Yes, on 3! We did it. Thank you to all the organizations, volunteers, donors and above all each of you who voted to protect the rights of transgender people in Massachusetts. What better way to show love, support, and respect for transgender people in the Commonwealth of MA, than to vote against intolerance by a 36 point margin.
Over the last year we have heard a great deal about the protections that will be maintained for transgender people through this vote. Many of us have learned to talk about the safety that is protected for children at school and for transgender people accessing other public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, and gyms. All of this continues to be protected thanks to everyone who voted to protect the dignity and rights of transgender people in MA. What voters may not have thought about is the impact these protections would have on transgender survivors of domestic violence.
The reality is that overall 28-33 percent of LGBQ/T people experience domestic violence. This is the same rate at which cisgender, heterosexual women experience domestic violence. The rate of domestic violence for transgender survivors more specifically is even higher. A report by the Williams Institute found that 31 to 50 percent of transgender people have experienced domestic violence. These rates are higher for transgender survivors who are also immigrants, multi-racial, or homeless.
Your yes vote makes it possible for a transgender survivor, fleeing their violent abuser, to access a domestic violence shelter. For so many transgender survivors the barriers to safe shelter lead to few choices—choices between becoming homeless or staying in a dangerous situation. With this access to shelter trans survivors will also be able to connect to other services such as support groups, housing advocacy, medical advocacy, and therapeutic support. This survivor may even have an advocate to go with them to court if they decide to get a restraining order against her abuser. All of this becomes possible when anti-discrimination protections are in place.
We have had a victory in MA today yet there is more work to be done. With a presidential administration threatening to erase the existence of transgender people we have an uphill battle ahead. We must continue to elect politicians who will uphold the rights of not only the LGBQ communities but also the Transgender community. We must use not only our voting power but our voices, our written words, and our actions to make it clear that all of the members of our communities are important and deserving of safety and dignity. So, while the fight for transgender rights is not over, let’s celebrate this victory today.