Historic Day in Mass: Gov. Patrick Signs Transgender Equal Rights Bill

After passing in both houses of the Massachusetts Legislature last week, today Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signed the historic Transgender Equal Rights Bill. The law will take effect on July 1, 2012, at which time the state's approximately 33,000 transgender residents will have vital protections against discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit and hate crimes law.

“Gov. 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 Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC).  “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.”

“Once again, Gov. Patrick has shown that he is a true champion for the LGBT community, said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini. “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. “The governor has long understood that this is a matter of basic fairness.”

Gov. Patrick was a vocal proponent of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, advocating for its passage in both word and deed.  He submitted written testimony in support of the bill at a public hearing in June.  Last February, he signed an historic executive order prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in state employment, which reaches 43,500 executive branch employees and 13,500 state contractors.

Gov. Patrick signed the Transgender Equal Rights Bill privately today as he has just a 10-day window in which to sign bills into law.  A public signing ceremony will be scheduled for a future date.

Only July 1, 2012, when the Transgender Equal Rights Bill takes effect, Massachusetts will become the 16th state in the nation, along with Washington, D.C., to offer vital protections against discrimination to its transgender residents.

GLAAD applauds Gov. Patrick and the Massachusetts Legislature for voting to provide vital protections to the state’s transgender residents.  At the same time, we offer heartfelt congratulations to our colleagues at the Transgender Equal Rights Coalition*.  Many of those who make up the Coalition have been working tirelessly, for years, to bring today’s historic victory to fruition.  Today their hard work has paid off in a big way that will make a tangible, positive difference in the lives of the state’s 33,000 transgender residents.  GLAAD urges the media to seek out and speak with these individuals, for it is a transgender person's ability to meet life's basic necessities that lies at the very heart of this historic day.

*Members of the coalition include MassNOW; ACLU of Massachusetts; Jane Doe, Inc., The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence; National Association of Social Workers, MA; Mass AFL-CIO; Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders; Mass Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus; Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition; and MassEquality.