Advocates for Transgender Equality Gather at Massachusetts Statehouse for Celebratory ‘Citizens Signing’

By Megan Clayton • July 13, 2016 • 6:21 pm

More than 100 advocates for comprehensive LGBT non-discrimination protections gathered on the Massachusetts Statehouse steps Monday morning for the Citizens Signing of #TransBillMA, which updates the state’s public accommodation law to prohibit gender identity discrimination.

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Supporters left their own colorful collection of signatures on a copy of the bill, which Massachusetts’ Republican Governor Charlie Baker added his official signature to on Friday afternoon, making Massachusetts the 18th state in the nation whose laws fully protect transgender people from discrimination.

Attorney General Maura Healey, who was a vocal supporter among statewide elected officials, opened the Citizens Signing ceremony, declaring that “Today we make it clear that everyone in Massachusetts is indeed welcome.” AG Healey’s office created the #EveryoneWelcome social media campaign four months ago to share stories from the bill’s prominent advocates. Legislative leaders including Senate President Stan Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Representative Byron Rushing, Senator Will Brownsberger, Representative John Fernandes also gave remarks.

Other stars of Monday’s Citizens Signing ceremony included transgender Bay Staters and their families, who worked so hard to make the bill’s passage a reality. All of the legislative leaders on hand paid homage to grassroots advocates, with lead sponsor Sen. Chang-Diaz declaring “This day is yours. This bill is yours.” Chastity Bowick of the Massachusetts Trans Political Coalition in turn thanked lawmakers on behalf of the trans community for their dedication.

Front and center for the ceremony was the LeMay family, whose transgender son Jacob was one of dozens of transgender Bay Staters whose public testimony helped sway hearts and minds, including Governor Baker, who had been opposed to the bill before signalling his support this spring. That change came after months of pressure from statewide advocacy groups, business and community leaders, other lawmakers and ordinary citizens, thousands of whom signed petitions and wrote letters calling for the Governor’s support.

The unity on display throughout #TransBillMA’s journey and during yesterday’s Citizens Signing ceremony has provided a ray of hope during what has been a trying time for unity and hope around the country. Today, on the 1-month anniversary of the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, that’s something to celebrate.

Freedom for All Americans is a founding partner of Freedom Massachusetts, the local bipartisan campaign that pushed for #TransBillMA’s passage, and has dedicated our Chief Program Officer Kasey Suffredini as a chair to the campaign for the past year. We would again like to thank state lawmakers, our local partners, and all transgender Bay Staters and allies for their courage, tenacity and commitment to passing this legislation.


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