Transgender Rights Bills Signed By Mass. Gov.

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday November 23, 2011

Last week, Massachusetts passed the Transgender Equal Rights Bill. The new legislation will protect transgender people from discrimination, the Associated Press reported.

Today, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has signed the bill, which will protect transgender people from discrimination in the workplace as well as housing.

Several gay rights organizations were thrilled about the decision and believe it is a step in the right direction for equality.

"Governor Patrick was a staunch advocate of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill from the earliest days of his administration," said Gunner Scott, executive director of the Mass. Transgender Political Coalition said in a statemen. "We are so grateful for his leadership in getting this bill passed and for his unwavering commitment to ensuring that all residents of the Commonwealth, including transgender people, are treated with dignity and respect under the laws of our state."

Mass Equality Director, Kara Suffredini, said that Patrick has once again shown he is a supporter for the LGBT community.

"We applaud his unwavering leadership in creating a Commonwealth where all hardworking people, including transgender people, will have the opportunity to make a living, put a roof over their heads, and get an education without fear of being discriminated against simply because of who they are."

Gov. Patrick has been a longtime advocate of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill and submitted a written testimony in support of the legislation at a public hearing in June. In February, Patrick signed an executive order that prohibited discrimination against transgender people in state employment.

Although a number of lawmakers and gay rights advocates have celebrated the bill there have been several organizations that have criticized the new law.

Mass Resistance, an anti-gay group from Massachusetts, said that the Transgender Rights Bill "is a terrible setback for the pro-family movement -- and civilized society."

The group also said that the bill will impact traditional values found in schools.

"You could soon see your day-care provider, second-grade teacher, waiter, school bus driver, store clerk, etc. be a man wearing a skirt and lipstick, possibly with hormone-enhanced breasts," according to Mass Resistance's website.

"It will be illegal for any employer (or school principal) to decide for himself whether this is proper, or objectionable, or immoral. It also likely opens the door for legal demands that sex-change surgeries and other costly procedures be covered by company-sponsored health insurance."

The law will take into effect on July 1, 2012, and individuals who violate the law could pay a $2,500 fine and face a year in prison.