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Massachusetts poised to become 16th state with nondiscrimination protections for transgender people

November 16, 2011

The Task Force applauds the Massachusetts legislature’s passage today of a bill banning discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, insurance, mortgage loans and credit. The measure also includes protections under the state’s hate crimes law, but does not contain protections related to public accommodations. Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to sign the measure, which will make Massachusetts the 16th state, along with the District of Columbia, with clear protections for transgender people in its statewide nondiscrimination laws.

Over the years, the Task Force supported this effort by providing legal analysis, testimony, training on lobbying, and activating supporters to take action on the bill.

Earlier this year, the Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality released Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which reveals the depth of discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people. The groundbreaking study is the first large-scale national study of discrimination against transgender people, and paints the most complete picture than any prior research to date.

The survey showed that 26 percent of transgender people have lost a job due to bias, 50 percent have been harassed at work, 19 percent have been denied a home/apartment, and 19 percent were homeless at some point due to bias, with higher rates for transgender people of color. In addition to national data, we were able to provide state level data from our study to advocates in Massachusetts. We found that in Massachusetts, in employment, 76 percent of survey respondents reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job, 39 percent of qualified applicants were not hired, 17 percent were denied promotions, and 20 percent lost their job. In housing, 17 percent were denied a home/apartment and 10 percent had become homeless due to bias.

Statement by Rea Carey, executive director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

Our national survey spotlights just how pervasive and severe discrimination is toward transgender people. The alarming personal stories and stats show that transgender people face injustice in many facets of their lives, from jobs to housing to their personal safety. Lawmakers responded appropriately to this crisis by moving to ensure that the people of Massachusetts, regardless of gender identity, are protected from such discrimination. This measure will literally save lives, and we continue to stand with our local partners in their work to secure public accommodations protections for transgender people. Congratulations to MassEquality, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and to all those who have worked so hard for so long to secure these critical protections. This is a wonderful victory for the people of Massachusetts.

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