years ago. Then, the Legislature acted to make transgender individuals a protected class in our schools and when it comes to situations regarding finance, housing, and employment. For our child, these acts of courage have literally been life-saving. Those who worked to make this legislation a reality have my eternal thanks and make me proud.

However, there is a crucial gap in our legislation. For reasons that I do not understand, there is no public accommodations component to the legislation. That means that, while my son cannot be fired from his job at a shop for being transgender, he can be humiliated as a patron of that shop.

Thus, away from the caring and nurturing environments of home and school, Eli lives with an anxiety that most people do not have to face. As of today, every trip to a restaurant or to a clothing store is a potentially harrowing experience. We are dependent on the hope that each person sharing the boy’s dressing room is aware and supportive of transgender issues and will not make Eli’s experience a nightmare. I still need to accompany him at all times so he feels safe.

This legislation before you will close this gap and make people like Eli feel safe knowing that the culture of love and acceptance will follow him to public accommodations. This is emphatically not special treatment, but simply the same as that experienced by every other resident of Massachusetts.

This summer, Gov. Baker told me that the problem he has with the bill is that it is a “one size fits all” when there are so many different communities here in our Commonwealth. While I understand his concern, we have accomplished civil rights for transgender kids throughout all of our school and for transgender people throughout our professions, in all cities and towns. The cost to extend these rights to public accommodations is small compared with the cost of keeping the status quo.

I urge you all to support this life-saving bill.

Ron Gordon, Northborough MA