Dear Mass voters: We have to choose Yes on 3

In Massachusetts, this year’s election day is ominously consequential for the thousands of transgender residents living in our state. On the ballot is a referendum that threatens the freedom and liberties that many of us take for granted every day: to be out in public places without fear of discrimination. We urge you to vote Yes on Question 3 to preserve this basic right that our fellow transgender citizens have enjoyed for the last two years.

In 2016, Massachusetts lawmakers and Governor Charlie Baker demonstrated their commitment to freedom and equality for all when they updated the state’s nondiscrimination laws to include protections for transgender people in public places: restaurants, hospitals, movie theaters and shopping centers. Just two years later, the basic rights and freedoms that every American — without question — should enjoy are on the chopping block for Massachusetts’ transgender people.

This is the first time in our country’s history that voters will head to the polls for a statewide referendum that would repeal full equal rights for the transgender community.

Yes, that is what is happening here in Massachusetts, a state that has long prided itself on cultivating an inclusive and forward-thinking environment.

If a moral obligation to protect the civil liberties of our fellow citizens is not enough to convince Massachusetts voters to support “Yes on 3,” the dollars and cents case for protecting transgender rights is as strong as it gets. In the Kendall Square community we see this inside our labs, classrooms and restaurants every day. Inclusive policies help businesses attract, recruit and retain top talent. We have discussed this issue at length with our members and have heard from dozens of them like Biogen, CIC, Google, MIT, and Shire that the diversity of perspectives, ideas, and cultures in Kendall Square’s ecosystem are what leads to more productive teams, and ultimately the creation of better products and services. We need to open the door for more diversity of opinion, culture, sexual orientation and gender, not pass policies that close the door on those who already face so much discrimination in their everyday lives.

Boston is one of the leading markets in the country for corporate relocations, expansions and investments. If these protections are repealed, it loudly sends the message that we aren’t welcoming and inclusive. There’s an exact precedent for that, too. North Carolina is projected to lose out on almost $4 billion over the next 12 years as a result of its discriminatory anti-transgender legislation, even though state lawmakers ended up repealing the law due to the economic pressure it put on the state. North Carolina has lost out on 2,000 new jobs from halted corporate investments, including hundreds of jobs at major firms like Deutsche Bank and PayPal. We can’t allow that to happen here.

Chances are, you may have worked alongside a transgender individual, even if that person was not “out” to you. In Kendall Square, transgender people are our coworkers, friends and neighbors.

We have a responsibility to stand up to discrimination and offer support to those in our transgender community — we will fight for them not only leading up to November 6th, but each and every time their rights and freedoms are called into question based on entirely unfounded fear tactics.

There are 10,000 companies in Kendall Square, running the gamut from restaurants and retail shops to life sciences startups and world class research institutions. Together, the neighborhood is focused on global issues ranging from disease prevention to the provision of clean water, and from climate change to transportation. But it doesn’t stop at the development of new products or therapeutics. The Kendall Square community has a responsibility to model to the world what a place of inclusiveness can be. It’s a privilege and an honor to work alongside people who bring differing life experiences, points of view, and aspirations to our ecosystem. Protecting and celebrating that diversity is the right thing to do — and it’s critical to our thriving innovation culture. We have to stand up to discrimination and offer support for our transgender community. We have to vote “Yes on 3.”

UPDATE: The Kendall Square Association is incredibly proud that the people of Massachusetts vote Yes on 3. This is a major step towards protecting the transgender community in Massachusetts.