Trans rights won yesterday. Here’s what this victory could mean for the country
I watched my TV with a mix of anxiety, hope, and some desperation while election results slowly rolled in yesterday. Would a “blue” democratic wave sweep the country or would a “red tide” prevail to ruin the country? Even more critical to me as a trans man, I kept checking a key ballot measure in Massachusetts. Proposition 3 in Massachusetts asked all voters in the state whether they wanted to keep previously-passed legislation that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public facilities like restrooms and locker rooms.
Ballotpedia: The Encyclopedia of American Politicsballotpedia.org
To put it simply-this law protected a transgender person’s right to access the restrooms and public spaces that match their gender. A “yes” vote on Prop 3 would uphold this law and protect trans rights in Massachusetts, while a “no” vote would repeal them. To date, this was the first time that trans rights were on a ballot, to be voted on by an entire state. As a trans person, a lot was at stake for me. Would I no longer be able to use the men’s restroom when I visited Massachusetts?
As a trans man originally from Boston, I knew that my home state was usually “blue,” but we’ve had our fair share of electing republican Governors. Would we prevail like we did when we were the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2004? As I sat there refreshing my phone screen for live results, I was overcome with relief to see that Massachusetts passed Prop 3. To put it in proper Bostonian slang: voters elected to protect trans rights by a wicked big margin.
After this good news, I sat quietly for the first time all night, tears escaping my eyes. I thought not only about what this meant for transgender residents of Massachusetts, but also the potential it has for the rest of the country.
Prop 3 is comparable to the past fight over Prop 8 in California, which sought to overturn a prior ruling in favor of gay marriage in that state. When Prop 8 passed, however, this was unfortunately a “yes” in favor of removing gay marriage laws, a decision that was ultimately overturned by a state court.
A look at the legal fight involving Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in California.www.nbclosangeles.com
Both propositions left LGBT civil rights at the hands of an entire state population, which includes conservative voters. In many ways, the passing of Prop 3 in Mass signals that the fight for trans rights may be similar to the battle fought for gay marriage. For Prop 3 to pass overwhelmingly in Massachusetts on its first try, unlike it’s California precedent, a powerful message has been sent. Even when trans rights are subjected to the whims of an entire state, the good in humanity can prevail. This is a major win in the fight against Trump’s proposal to erase federal transgender laws.
If other states elect to submit similar propositions, Massachusetts is setting an important legal precedent. The potential for other states to replicate this win for trans rights sets an important road map for transgender equality on a national level. This crucial state victory has sent a clear message to Trump: don’t mess with trans rights.