A group of advocates for survivors of domestic and sexual violence gathered to speak about their support for civil rights protections for transgender people.
Last week, the New York Times reported that the Trump Administration was pursuing a legal policy that would narrowly define gender. This would effectively eliminate transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people from protection under federal civil rights law. And that is why it’s more important than ever for Massachusetts residents to vote yes on ballot question 3 and keep civil rights protections for transgender people in place at the state level.
If the administration does move forward with the policy changes that were reported, it obviously won’t change the fact that transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people exist, and that they deserve all of the same rights and protections that other people have access to—including being respected for who they are. But it will enact a policy that aims to dehumanize people, a key piece of what sexual violence does. This makes our mission of ending sexual violence even harder.
As an expert on sexual-violence-related public health and safety, I can tell you with certainty that protecting transgender people has zero negative consequences on the safety of women and children, despite what anti-transgender activists are saying. Especially given that there are many women and children who are transgender. In truth, transgender people themselves face some of the highest rates of sexual violence.
The 2016 law is about protecting transgender people—our loved ones, our neighbors, our coworkers—from discrimination in public places. And voting yes on 3 will keep that law, which prohibits discrimination against transgender people in public spaces like stores, restaurants, and movie theaters, on the books.
At BARCC, we have provided services for survivors of sexual violence for 45 years. We serve women. We serve men. We serve people who are nonbinary, genderqueer, gender-nonconforming, intersex, and transgender. The survivors of sexual assault that I know at BARCC don't want this law repealed. Not in their name. They don't want their experience of sexual violence to be exploited to harm a vulnerable community of people.
The city of Boston has had protections for transgender people in place for more than a decade and has seen no increase in criminal activity in public restrooms. Since 2016 when the law was implemented, the same holds true statewide. A recently published study proves that there's no connection between rates of crimes committed in restrooms and our state's protections for transgender people. It is already illegal to assault someone in a public restroom. This law doesn't change that.
What this law does do is make our communities safer and more inclusive. That is why law enforcement officials and advocates for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence want you to vote yes on question 3.
Anti-transgender activists are trying to distract voters from what is really at stake. This is about ensuring respect, dignity, and safety for everyone. Those are the things that prevent sexual violence. Please head to the polls on November 6, and vote yes on question 3.
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