Transgender community pushes for equal access to public areas

A similar bill failed in the legislature last year

restroom sign

BOSTON (WWLP) – A new bill would allow transgender individuals equal access to public areas. Some state lawmakers have concerns when it comes to public restrooms.

Transgender people lobbied State House lawmakers on Thursday, pressing for equal rights in public places. Deja Nicole Greenlaw of Unity of the Pioneer Valley said, “We’re not scary at all; we’re not going to harm anyone.”

The proposed legislation would allow transgender individuals to access public spaces that match their gender identity; that includes sidewalks, buses and hospitals.

A similar bill failed in the legislature last year. Opponents expressed concerns about allowing transgender people to use public restrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity.

State Rep. Jim O’Day, (D) West Boylston, said, “I get really offended when people call it the bathroom bill. This is not a bathroom bill; it’s a human rights bill.”

Many major companies support transgender rights, including Google, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the social media site Facebook.

Springfield’s Danica Ali told 22News her experience with discrimination. Ali said, “I have had people follow me into the restrooms in Massachusetts and that is wrong.”

Supporters have a long way to go before this becomes law. Republican Governor Charlie Baker has said in the past that he supports the law the way it’s written now. Some state lawmakers hope to expand transgender rights with or without the Governor’s support.

State Rep. Ellen Story, (D) Amherst, said, “If the Governor feels the need to veto it, I hope that we will have the votes to override his veto.”

A public hearing for the bill is scheduled for Tuesday, October 6th at the State House.

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